09 January 2007

What it took me to become a HAM operator

To break the monotony of the theory part of Amateur Radio, I was adviced by my mentors to change course and share my practical experiences on how I got involved in this hobby. Hence this and a few more posts will be different.

1981 our family bought our first radio cassette player - National Panasonic - ADS 543. More for the pleasure of listening to recorded music and to record music - my father having studied Sound Engineering. My inclination was more towards the radio. This was because my elder brother Dinakar was already a well entrenched Broadcast DXer (BC DXer - a term used in radio parlance to indicate a person who keeps his/her hand on the tuning knob of the radio - those days a valve radio - trying to listen to radio signals, identifying them, noting down the programme contents and sending a reception report to the radio station - a fairly long description for a very short term). Out of sibling jealousy/ competetion, I too wanted to get into that line of radio listening. I, of course, silently wanted to get all those knick-knacks that the radio stations sent out as mementos - stickers, pens, pins, flags, cards, etc., and have my own collection. With this in mind, I started listening to the radio at all hours of the day and at odd hours of the night. I, now rather meekly, feel guilty at not having spent similar hours at my studies. This went on for a couple of years.

In the meanwhile, I had bumped into certain radio signals where I could hear people involved in informal conversation - very unlike the one sided radio programmes of Radio stations. I convinced myself that they were pilots - I had no idea how pilots communicated for that matter. As it was an informal conversation - sometimes discussing matters of personal interest - general human tendency of listening to others conversation made me look out for these groups. Little did I realise what I had stumbled into.

Further events make me realise today that I was destined to be an Amateur Radio operator. I realised that what I was listening to was not Pilots having a chat while flying through an indirect episode.

In 1983, the State science promotion group, conducted a Rubik's cube competetion in Mysore for the first time (it later turned out to be the last time too!!). I had just then learned to solve the Cube. My friend and Rubik's cube guide convinced me that I too should take part in the competetion. It turned out to be the turning point or the entry point to my life as a Amateur Radio operator. Surprisingly I WON!!!

But what did it have to do with my becoming a HAM? Everything. The sponsors were publishing a Science Magazine in Kannada - the local language and as I had won the competetion, I was given a free subscription to their magazine. Being from a English Medium of education most of the Kannada terminology for science was a little too much for me. I had not bothered to even open the books for a few months.

Then came the crucial time - my destined time. One issue of the magazine, I did open! What do I see there? On one of the pages I see terms like VU2 GX, VU2TTC, VU2 NS, etc. I had heard that before - but where? During the conversations that I was listening to - convinced that they were airline pilots. The Title of the article - AMATEUR RADIO - written by (in later years) my good friend Girimaji - VU2GX.

It then dawned on me that I was actually into AMATEUR RADIO - HAM RADIO - and that I too could one day talk to others on the radio to be heard by the world.



Anonymous said...

I did not know this story Madhu, really interesting. I am sure all of us at some time in the past, have been drawn to amateur radio due to some innocuous occurence in our otherwise reasonably monotonous lives. In my case, it was something similar, I had a radio and there were times especially late at night when there was nothing worth listening to. At this time, your hands normally gravitated towards the dial and you just fiddled around with them trying to capture something different, and thats when I managed to listen to snatches of what appeared to be informal conversation. The curiosity of trying to figure out what was led me to the world of amateur radio. - VU2SMX

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Ramas

Good to see you on the blog. Yes there are a lot of people who have come into the hobby the indirect way like us. In that period there was not much information available about the hobby other than occassional writeup in technical magazines like Electronics for you, etc.

There are a lot more who have come into the hobby these days with all the information already on hand.

Watch out for more exciting "Madness" acts that finally led to my HAM Licence.

Madhu - VU2MUD

Anonymous said...

This was good one. Know I should learn reading kannada fluently. Who knows I may miss out something.. Pani