Hamvention returns this Friday, Saturday and Sunday! This week we asked Eric Vinande (KG6NFJ), Make It Dayton member about ham radios and details on KB6NU’s One-Day Tech Class at the Dayton Maker Faire this summer.


What got you in to ham radio?

I had an elmer (amateur radio mentor) while working in the early 2000’s in California that inspired me to join a local club and get “radio-active.” I bugged Jerry (W6OJE) with lots of questions and he gave me advice on which type of radio equipment to start with.  He helped me build an HF antenna for the 20 meter (14 MHz) band which I still use.

Why should people care about ham radio?

Amateur/ham radio is a very diverse hobby and most folks tend to specialize in a few areas.  From talking with folks on VHF/UHF frequencies across town on local repeaters to communicating with folks around the world on HF frequencies, voice transmissions are one way hams communicate.  Others utilize digital modes where text and/or images are transmitted and received via radio-enabled computer links.  For example, ionospheric propagation paths can be monitored with relatively low power signals from Raspberry Pi-based transmitters.

Touchscreen radio – Icom IC-7300

Where can people get started with Ham Radios? 
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio in the US.  Their website (http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio) has descriptions of the many facets of the hobby and how the licensing procedure works.  Local clubs (http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club) can also be a great source of information, equipment, and encouragement.
What kind of skills do I need to get started?
Working through the concepts on the license tests may be slightly easier if you have some electronics knowledge, but most test preparation materials will explain with sufficient detail for those just starting out.  Mainly just a desire to learn and experiment is all that is needed to get started in the hobby.
What will people get out of the 1-day class at Maker Faire?
After the 1-day technician license class (and some minimal reading prior to the class), students will have learned enough to pass the test and get on the air.  Only so much can be learned from books and presentations about how to effectively operate radio equipment.  Most of the learning happens when you begin pressing the “push to talk” (PTT) button on your radio and start communicating with fellow hams on the air!  As an incentive, if you join the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club after passing the technician license test, they will give you a pre-programmed dual-band (140/440 MHz) handheld radio so you can participate in local nets on area repeaters.


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