We have the ability every day to listen to radio transmissions from one amateur to another across the globe, or just across the town. We can listen in on conversations from the International Space Station, Lambert International Airport, and the Hurricane Watch Net. These daily transmissions over the air are usually benign and result in no true emergencies, but every-so-often there is an issue. What do we do then? How do we handle ourselves?
My answer to these questions goes back to a different question of “what have we been doing?” I believe that we should all start to enjoy our hobby more often and get on the air. We should listen to conversations among other amateurs. We should participate in the “rag chews.” This is why I think we should do this. We need to be prepared. Let’s start with just listening in. The more that we hear over the radio the better our ears and our brain will be able to understand the conversation. There is no question that practicing Morse code will make you improve your skill, but the same thing applies to other modes, including voice. The more we expose ourselves to the sound of the radio, the better we will get at picking out the meaning of the transmission.
Amateur radio operators are generally good and caring people that want to help others. I have personally had a Ham offer me a ride, because he heard a conversation on the air between my wife and myself, that I was having car trouble. I have heard others offer advice and support to those in need. They have been willing to make a call, give a ride, or offer advice to deal with an issue that is being experienced. Ham’s that live near wilderness areas, tend to listen in to 146.52 every third hour starting at 0700 their local time. This is done just to lend a hand. Most of us have heard the news stories of how a local Ham managed to get help to someone who was injured, just through the use of radio. All we have to do is listen and participate in normal Ham radio transmissions.
Amateur radio nets are an even better way to get used to the procedures of talking on the radio. Nets that are routinely on the air help us to hone our skills of communication. SLSRC has a weekly net on Tuesday evenings (146.850) that is very relaxed. You can join in on the net and learn how to improve your on-air communication. Try keeping notes on who has checked into the net. The more that you listen to the nets, the more you will start to recognize who is sending out their call. This can even be done while listening to someone send Morse code. You start to pick-up on their style of sending.
I encourage everyone to get on the air and participate in your hobby of Amateur radio. Remember that if we don’t use it, we could lose it. This does not only apply to the frequencies, but also it applies to the skills that we develop while on the air. Start with our Tuesday night nets at 19:30 on the 146.850 repeater. I hope that none of us has to deal with an emergency while “playing” radio, but it is possible. The more we are on the air, the more we will be smooth and accurate during a true need. Remember that the radio is not only for our enjoyment, but the same technology that we get to enjoy as a hobby, has a very real world application in keeping people safe on a day to day basis.
I hope to hear you soon on the air. Get on our repeaters and chat. Enjoy the hobby that you actively studied for. You have earned the right to use the radio, enjoy it!
Bill Carroll, KC9CIK