C & I Hamming It Up On Mount Wachusett

This past August my friend C (whom some of you will recognize from my TAM6 blog and related photos) came down from his northern home for a few hours one Saturday to ham it up on the top of a nearby ski lodge mountain.

C is an amateur ham radio operator (and has been one for forty five years, I do not think “amateur” means what he thinks it mean).  He was participating in a ham contest that involved contacting as many people as possible, within one weekend’s time, from several locations, and the trick was to get people as far away as possible to answer you (and then you also become their contact thereby verifying each other’s information when turned in for judgement). 

Mount Wachusett Ski Lodge is a few towns over from where I live and an excellent ham spot so C and I met up there.   It was a beautiful day and the ham operators, C was not the only one, shared space with bird watchers, and at one point, a small fleet of antique cars. 

C told me that a fellow ham once told bird watchers that he was a hunter and his equipment shot microwaves at the birds.  From then on other hams had trouble with bird watchers in that particular area (can’t imagine why). 

The atmosphere was friendly competition.  If one person got a contact he shared it with the others.  They exchanged ideas about equipment and any tech issues.  C was having problems that he wasn’t able to solve until later that evening (at his night location) but he still made some good contacts (four hundred miles or so away).

I had been to a ham banquet with C so I kind of had some basics down about hamming.  Well, more to the point, I could sound like I knew the basics to people who had no idea what the equipment was for (weather measuring? contacting UFOs?), and I was able to take questions and hand out C’s preprinted info sheets on hamming which allowed him to concentrate on getting contacts. 

The equipment is basically a huge dish on a tripod with radio and morse signal equipment.  C said that many hams use old Prime Star dishes in their home made equipment.  C also has a smaller version on his car so he can contact people while he’s on the road; his license plate is his ham call sign any other ham on the highway can contact him (I told you “amateur” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means). 

C and I enjoyed a KFC lunch I brought and then he had to pack up and head to the Cape for the next spot on his contest list. 

Hamming’s not my cup of tea but it’s fun to learn about a friend’s obsession and spend a few hours on a beautiful mountain. 

September 1, 2008

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