Amateur Extra, now what?

Now that I’m an Extra class ham, thoughts have turned towards thinking about what kind of HF radio I want, where to put it, where to locate the antenna and other fun things like that.

The past week or so I’ve been surfing the Ham Radio category on ebay just to see what kind of equipment people put up for sale there. I’m a bit of a sucker for older/vintage equipment, so while there are lots of shiny new radios available, my attention tends to get drawn to the older stuff. I don’t know how practical it would be for me to own and use older gear, but they do look pretty cool. Maybe by the end of the year or early 2013 I’ll have my own rig set up.

There are BarcampCHS sessions to prepare for, a garage to clean out (to make room for more workbench space) and ham shack space to think about. Thanksgiving will bring the #WATwitter (Worked All Twitter) QSO Party where I’ll be getting on the air with Connie/NR4CB to get Twitter/ham contacts. Work us on HF and you’ll get a 2-for-1 QSO!


After a couple of weeks of intensive study, I successfully upgraded my amateur radio license from General to Amateur Extra!

Once it shows up in the FCC database in about a week or so, I’ll apply to for a vanity call sign which I’m told takes about 3 weeks and then I can get an amateur radio license plate and work at becoming a VE and be able to give exams to others.

I’m especially pleased that Connie/NR4CB was able to be one of the VEs at today’s test and signed on my paperwork again. She was there when I got my General and signed my paperwork back then and did the same for me today.

I guess I have to see about getting an HF radio now and start surfing the bands.

“I know Morse code”

“Show me”

This has been running through my head a lot lately as I’m learning more letters. I’m up to 10 letters plus the numbers now.




I need to get some practice hearing and then translating.

Can haz upgrade?

After spending the last couple of “spare time” months looking at the material for the amateur radio¬†Extra class exam, I decided it was time to take a more intensive approach. The past week I’ve been spending whatever time I can grab reviewing questions and material, taking practice tests and stuffing more radio material into my brain. I’m having to dust off all the old electronics knowledge I used to have (but never really put to use). The question pool for the Extra test has a lot more questions on electronics and circuits than the Tech or General question pool.

I’m making pretty good progress, and am getting to the point where I’m consistently getting a passing score or very close to a passing score in the practice tests I take. CARS has a testing session this coming weekend (Oct 13) and my goal is to be ready by then to take the test.

Morse Code key 2

The kit I built has been pretty fun to play with, and I’ve got about 6 letters so far that I remember the code for and what letter it represents. There are a few more codes where I have to think about what letter it represents. I’ll be able to start testing myself by listening to some code and trying to interpret it.

In the meantime, I thought it would be cool to start experimenting with the basic kit. Stopped by Radio Shack yesterday and was able to find all the circuit components and a breadboard to recreate a second key. The plan is to lay out the key on the breadboard and get it working, then experiment with some mods. First mod I’d like to try is to insert an LED that lights up when the key is pressed so that it blinks as well as beeps. Then maybe add some volume control. I think there’s a good bit of room for playing with the kit.

I’m also going to need some parts bins for the workbench.