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Studying for months: Done

Taking practice tests: Done

Showing up for an actual test: Done

Getting a 94% passing grade: Done

Now I have an FCC-issued technician level license and a call sign: KK7JQN.

Things people do with their ham radios: volunteer on emergency neighborhood response teams, provide communications at long-distance running events. Lots of other things get done of course, as the ARRL, the national amateur association notes.

This month, two days after passing the license test and two days before getting my license, I helped out as a scribe at our neighborhood’s monthly communications practice session. It’s a couple of hours of folks ensuring their gear is working and that they can be heard by each other. I won’t say it was the most fun two hours I’ve ever spent. Three of us set up radio and antennas at a high point in the neighborhood under a tent on a rainy chilly night and proceeded to do check-ins with emergency volunteers. By the time we were done, we were cold. By the time we had loaded out afterward, we were soaked. But we added one more layer of radio experience and practice to a group of folk who are prepared to be helpful should a massive disruption, like a subduction zone earthquake or a power outage hit our region.

More fun last summer was supporting the runners at the Waldo 100K Ultramarathon. Of course, back then, I had just begun my studies, and I didn’t really know what I was doing aside from noting runner times at the aid station we supported about half-way into the grueling race. But I got to see how ham operations work, how moving an antenna just a few feet can make a big difference, how seriously hams take transmitting information exactly as they receive it, and how careful those receiving the information are in confirming what they hear.

When I started down this road, I was only doing it because my wonderful partner asked me to. Now I’m excited to begin being a participant in this community.

What’s next? Bring on the actual radio gear.