Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Am A Ham. A Ham. I Am.

At the radio club. We were taking pictures of all the birds.
I don't know if I mentioned this before or not, but Hubby and I are hams. Not the kind that you bake for Easter and not the kind that go "oink", but the kind that play with antennas and talk to people in other countries. Well, Hubby is that kind of ham. Amateur radio ham. I am more of a spectator. I could blog all day and share everything about my life and be fine. But I get shy and clam up when I have to talk to someone in person/via radio waves, lol. I actually hate talking on the phone too. 

So why did I become a ham? Good question. And it took me a while to decide that I did want to take that hammy leap. I've never had an interest in getting on a radio and transmitting to other countries. I don't really know how to make small talk, although I feel like I may be getting better as I get older. Most of the people that are on the radio are 40+ years old, usually 60+ years old. Most of them are men. And most of what they talk about are radios and the weather. I don't usually know what is going on with the weather unless I look outside and take a guess. And I know abso-tootly nuthin' about radios. 


Hubby getting things ready for the Hamfest.
Hubby convinced me that it would be a good safety measure. We had a storm a couple of years ago that got pretty bad. We were expecting tornadoes and I didn't have time to get to the shelter at Hubby's work. So I went down to the first floor (half underground) of our apartment building. Our very old apartment building. I decided that I would rather take my chances on the bottom floor and possibly be crushed than to stay up top and go airborn if a tornado ripped off the roof. Those were my choices at the time, lol. So I had a weather radio with me to listen to the alerts and I had my cell phone. The only problem was that my phone was dying. Hubby had called me to make sure I was ok but my phone died in the middle of the conversation. He knew I was fine, but he is a supreme worrier at heart and knew that he would not have any way of contacting me for a while. 

Hubby at the end of the Hamfest.
The storm ended up just being a strong thunderstorm, no tornado, but it was kinda freaky. Not only did my phone die, but before it died, I was having a hard time getting a signal through the storm. He had a radio on him. I did not. If I would have had a radio, I still would have had the ability to communicate. Radio waves operate more on the atmosphere rather than the Verizon-sphere, lol. So I gave in, studied my little not-so-little booty off, and got my Technician license. I decided it wasn't that big of a deal to just go and get it and then I would have it in case I really did need to use it. Technically if it was an absolute emergency, I could get on and contact someone anyway, but this way I've just got a little experience and a license in case I need communication outside of an emergency and phone lines aren't an option. Better safe than sorry, right?

There are three licenses you can get with ham radio: Technician, General, and Extra. They get much harder as you go along. For some reason, a sense of competition kicked up in me and I ended up studying again and passed my General exam as well. I would have kept going, but the Extra just seemed intimidating and then I got busy and haven't gotten around to studying again. I do not know why I would need an Extra license (like Hubby) given that I don't talk on the radio at all now, lol, but my OCD-ness (pretty sure that's a word, maybe) has got me thinking about it from time to time. So I'm pretty sure it will happen eventually. 
Birthday celebration for our friend at the Fox Hunt! Ignore my horrible Photoshop abilities.
So there you have it. Now you know. I'm a ham. And I am a member of our local radio club. I can't say I've gone to many meetings, but I have gone to a couple of Christmas parties and I helped out with our local Hamfest. 

What's a Hamfest? Think big flea market but the only thing they sell is radio equipment. Ok, that's not true. I know I saw a few rubber chicken noise maker thingies being sold, but for the most part it is a bunch of old men getting together to trade or sell their antennas, tuners, meters, etc.

Out and about, hunting the "fox"! : )
The most recent event was a fox hunt. No, no. I didn't kill a fox. Or even chase one. And we did not have any kind of weaponry. A fox hunt, in the ham world, means one guy goes out with a radio and everyone else has to try to pinpoint his location based on the strength of the transmission signal. Think: game of hot or cold on an adult level. And you don't get a clear answer every time. You really have to pay attention to listen and see if the signal is stronger or weaker. It is actually kind of fun. Like I said, I'm competitive, even with myself, so I wanted to be the first group to find the "fox". And we did! : ) 

Maybe next time I will sign up to be the fox ... of course that would mean talking ... so maybe not, lol. 

Anyone ever heard of ham/amateur radio before or know any other hams? If you see an old man driving around with a huge antenna on his truck, he may just be a ham! : )

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