About Me

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Welcome to my little piece of the cyberworld. This site is focused on two loves of mine--ham radio, and nature. In addition to paddling kayaks and canoes, camping, flyfishing and photography...I am a major Jimmy Buffett fan (fans are known as Parrotheads). But, location, work and finances sort of got in the way of being a beach bum as a career. I enjoy outdoor pursuits, especially being around water. I am also an animal lover and have several pets. There are lots of posts, and some are multi-part. Be certain to look through the older ones before you leave the site! In addition to my Blog page, check out my page at Ham Radio Nation and do a search for KJ4KKI. I also have a Facebook page at steve.kj4kki.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cursing Hams -- a truly bad example.

This evening, I was on 80m and 40m, playing around with my FT-857D. It is the accompanying mobile/portable radio to my shack FT-450. Anyway, I'm getting the feel of the menu selections and tweaking it.

On several rag chews, I hear at least one ham, if not the whole group using extremely foul language. They were curing in general; insulting each other and encouraging the group to have more drinks. Others used cursing to express their opinions on topics.

I read the books, articles and journals about what it means to be a ham radio operator. I have always considered myself to be polite and considerate on the air. I've even been as much of an email Elmer as I was able to. Keep in mind that this was on the Extra Class portion of the bands. To have people who are this rude and undeserving of the license truly upsets me. To think that they may be older hams; especially Extra Class...downright makes me angry. My only hope is that they might be preppers who never aimed to have any regard for acceptable radio behavior. It would be great if the FCC could find them and crack down on this type of behavior.

And while I am at it...please do not tune up on frequency during a net or other conversation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keep the Nepal Earthquake Victims in Your Thoughts and Prayers

Not a lot to report here on my own ham radio. I have gotten some good DX over the spring, talking to 1st time contacts in countries. But, that is not the point of my post.

My email just notified me of 2 more earthquakes in Nepal. After all they've been through, it is heart-breaking to think what has happened to their lives and general survival. Think about your norm... You get up and maybe eat breakfast. Then, you go off to work or school. Maybe you pick up the kids after school and take them to sports practice. Everybody has supper and maybe watches some television...or you get on the radio to see how the RF is doing.

Now imagine that taken away from you. Your home is gone. Maybe some family members or friends are dead. Your entire way of life is gone. That is what has happened to these people.

I was listening the other night to a rag chew on either 80m or 40m (I forget), and the topic was ham radio's emergency response and assistance in situations such as these. One ham commented that by the time anybody gets around to mentioning our role in the emergency, other agencies have taken over the limelight and we're often forgotten. Lots of times, we seldom get mentioned for the selfless volunteerism and personal cost that we "cheerfully" give. It can be a bit disappointing.

But as I mentioned, that isn't the topic. Let us continue to keep these disaster victims, and the aid workers in our hearts and prayers...and hope something like that never happens to us.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Passed Amateur Extra Exam--You Should Do It Also!

Well, today...after a very long period of procrastination...I passed my Extra exam with 94%. That means I missed 3 questions out of 50...well sort of... I didn't go with my first choice on a question on RMS/Peak to Peak Voltage, or I would have made a 96%. Anyway, for anyone thinking of pursuing the Amateur Extra Class, here are some words of encouragement.

First off, it is a workable goal. I once wrote a dissertation where the anxiety level was devastating. A professor told me the secret: one page at a time. Like a lot of hams, I aimed to go for it, but life, family and not wanting to give up free time just put studying on the back burner. I let the date expire on my ARRL study book, and then my 2 year subscription on Ham Test Online expired...still no exam. So, I re-purchased a 2 year subscription and got the Gordon West book to study. I also downloaded a ham test program to my tablet and phone.

I studied whenever possible. I tried to follow the advice on the web site of Ham Test Online. I would get tired of studying for a while, and then have to re-learn some of it. I would have to remind myself that this was something I really wanted, and to keep plugging along. I did one specific thing they suggested: I did not take a bunch of practice exams, but kept the program in study mode. In retrospect, I think that kept a lot of anxiety away as I did not keep failing exams while studying.

I drove to a city a little over an hour away to take the exam. If I failed it, at least the local guys wouldn't know about it... I don't recall a time when I've been so nervous about taking an exam. From what I'd heard, the Spanish Inquisition might have been easier. My hands were severely shaking while I filled out the form.

Then, I got the exam. I answered the questions that I knew the answer to first. Then, I went back to the so-so ones and completed them. Then, I completed the ones that were hardest. I wrote those down (something like 7-8) to see about later. The examiners graded the test, making wise-cracks about if I wanted to take the test again. Hoping for the best, I sat there and joked back with them. One of them took the questions I had noted and looked at them. I found out that if I had gone with my first choice on the RMS question, it would have been correct. Of the 7-8 I wrote down, only 1 was a wrong answer. I had been so afraid of all the electrical questions, math formulas, and components! In the end, not only were there less than I had anticipated, but they weren't that hard to answer.

In the end, I walked out as KJ4KKI/AE, soon to be an official Amateur Extra Class ham. The pressure to study is over. The anxiety is over. I sort of feel like a kid on Christmas night. The excitement is over; I have my toys, but the anticipation is gone. In that void, there is now a sense of pride and accomplishment. Like the Army, I want to be all that I can be.

I hope that you can get your Extra also. Good luck!