Friday, April 13, 2018

XYL to Amateur Extra

From XYL to Amateur Extra in 6 months

In December 2014 my husband got his ham radio Technician's license. A new hobby for him or an extension of his existing hobbies it didn't matter. He studied from a couple of websites and self-taught himself and all I had to do was sit back and support it. A few months later he passed his General and made that look easy too. I can't remember quite when but he quickly became involved with EmComm- Emergency Communications and was soon attending meetings of our town's Emergency Management Team. He learned about RACES and ARES and shelter drills and made new friends.

Two years later, in May 2017, we ventured out to one of the biggest hamfests in the country- Dayton Hamvention. We'd seen the videos on YouTube but it was in a new location so it was new to everyone on some level. We took our daughter out of school for a couple of days and embarked on the road trip to Ohio. I was an XYL and until Dayton I was okay with that.

At Dayton I saw high school kids with robots, I saw AMSAT, weather balloons, and thousands of people young and old, men and women involved with ham radio. I quickly got tired of being the XYL along for the ride and decided that I would get my Technician's license too. I was tired of being Mrs. KC1CXX or KC1CXX/XYL. I wanted to be my own person again. We also have a daughter and I felt it was important as a role model to her to show that this old lady could still learn new things, even STEM things which are not my strong-suit.

Summer passed and my self-study methods were not progressing quickly. Then our local ham radio club, which my husband is a member of, offered a free class at night for 2 weeks. Tuesday and Thursday nights for 2 weeks with an exam on Saturday at the end. Normally I am not a night person at all but it was only 2 weeks. It seemed do-able. The class was in October so after the first week of class we went to NEARFEST in New Hampshire. I was still the XYL but I was only a week away from my test. The day before my test my daughter had a school curriculum day which was a lucky break for me. It gave me extra study time.

For the Technician's exam I used the following resources to study:
The free 2 week class offered by the class. (They charged only $15 for the exam).
A free app on my phone. I used Ham Test Prep. I used it every day at  least once/day sometimes more.
I read the ARRL book! This worked well with the class too because for the class they expected us to read certain chapters before each class. It kept me on track but was a challenge.- I actually bought the book in June.

The tests are pass/fail. I didn't get the best score in the class but I did well enough to pass it.

The next test that the club offered was only three weeks away. Most of the people in the Technician's class thought that was too soon to attempt to pass the General but I liked the idea of moving up quickly and getting the test done. No class this time but lots of encouragement from the club members, my husband, and the online community.

For the General's exam I used the same resources as before except I didn't have the class. I had the ARRL book for the General exam, the same app on my phone, and the same two website to learn from.

The night I took my General exam my husband passed his Amateur Extra! That was exciting. We both took our tests that night and we both passed. For Christmas I got him a mobile rig for his car and I applied for a vanity call sign for myself. My vanity came through December 27th.

The next challenge was the Amateur Extra. Now it had taken my husband almost three years to go from Technician's to Amateur Extra but I didn't want to wait that long. I wanted to get this done and become a V.E... a Volunteer Examiner. (You can be a V.E. With a General but it was my choice to wait.).The next test by the club's V.E.s was at the end of February. I thought I had a lot of time to prepare.

I started the same way as I did before. I quickly found out though that on this level the Hamexamonline website only lets you go through fifty questions. If you want more then you have to pay. I didn't want to pay so that website dropped off my list pretty quickly. The other thing I found out was the ARRL book for this level is huge and it put me to sleep. It put me to sleep time after time. Finally I asked my Twitter followers for suggestions. They recommended Gordon West's book and the NoNonsense book so I bought them both.

The two books are very different. Gordo's book is basically the 712 question pool. If you aren't into the websites or the apps or you just prefer paper this is a great resource. The NoNonsense book is more explanatory. The questions are all there but they are in the text. Like the ARRL book they are harder to pull out. You'll probably learn more though. I mostly used Gordo's book after I had read the No Nonsense book.

At the end of February I took the exam with my local club's V.E. Team..... and I failed “miserably” to quote one of the V.E.s . I saw questions there that I had not seen on the practice tests and I knew I was in trouble as soon as I started the exam. It was a good lesson though. I went back to and I used the “flash card” mode to go through each element, question by question, until I had seen EVERY question on the exam. Then I practiced, practiced, and practiced. Eventually I was scoring on the low end of passing. The exam has 50 questions and you need 37 to pass. On the practice exams I was scoring 38-41. Not great but a decent chance to pass the test on March 10th. That's right.. I had less than 2 weeks between the two exams. The March 10th exam was not my local club but another club with V.E.s I had never met before. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. My family and I arrived at the hamfest where the exam was being held about an hour before the exam. Plenty of time to walk the vendors, enter a raffle, and meet up with friends.

This V.E. Team used Laurel which has an electronic component that the ARRL VEC doesn't have, or at least I hadn't seen. I took the test on a Saturday and my results were on the F.C.C. Database on Monday!

So now I've got my Amateur Extra. I've joined the YLRL- the radio league for women. I've joined my local club of course, and we've got some hamfests on the calendar of course.

After  my A.E. upgrade showed up in the FCC database I applied to become an ARRL V.E.. I got my certification just in time to help with our club’s April exam. It was a lot of fun, and hard work, to help our club’s spring technician’s class students. One student even passed his General that night.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

note to myself

I have pneumonia again. I had it several years ago fo my birthday and I blogged about it here when my blog was more active. I'm still 5 weeks away from my birthday but close enough? I am so sick of winter.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My poor neglected blog

I didn't realize that it's been since Hamvention that I posted here!

After Hamvention I decided to go for my technician's license. When the local ham radio club offered a free class at the community college nearby that just sealed the deal. My husband was fully on board of course and willingly got out of work early on the nights that I needed him to. A four nights of class and a review session and an exam later and now I have my first amateur radio license! Whoohoo!!

Meanwhile we went to NEAR-FEST in New Hampshire a few weeks ago and to keep our daughter busy we brought some LEGO with us. She quickly made some bracelets and we set up a display. She made her first sale before the end of the day. She'll be selling more of them at our local craft fair in town in December.

I should post a picture of those bracelets. Hmm..

NaNoWriMo is around the corner and a friend got me on a Rick Springfield kick just in time. She had read "Magnificent Vibration" and said it was good so I borrowed her copy and read it.

That followed with me reading his memoir which has been listed as one of the top 25 music memoirs or something. It was very good and I just finished it yesterday.

SO I'm fangirling on Rick Springfield although I'm not going to spend $50/year on his fan club or whatever. I did spend a few bucks on some cds though, both old and new. Maybe that will be my soundtrack for NaNoWriMo.  (Oh yeah I've blogged about him before, haven't I? maybe?)

And yeah Rick Springfield was in Vietnam! F++K! Even Bruce Springsteen can't say that.

It's going to be tough doing NaNoWriMo this year because I also want to study for my General license and the next chance to take the exam for that is at the end of November so the two overlap pretty much exactly! Yikes!

So there you go.... oh yeah I'll be at the Big E in January for the railway show again too. Hopefully I'll actually have a LEGO MOC built by then. I think I have all my parts. I just need time and space to do the building.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hamvention 2017 in pictures

First let me give you all some background... My husband got his first amateur radio license in December 2015. We had plans to go to Hamvention 2016 at Hara Arena but had to cancel at the last minute due to him being seriously ill. I'm not licensed and neither is our daughter. I support his hobby though and he participates in our town's emergency management team and in our county's emergency preparedness programs and our local amateur radio club. After failing to get to Hamvention 2016 we weren't sure about going in 2017. Finally after Christmas we decided to go for it. By then most of the hotels were sold out and we got stuck paying too much for the room we got. Our fault. Rookie mistake. None of us were sure what to expect for this adventure except that it would be BIG. We've been to Hamfests but never anything on this scale.

Here's some pictures from the weekend....

Grammar may not be correct but I'd never seen this before. I guess it's common.

The famous Gordon.
Not many people at this forum but the room was air conditioned and comfy.
Didn't expect to see guys playing guitar at the flea market! I would have stayed longer if my family hadn't pulled me away.

The beginning of Ham Nation forum.
A stage full of Ham Nation personalities. Not often they are all in the same room together.

Big audience for Ham Nation.
Who are those guys in the back?? LOL!

Out at the flea market this food was happening but we didn't eat it. Nice trailer though.
This is the food we got. Dogs. Not exactly hot dogs. More like sausage.
Guy dressed in military gear and the rainbow flag in the background. Never know what you'll see here I guess
Trailer with canoe.
I gotta look up the website. Nice camper.
inflatable antenna
muddy feet from walking around the flea market on Saturday. Yes, those are mine.
Anyone want to buy the jaws of life?
Another forum. This one was on MESH I think. Was very crowded!
This giant antenna tower was for sale...
and they sold it!!
My car got some Ohio mud.

On Sunday the parking lot was closed because of the mud.
Nice ham shack trailer.
More food....
Cute robot...
Men in kilts! I had seen them walking around earlier. Finally saw them in their booth and asked them for a picture.  :-)
Goodbye Hamvention! Hope to see you again!

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Lap Around AmericaA Lap Around America by Shawn Inmon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't read EVERYTHING that Shawn writes but I do like his travel writing. I followed his blog posts while he was doing this trip and I was eager to get a copy of the finished book. He's currently working on his NEXT big adventure and I'm following that one too.

Shawn is a very accessible author and I've said this to him already- I wish there was a map. That's my only complaint. I really, really liked this book but a map of the route would have been really helpful. I'm tempted to go back through the book and pull out all the places and create my own but I don't know if I will.

When Shawn was traveling around America and I was reading his blog I had no idea where my life would end up leading me. About a month ago I found out that I will be doing my own lap around America. So reading this book with my own travel plans in mind became extra special. My trip will go in the opposite direction that Shawn's did but I do see some overlap. As all of my stops have not been mapped out I can see potential for more. Shawn's adventures went to more extremes and covered more time and miles than my trip will be able to do. He's given me a lot of inspiration for future adventures though.

After finishing Shawn's book last night I looked at the map hanging in my hallway and said "Is Wall Drug really THAT far out the way?" The answer hasn't been decided yet.

I'm looking forward to Shawn's next book about Alaska although I know it will take me longer to get there.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sometimes I

I've got an idea for a blog post but I don't have time to pull it together right now. It's been a long time since I updated the blog though. Guilt.

On my headphones right now is a band called LuxDeluxe. They are fun.

Yesterday I was listening to Sallie Ford. She's awesome too.

On Twitter my pinned tweet says "If you follow me you see a mix of Lego, writing, reading, libraries, lgbt, politics, music, health, parenting, & local news. You’re welcome."

A recent tweet "Looking at patron requests that came in around 2am last night. Sex, Unibomber, revolution... an undergrad had a busy night. "

As far as Lego goes I've been going to some LUG meetings and I've been keeping up with collecting the series that I like but I'm still limited on my actual space in the house. That hasn't changed.

I have managed to read some magazines recently but I'm behind on my books. That Springsteen biography didn't get finished yet but I did manage to read Carrie Fisher's book. I just didn't blog about it I guess.

More recent music-
That would be Colorway

I was listening to Russell Crowe again this morning too but I guess I didn't tweet about it.

So I want to do a blog post and somehow put LuxDeluxe and Sallie Ford into it but I'm not sure where I'm going with that thought just yet.

Also Camp Nanowrimo is coming up in April! Yikes. I'm signed up. No idea what I'm doing. So I'm twirling this music around in my head hoping some inspiration will shape up. We shall see.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bruce Springsteen is popular right now...


Looking up some old Bruce Springsteen videos lately. I've been trying to read his autobiography, "Born to Run",  when I have time.

It's pretty good. I just have trouble reading with a 10 year old in the house. There's also an interview in a recent copy of "Rolling Stone" that I started to read too. Again, the child interupts.

It's November which means I want to be writing for Nanowrimo, but again... failed. Ugh. I've got a pile of Lego that I haven't put together too. It just seems like the daily life of work, kitchen chores, and homework take up all of our time, with room for snuggles and conversation too of course. We're getting to a few events and doing the things we like to do but time for solitude pursuits is not happening right now. It's just the way it is.

Meanwhile I'll get back to Springsteen when I have time. I bought the book because I wasn't getting through the library copy fast enough and I've got some of his dvds and cds on my Christmas list at the moment. At work YouTube is running through my headphones as I write this. I know it's all been said before. His music is a mix of fluffy pop stuff and Dylan-esque folk music. There are anthems and ballads and top 10 hits. There's deeper stuff that makes you go "That's Springsteen?" and there's stuff that I think "Did I miss this back then or did I just forget?" Some of the music is memorable, and some of it I'm okay to forget.

Duchovny has another cd coming out sometime, with concert dates already announced. I wonder who has the bigger Twitter following. I'll have to look sometime. :-)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Duchovniacs are not all David Duchovny fans

Oops! I ticked off some people with my last post and because I don't read Twitter carefully enough I just caught it.

My last post should have been more clear. Duchovniacs is a website and a social media presence. It can be found here

On Twitter they are @waltfrasier and #Duchovniacs

And yes I enjoy their Twitter presence as well as some of the other Duchovny fans who are out there. My apologies for ticking them/you off in the first place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fandom, fangirls, fanfiction... and David Duchovny

 Forgive me because this is REALLY quick!

I've never much had the patience or interest to drool over celebrities. Whether they were singers, musicians, athletes, or whatever in the public eye I've never been one to pin someone up on the bedroom wall and idolize them. I prefer my objects of affection to be at least SOMEWHAT obtainable I guess.

Anyway I stumbled on a whole world of fangirls and fandom after I read David Duchovny's book. The fangirls led me to his music and that got me looking for movies and tv shows that he'd acted in. I've never been an X-Files fans, sorry. Not going to happen. I like his writing though, and his songwriting is included in that. He was a writer before he was a model and actor.

I have a vague memory of a dvd of "Red Shoe Diaries" or something like that but I had no idea how prolific that had been until I started looking him up on IMDB and so forth. I attempted to watch a couple of his tv shows but no luck in finding anything that wasn't way too much to be viewed in a house with a 10 year old. Most recently I've watched parts of "House of D" which got pretty bad reviews. The "special features" were cool though and I learned from that he wanted "Bucky F*cking Dent" to be a movie, not a book. Interesting thought.

So while I'm still struggling to appreciate him as an actor I'm in awe of his fandom. Is it all based on his (perceived) good looks? I don't know. Maybe. In any case he seems to pander to it because that's how he has to make a living, but it's pretty amazing.

And there are other fandoms out there. Lots of them. A look into some fanfiction sites recommended by writers I know shows me that there is TONS of fanfiction being written, maybe even more than romance. It's crazy. I haven't had the time to sit down and try to sift through most of it yet, because again... I'm not REALLY a fangirl, but I see the temptation. This stuff is a break from reality. We all need a break sometimes. I just don't have time to take one.

Meanwhile my Twitter feed is filling with Duchovniacs and I'm enjoying the ride, and if I happen to say "Duchovny" in my sleep then I apologize.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lego Super Heroes and Lego promo item pictures

Picked up a few things last weekend and I'm slowly getting them together. While the Disney castle looks awesome it's a bit more than wallet can afford so we have to settle for the smaller items in life.

First up, the promo item, a double-decker bus that is too small for minifigures but it's cute nonetheless.

After that, we've got a DC Comics Super Heroes set. I like Harley Quinn especially and that's why I got this set. Usually I leave the Super Heroes sets for my husband to collect but recently I've made a few exceptions. Likewise I usually leave the Elves, Friends, and Princesses to my daughter but I've picked up a few of those as well. I still have the Elves mine set to put together. Maybe I'll get to it this coming weekend.