The Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club is a not-for-profit international organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. We provide education forums, publications and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill and professional growth of our members.
Note: CVARC meetings are always held on the third Thursday of the month in the Community Room of the East County Sheriff's Station, 2101 E. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, beginning at 7:30. The June Pre-Meeting Dinner is at 5:00 at Brent's Deli, 2799 Townsgate Rd., Westlake Village. Guests are always welcome.
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Last month, Zak-N6PK, Steve-KZ6H and I worked the CVARC/ACS booth at the Be Prepared Safety Fair. We spent a few hours meeting preparedness-minded people, and we spoke with them about amateur radio and its role in emergency communications. We promoted the hobby and CVARC. We told them about the classes we offer, and we passed out brochures. Hopefully we inspired some people to get into the hobby.
But it doesn’t take a safety fair to find an audience.
Is your personalized license plate your call sign? Do you have a ham-related sticker on your car? Or maybe a ham-related license plate frame? Do you wear ham-related t-shirts or baseball caps? Do you post ham-related items on social media? I’d think many of us do these things, to some degree or another. For some of us, it might be because we like to advertise that we’re hams, perhaps so we can strike up conversations with other hams we come across. Or maybe it’s to invite conversation from people who aren’t hams, but who might be interested in learning more about the hobby.
A few weeks ago, I was up in San Francisco on a little family vacation. We went to many of the usual tourist sites, but we also visited a place called Exploratorium, a hands-on Children’s museum. We made our way through, exploring the many exhibits. At some point we came upon a Morse code exhibit. The exhibit showed the letters and their corresponding dots and dashes. My son and I took turns on the straight key. It wasn’t truly “sending;” it was just generating a tone, and there was an electronic display that showed whatever character you sent. It was fun but, after a few minutes, my son and wife moved on. I wasn’t quite ready to go. I was having fun. As other people approached, I surprised them by demonstrating that I actually know Morse code. The kids enjoyed hearing their names being sent in code. It was the perfect opportunity to talk about the hobby and, hopefully, spark someone’s interest in ham radio. When there was a lull in traffic to the Morse code table, I started calling CQ. The tone wasn’t very loud. I really didn’t expect anything to come of it. It was mostly for my own amusement. I did this a few times, off and on, as people walked by. But, at some point, a man walked over at tapped out “73 de KK6BNF.” Wow! I called CQ at a Morse code exhibit in a Children’s museum and someone came back! How cool is that? A few people stopped, realizing what had just happened. KK6BNF and I talked for a few minutes, about the usual ham stuff, then we said our goodbyes and rejoined our families.
Ham radio is a wonderful hobby, and it’s important that we remember to do what we can to foster interest and bring new people into the hobby. Field Day is coming. Consider posting something on your social media. Invite your friends to come and visit. But let’s not limit our outreach to these big events. Sometimes it’s the small things, like showing a 10-year-old how much fun Morse code can be, or being the person in the ham radio t-shirt and seeming friendly and willing to answer a few questions. It’s like calling CQ. You never know when someone’s going to respond.