2 min read

Hello this is KK7UGU

Hello this is KK7UGU
Photo by rivage / Unsplash

A number of weeks ago, Melinda came back from Bainbridge Island with a packet from her mother. Within it, a helpful emergency preparedness guide and an emergency contact form with a handful of cell phone numbers. This lead to a conversation between the two of us on one of our afternoon walks, how would we actually get a hold of someone if the cell-phone towers are down or congested. Having an out-0f-state contact does very little, if you cannot reach them. We had recently watched a Geerling Engineering Video where Jeff and his dad got their amateur radio licenses and thought that maybe we should do the same; so that when the next disaster strikes, we can at least get a hold of one another.

A little bit of time searching the web landed us at HamStudy. Thanks to the many years of hardware tinkering I did with my Dad in the 2010s many of the concepts were easy to understand, and after about a week of studying with HamStudy, I found myself in the bathroom taking my Technician License test.

Since COVID, many testing centers (VECs - Volunteer Exam Coordinators) moved their assessments online, rather than in person. HamStudy has a listing of exam opportunities, both in-person and remote, and I was able to schedule an exam for the next morning. To ensure a clean test environment, examiners ask to be shown the room to ensure you don't have any notes around. Combined with the requirement of having nobody else in the room while the exam is in-progress, yields the bathroom being the best place to take the test.

Have a testing environment that helps you focus on taking your exam. It should be clear of study materials and clutter as well as not interrupted by people, pets, or noise. Some great examples include a porch, bathroom, patio, spare bedroom, or any other clean and private spaces. Get creative!

~Bayou State Remote Exams Confirmation Email

The exam itself was straight forward since I had seen all of the exam questions before, thanks to HamStudy. I passed 33/35 (28/35 needed to pass) and got an email from the FCC on Monday morning requesting my license fee. The morning after that, I got my license and call sign assigned to me, KK7UGU.

A few days later, my first radio arrived from Ham Radio Outlet, an Icom ID-50 and after skimming through the manual and loading the local repeaters, I was able to make my first contact. I called in to the 9 o'clock net on WW7PSR and received a warm welcome from the community.

The next day (July 4th), Melinda and I went kayaking around Manzanita Bay and for the fun of it, put out a CQ call on W7NPZ, the Bainbridge Island 70cm Repeater. Much to our surprise, we made contact with KC2JVV who had also heard my check-in on WW7PSR the night before.

I was surprised with how large and robust the community of amateur radio operators is, given how few folks I saw before I got involved. The next goal is for Melinda to get her license and to see if and how we can connect between her work in Issaquah, and our home in West Seattle.