Operating notes: FAT, ragchews, newbies on 2m

FAT. I’ve added yet another station to my collection of QSOs with stations whose callsigns spell words. WA4FAT, who subscribes to my tip-of-the-week mailing list, volunteered to work me and did so on 40m this last week. Now, I’m waiting for the card.

Two nice ragchews. Last night, I had a couple of nice ragchews. The first was with Bill, WB4DB0. I’ve worked him several times, and it’s always been a nice conversation. Last night, I mentioned that I was going to a Civil War re-enactment on Monday, and as it turns out, he used to be a big Civil War buff.

Later on, I worked Steve, KF7YRL in Lame Deer, MT. On his QRZ.Com page, he says, “You may think you’re boring, but I don’t. I want to hear about your family, your career, your military service, your ham-life, your other hobbies, what it’s like where you live, or crazy stuff you’ve lived through. Give me something that helps me remember you.” Now that’s the attitude you should bring to a QSO. Talk about real stuff. Make it memorable.

During the course of our QSO, I mentioned that I’d written some study guides. This morning, I receive an e-mail from him. He says, “Great to meet you.  Got curious about your study guides, so I looked in my folder of ham stuff on my computer, and sure enough, the ones my bro had sent me a couple of years ago were yours.  High five on that effort.  Very nice guides.” It’s nice to make connections like that.

Newbies on 2m. Possibly the silliest situation we have in amateur radio is that nearly all newcomers buy 2m handhelds only to find that they can’t hit that many repeaters, there aren’t that many guys on 2m anymore, and the old farts that are on 2m won’t talk to them, anyway.

We should all try to do something about this. If you have a 2m radio in the shack, turn it on while you’re down there. If you here a guy give his call sign, return the call, even if you don’t recognize the callsign. You could be missing an interesting conversation, and you’re certainly missing a chance to improve amateur radio in your area.

Last night, I did just that. Shortly after turning on the rig, I heard “KD8YQZ listening.” I was putzing around with something and thought about not calling him back, but then decided that whatever it was I was doing, was certainly not important enough to not talk to this guy.

As it turned out, Tom had just passed the test at Dayton last Saturday, and his callsign appeared in the FCC database on Tuesday. How cool is that?

Shortly after we started talking Todd, KD8WPX, broke in and we started a round-robin QSO. These were two younger guys, and not only were they interested in amateur radio, but also in the local “maker” groups. I was able to point them in the right direction on both counts.

It was also an “Elmer” moment. I taught the about the courtesy tone and about round-robin QSOs. I hope that it was as positive an experience for both of those guys as it was for me.

What I want you to take away from this is that you should turn the radio on when you’re in your shack or out in the garage, and monitor the repeaters. Not only that, return the call when you hear someone come on. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about how there’s no 2m activity anymore or how ham radio is getting to be just a bunch of old guys.

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  1. We have a great weekday morning net here. It is on a repeater that covers most of the SF Bay area and generally goes from 9am until about 11.


    The net preamble (and the website) explicitly welcome new hams to join in. It was my first QSO.


    • Dan KB6NU says:

      That’s great that you can get enough guys to check in to hold a net every day. I’m not sure that there are enough hams around here for us to be able to do that, but I may give it a go. Around here, we’d have to start the net earlier in the morning, though, to catch people coming in to work at the university and hospitals.

  2. As a new HAM, a 2meter mobile (not HT for me) is all I’ve got to work with. The good news is that several repeaters are usable from my QTH. I’ve found the best “ragchews” on weekend mornings.

    I also attempt to make as many different NET checkins as possible. A few that were > 25 miles away took some dorking with my antenna to be clearly received.

  3. We have a morning net beginning at 7 and then at 8 a cuckoo weather net with the cuckoo bird calling at exactly 8 a.m.. as a signal to begin. This gives hams two chances to check in and talk. Many of the new hams, including me, have found this to be the way to go to practice talking, a kind of breaking in the HT and fear of talking. We are in the Santa Barbara, CA area and sometimes even get a San Diego ham checking in. Our club’s station repeater is on the Mesa at 146.79 and has pretty good coverage.

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