Friday, March 30, 2007

New Amateur Radio Call Sign – NE3R

Ok, so it has been a little over a week, but on March 20, I was issued a new call sign, NE3R. I wasn’t sure I wanted to change my call sign, but I figured, since they have removed the Morse code proficiency requirement for obtaining an amateur radio license, that there would be a lot more folks obtaining Amateur Extra class licenses, which is a requirement for the short 2x1 or 1x2 call signs. I decided that I would go ahead and do it, since I may not have the option later on.

So, why NE3R, well, for one, it was available, well, sort of. It belonged to a ham radio operator who passed away in 2004. NE3R is fairly easy to say, and its phonetics come out pretty easily too, November Echo 3 Romeo. The best part is it is short when sent in Morse code ( -. . ...-- .-. ).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Antenna is Up!

It has been up for about two weeks now. It took me a little while to get the pictures up! This isn't the best of ham radio antennas, but it fits in the back yard, and isn't so big the whole neighborhood can see it, which is good, because antennas aren't allowed by the home owners association.

Yes, that is the coax tangled with one of the radials, I still need to fix that. I followed the directions and used 1.25" plumbers pipe as the base, but the supplied U bolts didn't fit around it and I ended up using several hose clamps.

View from inside the back yard. The neighbors in my row will certainly notice, but I don't think it will be too much of a problem.

From outside the back yard the antenna is definitely viable, but it doesn't really stand out. I could probably add some paint and make it stand out a little less. Now that I look at it, I may have been able to go with something taller.

I know that radials work best when they aren't buried, but I don't exactly have that option, especially when the radials extend well beyond my fence into the common area of the development.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ham Radio License Finally Updated

It seems weird, when I passed the technician exam back in 1993 it took about six weeks for my license to show up in the mail. That was ok, because I didn't really know any better, and I didn't have a radio to use anyway. Back in the days without online databases, you could only check the mail once a day anyway. These days, folks can get their licenses in just a day or two, they don't have to wait for the actual license to show up in the mail, and just being in the database is enough authority to use the radio. A little over a year ago, when I passed my general class exam, the upgrade was in the database in only three days. So, imagine my surprise when at the end of the week last week, after passing my extra class test the previous Saturday, the FCC still hadn't updated my license.

It turns out that there were a few problems; the first was due to an error in my paperwork that had to be corrected by the volunteer examiners before it was submitted. Then, another volunteer who did the data entry for adding the information to the FCC database was out of town for a while. Add to that a flood of new upgrades because of the recent rule FCC rule changes that removed the Morse code proficiency exam, and it took nearly two weeks for my license to be upgraded in the FCC database. Oh yeah, and one federal holiday.

I was hoping to have the upgrade posted before February 23, 2007, before the Morse code exam was eliminated, but that didn't happen. I'm glad it was upgraded before this weekend though, I'll be participating in the ARRL DX Contest, and I didn't want to have to say N3PAQ/AE whenever I used a frequency that is outside of the general class portion of the band. N3PAQ is long enough :) -- I will be changing my call sign to something shorter soon.