When last we left my attempt at amateur radio, I had passed my test and ordered a radio. I was awaiting my license from the FCC and looking forward to moving ahead. Since then a bit has happened.
Recently I attended my first local radio club meeting. It was a fascinating experience because I knew almost none of the vocabulary that was being used and I had no experience to use context clues to help me. I sat next to some very nice people who helped me out when I needed it. There were also a lot more people than I thought would be there. Like 90+ people in fact. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
At this point my license and radio had come in. Being nervous of messing something up I had really only listened to hear what I could. I met a gentleman that was willing to help me program my radio to listen to the local (and not so local) chatter which was awesome. After helping me, I also got a tour of our local county emergency services building and I was in awe. I knew we had a lot of resources through the county, but I didn’t think it was so comprehensive.
As I’m writing this, I just finished up my first transmission on my radio to check in with a local net. Basically, I logged in to a conversation of local radio operators during a training session. Was I nervous? Yes. Was it as nerve racking as I thought it would be? No. So far, so good.
I tend to fall into the same trap over and over. I play to my strengths. A common trope right now in the leadership world is making sure that we operate from our strengths instead of work on our weaknesses, and I can understand why. Why would I work harder on things that I could delegate to those who are gifted in that area? I decided about two weeks ago that I was going to take on a new learning opportunity that I have no background in.
I am a history teacher by trade, hopefully you already know this. My wheelhouse is compare/contrast, primary sources, reading, and writing. In general, I like to tell stories about the past. Very little of my day-to-day brain power is delegated to the math or science part of my brain. While I do enjoy learning things that I am naturally inclined to, I started thinking about times in my life when I really enjoyed learning new things. The nerd part of me began longing for the merit badge system of the Boy Scouts (now the Scouts).
There are programs out there for adults that are merit badge based, but I cannot afford their prices. So I thought about an area that does not cost too much to get into that flexes the math and science area of my brain. It would be a bonus if it provided a skill that I could use in the future (potentially). So I settled on Amateur Radio, better known as “Ham Radio”.
My first step towards getting on the air was passing the licence exam. The initial licence costs under $20 and a book or app to study. For this exam I bought the book and the app, but I found the app much easier to study in small amounts of time. I had a little under a week before the local ham radio club offered the test, so I studied my tail off during that time. I showed up on test day and passed the test. I am now waiting on the FCC to issue me a licence.
In the mean time (since it can take a couple of weeks), I ordered my first radio. I opted for the handheld variety to start out with. I also signed up for the local ham radio club which conveniently is right around the corner from my house. I am going to keep updating my progress and how much I’ve learned. Who knows, maybe this will start the trend of me having all kinds of other learning adventures.