I aced my Amateur Radio Technician Class exam on March 29th at the Hamfest in Lewiston, ME! I was stunned, after stressing about and studying it for several months. Now I get to stress out about when my callsign comes in. Like the great poet Tom Petty once said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”
I brought my wife Amy and our son Jordan, as we were heading to our friend’s small LAN party further up the pike to play Vermintide. Our first hamfest was cool. Very helpful folks checked me in and got me the information I needed for the exam. We checked out the tables of goods. All kinds of gadgets and widgets, a few of which I had to ask, “What’s that?”. I secretly chuckled at some of the very old PCs and Macintosh computers that folks may have been asking a bit much for. Jordan held it together, mostly hanging out under a lunch table, and the folks sitting with us were very patient.
I picked up some informational posters and charts, and my first mobile radio from a Connecticut based company called Hamsource. A Chinese radio, the Jetstream JT-2705M. Later, I quickly learned that there isn’t much online about this radio, let alone manuals. My father-in-law Carl helped me install it into our Subaru Legacy, I connected it to a Nagoya UT-72 magnet mount antenna that I had picked up to use with the HT (handheld transceiver) in the car, and it turns out to work fairly well for the price!
After we listened for our ticket numbers to be called for door prizes, I gave Jordan my phone in Kid’s Mode, and he and Amy hung out in the car to wait for me to take my test. I didn’t think it’d be long, I had been taking practice tests repeatedly with the Ham Boss Technician Android app, a great tool for suring up what I had read and studied, and the tests took 20-30 minutes.
Little did I know that we had one of the largest groups of people the VEs (volunteer examiners) in a long time: 23! Most of us were in there for our first exam, Technician Class. A few were there to upgrade to General, and a couple for Extra. There were kids as young as 6 and 12 years old, through grown-ups and retirees. The group was so big that they had to move us out of the conference room, and into a lecture hall.
By the time we received, and went through the exam, it was about an hour when we started receiving our grades. They moved the folks who completed the exam to a conference room, so we didn’t disturb those still testing. Some who passed Technician went back into the hall to try their hand at General, and I’ve since heard some had succeeded. Had I tried for General, Amy would surely have shot me for keeping them waiting so long.
Back at the car with my signed completion form, we excitedly headed North to play some games and have some lunch.