I discussed a few days ago How a box fan sparked my interest in amateur radio. If like me you’re just getting started with the hobby then you’ve already discovered the passionate discussions online about when to buy a radio and the qualities that make for a good first tranceiver.
Not sure what I mean? Have you ever been in the company of one guy (or gal) who drives a 5.0-liter Ford Mustang and a second guy (or gal) who drives a 5.7-liter Chevy Camaro? Yes, it’s a lot like that.
I must admit it wasn’t until earlier this year that I learned about the amateur radio hobby while researching how radios transmit and receive. Over the course of the past thirty-something years I had heard the term ham radio and was aware of how CB radios worked, but at this point in my life I had no interest in driving around my neighborhood chatting with someone across town from their 18-wheeler. Boy, was my notion of the narrow scope of amateur radio wrong. DXing? CW? These terms now have my attention.
As my interest developed and I began to retain the knowledge I learned from helpful online contributors, it wasn’t long until I committed to go the extra mile and study for and earn the Technician Class License. At an investment of approximately $15 USD for a ten-year license, it would be a satisfying distinction to earn even if I had no plans to purchase a transceiver. To me it would be a bit like having a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license–braging rights, perhaps? To whom would I brag? Good question. In any event, I currently have my eye on attending an open testing session next month at the nearby local public library.
While studying The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual I came to realize that passing the exam may be a bit trickier than I would have initially thought. Certainly there are test-taking strategies online like memorizing the pool of 400-questions, but I’m approaching this hobby to learn something new. I don’t currently have any real-life ham operator friends therefore I’m not in a race to get “on the air”. It’s a new hobby and I want to take it slow to appreciate the satisfaction it will bring me.
To help retain the subject-matter to pass the Technician Class License I decided to spend a few bucks and purchase a hand-held tranceiver ahead of earning my first license. While a hand-held is not my ideal end-in-mind rig, it seemed everywhere I turned on YouTube I found discussions on entry-level BaoFeng tranceivers. The price is right and there’s plenty of support out there if you need it.
What tipped the scales for me in choosing this particular radio was discovering the HAM Radio Crash Course Series by hoshnasi. His content is clear, concise, and entertaining. And because I use Amazon Prime, I purchased the radio from Amazon through his store as a “thank you” for the great content he produces and shares with beginners to the hobby.
Having a radio in-hand is making knowledge retention easier for me. I’ve found it to be a great way to begin discovering the active amateur radio community who are out there bouncing their signals off me every day. At least now I have an inkling about what they’re discussing.