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Are you a ham?

Are you a ham radio operator?  Are you interested in becoming a ham radio operator?  It’s a great hobby and community service.  Amateur radio has been around since the early 1900’s and it is at the forefront of technological innovation.  The transistor was invented by a ham, astronauts on the International Space Station are hams. Many famous people are hams; the late Sen Barry Goldwater, Joe Walsh from the Eagles, Ronnie Milsap, Jim Croce, Walter Cronkite, Hugh Downs, Marlon Brando, the King and Queen of Jordan, the King of Spain, and many others enjoy this hobby as do many “regular folks” like me.

It's not just an "old man's" hobby, kids as young a 5 years old are getting licensed and the oldest ham is just over 100 years old.  Women and girls are active in the hobby too.  It is truly an inclusive hobby.

I have been a ham radio operator since 1978 when my friend helped me get my Novice license. I have been active since then, trying new radios, building antennas, working with electronics, talking with ham radio friends around the world. 

It is a very diverse hobby, hams don’t care about your politics or religion, they are interested in your radio experiences and what kind of equipment you are using. 

It’s an educational hobby using complex algebra and trig to compute antenna designs or an amplifier's output characteristics.  

It’s a social hobby, often called the first “social media”. 

It’s a public service hobby where licensed hams volunteer to provide emergency communications during disasters. The first information to come out of Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria was transmitted by ham radio operators. 

Hams have been on the front lines of many disasters; the Paradise, CA fire a couple of years ago, recent fires in Colorado, earthquakes in Haiti, California, Peru, and many more.

Ham radio volunteers make up the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, a national organization dedicated to providing critical communications during and after disasters. Here in Thurston County we have the Thurston County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, TCARES. We are attached to the Thurston County Department of Emergency Management and are at their disposal at all times. We are looking for people who are licensed hams interested in public service.

Emergency communications is but one facet of this hobby. Talking to people in far off lands, talking to someone a few hundred miles from you via satellite, making a contact with another person by bouncing a signal off the moon, sending images over the airwaves, these are a small sample of what ham radio operators do on a regular basis. 

But wait, there’s more! 

We report bib numbers of runners on the course at the Capital City Marathon, we test our emergency capabilities each June at our Field Day, we help each other with station improvements, we provide opportunities for Scouts to get on the air, we organize radio “nets” in neighborhoods and HOA’s for community safety. This is just a small taste of what ham radio is all about.

There are ham radio license classes available here in Olympia and license testing happens on a monthly basis.  If this interests you, contact me at w7plc@arrl.net or Doug Grover, N7POV, dtgrover4975@gmail.com and we will help you get setup for this amazing experience.