A couple weeks ago I helped provide emergency communication support for a bicycle race up at Buffalo NY that was put on by http://www.campuswheelworks.com. This particular race was pretty easy to provide support for and it only required three of us to cover the course (Me, Paul – KC2TOO and Jeff KC2NVM).
It is common to get ham radio operators involved in bike or running races as you can get a bunch of the guys stationed throughout the course and they can all talk to each other. The main purpose is to report and relay information about injuries back to the coordinator which can be passed on to either on-site medics, or used to make a call to 911.
Hopefully, during the course of the race, no injuries will happen that require the ham radio operators, however there is plenty more the operators can do. For example, during this race, I kept pretty busy repairing the tape lines that were setup to define the course, there were several corners that got muddy and the racers kept going through and breaking the lines. Also I was able to keep track of the different obstacles and report back when one of them came loose so that it could be repaired mid-race.
In the end, it was an enjoyable day, I got to have a front seat to the race and got to play with one of my ham radio’s for the day. I normally don’t have time to get involved with the emergency operations like this, but I had a good time and I may try to get involved in some of the bigger races in the area.
After the race was done, we stuck around to help clean up, I ended up wrapping quite the ball out of the tape they used for the course lines, I brought it back and presented it to the race coordinator and they took it back to hang at the bicycle shop 🙂
As I have mentioned earlier on the blog, I am learning Morse code. I have now progressed to the point where I know the whole alphabet and am now practicing sending code using my ham radio. However for the most part I am not actually transmitting when I am practicing. With that in mind here is a converstation I had with Meagan last night after I got done with my Morse code practice:
Me: So I started sending the alphabet over and over on my radio tonight, I think it will be a good way to make sure I really know all the letters.
Meagan: … Blank Look …
Me: I think after I get comfortable with sending the alphabet I might just start sending random articles out of some of my magazines, that will be more like regular conversation and would also be good practice.
Meagan: (Slowly) So you are transmitting the alphabet over and over? Isn’t there like some ham radio operator losing his mind listening to you?
Me: Oh, no, I am not actually transmitting, I am just running it through my radio.
Meagan: Oh, good. I can just see some ham radio guy screaming at his radios as they hear you transmit the alphabet for the n’th time, “He can’t even get the BEEPING (get it, beeping? its morse code) alphabet right!”
So after we got that worked out we had a bit of fun imagining what people would have thought if I had actually been transmitting, here are some of the highlights:
- I would probably single handed kill off Morse code as the operators listening wouldn’t be able to take it.
- Somehow I would end up transmitting the alphabet by sound instead of the actual correct dit’s and dah’s (think dah, dah, dit, dit, dah, dah, dah, dit, dah, dit, dah….). Yeah you are running out screaming now too right?
- I would get a ton of people replying to my transmitting hoping they could just shut me up.
Anyways, Morse code practice is going good, but I better double check to make sure I am not actually transmitting…
I am excited today, my ham radio has been broken for the last several months and I hadn’t gotten around to sending it in for repair. Well I got my radio back from being repaired yesterday, plugged everything in and the first time I keyed up the mic I was able to hit Colorado!
My radio is an old Icom ic-735, its a radio that was built back in the mid 80’s so it is getting pretty old, however in the ham radio world, the older the better for many people. I have operated radio’s that are a bit older than mine right up to brand new ones, and you just can’t beat the sound and performance of these old radio’s!
So now I need to really get back to learning Morse code, I have a program for my iPhone that I listen to while driving into work each day that teaches me Morse code, I have learned the whole alphabet now and just need to learn the numbers and symbols now. However just knowing the alphabet isn’t good enough, I need to get my speed up where I can recognize Morse code at the speed many people send it at (About 25 words per minute), right now my speed is about 5 words per minute.
Anyways, today is an exciting day, I love making contacts with random people and seeing how far I can get my signal on any given day. I also think I am going to send a thank you note to the guy that fixed my radio (Matt KD8ZB at the ICOM Service Center in Michigan, www.sarts1.com). Matt did a great job on my radio, it has never felt so smooth and it is working better than ever.