Is Amateur Radio on your list of New Year’s Resolutions?
Here are some ideas to consider:
- If, by chance, you are not yet licensed, get your license this year. If you have not yet passed your Standard or Advanced, do it this year. Having trouble studying or passing? Contact ARNSW education on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Try something new, there is something for everyone! FM repeaters and HF SSB just scratch the surface. New digital and sound card modes seem to appear weekly. A year ago, no one had heard of FT-8. It’s now, by many accounts, the most popular HF Digital mode. D-Star, DMR, and other digital voice modes are growing by leaps and bounds. Have you tried 6 Meters yet? The Magic Band can yield some surprising contacts. How about SSB or CW on 2 Meters or 70 Centimeters? Every Antennas 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 try something different! If you need ideas, checkout the internet for ideas. Peter Parker VK3YE has just published an e-book, see vk3ye.com
- Do something. Set an achievable Amateur 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? Increase your technical knowledge? Convert your paper logs to electronic format and start using Logbook of the World? Try QRP. SOTA (Summits of the Air), WWFF (World Wide Fauna and Flora). Enter a Field Day or Contest. Chase a satellite.
- Build something. There are many simple things to build. Work up to building your very own transceiver, there are plenty short form or long for project kits available. 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 modelling program and learn how to use it to design and build your own. 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 many 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 an Ambassador for Amateur Radio. Get just one person (or two, or three) interested in Amateur Radio. Offer to demonstrate Ham Radio at the Senior Citizens’ centre, Scouts and Guides meetings, your club outside the hobby, or any similar organization. Groups like that are always looking for an interesting speaker or activity. A simple but impressive and effective demonstration is to bring an HT and line up some contacts in advance… all they need to do is reply with a quick contact. Network with others to present the diversity of this hobby.
- Get involved! Join your local Radio Club. 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. Work with new Amateurs. Help present a Chapter on the Foundation Weekend. 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. If you make it a BBQ you’ll draw a real crowd.
- Stay positive, ignore the negative. Don’t listen to the cranky old farts who insist that “Ham Radio is dying”. 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.
- Most of all, resolve to have more fun with Ham Radio in 2018!
See You Soon!!
(Adapted from an original newsletter from John Bee, N1GNV)