The Clamper-Ham FAQ Page.
What in the world is a Clamper-Ham?
You may already know that Clampers are dedicated to
protecting Widders and Orphans... especially the Widders!
Well, some Clampers are also Amateur Radio Operators (commonly
known as Hams) who, in the best Clamper tradition, volunteer their
time and services to help their communities in times of natural or
man-made disasters such as: earthquakes, wildland fires, floods, plane crashes,
toxic chemical spills, major power outages, lost children or hikers, and multi-casualty incidents.
Disaster preparedness is especially important here in "Earthquake Country," where
devastating events can strike without warning. Amateur Radio Communications
is a key element of any Survival or Disaster Preparedness program.
Hams work closely with many state and local agencies such as
Forestry, Fire, Sheriffs, Police, Hospitals, Search and Rescue,
the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many others, to provide vital communications
and logistics help whenever and wherever it is needed.
When not dealing with major disasters, many Hams also enjoy their
hobby by helping out with charity "Bike-A-Thons," Fun-Runs, or
just talking with each other, either locally or around the world.
So, next time you see someone crawling through the rubble of a collapsed building
searching for survivors, or hauling a truckload of Christmas toys to kids living in
emergency tent shelters, don't be surprised if he's wearin' a red shirt!
Frequently Asked Questions.
Even though Amateur Radio has been around as long
as radio itself, many people are not familiar with it.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
Why is it called "Amateur" Radio?
It is called Amateur Radio because, by Federal law, Hams work on a strictly voluntary basis
and without pay of any kind. This is in the same sense that Olympic Athletes are also called
amateurs, and not as a reflection on their skills or abilities.
Why are Amateur Radio Operators called "Hams"?
Like the true meaning of our fraternal order's name, E Clampus Vitus,
many different theories exist, but nobody is quite sure
exactly how the term Ham originated or what it means.
How do I become a Ham?
All U.S. Hams are required to have a license issued by the Federal Communications Comission (FCC),
but new laws have made passing the tests and becoming a Ham even easier than ever.
There are now only three classes of license: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra.
Each level increases in difficulty, but also allows more operating priveliges.
The written tests cover electronic theory, as well as FCC rules and regulations.
Sure, getting your license is going to take a some studying and practice,
but then, so does learning how to do anything worthwhile.
Will I have to learn the Morse Code?
The requirement for code was removed from all license classes.
(Ref: FCC Report and Order #90-55, Codeless Technician Decision.)
To get an entry-level Technician, General, or Amateur Extra Class license,
a code test is no longer required, just the written exam for each.
How far can Hams talk?
That's a simple question with a complex answer; it all depends on many factors.
Hams are assigned many different frequencies. Some work better at short distances
of a few miles, while others are better for global 'round-the-world communications.
Some hams talk directly from one station to another, while others use gadgets called
"repeaters" or even space satellites to help extend their range for cross-country use.
The time of day or night, the weather, atmospheric conditions, and even the Sun and Moon can effect
how far you can talk. The design and size of your antenna also makes a big difference.
Yes, size matters!
What about the equipment... is it expensive?
There again, it all depends on how you want to do it.
You can start off with a simple inexpensive scanner or QRP (low power) rig
for less than a couple hundred bucks... even less if you buy used equipment
or build your own. (Building your own equipment is known as "home brewing"...
a Clamper hobby if there ever was one!) You can then be on the air and making
new friends all over the world.
Or, you can go whole-hog and blow all yer beer money on a big fancy set-up with all
the newest bells and whistles. How deeply you get into it, is entirely up to you.
Compare this to the equipment costs of other popular hobbies such as a set of quality golf clubs;
a guitar; piano; a couple of handguns, shotguns, or hunting rifles; a full-dress Harley;
or some water skiis with boat, motor, and trailer, and you can see that, as hobbies go,
Hamming is a real bargain.
Still not convinced? Try taking yer Widder and Orf'ns to a typical major league pro-ball game.
Add up the seat license, tickets, parking, and a couple rounds of hotdogs, peanuts, and drinks.
Now multiply that by a whole season, and yer talkin' serious bucks.
I don't have a lot of room at home. What about big bulky equipment or a huge antenna on the roof?
Those days are pretty much gone. Thanks to modern micro-electronics, the typical "Two-Meter"
ham radio is not much bigger than a pocket-size cell phone, and is just about as easy to operate.
But unlike cell phones, there are no monthly fees, long-distance, or roaming charges,
and you are not dependent on the phone company or the power grid.
What is the best way to get started in Ham radio?
For beginners, I would recommend a simple "scanner" radio for a great,
inexpensive way to get started in the radio hobby. Choose either a battery operated
hand-held model, or a table-top/mobile model that will also run off a 12 volt car battery.
Being battery powered, it's completely portable, and you'll never have to worry about power outages.
Your scanner will keep you informed of what is happening in your community, and because it does not
require any license to own or operate, you can listen to all the local Hams and get a feel for what
they do and how they do it while you study for your FCC exams.
Is it hard to "program" frequencies into a scanner or Ham radio?
If you can dial phone numbers into a Touch-Tone® telephone, you can
enter the frequency numbers into a scanner. It's not that different.
How do I get the frequency numbers for my area?
I have included a link to many popular frequencies for
the Greater South Bay-Area here and at the bottom of this page.
If you need more, there are many good frequency books available
as well as thousands of free websites dedicated to scanners and
Amateur Radio; just do a web search for keywords such as:
AMATEUR RADIO, HAM RADIO, SCANNER, or FREQUENCY.
South Bay-Area FREQUENCY LIST.
What type of wine should I serve with Clamper Chili?
May I suggest a fine bottle of California Alternator Wine;
perhaps an 1850 vintage, or a Current Ripple.
Where can I get more information?
If you are interested in learning more, there are many sources for
information about Hams, Amateur Radio, Shortwave, Scanners, Disaster Preparedness, or related activities.
Here are just a few:
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
ARRL - Pacific Division Home Page.
Association of Silicon Valley Amateur Radio Organizations.
NOAA - National Weather Service.
S.P.A.A.M.F.A.A. Official National website.
U. S. Geological Service Earthquake information.
U. S. Geological Service Volcano information
Here are a few interesting scanner websites:
Broadcastify - Online live scanner audio feeds.
Fire Dispatch. Hear local fire calls.
ScanCal.org - Northern California CalFire and USFS Scanning.
There are many radio-related events in the
Greater San Francisco Bay-Areas,
here are a few:
There is a large flea market popular with Bay-Area Hams.
It features radio, and electronic equipment, parts,
tools, books, as well as computer hardware, software, and "boat anchors" galore.
Seller's fees are used to support local Amateur Radio volunteer groups.
1077 east Arques Avenue
In the east parking lot.
Second Saturday of the month. March thru September.
5:00am to Noon.
Rain or Shine.
W6ASH 145.270- (100Hz PL)
N6NFI 145.230- (100Hz PL)
There is no admission or parking charge for buyers.
Seller's fee is $30.00.
Please check the ASVARO (Association of Silicon Valley Amateur Radio Organizations)
website ( www.asvaro.org ) for the latest Ham Fleamarket information.
Electronics Fleamarket Information.
Pacificon is the annual ARRL Pacific Division Ham Radio Convention
produced by the Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club
and is held on the third weekend of October at the
San Ramon Marriott Hotel
2600 Bishop Drive
San Ramon, CA 94583
More information at:
Here is a partial list of popular Ham and scanner frequencies
for the Greater South San Francisco Bay-Area.
South Bay-Area FREQUENCY LIST
Please send your comments, suggestions, favorite frequencies, or shameless bribes, to:
Jack "JackRabbit" Furlow - N6MPT
ECV1850 XNGH, Cyber-Recorder and Bit-Wrangler.
Please Note the fine print:
Mountain Charlie Chapter No.1850 and
The Ancient and Honorable order of E Clampus Vitus
are NOT affiliated with any of the above groups,
organizations or agencies, nor do they endorse any business,
product, or service. The information is presented here as a
public service, and is for educational purposes only.