A testimonial

Here’s a positive story. I recently purchased a ham radio for my car from Ham Radio Outlet (HRO). I found it to have three problems, so I returned it to the factory (Yaesu) for warranty service. When it came back, only one of the three problems were fixed and the other two were just as bad as before. I returned the radio to HRO and they were nice enough to exchange it for a new one from their stock. The new one seems to be working fine, so I guess the first one was a lemon. I would like to congratulate HRO San Diego and store manager Jerry for their excellent customer service.

Ham radio at an all-time high

I noticed this in a recent ARRL Letter:

At the end of 2014, the total number of US Amateurs in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System database reached an all-time high of 726,275 – and the trend has continued in the first 2 months of 2015, which saw the total rise to slightly more than 727,000. The figures exclude expired licenses that are within the 2-year grace period, and club station licenses.

Wonderful news!

November/December Ham Radio Events in San Diego

Three interesting San Diego ham radio events coming soon that you might want to know about. First is the annual Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) swap meet, which will be Saturday, November 8 at 8:00 AM in the HRO parking lot in San Diego at 5375 Kearny Villa Rd off Clairemont Mesa Blvd. just east of 163.

The second event is the (bi-annual?) Mountain Empire Amateur Radio Club (MEARC) Picnic and Swap Meet which will be held at the Pine Valley County Park which is located directly at the end of the Pine Valley exit from Highway 8. It will begin approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, November 22.

Finally, the 3rd annual Operating Day at Fry’s Electronics store parking lot is scheduled for Saturday December 13. This is an opportunity to put Amateur Radio on the map and get the word out to the public about what we do. The Fry’s store is located at Fry’s Electronics store located at 9825 Stonecrest Blvd., San Diego, just off Highway 15 and Aero Dr.

Maybe I will see you at one of these events? Be sure to say hi!

2014 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention

I will be at the 2014 ARRL Southwestern Division Convention on September 12 – 14, 2014 at the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton San Diego 8110 Aero Drive in San Diego. Here is a link to the convention web site for more information:

Watch for me, I’ll be wearing my AA6TS badge (but no callsign hat), so come up and say hi!

I plan to attend at least the flea market on Saturday morning and the Emergency Communications Roundtable at 11AM Saturday in the theater. See you there!

What next?

Now that we have a “foundation” for this Amateur Radio / Radio Enthusiast web site, I would like to hear your comments about how I can improve this site and make it more useful for you so that you will check back often for information and also refer this site to your friends and to all new hams.

My initial purpose for this site is like Bob Heil describes in his “Ham Radio Handbook” – when a ham gets a new license or an upgrade, everyone expects him/her to have enough knowledge to know how to operate the equipment and get the most from it. We all know that this is not true. Passing the license exam is only the initial step. It is my belief that the real learning begins when the ham starts operating. Then all of the information they learned for the license exam might begin to make more sense. What bands? What modes? What do I say? How do I act? How does all of this connect together? Where does the power/SWR meter go in this daisy chain of station accessories? How come I can’t talk on this repeater, I programmed in the frequency I was told?

So based on this belief, this site has three purposes. First, to educate the new ham and offer helpful information that will allow them to “get on the air” and enjoy operating. Second, to continue to offer new information as your interest in amateur radio grows, introducing new topics and techniques and offering a library of helpful information through several carefully sorted pages of hyperlinks to other ham radio sites. And third, to introduce and explore other related uses of radio, such as scanners, shortwave listening, CB radio, FRS, GMRS and other services that might be of interest, as well as exploring other ways of using ham radio such as emergency communication, digital modes, contests, DX, satellites, slow scan TV, and others. Many hams, myself included, started as shortwave listeners or CB radio users, so I don’t want to lose track of these other radio users because they are completely valid radio hobbyists as well as the hams!

Also, a lot of new hams start with handi-talkies on local VHF/UHF repeaters, and I would like to encourage them to continue their license training, upgrade to General Class and then possibly to Extra, and hopefully have the opportunity to enjoy some long-range DX contacts on the shortwave bands using voice (phone) mode, maybe even learning CW, and maybe even checking out what the digital modes have to offer.

In other words, I want this site to be the best place for a beginner to start, and also versatile enough to hold your attention as you move up the license grades, gain experience, and require more technical and more complete information.

Now I will turn it back to you for your suggestions. Email me at tom@tomsmerk.com with your suggestions. I would also welcome links, articles, photos, news, events, and anything else you would like to contribute. This site is not for me, it is for you also, and for everyone else interested in the radio hobbies, so please use this site to your full advantage.

Finally, I hope you are a subscriber to CQ Amateur Radio Magazine and are enjoying my monthly column “CQ World Wide” as well as my occasional feature stories such as “4-Wheel It To The Field” in the June 2014 issue.

As I like to “sign off” my monthly column, “73 de AA6TS.”

Baofeng is now Pofung

Popular China dual-band HT manufacturer Baofeng has changed their name to “Pofung,” so if you hear this on the air, is is not somebody pronouncing it wrong! (Which reminds me, Wouxun is still pronounced “Yo-Shen!” but I gave up trying to tell everyone and started walling them “Walks-On” myself!)