Officially VU3CCL: My Journey to Becoming a Ham Radio Operator

Officially VU3CCL: My Journey to Becoming a Ham Radio Operator

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One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while was become a HAM, or amateur radio operator. A few months back (I think it’s been a year now since time’s flying very fast these days), I finally got my ham radio license, and I couldn’t be more excited to share this journey with you. I’ve been wanting to write about this, but somehow, it is not happening since my work keeps me busy always.

For those who might not know, ham radio is a fascinating hobby involving using radio equipment to communicate with other operators, or “hams,” worldwide. It’s a blend of science, technology, and a bit of magic, allowing you to make contacts and friendships with people near and far. The amateur radio community is vibrant and welcoming, and it’s been an incredible experience to join their ranks officially as VU3CCL (Victor Uniform Three Charlie Charlie Lima).

{{my cool picture with holding radio should go here, whenever i take one}}

The Spark of Interest

My interest in ham radio started a few years ago, sparked by a mix of curiosity and encouragement from various sources. One of the most influential figures in my journey was my mentor, Subramni (VU2WMY). Subramni, who worked at ISRO, would often tell me, “Sujay, you should get a ham license. For you, it would be a cakewalk.” His confidence in my abilities and his own passion for ham radio were infectious.

The Journey Begins

Taking Subramni’s advice to heart, I decided to pursue my ham radio license. The first step was to pass an exam that covers a variety of topics, including basic electronics, radio frequency regulations, and operating procedures. I started by gathering study materials – books, online resources, and of course, insights from my mentor. I also attended a short course from IIH (indian Institute of Hams), in bangalore, Dr. SP (VU2FI) was also very supportive.

Hitting the Books

Since i did the course pre-covid, i had to brush up my memory, studying for the exam was both challenging and rewarding, i had to mostly learn about the rules, since electronics part was mostly easy for me, However I spent countless hours poring over technical manuals, memorizing frequency bands, and understanding the intricacies of radio wave propagation.

Exam Day

Exam day was nerve-wracking, to say the least. I arrived at the testing center early, double-checked my materials, and took a deep breath before entering the room. The exam was not very difficult, since i had applied for a Restricted grade licese(thus VU3, else it would have been VU2; i will become vu2 soon :p). After what seemed like an eternity, I handed in my test and waited for the results.

When I received the news that I had passed, I was over the moon! It was an incredible feeling to know that all the hard work and dedication had paid off, i have that video of me smiling like a lunetic, i dont think i was this excited for my 10th Grade exam. I was officially a licensed ham radio operator.

On the Air

With my new call sign, VU3CCL, I started setting up my station at my office (Yes, i spend most of the time in my office). Our mentor Suraj (VU3FWZ) donated one of the antenna annd i got my self a radio(which was kind of done way before my exam :D). The first time I powered up my radio and made contact with another operator was exhilarating. It was a moment of triumph and a gateway to countless adventures on the airwaves.

The Community

One of the best parts of being a ham radio operator is the community. I’ve made friends with hams both locally and globally. We share a passion for radio communication and a spirit of helping and learning from one another. The sense of camaraderie is strong, and there’s always someone willing to lend a hand or share their expertise.

Doing the COOL things

One of the cool things I do these days is getting data packets from small satellites orbiting Earth, which is supposed to be an obvious choice since I am building a satellite to be launched this year, so practice makes perfect, isn’t it? To get this data, my hardware is connected to a network of similar LORA-based receivers spread worldwide called TINYGS;

you don’t need much to run these, All you need is an antenna, a LORA board, and an ESP32. Since I like to make things, I have designed a custom board that integrates the ESP32 and LORA into a single unit – or if you want, you could also use a LORA TTGO board, which is essentially the same type of board. Till date, i have got approximately 847 data packets form diffrent satellites (it was down for almsot a month, for various reasons including my office shifting and things); if you are curious you can look it up here. If you ever feel like you want to set up one of these ground stations you can buy it as a kit on Genex Space Store (ill be sending you one of the upgraded kits).

I am also planning to have SatNogs (another ground station network) to be set up, hopefully this month, with new antenna being built. I am still waiting for me to purchase one of those NANO VNAs formyself.

Looking Ahead

As I continue my journey in the world of amateur radio, I’m excited about the possibilities. There are always new technologies to explore, new contacts to make, and new challenges to tackle. Whether it’s experimenting with digital modes, building antennas, or participating in emergency communications, there’s always something new to learn and experience.

Getting my ham radio license has been one of the most fulfilling achievements in my life. It’s a hobby that combines my love for technology, communication, and community. I’m proud to be VU3CCL and look forward to many more years of exploration and connection on the airwaves.

If you’ve ever considered getting into ham radio, I highly encourage you to take the plunge. It’s a rewarding hobby that offers endless opportunities for learning and making new friends. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll make contact on the airwaves!

73 (Best regards),

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