Very Cool Stuff: A dad and IRLP (that’s Ham Radio lingo) and panning for gold

As some of you know, I have been studying for my Ham Radio license.  I am squared away with the Technician’s License material and could do that exam at any time, but right now life is really – excuse the pun – up in the air.  I decided to delay it.  In the meantime, I am acquiring some Morse Code skills and soaking in the General material.

In digging around on the internet about Ham Radio I found useful videos from a couple good YouTube sources.  One of them is USNERDOC, a man in Oregon who is still a fairly new ham (KF7ETX) and is also interested in preparedness. His handle suggests that he was in the Navy, perhaps is in the reserves, and is in emergency medicine.  He has, as a matter of fact, a cottage company dealing with emergency medicine. He has become part of a volunteer network of ham operators who could help out in the case of an emergency, such as a natural or man made disaster.  His videos are really helpful, because he explains what he is doing and how he does it.  Also, he often uses a handheld radio which one of you readers gave me.

I have had the growing idea of taking a few emergency medicine courses and then perhaps connecting with one of these volunteer ham networks (which are everywhere).  It could be good to have a priest involved for those Really Bad Times not to mention TEOTWAWKI.

QUAERITUR: Will it be even easier for the newly formed Civilian National Security Force to hunt me down when the the First Gay President becomes President for Life?  At the rate our first freedoms are being eroded by this administration, and with the global economy the way it is, and after what I have written and said and what I stand for ….   Okay, enough with that digression.

In any event, below is a video USNERDOC did which shows how he used his little handheld radio with an external mag-mount antenna (the type you could put on your car) affixed to a metal cookie sheet (yes, you need to put in on a metal surface for it to work properly), to RF to a repeater and then using internet radio linking connect to another ham who, in turn was connected by RF to a repeater.  Very cool.  He mentions that this could be useful where cellphone signals are weak (which is a problem in some places, you know, despite what the commercials say).

I also love the fact that, as a father, he is introducing his son to really cool stuff (including panning for gold!) and is enjoying his son’s enjoyment immensely.  He just can’t help going off on a tangent about his son because he is just so jazzed about what the kid is doing.  How great is that?

It is important for kids to be exposed to Very Cool Stuff.  It sparks their imaginations and expands the interests way past the horizon.

In any event, here is the video.  If you are not into the subject matter, you can at least enjoy that he is a mensch.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Ham Radio, Just Too Cool, TEOTWAWKI and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. EXCHIEF says:

    Glad you are studying Morse Code even though it is no longer a licensing requirement. If you are also studying General Class theory you may as well take both exams at once and go from unlicensed to having nearly 85% of total ham radio privileges. As for the emergency communicatons use of amateur radio there is plenty of opportunity and to combine it with some emergency medical training would simply be a plus. Like the ham you refer to I also live in a rural part of Oregon and there are many places that a handheld two meter amateur transceiver will “get out” when a cell phone will not. There is also what is known as the “wilderness protocol” in which hams adjacent to wilderness areas monitor 146.52 Mhz at set times in the event there is a ham in the woods that needs help. Living right on the border of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest monitoring per the wilderness protocol especially during hunting season is something many of us “locals” do.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    I haven’t watched the video yet, but will. I love anybody who is into what their kids are doing, and exposing them to the interesting things of the world, life, etc. Dads don’t always realize how important they are to their children, especially their boys. So I love it.

    Just a quick promo for a preparedness book I just purchased. It is Cody Lundin’s book “When All Hell Breaks Loose” and I bought it on Amazon, used, for ten dollars. GREAT BOOK. It’s really gotten me thinking about our particular situation and provides helpful general and definitely specifics about what to do, get, etc. I highly recommend this book for no nonsense information. There is alot in this book. You certainly get your money’s worth. What’s worrisome to me is I have a large family and I’m apparently the only one who thinks about these things at all. Now I get to be not only the religious nut, but the religious paranoid nut! Greaaaat.

  3. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, if it’s going to me some time before you take your General exam, I would go ahead now and take the Technician while the information is still fresh in your mind.

  4. Kathy C says:

    Would ham radios still operate after an EMP burst?

  5. RichR says:

    So, if you are still connected to the internet when your cell coverage goes out, why not just Skype?

  6. Bryan Boyle says:

    Kathy C: the older, tube-based radios probably would. They’re affectionately called ‘Boat Anchors’, but, they work well and are a lot more forgiving than the new computer-controlled transistorized ones. No bells and whistles, but, all you need is a frequency, an antenna, and a mic, and you’re good to go.

    Father: just take the first step. Just from your obvious insight, I’m sure you will be able to sit for the exam and finish it in 15 minutes per test for tech and general. As a volunteer examiner, I’m here to tell you that the exam is not that bad; a person of your intellect will just blow through it. One hour of your time is all you need…;) If I was closer, I’d grab 2 of my buddies who are also VEs and give you test right there…;)

    73 and good luck with the studies…

  7. bookworm says:

    “It is important for kids to be exposed to Very Cool Stuff”

    Would historic reenacting or live action role playing serve this purpose, especially for kids on the autism spectrum like my daughter? I’m looking for a recreational/educational pursuit that she and I can share together, that will be fun but also help her pick up some social and maybe even practical skills, without costing an arm and leg. There are a number of historic sites in my area that rely upon volunteers in period (early 19th century) dress. I also stumbled across a LARP group in a local park that gets together for pretend combat every Sunday afternoon. My daughter, who is endlessly fascinated with Narnia’s Susan and Lucy, saw them “sword fighting” as we drove past and wanted to check it out. Turns out they are part of an Amtgard kingdom (google the name if you want to learn more). This group is organized along monarchical/feudal lines and includes both warriors of various types and arts/crafts people. The rules are very elaborate and it might demand a lot of commitment, but I’m wondering if it might not be good for us — or at least better than just sitting at home in front of the computer. Would learning how to be brave and resourceful in a pretend environment eventually teach her (and me) to be the same way in real life? Anyhoo, I was wondering if anyone else had experience with this type of group, and if it would be beneficial to us or just a waste of time and money.

  8. acardnal says:

    @Kathleen10 and Fr. Z, et al:
    From my military days . . .
    “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

    Or to put it another way, remember the six”P’s”: “Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.”
    Good motto for life in general.

  9. acardnal says:

    By the way, the above slogan works for both the physical AND spiritual aspects of our lives . . . like making a good Confession!

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Historical reenactment-type activities taught me a lot about social skills in our own time. For example, being interested in medieval clothes made me understand modern clothes better. Cooking period food helps you learn about cooking of all kinds. LARPers can be good folks, too. It’s worth giving it a try to see if it’s your bag.

  11. Kenneth Jones says:

    DiDahdahdah Dahdah DiDahdahda or as we say in English:

    Glad your enjoying one of the best hobbies to introduce kids to science. (You can be a kid at any age.)
    Thanks for taking the time to share the video, too.

    I know there are chaplains in the armed services, but wonder about a Chaplains Corps in USA Homeland Security? I think the CERT would welcome such members.

    73 (no “s” please, it’s already plural–Best Wishes)

    KB3JA Ken

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