From Arduino Maker to Technician License

Arduino Radio Technician

About 10 years ago I started my involvement with the maker movement. It has been a blast and I’ve learned a ton. Among those things, I learned enough about amateur radio to peak my interest, but I had no idea how deep this rabbit hole went until I decided to become one. I theorized that it would be a great way to stretch my knowledge into a new area. Radio waves seemed like a fascinating extension of the low-voltage DC electronics I’d already been playing with. I looked at some practice tests at the time and found that I was in need of a lot of extra knowledge, but it was a few years before I really had the time open up to invest.

When I moved my family to Colorado Springs in 2014, I finally found the time. I began to study for the Technician exam. I found a book by W0STU at the library “ Technician License Course” which turned out great. Between that and Android apps to study, I was soaking in information. I’m not a great test taker or traditional student so I often struggle with this sort of thing. The books now have their own Android and iOS Apps that coordinate your learning with the book. I wish they’d had those when I was studying, but I’m really glad they have them now for those following along.

I set the goal of passing the Technician test at the VE session put on at MegaFest in July of 2014 by the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association. I took practice test after practice test, compared my scores and made sure that I was consistently hitting passing scores a week before the exam. I went in and successfully passed the exam without any trouble. If felt so good to reach that point. I thought I’d made it, but didn’t have any idea how much was left.

Like everyone else, I picked up a Baofung UV-5R and started checking into nets on the local repeaters. I tried my hand at the National Traffic Service and attended a couple of local ham radio club meetings. How exciting to get on the air and communicate with people all over Colorado with the exciting Colorado Repeater Network. Then winter came and standing on the back porch so I could hit the repeater with my 5W HT became less appealing.

The typical “I have my license, now what” began to sink in. For me the answer was, figure out how to build stuff that sends and receives messages over radio waves. That is what I intend this blog to be about.