Skip to content

N1GNV Christmas Message

John Bee, N1GNV, of Quicksilver Radio Products  sent a Christmas greeting that contains good advice for the Amateur Radio enthusiast and some ideas everyone should think about for making and enjoying happy and prosperous

I just want to take a minute to wish you and yours the very best for the Holiday Season.  May it be filled with the joy and warmth that family and friends bring.  I have many wonderful memories of my own childhood Christmases; many more of them when my children were young; and now we’re making new ones as they have grown into adulthood.  Seeing one’s children grow into happy and productive people is truly one of the best gifts we can receive.  Many of my customers are already Grandparents, and I’m sure that is another source of happiness, especially at this time of year. 

2017 will mark the 15th straight year of growth for Quicksilver Radio.  Without such great customers, this would never have been possible.  It’s always gratifying to hear either in person at a Hamfest, or by e-mail, that you enjoy my newsletters and find useful information on my Web Site.  I truly appreciate your support, and your business.  Having a job that I enjoy in a field that I love is something I’m thankful for every day.

As 2017 slides into 2018, it’s natural to think about plans for the coming year.  And I’d like to ask a favor of you — please put Ham Radio on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are some ideas to consider:

1.  If, by chance, you are not yet a licensed Ham Radio Operator, get your license this year.  If you have not yet passed your General or Extra test, do it this year.  Having trouble studying or passing?  I have some tips on my Web Site that I think will be helpful.  Click here to see them

2.  Try something.  A good friend of mine likes to say that there are 30 different kinds of Ham Radio, and there’s something there for everyone.  FM repeaters and HF SSB just scratch the surface.  You already have a computer.  New digital and sound card modes seem to appear weekly.  A year ago, no one had heard of FT-8.  It’s now, by many accounts, the most popular HF Digital mode.  D-Star, DMR, and other digital voice modes are growing by leaps and bounds.  Have you tried 6 Meters yet?  The Magic Band can yield some surprising contacts.  How about SSB or CW on 2 Meters or 70 Centimeters?  Every Ham has full privileges on all of the bands above 30 MHz.  Antennas are small and easy to construct from hardware store parts.  It doesn’t have to be pretty — an ugly antenna will radiate just as well.  Use your imagination and try something different! 

3.  Do something.  Set an achievable Ham Radio goal for the year — and then work at it!  Earn DXCC or WAS, maybe on a single band?  Better your contest score by 10%?  Get your CW speed up to 20 WPM?  Reorganize and rewire the shack?  Order a copy of the ARRL Handbook or Antenna Book, and start increasing your technical knowledge?  Convert your paper logs to electronic format and start using Logbook of the World?  One of my father’s favorite sayings was “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”  Just do it!!

4.  Build something.  Too many years ago, as I newly licensed Ham I got very involved in Packet Radio.  With a double throw switch and some mic connectors, I built a box to allow either voice or data use by just flipping the switch.  Not exactly cutting edge, but it worked and led me to build plenty of other handy gadgets over the years.  Simple projects can also be a great way to teach new hams the basics of soldering and kit-building.  String up that antenna you’ve been thinking about forever and see how it plays. Download a free antenna modeling program and learn how to use it to design and build your own BandBlaster.  Order a kit and assemble it.  Melt some solder and have fun!  Once you start you’ll be hooked.

5.  Learn something.  Microcontrollers like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and PICaxe are quite inexpensive.  With a few LEDs and pushbuttons you can learn simple programming to get started.  There are plenty of useful Ham Radio projects that you can find online.  And if you have an idea for your own gadget, you’ll have a lot of fun learning how to roll your own computer code. 

6.  Teach something.  You know how to do things others don’t, but would like to learn.  Are you already familiar with programming microcontrollers?  How about a club project to teach the basics to other members?  Or a demonstration on using Anderson Powerpoles?  Or properly installing coax connectors?

7. Become a “HAMbassador”.  Get just one person (or two, or three) interested in Amateur Radio.  Offer to demonstrate Ham Radio at the Senior Citizens’ center, Boy or Girl Scout meetings, the Rotary Club, or any similar organization.  Groups like that are always looking for an interesting speaker or activity.  A simple but impressive and effective demonstration is to bring an HT and ask for a “Roll Call”.  Notify your club in advance… all they need to do is reply with “This is (name, callsign) in (town).”  Remember that we’re Hams because we enjoy talking to other people.  The more Hams, the more contacts we can make.

8.  Get involved!  Join your local Radio Club.  If you already belong, attend the meetings.  Just about every club (not just Radio Clubs) has the same problem — 10% of the people do 90% of the work.  You don’t need to volunteer for everything… select an area that interests you, and help with that.  Even better, suggest an activity and then take the lead in organizing it.  Something as simple as “I’m going to set up a portable station at the park on Saturday morning, everyone is welcome to come by” can be a great time.  If you add “Free coffee and donuts” to your announcement, you’ll draw a real crowd 😉

9.  Stay positive, ignore the negative.  Don’t listen to the cranky old farts who insist that “Ham Radio is dying”.  Or better yet, point them here where they’ll find that the number of licensees is at an all-time high.  Participation in contests remains strong, even at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  Manufacturers continue to introduce new models that we could barely dream of just a few years ago.  Hamfests that are well-organized and well-run are thriving. 

10.  Most of all, resolve to have more fun with Ham Radio in 2018!

Once again, my sincere best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season and New Year.

Thanks and warm 73,
John Bee, N1GNV
Quicksilver Radio Products 

Do something constructive. John suggests a first step. Your turn.