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'Spider Pig, Spider Pig. Does whatever a Spider Pig does.'
-Homer J. Simpson


My personal site: http://wa4ray.me
Hello from CN87LA

I'm now the WebMaster for the Olympia Amateur Radio Society,(OARS) NT7H of Olympia Wa., USA
We're working to greatly update and expand the OARS Web presence, including expansion into new social media outlets. Some of these still haven't gone live, but we're getting there! Follow OARS for news, updates, and info.

OARS WebSite
OARS On Twitter
OARS On FaceBook
OARS On Google+
OARS on YouTube
OARS On Instagram

Ok, so I'm now also delving into APRS thanks to my most helpful friend out on Ham-newbie island. Thank you, Google.

I’ve been working in IT since ’97, although my first programming class was in ’78 and I’ve owned computers ever since. I’ve also been an electronics technician, with experience with RADAR, high-speed mainframe film printers, film developing systems and duplicators, laser optics and more. Currently I’m part of the nation-wide database management team for a branch of the US Government, and also on the national printer management team for that same organization. Until recently, I also managed antivirus for all organization computers in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. Before that, I was the back office (server) manager for the Puget Sound division, including management of their data centers.

I'm a person who loves to learn things as quickly as possible, and want to try many different hobbies and interests.

Me:
Computer geek
Do most of my own carpentry
Do most of my own plumbing
Do most of my own electrical work
Do most of my own auto mechanic work
Amateur astronomer
Hoping to learn basic MiG welding in the very near future.
Maker, including Arduino and other technologies.
Ham, APRS and my 'Maker' side seem to tie together nicely and I'm looking forward to working on that.

I first gained an interest in Ham radio in the 80s. I was a RADAR technician in the Marine Corps, working on the TPS-63 GCI RADARs. A fellow marine was selling an all-band HF receiver and I bought it. I had it in my barracks with a simple wire jammed in the back as an antenna. I was able to listen to Radio Moscow, BBC, South Africa, Australia and more. It was when I heard people just carrying on conversations that I decided that I wanted to get licensed. I began studying but unfortunately I was never able to get the hang of Morse. I gave up and wrote it off as something I'd never be able to achieve.

Fast forward to January of 2017 when I learned that the code requirement had been dropped. In February I passed the Technician test, in March the General test and passed the Extra test in April on my birthday.

My first two visits to club meetings, when I passed those first two tests, included the following conversation twice with two different club members:
Me: "So, I don't know what I'm doing. Is there some sort of mentoring available?"
Club member: "Just listen, and you'll figure it out."

I was truly terrified to speak on the air, as I was afraid that I'd do something wrong and get in trouble or anger someone.

My first contact was a check in to a club net. I was terrified, nervous and stammered a bit. A few days later, I received an anonymous postcard telling me to stay off the air until I knew what I was doing. For quite a while, that was my only time on the air that was ever acknowledged by anyone. Actually, I boxed up my radios and took down the antennas. I removed the antenna and mount from my truck and everything went into the garage.

I decided to give it another shot. The antenna is back on my truck, with a new radio that's hopefully not a POS like my first. I won't bother with putting antennas back on my house until after my move to SW Olympia Wa.

To date, Google has been my only Elmer. For some topics it's extremely helpful. For others, far less so.

Some suggestions:

If all your club does to help others is to ask on your weekly net if anyone needs an Elmer, you just don't get it. A new Ham who doesn't have confidence most likely hasn't even checked in to your net. They're just listening. They aren't going to key the mic and respond when you ask that question. As far as they know, they aren't even allowed to key up if they haven't checked in. Good luck with that.

Get registered on ElmerCQ. If you aren't there, well, I think we can make some assumptions about your willingness to help people who aren't in your circle of friends.

When people show up for license testing and finish their testing, THAT'S THE TIME TO HELP THEM. Stop ignoring them. At a minimum, stop asking someone (who just showed up for the first time to take a test) to give you money to join your club. HELP THEM. If you give them useful help when they show up that first time, and DON'T ask for money, that first impression will go a long way in building their opinion of you and your club. That help will make them want to come back.

HOW to program their radio is not what they need from you. They need to know WHAT to program into their radio. A brand new Ham doesn't know the simplex frequencies. They don't know what repeaters to program into their radio. They don't know about nets or that they can check into the net as a visitor. TALK TO THE NEW HAMS AND FILL THEM IN.

Turn on your radio and listen on 2m or 70cm, then when you hear someone who has an obviously new call sign come up as "monitoring", pick up your mic and talk to them. Seriously. If a new Ham doesn't have any family or friends who are also Hams, it's a certainty that they're feeling lost. Your one short chat with them will save them and keep them going. It really is likely that it will only take one short conversation to keep them interested. I never had that one conversation. All the times I put myself out as monitoring, listening, standing by, begging for a contact, etc., and nobody. Ever. Responded. Not even once. That's why I quit trying. Well ok, that and the guy who told me to stay off the air. But if I'd had that one good contact, the postcard wouldn't have shut me down. Talk to the new Hams! Don't drive them off the air like you drove me off the air.

I hear people asking for volunteers to help with event communications. I'm guessing that you don't realize that new Hams (who'd love to help) won't volunteer because they're afraid of being thrown into the fire before they know what they're doing. Solution: Have one or more experienced Hams act as event liason/trainers, and have those volunteers work on getting new Hams into action. You WILL get more volunteers.

Speaking of Hams who don't have Hams among their family or friends... that's an area where the experienced Hams are doing nothing to break in: The majority of the population don't know any Hams. TALK TO NEW HAMS THAT YOU DON'T KNOW. I'm the first person in my sphere who has decided to try this, and for a couple of months I gave up trying to talk to anyone on the air. My frustration level and a nasty anonymous postcard made me feel quite unwelcome. I have no friends or family who are involved and I continue to get the impression that the Hams in this area aren't interested in new operators or trying to reach those people who are outside of their friends list.

8343644 Last modified: 2017-09-21 20:53:59, 9309 bytes

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