Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Samuel Morse Lives!

What does " .. .--. .- ... ... . -.." mean?

It means "I passed" --- specifically, I passed the 5 wpm morse code test for Amateur (Ham) Radio! I took the test yesterday at and just before the meeting of a local Ham radio club, the Olympia Amateur Radio Society (OARS). Hooray! I took this test before and failed it; I have now redeemed myself.

Hamming it Up

For some reason, last year I decided to get an Amateur Radio license, that is, to become a "Ham". Actually, the occasion for the reason was a push by my local LDS church to enroll new amateur radio operators for emergency operations. It seemed like it might be kind of a "fun" thing to do, so I went to the classes that were put on, and then took and passed the examination for the Technician license class, which is the first license for a modern Ham.

Not long after getting my license (call sign is KD7UST), I obtained a hand-held radio through an eBay auction, and began using it at the weekly Emergency Response Communications net meetings. I decided that I might as well progress further as a Ham, and the most significant step to this would be to pass the 5 word-per-minute morse code test, which is required for the two higher levels of license, General and Amateur Extra. It so happened that I had taken, and passed, the written examination for the General class license at the same time as I passed the Technician exam, so all I needed to get the General class license was the morse code. The written exam was good for a year, so all I had to do was study for and take the morse code test before that year was up.

However, procrastination reared its ugly head. I began studying a bit late in the year, and wasn't really fully prepared by the time I took the test the first time (with one week to the deadline!). Naturally, I failed it. That was in February 2004. Stung by my failure (but not surprised), after a bit of a delay I flung myself again into the fray and got really serious about morse code.

Now that I have passed the morse code, there are a few extra frequency privileges available to me, but I don't have the radio equipment to take advantage of them. When I re-take the General class license exam, which I will do in a few weeks, I will have more privileges. Of course, I will report my progress here.


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