On the airwaves

13 September 2019

As of this year, I’m now an amateur radio operator! Callsign VK2FAAS, foundation licence.

It’s something I’ve always had an interest in doing. As a kid, I had some toy 27 MHz radios with barely 20 metres of range. Then, I got a job working as a sysadmin at a wireless ISP where we built long-distance wireless networks. And, while at LCA2013 I attended a ham radio BoF (“birds of a feather”) session, where some operators made a DX (long distance) contact by fashioning an antenna out of some wire tied to a tree. During the NSW bushfire season of October 2013 I listened (via an internet stream) to firefighters where I learnt to appriciate brevity and protocol.

Some years back, I bought a copy of “Your Entry Into Amateur Radio” published by the WIA, but didn’t get around to studying it seriously until this year. I think perhaps the motivation was going on a boat trip in the Whitsundays where I had the opportunity to operate VHF marine radios, and I subsequently researched amateur radio examinations.

I did a two day course in May 2019 with ARNSW in Dural NSW, which covered training and an exam. As I had limited practical experience, the idea of being hand-held through the initial stages was appealing to me.

Now, having got my licence, my main task is to make some QSOs (contacts with other amateurs). I’ve already made a couple so far, mostly on the VK2RWI 2m repeater (147.000 MHz, Dural NSW), but I hope to make more!

My next goal is to study to upgrade to the standard or advanced licence class. This will enable me to experiment with digital voice modes, or even packet radio, which I think is more exciting than analogue voice!