I recently took an FCC Exam for radio broadcast privileges. I passed and as the title suggests my HAM or Amateur Radio Call Sign is KD8TBW or in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet Kilo, Delta, Eight, Tango, Bravo, Whiskey.
I decided to take the test after I reading the April 2012 issue of Nuts and Volts Magazine. On page 68 was an article on how to get your HAM license and the opening question was " If you are interested in electronics and radio communications, why aren't you a HAM? ". Well I couldn't answer that question and the article had a very compelling list of "10 things you can do as a HAM " so I set out to change my unlicensed status.
If you are wondering what HAM radio is, why you need a license or what cool things you can do as a HAM then head over to the American Radio Relay League ( ARRL ) website and take a look. You'll discover many interesting activities that becoming a HAM will open up to you such as talking to astronauts aboard the ISS, bouncing radio signals off the moon or meteor showers and fox hunts with Tape Measure Yagi Antennas for radio direction finding.
You may also discover loosely related projects that don't require a HAM radio license. For instance, together with my Dad, we have recently begun construction of a Quadrifilar Helicoidal Antenna for recieving APT messages from NOAA Weather Satellites, but more on that one in a later post.
I'm still pretty wet behind the ears with all this HAM radio stuff, but it is providing a good bit of entertainment so far. I picked up a Kenwood TH-F6A Radio and I even joined a local HAM radio club called ARROW Communications in Ann Arbor. I'm pretty sure I want to get into a mobile radio for my car so let me know if you have any suggestions on mobile setups.