So I've been talking to a not-yet-licensed friend of mine about ham radio a lot lately, and he's planning on getting his ticket soon. I was telling him that our club is doing a test session at the field day station on Saturday, and that he should do it then.
Well, turns out that he's probably going to get his Tech class even before then, so to keep one step ahead of him (more or less), I've made it my goal to be ready for the General class exam on field day. I'm mostly there already after all, and having a set date to serve as a goal means I'll stop being so casual about it and study. As it is, taking the practice exams, I pass maybe a third of the time, and that's with minimal studying so far, using the ARRL General Class License Manual. By the time Field Day comes around, I think I'll be more than ready and already heading for Extra.
Penguicon was a couple of days ago, and I've only just now had a bit of time to write about it at all. It's not the sort of thing you come home from and be productive immediately. Recovery time is needed, especially letting the legs rest a bit (I walked a lot), and letting the caffeine pass from my system, and realizing I'm about a day's worth of sleep behind.
And it's entirely worth it. This year wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn great. In terms of ham radio, there wasn't all that much really, but maybe next year I'll see about helping to change that. There was a "talk around" frequency posted on signs (446.100Mhz, 100Hz PL), but I never heard anyone on it. Then again, I only threw out a CQ twice all weekend, so for all I know, there were a dozen others on doing the same thing as me. As one other ham I met said, though, people don't go to a con to talk on the radio.
I didn't see much in the way of good clear satellite passes for the weekend, but I brought my arrow antenna anyway, just in case, and at least to show to my not-yet-licensed friend. Also gave him my old Tech study book, which is essentially an outdated question pool with short explanations for each answer. He's already mentioned it's gotten him a bit more interested. My goal is to get him licensed in time for the next Penguicon. Maybe we can do a panel on ham radio together at Penguicon 2011?
I met probably half a dozen other hams there, even if only in the form of a quick hello. After seeing another ham's call sign on his convention badge, I did the same, and that resulted in a couple others introducing themselves to me.
i3Detroit was there, too, and had a great room set up on the 15th floor. I'm guessing probably a dozen soldering stations set up on a long table, and people there to help people who had never soldered before build small electronic circuits for the first time. Fantastic idea. They also had a really interesting 3D printer - given a 3d model of an object, it would "print" it in three dimensions with plastic. I'd heard of i3Detroit briefly before, but more in the way of hearing the name mentioned and that's it - after this weekend, and glancing at their site, I think I'd like to find out a bit more about them.
I did think the tech track was a bit lacking, though. Rather than pose this as a complaint, I'd like to think of it as an indicator that I ought to get off my rear and do something about it. Maybe I'll present on "Ham Radio and Open Source", something like that. Maybe even more on FOSS and Linux. They had some there, but I just think it's almost entirely aimed at new linux users. While I'm sure the Linux Command Line 1o1 talk was very well done, I'd like for something more in depth to be there (I went, but it was crowded to standing room only, and when I realized I was unlikely to learn anything, I left so someone that might learn something could have my seat and the space).
Another cool thing might be getting a club out there operating a station, like the MCRC does at various local summer festivals and whatnot, and for the same reason. I'd feel rude trying hard to get our group there right away though - the con is probably in another club's back yard, I think it's only right to at least bring it up to them first, and offer our help, rather than just show up and do it. I'll probably look up clubs around there soon and maybe see what they think, as well as maybe mention it at a club meeting, and see if there's any interest.
Overall though, if you were able to go, and you didn't, you missed out. Don't make the same mistake twice, come in 2011.