Rookie Roundup

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club ran a station for the ARRL Rookie Roundup today. While we ourselves were ineligible to operate, we did put out an invitation to all the newly licensed Technicians from our Fall and Winter classes to come out and get their feet wet in HF. The idea, of course, was to show them that there's a whole other world out there in Amateur Radio beyond what they hear on VHF/UHF.

Club member Dave KD2FSI, who qualifies as a Rookie by time, volunteered to set up the station. I say Dave qualifies as a Rookie by time, because by the rules of the contest, he does - he was licensed less than three years ago. However, he is certainly not a Rookie by experience. He has already upgraded to General and is a very busy Ham, diving headfirst into many different facets of the hobby, portable operations being one of his favorite. I wish I could take credit for steering him in that direction, but Dave discovered that joy on his own, without my help.

We had agreed to meet at Putnam Park in town at Noon, in order to set up for the 2:00 PM start. By the time I got there, Dave already had things quite well in hand.

Marv K2VHW and Drew W2OU served with distinction in the coaching perspective. Marv is quite the instructor. He has a gift and a natural talent for teaching and was able to make our Rookies feel like Old Pros in no time.

Here's a picture of Marv explaining to Mario the ins and outs of making a SSB Contest QSO. Mario made his very first HF QSO today, and the process was amazing to watch. The first few QSOs were halting and tentative, but due to Marv's excellent guidance, Mario was having a blast within short order.

Within a short amount of time, our Rookies were able to handle QSO and logging chores while we stood in the background as control operators for NJ2SP.

The opportunity seemed golden. HF operating under portable ops conditions. With QRPTTF next weekend, how could I not bring the QRP gear along? It's always good to perform a test run, no?

I bungeed my 31' Jackite pole to a nearby post and set up the EARCHI antenna as a sloper.In between my stints as an HF coach, I went to town working stations on 20, 17, 15 and 10 Meters. A lot of the contacts were MM contest QSOs, but there was one ragchew in there, also. I worked

WD4MSM - ragchew
EG8TRV - Special Event Station

Not bad for the time I had, in between helping with QSO procedures, serving as a helping set of ears, and talking with some of our other newly licensed Techs about equipment, making recommendations, etc.

The Rookies had a blast as well. 10 Meters was open to Texas and the West Coast and our newbies were amazed that "talking to a guy in Idaho" was as easy as talking to a guy on the local 2 Meter repeater - and that the guy in Idaho sounded better than the guy on the 2 Meter repeater!

In all it was a fun day. I'm not sure who had more fun - our new Techs in getting their feet wet in HF, or us veterans watching their fun and excitement. It was definitely rewarding, and I hope we pushed some people a little more deeper into this fine hobby.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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