Tuesday, December 20, 2011

She Passed the Amateur Radio Test

My oldest daughter, Amaryllis, went to take the Amateur Radio Exam this Saturday. I went along, for moral support and because I already knew the way to the exam site. Plus, she got to study while I drove.

She passed the Technician Class exam handily, and went on to take the General Class exam. She fell short of passing it by a few questions, but did well considering she hadn't studied beyond the Tech question pool and subjects. Maybe she'll want to upgrade this spring, I'm putting together an HF station to deal with the fact my house is in a gully surrounded by 100 foot tall VHF-eating trees. I suspect she'll want more HF privileges once she gets a taste of it.

She's blogged about her experiences here.

I took her up on the roof with me yesterday to put up a trial antenna for 2m SSB. I had her running the antenna analyzer while I made final adjustments to a four-element yagi on a fiberglass pole. She seemed to enjoy being part of the process and talking to me about how the antenna is supposed to work, what the numbers on the analyzer represent, and so on.

Antenna Hijinx

The yagi was a failure (terrain and trees win again), but our time together was good. The Kenwood TS-700A got one side of a nearby conversation on SSB, but it was down in the mud. The static was deafening. Next I'm going to see if turning the yagi to vertical will give me any improvements on FM over the three other antennas I've tried so far. Plus I'm going to see if I can't get a pilot line over a high tree branch with a bow and arrow (blunt tip) to pull up a 2m vertical and possibly a simple HF wire antenna to get started with once I've got an HF rig.

It'll go to the shortwave receiver until then to help me get a better idea of what I can catch here. The shortwave gets plenty of 80m at night, and picks up some 40 and 160m traffic, just with the built-in whip, indoors. It gets some 20m and 10m traffic, with hints of 15m, during the day. I think we're getting some beneficial knife-edge refraction off the surrounding terrain at 80m. I guess there's software to model this, it'd probably be worth my while to look into it before committing to a sizable antenna project.

As to 2m, at some point I'll get a more powerful rig--after I get the HF rig purchased. The Kenwood has no PL, but I'm going to try some FM simplex to see if that works better than SSB. If Amaryllis gets her call in a day or two I can send her out with my 2m HT and a car to see what sort of a pattern and signal strength we can get in and out of here from the nearby area. Plus, once school starts again I want to take a radio into class and do a little demo. Amaryllis can see what sort of signal we can get to the school (if any). Or I'll go if she'd rather run the Kenwood at home. We'll see.

Having a second ham in the house will sure be convenient.


  1. "She fell short of passing it by a few questions, but did well considering she hadn't studied beyond the Tech question pool and subjects"

    I fell short of the General by a few questions as well :-(
    I knew all the electronics related questions but there were lots of antenna related propagation questions that I had to guess on.

    73 and congrats

  2. Thanks!

    Yeah, failing the test by a few questions is no disgrace. Besides, with a Technician license you can still get on the air and learn a lot of what it takes to upgrade later the easy way--through experience and osmosis. ;)

    For my part, I failed the written test three times before I ever passed it. By one question, each time! I did pass the Morse code test 3 times, though, twice at 5wpm and once at the old general-level speed, 13wpm IIRC. But no written test pass, no license. Till I finally passed both and got a Tech Plus license in 1992, 14 years after my first attempt.