July 19, 2024


Education, What Else?

First HAM Radio Club Meeting

3 min read
First HAM Radio Club Meeting

This evening I attended my first-ever HAM Radio Club Meeting. It was the meeting of the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society (W4BFB – MARS) and held at St. Giles Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this post I’ll share the 30 minute audio podcast reflection I recorded afterwards about the experience and some things I learned, as well as share some photos of the evening and referenced links from the podcast.

Here’s the link to my podcast reflection, which I added to my “Class with Dr. Fryer” channel on Anchor. It’s 30 minutes long. I also used the iOS app “Voice Record Pro” to cross-post this recording as a single-image video to YouTube.

This was the setup club member Ron brought to the meeting to demonstrate how to use PACKET, which is a way to send email messages and other messages over radio frequencies, even if/when “the Internet is down.”

This photo shows some of the different connection options available for PACKET radio communications using Winlink software. This includes Vara HF and Vara FM, as well as Iridium GO, which is satellite-based radio communication.

I think the possibility of communicating with Internet-like protocols for short messaging even if the power grid is down and the global Internet is down is INCREDIBLY cool and powerful. This is definitely something I am going to learn more about and learn how to do.

Here are some of the links I mentioned in the above-linked podcast reflection, and learned a little about tonight:

  1. Website of W4BFB – MARS, this Charlotte, North Carolina, based AARL Club.
  2. Winter Field Day (last full weekend in January)
  3. Charlotte HAM Fest (March 11-12, 2023)
  4. HAM Club Online (club software)
  5. The Hurricane Watch Net
  6. FT8

A variety of different HAM radio enthusiast apps are available for iPhone / iOS. These include “Police Scanner Radio & Fire” and the following apps Ron has on his iPhone. Note some of these require an amateur radio license to use and operate:

  1. HamLog
  2. EchoLink
  3. RepeaterBook
  4. PacketPad
  5. WaveGuide (couldn’t find link to US iOS app store)
  6. Callsign Search
  7. iDx 2020 (couldn’t find link to US iOS app store)
  8. HamRadioCall (no longer available in my region)
  9. Morse-It

Other HAM-related websites I either learned about at the meeting or found in Google searches afterward:

  1. DX Engineering (gear sales)
  2. QRZ (HAM radio database / directory)
  3. HAM Radio Operators (Facebook Group)

I learned that HAM radio licensees no longer have to learn Morse Code. This change happened in February 1991. My grandfather on my mom’s side, Richard Dean Henley, had been in the US Signal Corps during World War II and was a HAM. He’s part of the reason I want to become a HAM and learn more about amateur radio.

Last of all, here’s the link to my September 13, 2022 video conversation with friend and fellow educator Carol Anne McGuire about HAM radio!

Here’s my July 4, 2022 video from our Oklahoma City backyard, “Prepping & Preparation (“Submarine Sermons: Part 2)” which also provides more background on why I want to become a licensed HAM and invest more of my time and resources into emergency preparedness.

If these resources are helpful to you or you have feedback / suggestions, please reach out to me! Twitter (@wfryer) is probably the best way but other options are available. My different social media channels are listed on wesfryer.com/after.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes’ free newsletter. Check out Wes’ video tutorial library, “Playing with Media.” Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on wesfryer.com/after.

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