KI6ESH/AG … finally.

Upgrade to General ClassI tested for my original Technician class exam on July 15, 2006, and always expected I would upgrade to General or Extra at some point. I used my Technician quite a bit in the Santa Cruz area, checking in to weekly nets, playing around with APRS and some digital modes on 2-meters, doing some emergency communications when needs arose for Santa Cruz County, etc.

Over the years, I have spent less time on the radio, especially since moving to Bend, Oregon, which just seems a lot quieter and slower pace on the radio. But over the past couple of months, I decided it was time to upgrade to General so I could access additional frequencies and began the studying process.

I scheduled my exam to give me a target to aim for, and today I headed down to the library and met up with a group of people all taking their exams, many Technicians, two General upgrades, and one person testing for the Extra as a “practice test.”

Well, the studying paid off and I am finally a General. My goal was to finally be able to start doing some more learning and using of HF bands, allowing longer distance communications without the need for local infrastructure such as repeaters.

The thought is always that when “the big one” comes, be it the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake here in the Pacific Northwest, or the San Andreas or Hayward fault down in California, that amateur radio will always be there for communications. One of the topics that comes up is, “Who’s engineering do you trust more? AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, or a ham radio repeater on a mountain top held together with duct tape and baling wire?”

Either way, now I have the option of a third communications mode: If cell phones AND local repeaters go down, I will have the option of jumping over to HF!

I look forward to working with the various digital modes and especially in testing Near Vertical Incidence Skywave propagation which gives a communications range of 0–400 miles. So we’ll see what I do next!

I wanted to thank Joe Barry, K7SQ, Barbara Pace, K7RVW, and Loren Rasmussen, K7CWQ for taking the time out of their day regularly to be Volunteer Examiners (VE) and offer these exams for those seeking initial licenses or upgrades…thank you!

I also wanted to thank Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, for his excellent No-Nonsense Study Guides which were a huge help to me in my studying, along with the practice tests I took from a variety of sources.

And most of all I want to thank the two people who first really introduced me to amateur radio. Both of them are now silent keys, but their legacy lives on. Dan White, KB6TDW (SK) and Dick Mack, W6PGL (SK) both did a great job of showing me what could be accomplished with amateur radio and made me want to pursue it.

Is Extra in my future? Potentially… I’ll take a few practice exams, likely buy Dan’s Extra Class book, and see what happens :-) The jump to General opens up many frequencies and bands for me, I probably won’t feel too left out if I can’t access the additional Extra class frequencies.