learning morse 2 ways

As part of my target this year, though within the last 6 months I’ve quite ignored this goal of mine, I want to learn Morse Code. I’ve started a little last year by listening to the online lessons of The Ham Whisperer on youtube and have taken the first 4 lessons with success, but have had little practice in real life as well as simple listening time in morse.

here’s lesson 2:

another thing that i felt was holding me back was the fact that i can’t keep up with the speed real hams transmit and listen to (about 25 words per minute) even though 5 wpm is the requirement for a Class A ham in the philippines. i wanted to develop both at the same time so i googled some stuff that do that and found out about Koch trainers.

Ludwig Koch apparently developed this method and has been highly recommended by hams online, even developing programs and apps that do just that: teach morse code using the method.

Today is Day 1. I cut my session to 1 minute just because i get frustrated when i miss letters and get distracted and then fail miserably at recovering. So i’m building it up to the recommended 5 minutes, minute by minute. and it’s looking good!

they say it gets harder the more letters you know and i’m almost afraid of reaching that point because i just might say, “oh forget it! who needs morse anyway?!” and stop. hopefully not. fingers crossed!

-.. . -.. .— .—- –.. -.-. ..-. –… …–

84th PARA Anniversary experience

di na ako gaanong nakakalabas-labas tuwing weekends. usually, it’s about doing chores and staying at home or preparing for the coming week. R&R sa mall is actually no R&R for me. magbabantay pa ng bata, gagastos sa pagkain sa labas. and kung sa malayo-layong lugar naman, traffic tires me out. buti sana kung maluwag ang kalsada. masaya ang joyride… kung walang traffic.

last sunday, i gave myself a treat and went out to the PARA Anniversary in Marikina. i told A that i was going and she generously let me.

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actually, my purpose was just to take a little peep as i have never attended one. photos during the event seemed to show that it was a hell lot of fun. another reason was to register my radio during the amnesty granted by the NTC at the event. sayang ang matitipid.

i went straight to the amnesty booth to get my radio registered and while waiting, i met people from DX3C. a pity i didn’t remember their callsigns but i’d really love to hear them when i stay in DU3 during the christmas break.

i digress. so after registration, i was told to claim my modified license on thursday. so off i went to look at the booths in the event. and GRABE… i was drooling over all the little things i saw. parang batang nasa candy store ang feeling!!! batang walang pera. huhuhuhu

i heard may raffle during the event sa mga nagregister. umasa naman ako manalo. sabi ko baka may awa ang Diyos sa akin na walang kwarta. but alas, dumating ang alas-5, umuwi akong luhaan.

di naman nasayang ang paghihintay ko, though. during the afternoon, a session was set for morse code or “CW” in ham speak. novices were taught 10 letters and asked to transcribe at around 8 letters per minute. the proficient-level hams had a contest and they were transcribing at 25 words per minute! what does that sound like? watch here:

amazing diba? i think i’m making this a life goal… i actually implicitly put this in my 100 Dreams list because to be a Class A ham, you need to pass the 5 wpm exam.

during the last moments of the event, i chanced upon Sherwin, a “batchmate” at the PARA seminar and passed the exams as DY1ZBV! i was so relieved to have met someone i knew in the event. he went with his clubmates from DX1CI (COMPASS Inc.) and that’s when i realized what i was missing: the camaraderie. i was a “lone wolf” and ham radio wasn’t as much fun when you keep to yourself and just listen. you have to learn how to interact with other people… and THAT is what i have to learn too.

so maybe now that my son is a bit older, i can be more active in the hobby and perhaps join a club. (DX1M seems to be quite inactive and its members too spread out) we’ll see.

i like to tinker

it’s another recent obsession. but actually, i’ve been a tinkerer since i was small. again, this was mainly because my dad was one too. so was my grandfather. i believe it came normally because we had the tools to take things apart at home — basically a small screwdriver set, a multimeter, and a soldering gun. and i’d watch my dad repair (or attempt to) electric fans, hair dryers, study lamps… but nothing more complicated like a TV set or a DVD player, unless it’s pretty obvious that the source of the problem is a basic loose or cut wire.

i’ve inherited the basic skills (except for aircon repair. he does that pretty well and i couldn’t) but haven’t put them to use that often. except for repairing electric fans. 🙂

now, i’m getting into electronics and been wondering how i could repurpose or recycle stuff at home. a rechargeable lamp stopped working. i know it’s due to the old battery but i can’t get it out. it’s stuck with glue. so i’ve been thinking of salvaging the radio and speaker on it. and maybe turn them into something like this:

nice right?

but aside from not having the tools, i don’t think my skill set is that advanced yet. maybe i should get into an electronics class somewhere. or even just apprentice as a speaker builder. 🙂

my PARA HERO blunder on #MMshakedrill

that was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. right up there with getting half-naked on-stage in gradeschool for a song-interpretation contest. (ok, i think that’s TMI.) hahaha

so today, the #MMShakeDrill happened. people from work participated and i was one of the Evacuation Guides during the drill. as an amateur radio operator as well, i was participating in PARA’s Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HERO). i’m used to the evening net calls of amateur radio clubs such as PUP, EVM, and ARMI. but this was the first time i was getting into PARA and i wasn’t prepared. it’s exhilarating and really way fast-paced compared to evening net calls. and in my panic, i blurted QRZ (i.e. who is calling?) instead of QSL (i acknowledge). gah! and anyone on the frequency heard that! how embarrassing!

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also, i forgot to keep a logbook. i was too busy doing too much stuff — split between participating in the earthquake drill activities at work and in my hobby. *sigh*

well, this being my first time, i guess i should cut myself some slack. i almost never get to practice my hobby anyway. just net calls, no QSOs. pati ba naman sa radyo, socially awkward pa din ako? hay naku…

i hope i learn from this. and next shake drill or in the event of an actual emergency, i’ll be better prepared. it’s better to know your mistakes now that it’s just a drill than have to fumble when the “big one” actually happens.

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what does an “emergency radio operation” sound like? here’s what i recorded!

Ibarra Watches is Episode 6! Imagine that? Naka-anim na ako!

Akalain mo yun? 6 podcast episodes in 1 year! 😛 hahahaha

then again, i’ve encountered technical difficulties because Windows. 😦 still, i get to share my thoughts this way to everyone and anyone willing to listen. 🙂

so here’s to another 6 episodes or more! 🙂

ham frustration

please note, despite being a foodie, seeing the word “ham” on this blog may mean two things: that cured meat we all love to eat during the Holiday season (and beyond), and then there’s my recent interest which is amateur radio.

well, here’s the thing: i think i may have chosen poorly in pursuing this ‘hobby’ for the following reasons:

  1. you need to dedicate time for it
  2. you need a pretty big pool of resources
  3. you probably need a lot of mentoring on it. or perhaps, you don’t go into it if you’re going solo.

these three things all mix together in my situation. i don’t have time at home because we don’t have anyone to do chores or look after our son so we do them when we get home and on weekends. i have time at work and during my commute to and from it but here’s where number 2 kicks in: to be able to reliably talk to other hams, you need good equipment. yes, chinese-made stuff are cheap but from my current experience, it’s best that you keep them just for emergencies.

besides the acquisition of equipment, another resource you need (if you’re serious about ham radio) is real estate: horizontally and vertically for your mast, cables, and antenna. living in small 50-square meter home in a densely-populated part of the city that has a mix of large apartment buildings and small houses isn’t helpful. specially if you’re one of the bungalow-type right beside a 6-storey building. *sigh*

since QSOs are hard to come by, even meet-ups for training because of reason #1, i don’t feel i’ve progressed despite having my license for almost 6 months now. maybe it doesn’t help that i’m an introvert as well. *deeper sigh*

i think this new hobby is a double-edged sword, so far, in my short-lived experience with it. it piqued my interest and yet generates this whole lot of frustration. i want to enjoy it but so far, it’s not happening. and in the few times i’ve made contact with others, they always invite me to meet but i always have to decline. maybe it’s not the right time for me to take up this hobby? i registered my license for 3 years and hopefully before i renew it, i feel like i can and live-up to the name of being an amateur radio operator.

what do you think?

finally caught it.

yep, sneezing again. i was thinking when i would catch the cold, with all the sleepless nights i’ve had. actually, i was a bit surprised i didn’t catch it earlier. but i guess that last night when i had coffee at 6, still up at 1 and then early to rise at 430 just did it. all defenses were down. and now, it finally got to me.

just when i had something important handed to me (the first time i’ve seen a document with the big “CONFIDENTIAL” word written on it and they mean it.), i had to have this cold. great timing!

and the funny thing is i had just started listening to Stuff You Should Know’s Operation Mincemeat podcast. na-excite ako. hahaha! i think i’m just beginning to become interested in war history. hala hala! heto na naman ako and my obsessions. 😛

curious? here’s BBC’s documentary:

are you curious now as i am?