My Dad has had his ham radio license since he was a teenager. I remember his hamshack in the garage when my parents were still married, and his computer radio uber geek den at the house he moved into later. I've been wanting to get my radio license for a few years, as a way to keep in touch with my Dad and to carry on the family hamming. And, well, amateur radio is really cool and fun.
Last Saturday Mike and I biked to Noel Wien Library again. This time, though, we went to take a test. Mike had been studying using the Now You're Talking book and was making consistent 100s on the online qrz and eham.net tests. I was planning on taking the test in July, so that I would have full access to the study books. Three days before the scheduled test, I discovered that Mike wasn't using the Technician Class book by Gordon West. Huzzah! Three days of studying and I decided to take a shot at the Level 2 Technician Class license exam.
We got to the library an hour early in case we ran into rain on the way. We didn't, and we spent the hour nervously looking through the newly arrived book section. In the lobby, a children's area librarian was walking around inviting people to view the reptiles in the auditorium. At about 12:50 we worked up the courage to go into the Conference Room beside the auditorium.
Two of the required 3 Volunteer Examiners from the Arctic Amateur Radio Club were already there, and they helped us fill out the forms while we waited for the third VE to arrive. Another person arrived to take his Extra Class exam, and soon we had our tests. Mike finished his in 5 minutes and (we think) made a 100. I took a little more time, but passed. I think I only missed one (the VEs aren't allowed to tell you how many or which questions you missed, only if you passed or not).
Elated, we went next door and visited some cool reptiles from C and W's Reptile Rescue. They had some cool snakes, tortoises and turtles, and spiders. But the coolest animal by far was the monitor. The Rescue Lady was holding the monitor in her arms and he was just hanging out with his head resting on top of her shoulder. He looked so cuddly!
Yesterday, our call signs appeared in the FCC database. And so, even though we have not recieved our licenses in the mail, we are still allowed to use our Technician Class priviledges on the ham radio. All we currently have is a handheld that my dad gave to Mike for Christmas 2 years ago, so our listening capabilities don't have as wide of a range as our license allows. But it is really exciting to listen to the bands we do have access to at the moment. I've had the radio tuned to 146.880 for most of today, and I picked up a few interesting conversations, including the local ARES meeting. I haven't worked up the courage to talk on the radio yet, but I think once I've listened to the way conversations work on the air a little bit more I'll feel much more comfortable with the concept of joining in or starting a conversation.
Mike and I are going to try to get our General Licenses before the summer ends and school takes over our lives again. We also want to have them before we (hopefully) go to the Alaska state hamfest with my Dad, who is planning on visiting in August. I called him to tell him my callsign, and it was one of those super happy family moments.