The One when I learned Morse Code

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I went to Eastlake High School in Sammamish, WA and the seniors are required to do a "senior project" in order to graduate. It's a pretty stressful ordeal and culminates with two whole days of presentations by every single senior. At first I wanted to learn how to "embellish" clothing with beads and lace. But somehow my dad talked me into getting my amateur radio license.

There are three licenses which you can get - Technician, General, and Amateur Extra, each license is harder to get than the next. I decided I would get up to the General license for my senior project - a license which requires you to know Morse code.

So, over the course of my senior year, I read these books and memorized the questions in the back.

When the first testing day came in January 2003, my dad and I drove far away to the testing site. I guess it's pretty unusual to see anybody my age, particularly a girl, getting their ham radio license, as you can see from the picture of me and talking to one of the testing officials (I am the only girl and practically the only one with color in my hair, if any hair at all!). I passed and got my Technician license.

Next, my dad downloaded a Morse code program from the internet and I spent hours and hours over four months learning it. There were sheets of notebook paper all over the house with random words and call signs on it like this one that I used to practice. The best part was my dad and I would pass notes in church in dots and lines that no one but ourselves could read. I know Morse code is an audio language, but it's fun to write in too.

The next testing day was in April 2003. Once again we drove far away to the testing site. I was really really nervous for this test - did I really know Morse code? Apparently so because I passed with flying colors! (You only have to do 5wpm so it's not that bad).

I finally decided to try out my license for the first time and ended up talking to a guy in Japan - my dad calls it beginner's luck. I could have talked to someone right down the street, but instead my first contact was halfway around the world. This picture really is of me talking to the guy in Japan. If I receive enough requests (post a comment or something) I will upload an embarrassing video of another radio conversation I had...

Senior presentation day came and went. I received top marks for my project and was satisfied with all the knowledge I gained.

Then came summer. Remember, it was 2003 at this point in time. My dad won a 2nd generation iPod for fixing the most "bugs" and I got to play with it one afternoon. I HAD to have one. There was no question about it, this was the absolute coolest gadget in the whole wide world. Only problem - they were $500 for 30gb. My dad said he would pay for half of one if I would get my Extra class license. Cool deal! (Note: I love how Apple now has 160gb ipods for $350 - really??)

And so I bought the last book and memorized all the answers in the back. There were twice as many, but luckily I have a good memory.

On August 23rd, just two days before I left for college, my dad and I once again drove far away to the testing site. I passed the test and now hold an Extra class license. My call sign is AC7ZV and expires January of 2013. Maybe we'll chat through radio waves some day.

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1 comment

  1. Oh my Goodness Paige! Your blog is amazing!!! SO full of information! Man I need to finish reading it another time! Glad things are good with you and Chris. That was kind of fun to to hear a day in the life of Paige! That was cute! And so were those hats you wore at the Disneyworld trip! Wow! Blogs are fun even though I am new to them too! Take care! I will add you onto mine!


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