Amateur Radio News

Check in and Check Up on the Community

Taking a vacation day and staying home from work sounds like a really good idea—until it happens every day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Hams are staying home to comply with state lockdowns or to protect themselves from exposure. So what can you do while you’re sheltering-in-place at your QTH?

Take Care of Yourself   

There’s no way you can help yourself or others if you’re sick. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, and exercise. Take vitamins and drink plenty of water to help support your immunity.  Also practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear a face mask when appropriate.  Remember that Hams invented social distancing via radio—we’re experts.

Health professionals suggest you maintain your daily routine. Do what you normally do as much as possible. Maintain personal hygiene—and put some pants on! Occasional TV binge-watching and reading can be diversions, but don’t turn into a total couch potato.

Take Care of Others  

Look out for your family, neighbors, and homebound Hams. If you’re able, offer to run errands to the drugstore or supermarket for essential supplies. Use caution and common sense when you’re in close contact with others.

Give your Ham friends a call on the air to see how they’re doing. You can also contact Hams, friends, and family via email, phone, FaceTime, Zoom, and other means. Use social media to share information, humorous memes, jokes, and photos. Go easy on the toilet paper humor—we’ve already seen enough!

Be Radio Active 

Here’s your opportunity to get some on-the-air time. There are a lot of us stuck at home around the world, and the potential for making contacts is quite good—the rest of the world is under lockdown as well.

Check into local nets regularly and schedule time for chats and roundtable QSOs. You can’t meet for breakfast anymore, but you can certainly sit at your rig and have your coffee while you’re chatting with friends and club members. This would also be a good time to try some underutilized bands for local communications, like 6 or 10 meters.

We’re at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, but don’t give up on DX. The bands have been opening, even if infrequently. Summer is coming, which means sporadic E skip season will be upon us soon.

Finish Some Projects

I’ve got a VHF/UHF HT that’s been sitting on the desk for several weeks with the programming software and cord. I’ve been meaning to get to it, but procrastination gets in the way. You probably have some projects waiting as well. There’s no time like the present, so get cracking.

Weather can be unpredictable here in the Midwest, but there are always breaks between rainstorms to start one of those outdoor antenna projects you’ve put off since last fall. Though large group gatherings are currently restricted, it’s still okay to invite a few friends to help if you keep your distance. Once you’re done, reward them with delivery pizza and some liquid refreshment.

Learn Something New

Have you been thinking about learning Morse code? Are you interested in FT-8 or other digital modes? Would you like to learn how to wind a toroid? This would be a good time to pursue your interests while you’re stuck at home.

There are YouTube videos on just about every Ham topic you can think of. If you prefer print, grab a copy of the latest ARRL Handbook or other references. Of course, you can Google information on topics of your choice and maybe even find an app or program to help you.

Become an Elmer

Some Hams are convinced they know everything—and some actually do (mostly). Why not become an online Elmer? Make yourself available as a mentor to help other Hams with test preparation, answer questions about Ham Radio, or be an encouragement to a new tech who’s finding his or her way in the hobby.

Be Prepared

Make sure your equipment is working properly and ready to deploy if needed. This is important to ARES® (Amateur Radio Emergency Services), EMA (Emergency Management Agencies), and partner organizations such as Satern (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) and the Red Cross if they should suddenly need our help with communications.

It’s also a good time to sharpen your SKYWARN® skills and look into the availability of online training courses. Also, check with your local National Weather Service office for available online options. Local training has been put on hold for now, but there is still a need for spotters, especially as we enter the storm season. Become active with your local spotter nets and keep your eyes to the skies.

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