Where did the year go? Like many of you, yes I’m asking myself that question. It seems just yesterday we were saying goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. But this is what they say about getting older. Time passes by much faster or certainly appears to do so. I’m sure 2012 will also speed past, best sit down and buckle our seat belt.
My 2011 started off a bit slow in the area of my amateur radio hobby involvement. This partly was due to other work and life commitments. I believe it was sometime in early summer when I really got rolling again both with this blog and my amateur radio podcast. I would have to list both of these (the blog and the podcast) as major accomplishments to 2011. Mainly because they both got very close to extinction. With better focus and organization, I’m proud to say that I kept up my publishing schedule and both will be around for a long time. Here are a few of my other highlights for 2011.
1. Amateur Extra
As my regular readers (and listeners of PARP) know. I was licensed as a technician in August 2007 and upgraded to general in January 2008. Since perhaps January 2008, certainly since January 2009, every one of my annual New Years Resolutions involved upgrading to extra. Of course I failed to accomplish this in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But just like clock work I put it on my 2011 list with somewhat of a soft-target of getting accomplished before June 30, 2012. Why June 30, 2012? Well that is when the current extra class question pool expires. I told myself I couldn’t purchase another study guide and I better just get it done.
The half way point of 2011 came and went and I hadn’t really made any progress towards extra preparation. The book was on the bookshelf collecting dust. Then one Tweet from Twitter in early August changed everything. From this tweet I learned about an online (via Echolink) extra class study group which planned to meet twice a week. This was hosted by the South Coast Amateur Radio Service. I signed up and it was exactly what I needed. Even before the 6 week class was finished, I was passing sample tests and on Saturday, 28 August I attended a local VE session where I passed the amateur extra exam.
2. New Amateur Radio Club
I’ve always believed in the importance of belonging to a local amateur radio club. I talk about this on a regular basis on the podcast as I feel it is the best way for new amateur’s to gain experience and also share a common interest with likeminded individuals. Having said that, I certainly realize not all amateur radio clubs are created equal. I’ve heard some real horror stories and while I must state I’ve never experienced any rude behavior towards other hams, I had grown extremely bored with my old club and simply had stopped going to monthly meetings.
Sometime in early September I was invited to attended a club meeting with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Radio Association from Bob Witte, K0NR. I attended my first meeting in September and proud to say this is my new home. In addition to Bob being a member, I’m also extremely fortunate to also share the club with Steve Galchutt, WG0AT. I’ve certainly learned a lot from both.
3. Summits On The Air (SOTA)
I certainly couldn’t end the previous paragraph of talking about Steve and not mention SOTA. I’ve previously explained how I stumbled onto SOTA and will let you read that blog posting if you haven’t already. As we all know, the amateur radio hobby is extremely diverse in what it offers those who participate. SOTA has been a way for me to combine the love of the great outdoors with amateur radio. I’ve completed two SOTA activations and am counting the days until I can get out for #3. If you would like to learn more about the Summits On The Air program, please listen to episode 50 of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast.
JT65 is the weak signal mode that has a lot of our fellow amateur’s talking and for the right reasons. The QSO’s I’ve been able to make and not even always in the best band conditions, really have me excited about this mode. Since I started running JT65, I’ve worked a little over 350 different and unique call signs and it continues to gain in popularity. In addition, JT65 has been successful at allowing me to work many new DX entities. If you would like to learn more about JT65, please listen to episode 46 of PARP.
5. Worked All States
Now one might think having been licensed for over four years I would have collected multiple WAS certificates by now. Especially after holding a general class license with its great HF privileges for almost the entire duration of this time. Yes it is true I’ve also seen many brand new amateurs obtain WAS within their first year or so.
To be perfectly honest, it was never really anything I looked into until just this year. I set my sights on obtaining the basic (mixed mode) version of Worked All States as a New Years Resolution and begin mapping out how to accomplish it. With the help of both my HRD logbook and both eQSL and the ARRL Logbook of the World systems, I identified what I had versus what I needed.
Of course what I found was I had worked many of the states I needed and in some cases multiple times. However, the contact had not been confirmed in either eQSL or LoTW by the other operator. Around the late summer timeframe I worked both the Colorado and Texas QSO parties and along with just casual operating I had managed to get my list down to just two remaining states Wyoming and South Dakota.
Wyoming went into the logbook and was confirmed in early November. This just left South Dakota. Up to this point I had worked and confirmed 49 of the 50 US States without the need of a sked. I had hoped to do this with South Dakota, but time was running out. So in early December I contacted a fellow ham in South Dakota who routinely operates JT65 and asked if he would be willing to work me for SD. He agreed and between me getting sick and the Christmas holiday, we finally managed to complete the sked and South Dakota was in the logbook and confirmed on 26 December. Ironically, two days later I worked another station from SD completely random on JT65. So I suppose even if the sked wouldn’t have been possible, I would have still earned WAS in 2011.
In closing, 2011 has been a very good year for me in the area of amateur radio. As I approach my 5th year of being licensed I’m reminded of what this hobby truly is all about. The friendships I’ve made over the years and especially those who I interact with on a regular basis are truly very important to me. It is these friendships made possible through this hobby which truly help to complete who I am as a person.
The hobby of amateur radio and those who participate in it, are often referred to as ambassadors. We are ambassadors who are not restricted by political, religious or even geographical boundaries. We do what we do and are who we are as individuals because of a common shared interest. It is my wish for the new year for all of us to use this common shared interest and our roles as ambassadors to continue to bridge peaceful relationships around the world.
Until next time and next year,
73 de KD0BIK