I passed my Ham Technician test yesterday.
Those who are reading this blog, who know me in person, are probably incredulous right now that I did this, as I’m not a fan of the telephone. I would literally rather drive miles to see someone in person rather than talk to them on the phone, even if that means waiting until I have other errands to run and making a marathon day out of it.
As I was studying, and indeed even as I was waiting in line (!) to pay my fee for testing, I was very much of two minds about this: 1. that this is an incredibly ‘geeky’ thing to do, which while I AM a geek, is not in my list of geeky things to accomplish. I’m not tech savvy, my husband had to set up this blog site for me, and I still need his help on a regular basis for anything technology related. And 2. This is absolutely something I need to have and to upgrade, whether I want to or not, because the time is coming when I’ll need it.
Why will I need it? Well, for one thing, I live in a part of the country with patchy cell phone coverage. Mountains tend to disrupt cell signals pretty well it turns out. Add to that the fact that I live less than 3 miles from my ‘home’ cell tower, I can see it from my living room, yet on most days I can’t get a steady signal from it, tells me that cell phone companies are having hard times too, and who knows how much longer my company will continue to invest in maintenance of every tower they have? Especially the ones in the rural areas, as mine most definitely is? In fact, if the economy gets worse as many are predicting, how much longer will my cell provider even be in business?
That is why I need to have a Ham license. Whether or not the repeaters are running, there are, literally, Hams EVERYWHERE. And nearly all of them have radios with them at all times. Which means that even if the repeaters for the radio towers go down, there will still be relay of messages via line-of-site. Which means I will be able to keep in contact with my spouse and loved ones if I get into trouble on the road or something.
National Field day, which is probably one of the biggest Ham events in the country, is at the end of this month. Mr. TF and I plan to attend; him because he’s the president of the club and he loves Ham radio; me because I never pass up the chance to eat brats* with mustard — and it will be a good way to get practice with lots of other ‘geeks’ who know a LOT more than I do. I will, however, also be bringing my folding chair and my spinning wheel with me….there’s only so much modern technology I can deal with in a day that I’m not working.
Surprisingly, there is a large contingent of Hams who also suspect things may be going in a …. not positive direction in our country, and who are aware of the potential for Ham to be a vital communications link. And that contingent is growing by leaps and bounds — I don’t know statistics, but based on listening to the club members who are or have been examiners, I would have to say that the ‘hobby’ is growing in popularity spectacularly quickly these days. There were eleven people who tested with me, and two of them drove for about 80 miles to test. In a community that still is listed as a rural community according to the census, no less.
Next on the list is getting a small solar set up, and getting a bank of batteries together. Doesn’t do much good to have radio capability in the ‘long emergency’ if one doesn’t have power for the radios.
*disclaimer* Brats are food of the gods. I may go to hell, and I may die of cancer, but they are one of the few meats I eat without checking to see that they’re sustainably raised. Especially when they’re provided as part of a potluck.