Category: Amateur Radio

Amateur Funk!

It just looks better in English. The headline actually means “amateur radio” in German, but I’ll probably always think of something else when I hear the word ‘funk.’

Still, good news: I have a call-sign! Look for me on the airwaves soon!

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Update: A Wasted Trip to the City

Closed today, due to software update
Closed today, due to software update

I don’t know if anyone has been wondering what that status on my amateur radio license is. The last I wrote, I was waiting for a call sign.

Then, last week, I got a letter from the Federal Network Agency saying and I admit that I was a little nervous opening it. In my mind, I was already photographing it to send to my wife. I was already ending my emails to my dad with ’73 de DO…something!’ I was going to be a ham!

You can guess that there was not a callsign for me in the letter.

There was, instead, a letter saying that I would have to send a recent proof of registration (fun fact: you have to register in Germany, not unlike a dog), presumably to verify that I am a German resident and a copy of my residence permit, presumably to prove that I live here legally. (Did they think I would be able to register if I didn’t have a residence permit?)

It doesn’t matter, I have a residency permit. I just needed to run into town and, for five Euros, get a current proof of registration. No fun, but dooable.

Then, today, I made time to run into the city. Hopped on the bike, took off.

The office where I could get the registration, it turns out, is closed. Today and tomorrow, it’s closed due to a software update. Fun. I get to try again on Thursday.

Passed!

Look at this guy, doesn’t he look happy?

Photo of me in front of the Federal Network Agency
Happy guy!

That’s a photo of my from last Wednesday. It was taken in front of the “Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway” here in Dresden. The reason I’m so happy in this photo is because it shows me just after taking — and passing — my ‘class E’ (Einsteiger — Beginner, or Amateur) amateur radio test!

It doesn’t mean that I’m a ham, yet. I had to apply for a callsign (which also costs money! — as did the test!) but that should be coming any day now and I’ll be able to get on the airwaves.

I still have a ways to go with this: I’ll need to learn Morse code (I’m thinking of making an app for this, as it seems like I’d learn the code in the process of testing it, and I am strangely fascinated by app creation at the moment) and I have to (read: want to) study up for the advanced class, so that I can use more of the short wave frequencies.

Still, look how happy that guy is! He’ll be just as happy when he gets his callsign in the mail one of these days.

HAM Radio

I’m preparing for a test. A test that I, at 35 years old, will voluntarily take on this coming Wednesday. A test that I have about a 70% chance of passing.

That’s right: I’m trying for an amateur radio license here in Germany.

It’s unfortunate that the test also happens to be in German, but, my German is pretty good. The weak link in all of this preparation is my discipline. After all, I should be doing practice tests right now, not writing this.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been walking around with little note cards. On them have been everything from Ohm’s law (“E = I * R”, but in German “U = I * R”) to the frequencies of the 3cm-band in Germany (10 – 10.5GHz).

I’m not even super motivated to get on the radio and start collecting QSL cards, though I’m sure it’s something I will do. So, why am I doing this?

Well, for a couple of reasons. My father is a Ham back in the U.S., and it seems to be what he’s best able to talk about, so I’d like to have a bit more conversation with him, even if it’s about antennas. Further, it seems like a chance to get an in with technically minded people. I’d like to do various Arduino and electronics projects, and for that, I’d like to have some people I can bounce ideas off of in real life. In the local amateur radio club, I’ve found a group of people who don’t seem to get tired talking about soldering.

And that’s valuable.

Lastly — and maybe this is the real reason –. I don’t want to believe that I’m finished learning. More than being a Ham, my father was aways an inspiration to me in the fact that he never stopped learning. I’d like my own kids to see me doing that, and I’d like to chuck up my own confidence a bit that I’m up to learning things even at this ‘advanced age.’

So, as Wednesday comes closer, think of me, and watch for me to start ending my posts here with 73.*

* I’m not going to do that! It’s how conversations in Morse code are ended and how many Hams — not just my father, but the ones I’ve had email communication with here in Germany — end their emails as well.