Foundations of Amateur Radio

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Starting in the wonderful hobby of Amateur or HAM Radio can be daunting and challenging but can be very rewarding. Every week I look at a different aspect of the hobby, how you might fit in and get the very best from the 1000 hobbies that Amateur Radio represents. Note that this podcast started in 2011 as "What use is an F-call?".

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Foundations of Amateur Radio navigateright Episode

Radio Amateur - the local lunatic

Foundations of Amateur Radio

There are things that surprise me about this amazing hobby of Amateur Radio every day.

One thing that is not a surprise is that some part of the general public thinks that I'm crazy, a lunatic, or worse, someone or something to be feared.

Picture this.

My car is parked in a car-park, next to some bush-land. Behind the car is a 12m fibre-glass squid-pole with a delta-loop hanging off it. The car-doors are open, it's a warm day, and I'm sitting in the driver's seat with a good friend coaching from the passenger side.

I'm calling CQ and trying to figure out if this antenna works.

Cue, Isobelle, she's the local ranger for the park we're in. She pulls up in her truck and comes out with "So, what's going on here then?"

We explain that we're radio amateurs and that we're testing an antenna. She tells us that someone has seen us, phoned it into the ranger and she's been tasked to come out and check.

We'd been set-up for all of 15 minutes.

Two days later, I'm in my local park, 2 minutes walk from my home, trying to see if the delta-loop will reduce some of the RF noise I get at home. I've brought along a fishing rod, some guy wires, walked around the park, found a suitable tree, unpacked my stuff, cast a sinker across the tree, hoisted up the delta-loop, secured it to a nearby fence and strapped the feed point to the tree with some webbing.

I'm sitting on the ground with my radio, having a fine chat with a fellow amateur when two likely lads walk up in ranger uniforms. I tell my fellow amateur that I've got to go, as I have two visitors. We finish up and I ask, "Hello, how can I help you?"

One ranger tells me that they have had a report from a neighbour who told them that there was this lunatic putting ropes in trees and doing weird stuff. He goes on to tell me that he's quite disappointed to see the actuality of a radio amateur setting up an antenna.

Seems our ranger was in the emergency services in a prior life and has some experience with HF wire antennae.

They have a look around to make sure that it's not unsafe and that I've not damaged any trees and finish off with wishing me a great day.

I learned two things from this. Expect to be noticed and think about how the public might interact with what you're doing. Also, be mindful of public safety, ensure that your setup isn't a health hazard to someone.

So, those are my lunatic amateur stories, what stories do you have to tell? Drop me a line and let me know.

I'm Onno VK6FLAB