I’m playing radio!

Tom (AJ4UQ) managed to catch me playing radio this morning for the last half of Field Day. I spent a few hours logging, and then finally got onto the radio to make some contacts on the 20m and 40m bands.

Me operating on the radio

I operated the radio for a few hours and managed to make a dozen or so contacts from Ohio, Georgia, south Texas and as far away as eastern Massachusetts and Vermont. This was the first time I actually played radio and did any transmitting. It turned out to be a lot of fun and it didn’t take long for me to get too caught up in finding people to contact to be nervous about being on the radio.

The second half of Field Day was noticeably less crazy and frantic than the first half. 20m was still pretty busy, but not nearly as crazy as it was yesterday. 40m was relatively quiet compared to yesterday, and after a few hours it felt like we had run out of people to contact, because we kept running into the same ones while sweeping through the band.

I did manage to catch W1AW (ARRL’s station) on the air and tried to get them in the log, but I’m not sure they were able to receive me, or else I was just too caught up in their pileup. Also tried to see if I could get Bionic_Nerd too, while she was up in the Boston area on her road trip, but no such luck. She did manage to hear me calling part of the call sign I was using (WA4USN belonging to CARS), but I wasn’t able to pick her up at all. Maybe another time.

Field Day wrapped up at 2PM with just over 200 contacts logged at the phone station. Not sure how the other stations did. After spending a couple more hours cleaning up, putting things away and loading various vehicles it was time to call it a day.

Field Day turned out to be a pretty fun experience on the radio, and there’s nothing like a baptism by fire to get you involved in something.

My pictures from Field Day are up in the photo gallery and also on Flickr.

Field Day 2012

What do you get when ham radio operators all over the country get on the air to contact as many people as they can in 24 hours? A madness filled event called Field Day.

Yesterday I participated in my very first amateur radio ARRL Field Day, and it was in a word, madness.

The Charleston Area Radio Society (CARS) held their Field Day event on board the USS Yorktown, where they had a few radio rigs set up for phone (voice), digital, satellite tracking and CW (Morse code) from the trailer.

Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station near the port gun turret on the USS Yorktown
Radios and laptops set up for a Field Day station

The CARS Field Day activities were well organized. The madness was happening on the air, with everybody trying to contact everybody and making for just a chaotic jumble of overlapping voices on top of the static (at least to my noob ears). Most stations came in pretty loud and clear on the phone (voice) station, although a bunch more we were struggling to pick up out of the static.

I spent a most of my time at the phone station logging contacts and helping to decipher the contact info from the static so I didn’t get on the air. It’s a little bit intimidating at first with all the activity happening. It was pretty cool making contacts with other operators though. Managed to get people from Ontario and Saskatchewan, across the country in Los Angeles and even heard someone from Croatia. We spent a while trying to pick out his call sign from the static and trying to establish a contact, but I don’t think he was receiving us. Would have been a cool contact to make.

Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station
Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station

Had a really good time helping out with the Field Day events (I only smacked my head on a bulkhead once) and am looking forward to getting back to it today until it wraps up at 2PM this afternoon. I’ll probably even try operate the station and get on the air for a few hours.

I can haz radio?

Now that I have my amateur radio license, I needed a radio to play with. After browsing a few catalogs, checking out some reviews and some websites, I settled on a Yaesu VX-8DR which arrived today.

It’s got a lot of buttons, a lot of capabilities and will take me a while to figure it out. It seems like a pretty decent radio that I’ll be able to grow into as I learn more about amateur radio. I’m looking forward to playing with it.

So far I’ve managed to catch some activity on one of the local repeaters. Just lurking for now learning how radio people talk and announce themselves.


My new call sign just showed up in the FCC database. Now I am an official ham radio guy!

All I need now is a radio.

Newly minted ham

The Atlanta Hamfest today was pretty cool. A pretty decent number of people, and lots of radio related gear up for sale. So many gadgets. I’ve always wanted an oscilloscope to play with, and there were lots of them up for sale.

Sat in on Connie’s forum on the social side of ham radio, which went pretty well. Some pretty good discussion and participation from the people that attended.

After that it was ham licensing exam time. I managed to pass the General exam so now I am a licensed ham radio guy (once it goes through the FCC). I took the Extra exam because I could, but didn’t really expect to pass it since I went into it pretty much cold and with no prep. I figured I was prepared enough to get General, and that’s what I ended up with so I’m pretty pleased with that.

Connie took this picture of me with my CSCE (Certificate of Successful Completion of Exam) showing that I passed the General test.

Me posing with my CSCE (Certificate of Successful Completion of Exam)
Me with my CSCE

Now to see if some of my ham radio friends will let me hang out with them and see how it works. Will probably find out sometime next week what my call sign is. If there are enough examiners at Southeast Linuxfest next weekend, I’ll try to do the Extra exam there (and hopefully be more prepared for it).

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