Beginner’s Corner January 2018

Happy New Year 2018

With the Year 2018 around the corner, many people make resolutions to try to better themselves. We ham radio operators may be called upon to becomes emergency communicators.  Gaining more knowledge and experience is a good thing for us to do.  The author, after pondering some ideas on improving his emergency communication skills, has come up with a few ideas worth sharing.

  1. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is excellent places to serve as an emergency radio operator. Joining ARES provides one with many opportunities to practice emergency communications.  They also have meetings and special events that provide training and practice.
  2. In an emergency, we discourage self-deployment, but in non-emergency situations, it is a great idea, and a lot of fun, too. This is called going portable.  Basically, you take whatever equipment you would need to set up in an emergency and try your equipment out.  See how well your power source works.  Check your radio and antenna’s performance.  You can go as far away from your station as you like, or just set up in the back yard.  By practicing for a deployment, you can make a list of whatever equipment you need, including cables, to set up in a real emergency.
  3. At the recent Atlanta Ham Jam meeting, an official from the American Radio Relay League made one of the most profound statements ever heard about amateur radio. He said, “An amateur radio license is a license to learn.”  No one in amateur radio knows everything, not even hams who have been licensed for fifty years or more.  There is always something new to learn.  That being said, here are some sources for new information:
    1. The American Radio Relay League publishes an excellent monthly magazine.  It comes with your ARRL membership. (You do belong to the ARRL, don’t you?)  There are also several other amateur radio publications to choose from. You can find magazine articles about every aspect of amateur radio.
    2. The ARRL is a source of numerous books, but there are other publishers who put out books of interest to amateur radio operators as well.
    3. Yahoo Groups. Most clubs have a Yahoo group or what is called a “reflector”. Perusing them, you can often find interesting topics.  GARS has a reflector, (  Look for GARS.) There are also specialty groups as well.  You might find one for a particular radio that you have or a group that specializes in a particular mode of operation.  Check the Yahoo groups out.
    4. The Internet. YouTube is a great source of information. There are thousands of videos on just about any topic you are interested in.  There are also regularly scheduled programs such as “Ham Nation” and “Amateur Logic” that are entertaining, as well as informative.
    5. Joining a local ham radio club like GARS is a good thing. Not all clubs are equal.  Some are specialty clubs while others are general interest; their interests include everything amateur radio.  Try out several clubs if you can. Find a club you like and join.  Don’t be afraid to go up and introduce yourself to others at their meetings and activities.

As amateur radio operators and emergency communicators, there is a wealth of information out there to help us improve our skills. Happy New Year to everyone and may amateur radio be rewarding to all of us.


By David Harden, KJ4CMY