SARC’s Youngest Ham

Congratulations to Patrick Boschalk VE7FAT who began to attend club meetings what seems just a few short months ago, after finding us on the internet and where and when we met.  Patrick studied on his own at home and wrote his Basic Qualification Exam with the club in March.  He was pleased to receive his Honours Basic. Let us all welcome Patrick to the world of Amateur Radio.

My Introduction to Field Day

I do not recall the year of my first field day but it could not have been too long ago as I am a very new ham and still learning but then aren’t we all. Becoming a Ham takes more than just attending classes and passing the exam, that is just the beginning and the following is part of my journey into the intricacies and mystique of amateur Radio
First of all I passed the exam with enough of a pass margin to entitle me to work HF and credit for this must first be given to excellent, patient and diverse instructors. This meant I was entitled to spend more money on HF stuff than the basic VHF gear but that is another story. The next step is to attend the weekly coffee and lunch gatherings and for a new ham this is imperative. It could be considered continuing education with a bit of story telling and discussions on solving the problems of the world. The long time hams are always willing to share their knowledge and answer questions. Technical stuff flows from HMN, KDK and OHR quite readily and RLE is bursting with knowledge on the operation of the Club, meetings, history, P.R. projects etc. Regarding the history of the club RLE is ably abetted by BOD and that is just a glimpse of the knowledge that can be gleaned at coffee or lunch from a few of the club members.
Now, touching briefly on HF I have been encouraged and at times nagged slightly, have I mentioned I have a hearing problem, really, to get on HF. I have a roof that is now safe to walk on so I guess I will get the vertical stuck in the tripod, throw a few radials around and probably guy everything, hook up some coax and give it a whirl, how is that for tech talk? I am learning!
Getting back to Field Day, which is another step in the learning process, I was privy to some of the preparations as they were discussed during the aforementioned continuing education classes. Most of it was over my head, Dipoles I vaguely remembered from class, G5RV and some sort of Beam was totally foreign as was a few other terms used. There was also somebody called cranky who was apparently from out of town, why have him if he is that cranky. Cranky was mentioned so many times, when he was arriving, where to put him that I had to ask. It turned out Cranky was a crank up tower and I ended up having a fairly close relationship with the cranky thing, going up and coming down.
Field Day arrived and I showed up at the Haney museum site by the old look-out tower. If I remember correctly the first order of business was to erect a rather decrepit guyed walled tent of indeterminate vintage, it has since passed on to another organization. Putting up this tent takes at least six to eight people, I will resist the temptation to interject here “ how many Hams does it take to put up an old canvas tent?”….” anyway, the tent was being held up by numerous bodies inside when we realize that the guy ropes were on the inside, that’s not going to work! Well we start again and get it right. Cranky arrives by this time and it is all hands to the windlass, up it goes, sticks, give it a shake and crank again and slowly it pierces the sky, quite impressive. Of course there are numerous wires hanging of it and giant TV type beam wobbling around at the top, all foreign stuff to me. This is turning out to be an interesting day and we haven’t even got a radio turned on yet, we still have to fire up the generator, tie a mast to a sturdy fence post and hang more wire. Apparently we haven’t got enough wires up in the air yet, antennas that is, see I am learning, so we have to fire another one up and over a tree. I am assured by RLE that this is a simple case of using fishing line a weight and a slingshot, I understand the principle of it, and is done on a first attempt, usually. I have since forgotten how many times HDY and myself assisted RLE in this task, perhaps it was our “help” that delayed the final deployment of this antenna. Finally everything was ready and operators were anxiously standing by to get on the air but that too is another story.
All in all it was an interesting, educational and fun filled morning.
And I am still learning, slowly.
Note that no names were used in the foregoing to protect identities.