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A Million Miles Away... At Home

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Published on Nov 18, 2012

This is the story of how I got interested in Amateur Radio. Here is the script:

It all started in June, 2008 in my hometown of Dexter, Michigan. I instantly became interested in the Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service radios, more commonly referred to as "walkie-talkies." Since I had no license of any kind, I was restricted to transmit on only the FRS channels. I tried to talk to as many people as possible; however, the range was only limited to two miles, only part of our small village.

As I bought more and more two-way radios for my ever growing collection, there was a time where I had 16 total radios. (Audio of radio: "It is our first four-way convo (conversation) of the year 2009, and all of the Carlsons are present and accounted for." Beep) However, in November, I suddenly got bored with this low coverage and wanted to hear more activity from other cities through radio. My grandma gave me her husband's police scanner, as he passed away seven months before this offer. He used to hear his local law enforcement agencies in northern Michigan for over two decades. I did find some police and fire channels within 50 miles of my local area, but I was interested in the amateur, or ham, radio frequencies the most.

I thought that the first ham radio "repeater," or complex set of devices designed to extend radio range, that I've ever heard was a children's spelling game coming from its controller... (Audio from repeater: "This is WD8IEL repeater...") ...but I found out it was the repeater's legal identification. I also found out that people can talk on repeaters while simultaneously transmitting on another frequency, and that these repeaters can identify in Morse code. (Audio from repeater: Morse code for 'K8RUR/R' "Testing, okay, testing one two, K8RUR." Static, beep) Speaking of Morse code, I decided to learn Morse code in December 2008. I also bought more and more police scanners.

In the last weekend of June, 2009, I found out about an event called "Field Day," where thousands of radio amateurs across the US and Canada make as many contacts as possible during a 24-hour period. It was at the Ann Arbor site that I met my "elmer," or mentor, Dan, with a callsign of KB6NU. (Audio from site: "How fast can you go?" "Probably, like, 30 words a minute." "Oh, he's my man!" "Really? Far out!" "30 words a minute?!") The next day, he taught me how to send Morse code! (Audio: "Try it now." Morse code for KB6NU, "Oh, god, you're good! You've never did this before?" "Nope.")

After I took my license exam and received the call sign of KD8LWR, I nervously checked into my first net, or on the air meeting. "Audio: Kilo Delta Eight Lima Whiskey Romeo, Stuart, Dexter." "Let me see if I got this right; it was Kilo Delta Eight Lima Whiskey Romeo, Stuart in Dexter. Okay, excellent, thank you for checking in tonight; nice to meet you, Stuart.")

Over the years, I became more comfortable with my radio environment and found plenty of friends. I started to collect many radios, from handhelds to base radios. I even put up my own "simplex repeater," which is a repeater that transmits on one frequency at different times. (Audio: "This is Dexter's only amateur radio repeater, the KD8LWR simplex repeater system." Beep) My future goals are to upgrade my license and create a traditional repeater. I hope to do so in the many years of life I have left.

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