Getting into Amateur Radio

Posted on: 2014-08-04 21:06:08

One of the things that we take for granted given our connected society is radio. It is strange how something invisible has had such a visible impact on our world and our culture. For the past 100+ years, radios have been conceived, built, improved, and now exist in everything from satellites to home security system window probes. They carry entertainment as well as troops orders. At any given moment, hundreds of communications from all around us are likely passing, unbeknownst, right through us.

At the coaxing of a friend of mine, I finally broke down and took my Technician test last December and passed, earning the call sign KF5ZQE. A little over a month ago, I took and passed the General Exam. Now, I'm studying for the Extra license, and hoping to pass it in the next 2 or 3 weeks.

Studying for the Extra license test has been a challenge. It covers a deep, comprehensive set of knowledge with some 900 questions in the pool. Topics range from the mundane FCC codes to the intricate explanation of a schematic. Although one could simply choose to "go through the motions" and pass the test through rote memorization. And although much of it seems to be covering lots of different, unrelated areas: e.g. calculating transmission line impedance, understanding the radiation patterns of antennas, and calculating the oscillation frequency of a Colpitts oscillator, many of the questions are inextricably linked in one large (for lack of a better word) cycle.

It's all just electricity and magnetism, pulsing and oscillating through space and time a roughly the speed of light. Electrons getting stored, resisted, inducted, resonated, and switched.

And it is magnificent and beautiful.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)