a ham i am!

I just got my amateur radio license. If you’re unlucky enough to be on the 2m and 70cm bands around Toronto, you may just find me as VA3PID. The 3 is, of course, silent …

I guess that (so far unsuccessfully) futzing around with the small digital transceivers with Arduino made me look up some radio things, then I read this article on MetaFilter. It made me realize that unless new hams get on the air, the hobby will die, and the radio spectrum will be reallocated.

Passing the test wasn’t that hard, but did take a bit of dedicated reading. No morse code is required for the Basic Amateur Radio Operator Certificate, and if you get more than 80% in the multiple choice test, you can use the HF frequencies below 30 MHz. Since the pass mark is 70%, I thought it worth the extra effort.

I slightly overbought on the study materials. I got:

While it’s possible to download the question bank from Industry Canada, or use the quaint Windows-based examiner program, I thought I’d work from a book. Both will likely do pretty well, but neither is perfect:

  • Both books need to work on their proof-reading.
  • Mathematical symbols, superscripts and subscripts are easy to typeset these days. Don’t miss them out.
  • They need to be fully metric, as trying to remember weird factors to convert fractions of a wavelength to feet is annoying. I’m a mid-career engineer, and I’ve never had to use anything but metric.

I passed the exam on Tuesday night, and had my callsign listed by Friday. I have a cheap but adequate Wouxun dual band HT. This should be fun.

Quaint, huh? Industry Canada's Windows-only examiner software

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