While I have been licensed for years, the bug never really bit me as far as radio was concerned. That changed a few months back. Since then my wife and two of my sons (14yr and 11yr) got licensed and radio has become a bit more interesting. I say this just to set the level of expectation, I am a newbie when it come to most everything radio. The good news is I have no bad habits to unlearn; everything is new for me.
Given my situation I thought outlining some goals to work on for 2016 would be appropriate. Five seemed the right number to start.
1. Earn 100 SOTA Activator Points
My recent interest in radio was spurred when I learned about Summits on the Air (SOTA). I enjoy hiking and peak bagging so it is a perfect match. In fact, I have previously bagged many peaks that are listed as “not yet activated” in the SOTA database. That has me excited about heading back so I can get the first activation in. My only real constraint is that I am often leading groups of Boy Scouts and Scouters who might not want to sit around a mountain top while I “play radio.” I have some ideas on how to handle this and constraints aside, I’d like to achieve at least 100 Activator points this year.
2. Copy and Send CW at 20 WPM
In learning about SOTA it is clear that CW (Morse code) skills come in handy. CW operators have the ability to carry less gear (which speaks to my ultralight backpacking mindset) and in many cases, much more compact gear. If I can get the requisite CW skills I can put together a lightweight radio kit I’d be willing to take along on my longer backpacking and peak bagging trips. The kind of trips where every ounce matters.
This is a tough goal. I am signing up for a lot of work with this one. Having a use case will hopefully help during those times when learning CW feels a bit overwhelming.
3. Introduce Someone New to Ham Radio
People are always asking how to get more folks involved in ham radio. I’d like to do my part and see if I can help add to the licensed amateur ranks. I’ll count this one as complete if I can point to someone whom I inspired/helped to get their license by the end of 2016.
4. Build a Project Kit
Much of ham radio is do it yourself. While I own a soldering iron I have never built an electronic device. I’d like to try my hand at one of the many kits I’ve read about over the coming year. Always fun to try something new.
5. Succeed with QRP
So far I am a dedicated QRP (low power ~ 5watts) station. My only HF rig is an Elecraft KX3. I am hoping that by starting with QRP (and yes, the occasional 12 watt max the KX3 provides) I am building a skill set that will be useful in the future. I do admit, I get a bit envious when I hear those big powerful stations come booming through while chasing SOTA activators but I’ve been able to get through most times with just my KX3, an AlexLoop and a bit of patience.
I’m looking forward to working on these goals and curious to see how I progress throughout the year.