Return to ham radio?

Ham Radio was my first real hobby and turned me into geek back in 5th grade (1992-1993), introducing me to the power of computers, and even the Internet. My 5th grade teacher showed me how to contact the MIR Space Station and he had me at “space station.” I eventually contacted hams from around the country and world, eventually probably 100 or so QSL cards. I learned how to use packet radio over AX.25, even ran TCP/IP over packet radio, and little did I know, hand editing the JNOS hosts file would be a precursor to me working for a DNS company years later.

Once I was introduced to the Internet back in 1995, my interest faded in ham radio and eventually I left the hobby for many years starting in 1996. I was likely the first kid in my tiny New Hampshire town with Internet access. I made technology my focus in high school, went to college for a degree in Information Technology, and now work at an Internet Performance company. Career wise, focusing on the Internet has made me who I am today and I don’t regret it one bit.

But I never let my ham radio license (originally a Technician Plus) and callsign KB1AZK, lapse. I have renewed it twice, each time wondering why I was, but keeping it for the memory of my first hobby always won.

This past weekend, I stumbled across an article about ham radio, and a thought came to mind. Why can’t I resurrect this hobby? Instead of randomly browsing the net, why not do something fun during my limited free time?

Soon I began devouring everything I could find on the current state of ham radio. Last night I started using the hamstudy.org flash cards to see how much work I need to get back to speed, doing better than I thought I would. I installed EchoLink on my iPhone and this morning, while randomly browsing repeaters in it’s directory, had my first “over the air” conversation in 20 years with KA1RCI. He was so friendly and gave me a glimpse of the hobby I used to love.

My next steps will include:

  • Continue studying as if I was to take the Technician license test again, even though I’m actually licensed. This is to build up my knowledge of ham radio again.
  • Once I’m comfortable with the Technician level questions, begin studying for and eventually taking my General license class test.
  • Experiment with EchoLink while I decide on which radio to buy.
  • Get on the air, for real. And talk to other hams again.
  • Join the ARRL and a local ham club.
  • Profit.