Happy New Year!The New Year has arrived and Hams, like so many others, may have a few resolutions to consider. I think we all recognize that the hobby is going through change. While the number of licensed Amateurs in North America continues to increase, likely due in large part to the ease with which a license exam can be passed, the number of ‘active’ hams seems to be diminishing. One only has to monitor a repeater or tune in to a weekly net to realize that participation has dwindled. With this in mind, I offer a list of amateur radio new year’s resolutions and encourage you to try to adopt some or all with your own goals for 2020.
On the west coast we hear about the impending ‘300-year’ earthquake frequently and have regular drills to prepare, including checking into an emergency net. That earthquake could happen tomorrow or at some point past our lifetime—despite some believable scientific data, no one knows for sure. But there are more common calamities that could happen sooner, and have over the past few years. A major snow or wind storm… an extended power outage.
"Five minutes before the party is not the time to learn to dance"
It is a good idea to make preparations now without the stress of a fast approaching deadline. If you are thinking of replacing or building an antenna for use in an emergency, now is the time to build it and test it out at a leisurely pace. We have in the past, and will continue to present, home built antenna projects in SARC publications. If you’re not that handy, ask about the antenna workshop we offer to all our Basic course students. We also have a cadre of willing ‘Elmers’ who will help you with advice and assistance to set up that antenna.
Another aspect of Amateur Radio that comes into focus now is contest season. There is a contest every weekend in January, just check the calendar on: https://www.contestcalendar.com/.
SARC has a contest group with tutors, and we invite your participation. Even if you only have a passing interest in contesting, come and try it at least once. Emergency focused radio operators will find contesting has many of the same challenges, and you will improve your skills, thereby becoming a better communicator.
Have a go at operating away from your usual location. It has been dubbed “Ham Radio Alfresco." There are so many hills, parks and beaches in our area that if you can’t find a place to throw a little wire in a tree and operate with low power off a battery, you aren’t looking hard enough. Your “portable” station can be anything from a handheld or QRP single band rig to one of the big three’s latest 100 watt wonder radios that do everything from DC to Daylight. Just turn the power down so the battery lasts more than 10 minutes and you too can add another few ‘Qs’ to your logbook.
If you are thinking about trying to upgrade your license, now is the time to start studying. If your storage shed has a ton of old radio stuff in it, get busy and drag it all out into the sunlight and sort it out or throw it out. If you find you have a working radio or accessory that you do not need any more, consider donating it to your local Amateur Radio group.
Come to a monthly meeting. You will find interesting presentations, lots of information and friendly fellow SARC members.
And lastly, please make an effort to use our repeaters once in a while. It would be very encouraging to hear some conversation outside of net night but, speaking of our net, please check in there too, we meet every Tuesday at 8pm 147.360 MHz (+600 KHz) Tone=110.9, or via Echolink.
73, and Happy New Year!
~ John VE7TI, Editor