The On the Air podcast is a monthly companion to On the Air magazine, ARRL’s magazine for beginner-to-intermediate ham radio operators.
The Joys of Being a General
25:23The January/February 2024 issue of On the Air featured a story from Brian McSpadden Gardener, KE8JVX, about “The First-Year Experiences of a General-Class Ham,” in which Brian detailed how he got his feet wet as a General, and how he put together his first station for HF. Brian joins this episode of the podcast to tell us a little more about his first year as a General, as well as what he’s done since then.
Maintaining a “Junk Box”
17:07Maintaining a “junk box” — a collection of odds and ends that can be used in future projects and repairs — is a time-honored practice among hams. Every ham radio junk box has to start somewhere, though. The cover story of the January/February 2024 issue of On the Air, “A Fine Mess: Starting Your Junk Box,” by Eric P. Nichols, KL7AJ, offers advice about how to do just that. The January 2024 episode of the On the Air podcast digs deeper by going on location to the workshop of W1AW, ARRL’s Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station. Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, welcomes us into this working space to show us some real-life junk boxes and discuss how they come in handy. Check out the VIDEO edition of this episode:Starting Your Junk Box (youtube.com)
More About Bits and Baud
15:52This episode ties into a feature in the November/December issue called “Bits and Baud,” which discussed important elements of digital communication, namely the quantity of information a transmission delivers -- known as bit rate -- and the rate of speed at which the information is delivered, which is known as baud rate. The article’s author, former QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, joins us to explain more about the differences between bit rate and baud rate, as well as why hams are concerned with these measurements in the first place.
The Value of Contest Clubs
19:25“Contesting encompasses so much of the hobby,” says seasoned contester Craig Thompson, K9CT, “from station building, learning how to operate, understanding propagation, knowing rules, learning from your peers,” that there’s something in it for every ham radio operator. As current member and former president of the Society of Midwest Contesters, Craig knows the ins and outs of running a contest club and ensuring that the value proposition makes sense to the average member. In this episode, Craig talks about why you might want to get involved with a contest club, what it entails, and how these specialized clubs stir up on-air activity that benefits every ham. This discussion extends the November/December 2023 On the Air article, “Joining a Contest Club,” by Leanna Figlewski, KC1RMP.
The Solar Eclipse QSO Party: When Operating is Science
18:38Gary Mikitin’s, AF8A, article, “The Solar Eclipse QSO Party: A Fun Way Support Radio Science” in the September/October 2023 issue of On the Air details how hams can contribute data to a study on how the ionosphere reflects radio signals during the eclipse via an easygoing on-air event called the Solar Eclipse QSO Party. Gary, who is the Amateur Radio Community Coordinator of HamSCI, joins us on the October episode of the On the Air podcast, to talk about just how easy it is to participate.
Foxhunting Basics: Tracking a Transmitter
23:40The cover story of On the Air’s September/October 2023 issue, “Foxhunting Basics,” doesn’t have anything to do with chasing down a woodland creature. Foxhunting is a radio direction-finding activity that you can enjoy with a radio club or group, or even with just one other friend — and they don’t even have to be a ham! Rob Zielfelder, N1NUG, explains how to get started with a couple of handheld radios and a directional antenna that you can make from inexpensive hardware store materials.One player hides somewhere with a radio, and sends intermittent transmissions, while the other player tracks them with the help of the radio’s signal meter and a map. Listen to this month’s episode for more information on how to join the fun.Check out the video version on our YouTube channel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7OXP9cFa7Y&feature=youtu.be
Technical Coordinators: A Tech Resource in Your Section
31:13This month, we talk with Steve Simons, W1SMS, the Technical Coordinator for the Connecticut Section, who shares his experiences as a TC, from coordinating with Emergency Operations Centers during an emergency, to presenting technical papers at ham club meetings, to working with the Section’s Technical Specialists to help local hams with troubleshooting and other technical matters. Check out the VIDEO edition on our YouTube channel: (3) Technical Coordinators: A Tech Resource in Your Section - YouTube
When Messages Matter: Passing Traffic
30:37Passing traffic is a ham radio activity that’s nearly as old as ham radio itself, and getting accurate messages to their destination in a timely manner takes training and skill. In addition to participating in nets, hams also have the opportunity to take on ARRL Field Organization positions that are responsible for traffic. In this episode, we talk to Ethan Hansen, KC1OIP, who fulfills one such position, Official Relay Station, in ARRL’s National Traffic System. Listen in to learn about what it takes to become an Official Relay Station, how the position makes a difference in the community, and how it benefits your amateur radio skills and experience.
How to Get On the Air from an ARRL Field Day GOTA Station
21:50For the June 2023 episode of the On the Air podcast, ARRL Radiosport & Regulatory Information Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, and ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE, join us to talk about a popular Field Day fixture known as the GOTA (Get On the Air) Station. If you’re a newer ham, or new to Field Day operating, you can find a local Field Day setup that’s running one of these beginner-friendly stations. Tune in to find out how, so you can make plans to operate from a Field Day GOTA Station on Field Day weekend, June 24 and 25. Watch the video edition: (1) How to Get On the Air from an ARRL Field Day GOTA Station - YouTube
Getting On the Air for the June VHF Contest
18:56With this year's ARRL June VHF Contest fast approaching on the weekend of June 10, seasoned VHF operator Bob Witte, KØNR, joins the podcast to talk about how to prepare yourself and your station to join in the fun of this beginner-friendly event.Watch the video edition: (1) On the Air Podcast — Getting On the Air for the June VHF Contest! - YouTube