So, I finally got a radio and got on the air! I picked up a Baofeng UV-5R+ from Amazon and got on the air!
Last night after some struggle, I got the radio cloned using both Baofeng’s software (which is pretty hilariously bad, I must say) and CHIRP to make a baseline backup of the device, per Raccoon’s recommendation (freenode/efnet) and got down to programming.
I feel like using CHIRP to program my radio is a bit “cheating” in a way, because I literally opened CHIRP, gave it my location, and it looked up my local repeaters online and programmed them into the radio for me.
I tuned into the closest repeater I could find, tossed out my call sign and waited. Nothing. I tried another. Nothing. I started getting discouraged, but then I remembered that my radio has a “scan” mode, so I fired that up. I ended up landing on 147.435, which is apparently an infamous repeater in the SoCal area. There was a long and seemingly heated conversation going on, so I didn’t break in, but I did listen for a while before heading to bed.
Well, tonight, after stuffing my face full of deep fried turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, quality adult beverages and fun, I got home and fired up the radio again. It was still tuned to 435, and there was some activity, so I stayed with it and kept listening. I found out there’s an IRC Channel and hopped on there to see what was happening. After a while I braved the airwaves and started talking. Then, something amazing happened. I got a response! Sadly, it was that I was very quiet, which I think is due in large part to the fact that I’m using the stock antenna which came with the radio, which I read in a lot of the reviews is not very good. Fortunately, the people seemed to be receptive and friendly to this new voice on the air, and I got some recommendations for improving and testing my setup, including hopping on the repeater’s teamspeak server for duplex so I can check how the repeater is hearing me.
One thing that is drawing me to the repeater is that they seem to have less concern about “obscene language”, and that’s appealing to me. Not because I have to have profanity in my life to survive, but because it means there are less “tabboo” topics, and I won’t have to watch my mouth quite so much!
Anywho, I’m just happy to finally be on the air, and I look forward to many more rag chews and contacts and Elmer sessions. “73” 435.
Special thanks to N6BHU and KC6USO (though this appears to be an outdated call?) for being patient with me and helping me out, both in the irc channel and on the air.