So this past weekend the Red River Radio Amateurs had their annual Hamfest. After many suggestions that I take the test and get my FCC license, I studied up and headed out there. I had no idea what to expect, so I brought along a friend to keep me company. When I got there, a gentlemen from the National Weather Service was giving a presentation on WSR-88D (basically, Doppler Radar). That was the first sign that I was in the right place. As we walked through the doors to the flea market area, we knew we were in the right place. Rows of tables lined with radio equipment, computers, electronics parts, and odd stuff that just looked cool. We walked around, finding some interesting items. There was a low-voltage tester that looked about 50-60 years old. It was in a solid metal case, and just looked really cool. We also found an old Commodore 64 (we think…) for sale for $25. But the best would probably be a couple of VHF radios for near $100. Had I gotten my license, I would have gotten a radio there and called it good. Unfortunately, the testing was late in the event, and so most of the good stuff was gone by the time I was license-bound.
I did successfully get my Technician class license. I’m going to be studying up for the General class exam so that I can have access to the lower frequency bands (the ones that go farther distances, like Italy and Spain). Right now I have access to most everything in the 50Mhz+ bands, and am cutting my teeth on VHF (2 meter). I was fortunate to find a gentleman in Fargo that was willing to sell his old handheld to me for a great price. It is a Yaesu FT-11R 2m handheld with a load of features. I also received an offer for a mobile VHF unit, but it was more expensive, and I knew that the handheld would work out of the box with no power concerns (Mobiles need a power supply, like a car, or a bench supply. I have no bench supplies, and I’d like to use it outside the car.) I’m concerned that the handheld’s battery is not very good, but I’m still playing with it and seeing if I can power it without a battery (like…from a car).
All in all, I’m having a great time. I’m meeting new people (unfortunately I haven’t gotten to put faces to call signs yet) and learning a lot about this quite huge world of Amateur Radio.