The Gamification of Ham Radio

I think contest organizations and the ARRL understand one aspect of fostering activity in the hobby. The logbook awards, contests, and sprints have their roots in achievement, competition, and accomplishment. Stanford gaming theorist Jane McGonigal recently spoke at a Security Conference I attended where she remarked on the incredible amount of time poured into online gaming. More than the combined manpower of the largest companies in the world, games contribute literal trillions of man-hours (billions a week) to seemingly “useless obstacles”. Why? Because games bring out a full-brain engagement like few other daily activities. The same concepts are readily (albeit unintentionally) applied to ham radio. Even contests that aren’t scheduled,… Read More

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Test Ed Fong Roll-up J-Pole

One of the few things I actually took home from Pacificon 2018 in San Ramon was an Ed Fong “DBJ-2” Dual-band Roll-up J-Pole for 2m/440. A vendor was asking me if I needed a cool base-station 2m antenna (DBJ-1), and I said I already had one set up. I recognized the seller’s nametag and said, “But I do know your name… Do you happen to have any of your famous Roll-up J-pole antennas?” He had only a couple more. I knew about this antenna from SOTA YouTubers KG6HQD Jerry and W6RIP Kevin, and wanted to try one since seeing Jerry throw one over a tree and blanket the whole Los… Read More

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CERT Basic Final Exercise 2/10

I had the chance to be a “survivor” of a mock disaster for the Sacramento Metro Fire Station 21 CERT Basic class disaster simulation today. This normally means having a severe injury and role-playing an often uncooperative survivor. I was to be a victim who had a big hit to the head, and was disoriented and wandering. This meant I did not get to be covered in blood, but only sported a large bruise on my forehead. Maybe I should have chosen to have more contusions on my face or something, would have been far messier. Our disaster event was we were survivors along the debris path of a plane… Read More

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ARRL EC-001 Emergency Communications Course

Today marks the day I took the final for ARRL’s EC-001: Emergency Communications Basic/Level 1 course. It’s a 9 week course that I started in November and covers a wide range of EMCOMM topics: From the organizational structure of emergency communicator groups to traffic net etiquette to digital modes to message handling to deployment preparation and expectations. It is designed for those who want to volunteer in ARES or another emergency communications group. The 9 week course is comprised of 29 lessons, with an estimate of taking 45 hours to complete. Along the way, there are assignments/activities for each lesson, and frequent check-ins with a designated mentor of the class.… Read More

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We want to put up our antennas!

Senator Diane Feinstein wrote (or her auto responder wrote) me back: Dear Dennis: Thank you for writing to express your support for the “Amateur Radio Parity Act.” I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome the opportunity to respond. As you may know, current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require local governments to “reasonably accommodate” amateur radio installations. This requirement does not, however, apply to land use restrictions limiting the size and dimensions of installations on private land. This means that many amateur radio operators are unable to install functional outdoor antennas because they do need to be “reasonably accommodated.” You may be interested to know that Representative Adam Kinzinger introduced… Read More

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Great California Shake-Out Earthquake Drill!

It was a quick checkin on the W6SF repeater from Folsom, CA today. In participation with The 2017 International ShakeOut Day, today Oct. 19, 2017 at 10:19am, we had a QST to check in to the drill. Most checkins had “no damage” but there could have been mock damage appended with “this is a drill” at the end of the transmission. Hitting the 147.165+ repeater (located by Fiddletown, CA some 30 miles away) from Folsom was difficult on my 5 maximum watts with mobile-mount antenna in a business parking lot. My radio tests 10 minutes before the drill got reports back of “no copy” with lots of noise, low audio. I… Read More

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