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Moving On Up

Richard Donovan (N5XM) on June 13, 2004
View comments about this article!

We all manage to find our niche in this wonderful hobby, and for me it's HF. I am nearly 100% CW, but that is not what this is about. It's about encouraging younger, newer Hams to upgrade, and more than that, it's an attempt to discuss the rewards of upgrading.

For me, Ham Radio is about operating. Sure, I would have loved to discover the hobby at age 8 so I could have been an Electrical Engineer, but I didn't. I was licensed at age 43, with very little background in electronics. My boss is my Elmer, and his second major at Cal Tech was Electrical Engineering. I have been very lucky in this hobby, and it started with my Elmer who is also my good friend.

He also taught me about the grand history and tradition of Ham Radio, and since he's been licensed 50+ years, he knew much of that history and tradition personally. As a result, I wanted to upgrade to get HF privileges, but also because I felt I owed it to those who came before me to be the best I could be in honor of the great Hams of the past. I'm sentimental.

After about six months of fiddling around on local repeaters I was beginning to get very bored. It was time to get on HF, so I bought a used Kenwood 520 and put it in my bedroom so I had to look at it when I got out of bed. I wanted to stimulate myself to get studying. I got my HF ticket just before the solar max of the present cycle so I was able to immediately work a lot of places. At first, it was "Wow, California! or "Wow, North Dakota!". I was stunned when I started working folks in other countries and on other continents.

I am reminded of a line from a song by James Taylor, "The secret of Life is enjoying the passage of time". It's very easy to look at new study material when you first get an entry-level Ham license and say, "How am I going to learn all of this?" Work patiently at it every day and you will acquire what you need to do anything in this hobby. Don't be discouraged by those who would say mean things because you didn't get your ticket when tests were given by the FCC.

Don't get discouraged because some say you might as well get your license out of a cereal box. I didn't discover my real mental abilities until I got out of school, and as a result I studied more after I graduated than when I was in school. It isn't about what I could have done; it's about what I CAN do. All any of us can do is be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If you love Ham Radio, patiently work and take the long-term view and you can get anywhere you want. The rewards will amaze you.

Member Comments:
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Moving On Up  
by KM5WV on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Amen!
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by N9WQ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
GREAT THOUGHT!!!!!
 
Moving On Up  
by NT9M on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I share your sentiment and some of your experiences. I began studying CW when I was around 14 but quickly dropped it as other things of interest came along. Some 27 years later, I finally came back and got my Tech license, followed within a few months by my General. It's been a very satisfying experience working many different bands and modes, to the tune of some 3000 qso's over the past 3 years.

At Dayton this year I bought a study guide and resolved to take and pass the Extra exam this year. My only regret is that I didn't follow through and get licensed all those years ago, but now I hope that I have many more years left to enjoy this wonderful hobby.

73
Tim
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by K9JDK on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well said. Thanks.

Gives me a bit more incentive to move up and along the way perhaps encourage others.

Dave...
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by N6AJR on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I learned cw 6 times before I actualkly passe my ticket, ( elementry school, cub scouts, boy scouts, etc) and I never learned it well. I am now mostly phone, and I love it.

Do the best you can with what you have and enjoy it. I am older (55) and disabled due to a work injury and could be very bitter and mean, but I wake up every morning and see I breathing and say.. ok ya got 1 more day, go have fun.

Its all attitude. keep it positive.. life is an adventure. make yours exciting..
 
Moving On Up  
by EXPAT on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good inspiration!
 
Moving On Up  
by KG6RRQ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Great post! Sounds like many of us are getting into the hobby a bit older in life. I'm almost 40 and just got my tech' ticket last year.

Question for those in the know...I heard awhile back that the FCC is thinking of changing the rules so that anyone with a tech' ticket would have the privlidges of a general ticket. Anyone know what the status is with that? Would there still be a code test if you wanted to do cw?

I just received my study guide and code tapes from Gordon West for the general. Would it be best to wait to see if the FCC grandfathers us tech's to general or go ahead and go for the ticket with the current test requirements? I'm thinking it might be best to do the studying so that I'll learn that much more plus learn cw for sure. Any thoughts?
 
Moving On Up  
by W3DCG on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I moved.
Took 2 months to get some wire in the air and in the ground.
One of these times, I'll find my 'Round-Tuit that I seemed to have misplaced sometime just before the move.
Ha. It seems for me during childhood, there were so many distractions, some work, but not enough HARD work.
I too, did not start to realize many things, that were covered in schools and classes, until years later.
Still learning even today. Sometimes I think, it should have been all or nothing for me. As now, limited priviledges, limited time- combine to form the biggest distraction I've ever had. The radio beckons. I even did, subscribe to Ham Test Online, thinking that would help. They keep sending me reminders that it's been too long since I last checked in. However, I was never one to do well at tests via memorization. If I cheated on a test, (memorizing answers) I often did worse.
Anyway, my learning continues to this day. Lot's of my lessons are earned the hard way. I'll get some crazy idea for an antenna, for example, I'll pose the idea, people will come back with been there, done that, just do it the _______ way. But I'll try it anyway, and sure enough, theory seems to be right, everyone else's experience held true with mine, back to the drawing board, re do it the conventional way, a way that has proven to work.
Some concepts for me that are difficult, are surely very simple to many hams, especially the engineers. They explain it, and I don't get it. However, sometimes, someone poses a concept, equation, theory, theorem, in a certain way, and the light bulb that was flickering all these years suddenly shines full-on. Occasionally, it happens here on eHam! Sure feels good to be alive when those moments happen!
The best, is when kids, your students, or the ultimate, when your children, teach you something.
Every week I look forward to the day when my son whips me during a game of Chess.
 
Moving On Up  
by KC8Y on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
great story--only I first became licensed at 15 (sophmore in high-school)...got the Novice, Tech, General, Advanced & Extra over the next
40-years...Became an Electrical Engineer, because I got more-and-more interested in the areas...It's been a super-hobby to get into!!!
 
Moving On Up  
by N5TEY on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good going Richard!

I would also like to encourage the new members of our group to study and you can move up, if you want.

I purchased a IC-706MKIIG last year and found 6m to be a blast. I would listen to the hf bands through the 6m antenna (what little I could hear with the antenna mismatch). I decided that I would set a personal goal and advance myself.

I purchased cw computer program and began working on cw hours everyday. I would read post by other hams that stated that they "could teach their dogs five word per minute cw." This made me think that obviously their dogs were smarter than I am. LOL But I hung with it and decided I would do it.

I passed my Genearl theory test but I failed the cw portion. I failed the cw portion one more time. I thought about quitting, but instead I tried harder. I was taking my third test and I had planes taking off over my head and I missed a good portion of one sentence. But things clicked in the middle of the test and I passed. I had done it. I was a General Class license holder. That was in April this year. But I had one more level to go.

I purchased a study guide at the same time I purchased my first hf antenna. I installed my new antenna in early May and I began to study the following day.

I dug in my heals once again. I have AT in Electronic Engineering Technology, but it has been over twenty years since I had used much of that degree. I switched majors my senior year of college and finished up with a BS in Criminal Justice. I found the Extra Class material to be challenging, very challenging actually. But I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did. I officially became a Amateur Extra just last week.

If you are new to the amateur radio ranks, set a goal and work toward it. I was happy for 13 years a no-code techician. My move to Extra was actually one of the greater accomplishments of my life.

73,

Steve N5TEY
 
Moving On Up  
by JJ1BDX on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I earned the JA no-code-class license (now 4th Class) in 1975. Also earned the JA CW-class license (now 3rd Class) in 1979. I was staying there for 23 years because I thought HF and DXing were not for me.Discovering the assumption was wrong in 2002, I decided to take an exam for the JA 1st Class (equivalent to US Extra) on December 2002, fortunately passed. Now I enjoy my full privilege for all HF bands and max-1kW output (though I mostly operate in 50W maximum due to technical and legal restrictions).

I decided to make my long dream come true - obtaining an American callsign - I took the FCC exam conducted by ARRL/VEC Tokyo VE Team on February 2003, and passed the all four elements and earned the Amateur Extra operator license. I was fortunate enough to become a VE - so far have served for three VE sessions.

The JA old timers complain newcomers like me that my 1st-class license was not with Wabun (Japanese Katakana Morse code). And some American hams will complain that I'm a 5WPM extra. Well, I am, but I'm trying hard to learn Wabun (though I rarely use it) and even made some successful QSOs; and I have enjoyed many trans-Pacific chats in 20WPM or so with many American hams.

You're not how you are licensed; you are what you learn and how you keep up the learning habit.

73 de Kenji JJ1BDX(/3) es K1BDX
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by KI4BFC on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Tim,
I just read your post and it sounds like I wrote it! I also began this hobby as an early teen(I am 45 now)and never got my ticket because of the code. I tried to study it, but sports, girls, etc. was far more interesting. Fast forward thirty years and I decided to follow through. I got my Tech, then General last year. I went to Dayton and I picked up Extra yesterday! So, go for it!

73 Brad KI4BFC
 
Moving On Up  
by NC2W on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Richard:

That was very well written. Being an EE is not the pinacle of Ham Radio though. I thought that the extra class exam was the pinacle of Engineering. How wrong I was.

You are correct, we should encourage anyone (young or old) to join our ranks.

Thanks
Eric Thielking

 
RE: Moving On Up  
by KF4VGX on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KM5WV on June 13, 2004
Amen!
Naw ! Amen! was a run off . Moving on Up ! The Jefferson's ,

Well we're movin on up, To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin'
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in teh big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
There ain't nothin wrong with that.
Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

;) snip.
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by AG4RQ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Posted by KG6RRQ on June 13, 2004:
"I just received my study guide and code tapes from Gordon West for the general. Would it be best to wait to see if the FCC grandfathers us tech's to general or go ahead and go for the ticket with the current test requirements? I'm thinking it might be best to do the studying so that I'll learn that much more plus learn cw for sure. Any thoughts?"

KG6RRQ, I advise you to learn Morse code and study for your General. Don't wait for any free upgrade. If you do, you may be holding your breath for a long time. Also, if you learn the code and the General theory, you will feel better about the upgrade. You will feel like you learned something and accomplished something. Besides, all learning is useful. Nothing that you learn is a waste. As for CW, you never know. You may find that you actually like it and may want to use it on the air. You already bought the material to work toward your upgrade to General. If you don't use what you already paid for, that would be a waste.
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by KF4VGX on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Get your slice today ! It's your Hobby :)
Enjoy.
73 KF4VGX
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by KF4VGX on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Naw ! Amen! was a run off . Moving on Up ! The Jefferson's ,

OK ,I'll explain

Well we're movin on up, To the east side.
(Study)
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
( study for exams )
Movin on up
To the east side.
( General / Extra )
We finally got a piece of the pie.
( Extra )
Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin'
(Study, Study ,Study )
Just to get up that hill.
( Extra )
Now we're up in teh big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat.
( General , Extra )
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
( Not sure about this )
There ain't nothin wrong with that.
( Well it's your opinion )
Well we're movin on up,
To the east side,
( General , Extra )
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up ,
( Study / General / Extra )
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
( At your option ) ;)

Humor in Amateur radio is must .
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by K6BBC on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nicely written. Very nostalgic. A total anachronism. I got the impression this was written circa 1974. I guess the author is blissfully unaware of the upcoming restructuring. Charming.

K6BBC
 
Moving On Up  
by NL7GB on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I finally got a chance to take the tests yesterday afternoon. Took all four elements -- no problem. Felt like a school kid doing something wrong though, as it was just too easy, and the old-time Advanced and Extra-class licensees have had their acheivements deprecated by the new, easy licensing.

I really would not have minded if it was harder to get an Extra, if there was still an Advanced, etc. I would have been happy by merely reinstating the General class that I used to have, and *knew* that I had earned.

This is all over society though: The SAT has been watered down a couple of times, the FCC took my First Class Radiotelephone Operators license (which was worth something) and made it a General Class (which is worth nothing), High School degrees are handed out like popcorn to any kid who does not challenge the system, and University diplomas of every ilk are proudly carried by hordes of incompetent idiots.

It is sad to see the triumph of mediocracy, but it is here. Thankfully, the free-market will always reward genuine productive acheivement, and all of those watered-down degrees and "gimme now" certs mean very little when it comes to cashing in at the bank...
 
Moving On Up  
by K8AG on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
With advancement comes options. That is the way I keep from being bored with ham radio. There are so many ways we can each approach the hobby that I don't ever seem to get tired. I may grow less enthusiastic about one aspect, but I move on to something a little different.

Been a ham 30 years. Been an Extra for about 25. Negleced it for about 15 years. I'm back to stay.

73,

JP, K8AG
 
Now is the time! Go for it!  
by W8KQE on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If any non-hams are reading this, and have thought about getting their Ham license, it's easier now than ever before. What are you waiting for? I can remember back in the 70's when we had to not only learn the code, but we had to go down to the closest FCC Field Office to take the test (in my case, it was near Houston and Varick Street in NYC). With various study guides available, both print and on the internet, the tools to learn about basic radio theory and electronics for your test are there, even if you know nothing about the subject.
 
Moving On Up  
by KD5ZNC on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I'm a 15 year old ham with my extra class, and I agree...it was definitley well worth the study time!
 
Moving On Up  
by M0HDX on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I sat my first amateur radio exam in early 2002 to gain my foundation licence then i sat my intermediate exam in late 2002 and in december 2003 i sat the full rae exam, Sitting those three exams in a short space of time was the best thing i ever did, i sat the first exam aged 34 and all the hard studying paid off for me and now i enjoy the previlages of amateur radio.

jim,M0HDX
 
Moving On Up  
by KD7ZRO on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Now that is the way to look at it.

I got my ham ticket after dropping out of high school and figured I might as well still do something educational and fun. Ham radio fit the billet no contest!

I plan to upgrade to General and maybe Extra really soon!

Keep the good addatude!

Rod KD7ZRO
 
Moving On Up  
by KU4UV on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I first got licensed in October of 1992, with the No-Code Tech ticket. I had always heard about this thing called ham radio when I was a little kid growing up playing around with walkie-talkies and listening to the C.B. radio in my dad's car. In 1991 when the no-code tech license came into effect, I thought I had a great opportunity to go ahead and get a ham ticket. I easily passed the no-code test on the first try, and then passed the 5 WPM test about 8 months later. After that it was off to college to 4 years, and the ham hobby took a back seat until after I got my Broadcasting degree and moved into an apartment with my first real job. Sometime around March of 1998 I decided to get back into my hobby more and began studying for the General ticket. I would usually practice the code tapes early in the morning before I headed off to work, and then brush up on the theory book in the evening. I took the general ticket and passed it on the first try too. I didn't really have a radio at the time, so I bought a used 2 Meter HT and then I bought a 10 Meter mobile radio. Luckily the sunspot cycle was peaking in 1998, and I was able to enjoy the almost dailt openings on 10. Later that year I decided to go ahead and start studying for the Advanced ticket, since there was no code required for the license. The Advanced test was probably the hardest one for me, but after several months of studying, I took and passed the test. I started studying for the Extra ticket a few years later, and passed it too. The 20 WPM requirement had been dropped for the Extra, so it wasn't too hard for me, even though I'm sure I could have passed the code test too had it been required. I never had an elmer in this hobby. Everything I learned I pretty much learned from reading the various ham magazines while I was growing up. I figured I might as well go ahead and upgrade all the way while I'm still young so I can be enjoying the extended HF frequency privileges for when I am older and actually have the money to buy so better equipment and maybe put up a beam some day. I will turn 30 later this year, but I am glad I have my Extra ticket. That's why I can't understand why some of these fools put there licenses in jeopardy with their on-air behavior, because I know how much effort and time went into getting my license.
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by SIREX on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I was first licensed in December of 2003. I just passed my EXTRA Class a few weeks ago. I am however disappointed in my actual knowledge of ham radio. I am going to build a QRP rig to help me better understand the aspects of radio communication. I feel it is somewhat easy to upgrade with a little effort. I hope some day I will gain a sliver of the information that the old timers have. So if you hear me on the bands say hi and ask me how my project is going.

73

Shayne
KC9FFU soon to be AA9FU
 
RE: Moving On Up  
by WB2NVY on June 21, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
NL7GB has assessed our educational system precisely: "The SAT has been watered down a couple of times, the FCC took my First Class Radiotelephone Operators license (which was worth something) and made it a General Class (which is worth nothing), High School degrees are handed out like popcorn to any kid who does not challenge the system, and University diplomas of every ilk are proudly carried by hordes of incompetent idiots. " We have lowered all our standards to accommodate and embrace those who can't or won't do the work. It's fortunate that many newcomers aren't aware of these changes and won't be embarrassed by them. But, as in any endeavor, there will be those who will do the minimum to qualify and those who will do the maximum to reach the peak.
 
Moving On Up  
by KC8VSB on June 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KG6RRQ,

AG4RQ wrote:

"As for CW, you never know. You may find that you actually like it and may want to use it on the air."

I agree with this 100%. I remember that for almost a year I worked phone only on the HF bands. I then decided that I was going to try to make a CW contact to see what CW was all about. After a few contacts, I enjoyed CW so much that I operate it now to the present.

Don't give up if CW doesn't come easily to you; it didn't for me. (My CW is still a little rusty.) Don't get discouraged if you hear other hams sending 20+ WPM. With a little practice you will be able to do that in no time.

CW is an excellent mode to operate; it gets through when other modes can't.

Good luck with your studying!

73,
Joseph
KC8VSB
 
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