Friday, May 09, 2008

Radio Thrilled the Video Star

Well, I actually did it. I took and passed my first HAM radio test on April 26th and today received my "call sign" from the FCC.

It's an American call sign with the Federal Communications Commission. So, I'll only be able to operate on radiosphere and beyond from Japan once I get permission from the MIC (Ministry of Interior and Communications) and file the papers, etc (oh, and also get a radio!).

But I'm happy as a clam to have achieved a dream I've had since boyhood. When I was in Junior High school I was part of the big CB radio boom. With my little Realistic 23 Channel Citizens Band Transceiver from the attic of our house in Green Village (it was a big attic, the antenna even fit in there!) I spent countless hours making new friends and chatting with old ones over that limited band.

And back then, in school, a classmate whose father was a scientist at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, already had his Amateur Radio License (which I had never heard of until that moment). He knew morse code, which I didn't, with the exception of SOS. He knew all about electronics, whereas I knew just enough to take apart my family's transistor radios but not enough to put them back together without spare parts.

And what was worse, he didn't care for CB. I kind of resented that, since I was having so much fun with it and couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't like it. Plus, I was very proud of the new world of radio I had discovered. But my classmate pointed out how low in output power CB radio was compared with HAM. I had to concede he was right.

And he told me HAMs could talk to others around the world if the conditions were right, and they got a 'skip' off the ionosphere.

Around the world? I was having trouble hearing "Charliefox" on the other side of the woods behind my house!

So I looked into this HAM radio thing. A test? I had to take a test? Morse code? I had to learn Morse code? Cripes, I wasn't ready for that. And even if I was, I knew CB radio would always hold a place in my heart for being my first line cast out into the world of frequencies and wavelengths.

And as for Amateur Radio, life's backburner was to acquire yet another pot of uncooked morsels waiting for that someday to be called done.

Well, that someday is today.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Robby baby! I'm further inspired to go for my HAM license now. More like shamed into it, since I've been yammering on about it all these years. With the right atmospheric conditions and repeaters maybe we'll be able to meet up out on the ether. You'll have to keep us posted on your progress with the hardware end, and of course the Japanese bureaucratic demands to be allowed to operate there.

9:11 PM  
Blogger supercublogger said...

Righteeoo, Chief! Thanks for the kudos. And I thank you for kickin' me in the butt to get it done. If you hadn't I'd probably not have noticed they were offering the test in Tokyo in the first place. Nice work. And even if you didn't ask, you can be sure I'll be seeking out your advice on gear for the shack.

4:06 PM  

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