ham nets still active

An email from my kid’s school carried a suggestion from a parent that a satellite phone would be helpful in a natural disaster. It might be fine for contacting people outside of the affected area, but within the affected area, you are dependent on the local phone infrastructure, which has a strong likelihood of being out of commission. A handheld ham-radio doesn’t rely on anything external for communications, although it can optionally make use of repeaters.

Interleaved with kid-tending today, I fired up my Yaesu HT and listened to a local 2M repeater which was supporting the local marathon, complete with a net controller and tactical callsigns. After dinner, the repeater nets started coming alive, (first Sunday of the month is apparently a thing,) with checkins from all over the state and part of the neighboring state. I even heard there is an upcoming exercise that is attempting to simulate traffic flows generated from a 9.0 earthquake under field-day (no grid power) conditions. (I’d participate, but I need to get my license back first.)

As in my youth, all hams still seem to be at least a couple decades older than me, but maybe the demographics change in the digital modes, which I have yet to explore.

Or perhaps this is just another iteration on a passing hobby that my eye has currently focused on?

ham radios

I just closed some web tabs containing renewal information about my expired ham radio license which have been festering for over a month now. When my license expiration date came around, I was led to believe that renewal could not be done directly through the FCC, and had to be done through a VEC. I figured if I really wanted to keep my ham license, I should meet up with a local group. It never happened, and my license expired.

I have radio machines. A tube heathkit HW-101, a sandbox HF icom, and a modern tri-band yaesu HT.

The HW-101 was given to me in high school, and barely worked when I got it. In college a ham I met on usenet sent me the full schematics and service manual, and I was able to tune it up a bit, but I could tell that some of the tubes needed replacement. After college, I had a co-worker who got into the surplus tube sorting business with his sister, and was able to get me a few replacements. Since owning a house, I’ve never put up an antenna, and haven’t fired it up. I should get rid of it, as the icom likely bests it in all metrics except for heat production. and sound. and smell. the tube rig has a satisfying hum when it fires up, and smells like toasted dust when it warms up. the filaments glow. the feel can’t be emulated.

the HF icom was pieced together from two friends, one who had the radio, and the other had the power supply. I don’t know how the two components got separated, but they were reunited for me. even without plugging in an antenna I can easily pick up WWV. digital display, all bands, multiple modes. not as tactile as the HW-101, but a lot more practical.

The yaesu HT was purchased when I realized that modern radios usually had receive-only capability over more than just the amateur bands, and I wanted to see if I could listen to local railroad traffic. indeed I could, and the radio was amazingly just slightly over $100. probably the most useful radio in an emergency situation.

I fondly recall a yaesu FT-208R I received as a hand-me-down from a neighbor when I was in high school. I used it to talk on my club’s repeater, and even participate in some club net exercises. it stopped working in college, and I figured I might be able to fix it, but never did. I don’t think I got rid of it until I got the newer HT. the tone encoder was third-party, and had to be manually switched to change the tones. good times.

Only tonight after knuckling down to fill out a paper license renewal form did I take a closer look my license expiration date and realized that the date I had been looking at was a cancellation date, not an expiration date, which meant that my license had no grace period left, and had already been cancelled. So if I want a new license, I get to start from scratch. I’m getting 80% correct walking through the tech question pool doing it totally cold, so maybe not such a big deal… but I do have to track down a local VEC.