A year and a half ago, I bought myself a Kenwood TS480SAT, and a local ham strung up a quick 10m dipole on my apartment balcony. I could hear stations, but I never could make contact with anybody. Despite the numerous articles online and in QST over the years about how to put stealth antennas up in your restricted condo or apartment, I haven’t taken the time to find an arrangement that would work for me. The dipole has long since been returned, and the Kenwood has been sitting there feeling very unloved. Sad, I know. I completely agree! I’m fixing that by installing it as a mobile rig, so simmer down now.
During this time without HF, I remained active in the ham community. I worked both Field Days since I got my ticket; I worked my first Bike-A-Thon last year; I attended club meetings; I’m a member of ARES; I got my SkyWarn Storm Spotter certification; I serve as a VE; and I’ve been known to ragchew on the local 2m repeater.
And then there’s Twitter.
To say I’m active in the ham radio community on Twitter might be a bit of an understatement. In a move that is backwards from how most people do it (and I’d do it the normal way if I had it to do over again), my personal account on Twitter is my call sign, and my ham radio account on Twitter is @Bionic_Nerd. On my personal account, I don’t restrict my tweets to ham radio, but that’s how it all started. Today my tweet count topped 28,000. I’m active.
I’ve met hams from all over the world, hams who are involved in practically every aspect of the hobby. We met each other through our shared interest of ham radio, but we have gotten know each other on a deeper level as well. Though I have never met them in person, a great number of them are people I consider friends just as much as those friends I know in person. On an extremely personal note, when my mother died unexpectedly just over two months ago, these were the friends who sent flowers, who called every day to make sure I was holding up okay, who sent cards in the mail, who prayed for my family, and who did everything they could to help me through those most difficult first few days and weeks.* I joke that because I haven’t met these people they are my imaginary friends, but the people and the friendships are most definitely real. </extremely personal bit>
When I go back to my hometown for a visit, I always play in Dad’s shack on his Icom 7000. I love HF. When I went back for Thanksgiving in 2011, I created a hashtag on Twitter to help arrange QSOs with my tweeps: #WATwitter. Instead of WAS or Worked All States, I told them I wanted to “Work All Twitter.” I figured a couple people would head down to their shacks and try to contact me, and we’d have a little fun. But what happened instead surprised me. People got excited about getting on the air. Lots of us tried to work each other, and several of us were successful. I got Alaska on my first try, and I was able to collect enough Ten-Ten numbers to get my own membership. [I’m 76198. For reference, my dad is 8286.] What was even better is that the buzz didn’t die down when I left Tennessee to head back to Florida.
Of course to work literally everybody on Twitter is impossible, but that’s probably not going to stop us from trying. Stefano (IZ3NVR and KD2BGM), Tomas (OK4BX), and I are still kicking around the idea of having some type of award for making contact with a certain number of hams who are also on Twitter. Tomas has created special QSL cards to use for his #WATwitter contacts, and Stefano has created a prototype for a certificate. Stefano is in Italy; Tomas is in Czech Republic. The buzz is worldwide.
I’m looking forward to seeing how many Tweeps can work each other during my trip this summer. Are you going to play along? We’d love to work you. If you’re not already active on Twitter, set up an account. Check the list of people I follow and people who follow me on @Bionic_Nerd, and start by following them. Use hashtags #hamradio, #WATwitter, and #occupyhamshack to find people to interact with. Then just start interacting, online and on the air.
73 de NR4CB, Connie
*My family and Florida and Tennessee in-person friends supported me a great deal as well. I couldn’t have made it through that time without all of you. Thank you.
I love you and miss you, Momma.