Tonight was nuts – and I loved it!
I’ve been listening to amateur radio nets since before I was a licensed ham radio operator, and participate in every nearby net that I am aware of. They’re a great way to learn about the hobby, to meet other hams, and to get involved.
When the radio club I joined, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, decided we’d be adjusting our meeting schedule to include a Meeting On The Air, I offered to do net control. I was quite hesitant. I’m still a newb, after all, but I pushed myself to offer and one of the founders said “Sure!” Now I’m committed.
Unfortunately, the repeater that we have a standing agreement to use, K1MV, is in an area of Gray that I can’t hit from my house in Waterboro. I wouldn’t be able to host the net unless we change repeaters, or I put up a bigger antenna mast. I explained the conundrum, and someone else would pick up Net Control for this round.
All afternoon, I contemplated where around home I could take Jordan where he could entertain himself, and I could at least hear the Gray repeater. Friendship Park was packed with people attending a soccer game. I drove around picking up bits of static on the frequency, and decided to run up to the Scenic View on Rt 5 in Limerick. It’s a wide-open area on the side of a big hill that FR Carroll’s family built and donated. It’s got a stunning view, overlooking the mountains. I keyed up, and the response came back crystal clear!
A handful of people reported in, doing radio reception checks, or stating that they’re monitoring for the start of the net. Jordan and I get out to stretch our legs, and per my son’s request, explained what the place was and what we were looking at. The weather is crisp and cool, a perfect overcast almost-Fall day. I used the giant porta-jon, that my wife and I have imagined bobsledding down the big hill on in Winter.
We returned to the car at 18:57 hours, awaiting the net. Jordan asks me to clear off the front seat so that he could listen in. 19:00 arrives, then 19:05.. 19:10. Something must’ve happened to my backup, or there was a misunderstanding. Nobody is signing on as Net Control.
I offer to take on the role of Net Control to the group, explaining that I had offered but couldn’t host from the house, but was lucky to find a high spot near home. Nobody objected, so I pulled up the script on my phone, a notepad from my backpack, and we were off to the races. I asked everyone to be patient and move slowly, as this was my first time in the Net Control role, and was working from my car.
Jordan got bored. He was trying to turn on the music radio, played with the vents, fan knobs, the glove box and its contents, and then started digging at something with my screwdriver in the passenger’s seat. Occasionally, he’d holler, or whine about wanting to use the radio. Meanwhile, occasionally asking him to stop between breaths while on the air, I’m working through the check-ins and moving through the roll call for their comments, and sharing our business meeting minutes from the week before.
Everyone was super patient and provided wonderfully positive feedback. Perhaps they were even amused, knowing Jordan from our meetings. He’s been my sidekick, since I started my radio adventures, as my wife works evenings. Some laugh at his antics, others give me a knowing smile when I apologize for the interruption. One of the elder hams gave him a model car, one meeting. They’ve had their kids, and seem to enjoy the young blood in the group. The next generation of ham. And boy, is he a ham!
I share this hobby with an amazing group of people.