[Bloominglabs-announce] Ham Cram - Sat. March 2nd

Kallback-Rose, Kristy A kallbac at iu.edu
Wed Feb 27 22:10:26 EST 2013


My husband has arranged for the kids to go to grandma's so I can do the whole thing. Have you decided whether to hold it or not?


On Feb 26, 2013, at 10:29 PM, "Kallback-Rose, Kristy A" <kallbac at iu.edu<mailto:kallbac at iu.edu>> wrote:


I am interested in this. However, depending upon the health of my kiddo and the sanity of my husband who has been caring for sick kiddo this week I may only stay for half of the session.

Thanks for offering this. I think it's a great idea.


On Feb 22, 2013, at 9:01 PM, Corey Shields <cshields at gmail.com<mailto:cshields at gmail.com>> wrote:

Hi all!

tl;dr - if you are interested in learning about amateur radio (ham radio) and getting a license, keep reading.

Saturday, March 2nd, 9am-5pm I'm going to offer a 1-day "ham cram" at the space where I attempt to cover everything you need to know to pass the Technician class license exam.  Some people follow these cram days immediately with a testing session, but we have another group, a Monroe Co CERT team, looking to do a special testing session in March as well.  Amateur radio testing is not done by the FCC these days but by Volunteer Examiners (VE's), that are vetted by a couple of authorized organizations to administer tests.  It takes a minimum of 3 VEs to administer an exam session.  So, to avoid stretching some of these guys too thinly I'm going to forego any testing as they will already be offering a special session in March.  This will be on Sunday March 10th at 4:30pm (logistics below).  This gives you a chance to listen to me for a day and try to soak it all in, and have a week to practice and brush up on flash cards online.  If that date does not work, they also do testing the first Saturday of every month in Bloomington at noon (I can get details if you'd like)


There is a lot to cover and it will be a long day, so we will start early (9am) and promptly on 3/2.  The class is free, though I will ask that if you are not a Bloominglabs member you make a donation to help pay for the use of the space (which you can do in person or through paypal at http://www.bloominglabs.org<http://www.bloominglabs.org/> ). I will arrange for some pizza to be delivered so please bring a few bucks for that, and PLEASE RSVP to me directly (even if you don't need pizza) so I know how many are coming and can arrange the space accordingly.   The next available test will be on 3/10 at 4:30 (registration opening at 4:00) at the Maple Grove Christian Church, 1503 W Simpson Chapel Rd. I am told that "the meeting room is in the building next to the airplane" which I can only hope is a literal interpretation. There are NO MORSE CODE requirements to ANY amateur radio exam since 2003. Testing is $15 (not refundable if you fail), and when you pass you will typically get your callsign through the FCC ULS database within a few business days and then are legal to transmit.  Also required is a photo ID and SSN or FCC FRN.  More details on that at http://www.arrl.org/what-to-bring-to-an-exam-session

About the test:

The nice thing about amateur exams is that the entire question pool (and answers) are publicly available.  For the technician exam there are 35 questions from a 394 question pool.  Don't let that number scare you, there are a lot of questions that are repetitive in topic. A lot of them cover electronic topics that many of you know already (ohm's law, anybody?). Since the question pool is public, there are plenty of online practice exams and flash card style sites.  My recommendation is https://hamstudy.org/browse/E2_2010/T1  Basically, you can in fact "study to the test" and pass.  If you fail, you're out $15.  Don't sweat the test!  There is no age requirement to getting a license, and I won't put an age requirement on the session - though this is a "cram" session and as such I'll be going through topics quickly.

Why Ham Radio and Bloominglabs?

I have many reasons for proselytizing ham radio:

1 - Amateur radio gives you a license to experiment in various radio waves (within certain boundaries, of course). This goes hand in hand with the Hackerspace movement.  For example, there are radio shields for Arduino that would allow you much longer range communication, albeit slower, than with wifi.

2 - It is another way for hackerspace members to communicate!  Sure, IRC and email are great; radio gives you all a chance to chat on the air as well.

3 - A more selfish reason, I am the emergency coordinator for Monroe County ARES (amateur radio emergency services).  Along with a very similar RACES organization (radio amateur civil emergency services), we offer communications during emergencies and serve the county and state EMA.  I'm always looking for more volunteers, especially as we branch out into more digital communications in emergency situations.   Oh, and that point about ARES and RACES providing communications in times of emergency, that's a question on the test.  You're getting this already..

4 - Similarly, we do a few public service events throughout the year where we provide communications across an area that makes cellular difficult, and we always need more help.  A good example being the Hilly Hundred bike ride, where we provide SAG vehicles with voice communication and GPS tracking through the hills of the course, along with communications to all rest areas and race headquarters, all without cellular or internet..  And its not all work, we have fun testing out new methods and modes through these events.

5 - dozens of different things to do in this hobby.  I haven't even touched on the global communications aspect of it.  There's something cool about talking to a person in New Zealand using no infrastructure - just a radio and an antenna you built to go along with it.  Just as cool is taking a portable HF radio and an Eeepc on a backpacking trip, setting up a low-powered station and doing digital chat with people across the country.  Here's a not-so-cheesy video advertising Field Day a few years back that shows a few things possible:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=varHL752Odk

Cost of gear:

With the introduction of cheap radios from new Chinese manufacturers in the past few years, getting into the hobby is cheaper than it has ever been.  A cheap Handheld Transceiver ("HT") that covers the popular local frequencies can be found for $50-$100, and with the repeaters we have in town that is all you need to get started.  Mobile radios (also used as a base radio) tend to have about 10x the power and start in the $200-$300 range, plus the cost of an antenna. Of course, as you add features, power, and frequencies the cost goes up and the sky is the limit.  One nice thing about the hobby is that the gear does not depreciate in usefulness the way a lot of tech gear does (like your computer or phone).  The mobile radio I put in the space is a model from the mid 90's.

So - if you've made it this far in the email, drop me a line and let me know that you'll be there!   (feel free to email me questions as well)

-Corey (ham callsign KB9JHU)

Other links to study with:

Corey Shields
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