2013, I noticed an Amateur Radio Operators Reception scheduled for
Wednesday, and several thoughts immediately entered my head:
reception reliably draws a crowd; this one was two years ago.
by Jim Peck
must be a lot of broadcast engineers who are licensed hams. Maybe now
that I’m retired is a good time to get my ticket.
hopes of attending the reception, I had nine weeks to get a ham
amazing how much ham radio has changed since I was a kid. Back in the
late ’50s, I used to listen to the 20- and 40-meter bands. I
amassed a colorful collection of SWL-QSL cards, and I would spend
hours listening on my old Zenith 6-S-229 and twist the tuning knob
just a hair left or right to isolate a voice nestled between the
squeaks and squawks. I tweaked my long copper wire antenna — making
it longer, cutting it shorter and stretching it between trees higher
or lower. I hooked up a pair of headphones, so I could hear better
when signals would fade out. And I learned much about radio
technology just by listening to hams talk to each other.
when I first thought I wanted to get a ham license, and of course
back then, it began with the Novice class theory and five words per
minute of Morse Code. With retirement, ham radio now has my attention
contacted ARRL via the Internet and purchased the “Ham Radio
License Manual.” Upon beginning to read about “all you need to
become an amateur radio operator,” I immediately learned that there
was no longer a Novice class license and that Morse Code was no
longer required for the Technician or General Class licenses. I began
to skim the book and was amazed at how much of the theory I already
knew (enough to be dangerous) from high school and college physics.
figured that this was pretty simple; I’ll take the test next week.
So I went to the local ham club volunteers’ examining session, paid
my 15 bucks and sat down. Then I began reading the questions:
questions about third-party radio users, single-sideband usage,
safety rules and RF power effects, ionosphere, repeaters and
frequency. I promptly failed — I missed 10 questions. Which ones?
The examiners were not allowed to tell me.
thought, maybe this ham license stuff is not so easy after all. So I
returned home and really hit the books. Four weeks later, I paid
another $15 to take the test again, with different questions. I
passed, and two weeks later, I received my license from the FCC and
became a new technician: KD8UDQ. Once I had my Technician’s
license, I decided to go after my General before buying gear and
making that first CQ attempt.
also rearranged my schedule for NAB and added another day to attend
the Amateur Radio Operators Reception. Each year, the reception is
sponsored by industry names, including Heil Sound and BSW. My mission
was to talk with several hams and hopefully answer: “What makes a
broadcast engineer, who spends 8-10 hours each workday in front of a
transmitter, go home and get back in front of another transmitter?”
ON A HAM BAND
evening I headed over to Ballroom B of the LVH. A huge line of people
were standing or sitting in chairs outside of the entrance. The
reception would not start for about an hour, yet there were hams —
hundreds of hams, from all over the United States.
were tables loaded with door prizes, and every attendee was given a
raffle and a drink ticket. There were also mountains of snacks. The
event was televised on Ham Nation Webcast Live. Although Ham Nation
is an Internet television feed, “slow-scan TV hams,” such as Judy
Moss and David Moss, WD6DCD (General) and WD6CZY (General-Extra),
respectively, were having lots of fun. Judy and David are members of
the Las Vegas Radio Amateur Club (LVRAC), one of the 47 amateur radio
clubs active within the greater Las Vegas area.
and David enjoy amateur radio as their hobby. Both have been using
slow-scan TV for some time and have experimented with transmitting
different forms of visual information. Judy and David are also active
in supporting community and state activities when their radio hobby
can be used for emergency and enhanced communications. For example,
David assisted with radio communication for the Baker to Vegas
Challenge Cup Relay in April. This race features 8,000 to 10,000 law
enforcement officers running a 120-mile relay from Baker, Calif., to
Las Vegas over two days.
BLACK MAGIC AND ELECTRONICS
also met David Leyrer, a television communications specialist with
Vegas PBS Channel 10. I learned that David got his ham license in
2009 — K8HMF, (General-Extra) — he’s one of those broadcast
engineers who has RF running through his veins.
was chief engineer for many years at Channel 62 in Detroit. He’s
been involved with AM, FM and television most of his life and is a
broadcast engineers who spends hours in front of his home transmitter
after spending the whole work day in front of one.
said that he enjoys ham radio because it provides a constant learning
and sharing opportunity. He has made contact with hundreds of hams.
He has found that fellow amateur radio operators who hold
professional occupations such as his are more willing to share
technical information about broadcasting issues and to make
suggestions about “problems dealing with RF black magic.” It’s
like having a staff of RF consultants at his disposal. According to
David, he is able to gather opinions about new equipment and to apply
what he hears to save money for his company.
Weldon, KD7IMZ (Technician), is not a commercial radio or television
station broadcast engineer, but he knows broadcasting. Before
retirement, he headed up the electronics maintenance department for
Salt Lake City’s Community College television and studios. He had
the task of keeping all of the 13 campus locations’ electronic
equipment in working order. (Think about 60,000 students, faculty and
staff, all who count on their equipment working properly.) He also
led the emergency response team at SLCC. His ham license was (and
still is) a vital part of his job when it comes to instant
communication via the Salt Lake community Amateur Radio Emergency
Services network, of which he is a member.
and his wife Doris — KF7SIP (Technician) continue to use their
amateur radio interest to benefit Salt Lake City’s community
activities. Both have assisted with communications for Salt Lake City
Marathon weekend races. Kelly has participated in a weekend statewide
earthquake simulation emergency response drill. Doris plans to
continue to assist with Scouting food drives, and she provides
security and logistical communication when Scouts door-to-door
Zillox, K5PZ, could best be described as a “ham’s ham.” His
call letters alone indicate that this gentleman has been enjoying
amateur radio for many years. He’s an electrical engineer with
degrees from Penn State and USC; however, his broadcasting takes
place at home in Huntington Beach, Calif., and he’s proud of what
he has assembled. His radio station is filled with vintage radio
gear, and it is here that he took WPX honors, working 11 countries in
30 minutes with 10 watts.
amateur radio credentials began in 1965 at age 13 with call letters
WN2RNW (Novice), and a few months later he graduated to WB2RNW
(General). Two years later, Pete’s family moved to Pennsylvania,
where he became WA3EQK (Extra General). Then while attending USC and
working for Hughes Aircraft in California, his call became WA6DYC. In
1977, Pete applied with the FCC to get the initials of his name and
was awarded K5PZ. Prior to 1977 no two-letter “K5” signs were
ever issued by the FCC, although there were two-letter “W” signs
beginning in the ’20s.
now serves as volunteer for his community Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service communications.
Kegerreis, KD8UDQ, is a retired broadcast content producer.