Put Ham Radio on your list of New Year’s Resolutions

From Dale, AB4DK, Public Information Officer for TN ARES

Happy New Year,

I’m thankful for each one of you that has been involved with Amateur Radio this year across the Lakeway regional Area and our great State of Tennessee and as we slide out of 2021 and into 2022, it’s natural to think about plans for the coming year. And I’d like to ask a favor of you — please put Ham Radio on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Here are some ideas to consider:

If you are not yet a licensed Ham Radio Operator, get your license this year. If you have not yet passed your General or Extra test, do it this year. Having trouble studying or passing? Have a look at some tips on this Web Site that I think will be helpful. http://www.hamonlinetests.com/

Try something. I’ve heard some say that there are 30 different kinds of Ham Radio, and there’s something there for everyone. FM repeaters and HF SSB just scratch the surface. You already have a computer. New digital and sound card modes seem to appear weekly. Not long ago, no one had heard of FT-8. It’s now, by many accounts, the most popular HF Digital mode. Have you tried 6 Meters yet? The Magic Band can yield some surprising contacts. How low can you go? There’s some interesting action on our newest bands at 630 and 2200 Meters. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Ham Bands well into the GHz region. Microwaves are useful for more than making popcorn! Or maybe try some SSB or CW on 2 Meters or 70 Centimeters? Every Ham has full privileges on all of the bands above 30 MHz. Antennas for VHF and UHF are small and easy to construct from hardware store parts. It doesn’t have to be pretty — an ugly antenna will radiate just as well. Use your imagination and let’s try something different!

Do something. Set an achievable Ham Radio goal for the year — and then work at it! Earn DXCC or WAS, maybe on a single band? Better your contest score by 10%? Get your CW speed up to 20 WPM? Reorganize and rewire the shack? Order a copy of the ARRL Handbook or Antenna Book, and start increasing your technical knowledge? Convert your paper logs to electronic format and start using Logbook of the World? I’ve often heard this saying “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Just do it!! I know the man that wrote the book of the same title!

Build something. Not to many years ago, as I newly licensed Ham I got interested in going back to building stuff (my background is in electronics from my High School days). I built some kits for ham radio including a 40 meter single band radio kit from a ham in India, great kit, maybe not exactly cutting edge, but it worked and led me to build plenty of other handy gadgets over the last few years. Jim, W4OBY got me interested in building antennas, I was hooked. Simple projects can also be a great way to teach new hams the basics of soldering and kit-building. String up that antenna you’ve been thinking about forever and see how it plays. Download a free antenna modeling program and learn how to use it to design and build your own Homebrew antenna . Order a kit and assemble it. Melt some solder and have fun! Once you start you’ll be hooked.

Learn something. Microcontrollers like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and PICaxe are quite inexpensive. With a few LEDs and pushbuttons you can learn simple programming to get started. There are plenty of useful Ham Radio projects that you can find online. And if you have an idea for your own gadget, you’ll have a lot of fun learning how to roll your own computer code.

Teach something. You know how to do things others don’t, but would like to learn. Are you already familiar with programming microcontrollers? How about a club project to teach the basics to other members? Or a demonstration on using Anderson Powerpoles? Or properly installing coax connectors?

Become a “HAMbassador”. Get just one person (or two, or three) interested in Amateur Radio. Offer to demonstrate Ham Radio at the Senior Citizens’ center, Boy or Girl Scout meetings, the Rotary Club, or any similar organization. Groups like that are always looking for an interesting speaker or activity. On-line meetings mean you can do it right from home, no need to travel! A simple but impressive and effective demonstration is to bring an HT and ask for a “Roll Call”. Notify your club in advance… all they need to do is reply with “This is (name, callsign) in (town).” Remember that we’re Hams because we enjoy talking to other people. The more Hams, the more contacts we can make..

Get involved! Join your local Radio Club. If you need help finding a club, look for a local club or go to ARRL.com If you already belong, attend the meetings. Just about every club (not just Radio Clubs) has the same problem — 10% of the people do 90% of the work. You don’t need to volunteer for everything… select an area that interests you, and help with that. Even better, suggest an activity and then take the lead in organizing it. Something as simple as “I’m going to set up a portable station at the park on Saturday morning, everyone is welcome to come by” can be a great time. Check out the POTA (Parks On The Air) Web site for even more fun. If you add “Free coffee and donuts” to your announcement, you’ll draw a real crowd.

Stay positive, ignore the negative. Don’t listen to those who insist that “Ham Radio is dying”. Or better yet, go here http://www.arrl.org/fcc-license-counts where they’ll find that the number of licensees is at an all-time high, Tennessee has 19,807 operators. Participation in contests remains strong, even at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. Manufacturers continue to introduce new models that we could barely dream of just a few years ago. Hamfests that are well-organized and well-run are thriving again. Ham Radio has been evolving for over a century now, and it continues to do so. The Magic of Radio never goes away.

Most of all, resolve to have more fun with Ham Radio in 2022!

Once again, my sincere best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season and New Year.

Final.. Final..

Well, that’s it for this 2021, I’m going QRT… Stay safe my friends! I want to see all of you soon at a 2022 meeting or hamfest!

Promote Amateur Radio everywhere you go and have FUN and get on the airwaves!!

Dale AB4DK

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