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“Ya gettin’ deep, man!”

Posted by Tom Benedict on 23/11/2011

There’s a frame from one of my favorite comics as a kid, Snarf Quest, where the main character, Snarf, realizes he’s in way way over his head. There’s a great picture of him with hand to head saying, “Ya gettin’ deep, man!”

After I realized my 900MHz video system would never do what I wanted in the air, I bought a 5.8GHz 200mW system from Hobby King that would. All the reviews I read both on and off of the Hobby King website confirmed it really did have about a 1km range. Wow! Perfect! It’s almost too good to be true!

Sure ’nuff, it was. Questions came up in the KAP forums, and finally I was asked directly by a fellow KAPer: “Do you have a ham radio license?” Er… no.

To be fair, by the time that question was put to me directly, I’d already realized I couldn’t use this without a license and had already begun to remedy the situation. I ordered the ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook, found out who the local VEC is, found the local radio club, and talked to one of the members about getting licensed. I want to do this right!

And a good thing, too. Requiring a ham radio license in order to use high powered radio gear isn’t unreasonable. The whole point of the licensing system is to make sure the people using this gear know what they’re doing and will act responsibly with it. No bad thing! But even better, the studying necessary to pass the licensing exam has answered soooo many questions I’ve had about radio, I’m asking myself why I didn’t do this sooner! Radio direction finding for locating a stratospheric balloon package? Answered. How to get telemetry from a balloon payload? Answered. How to do video from a KAP rig? Answered. What bands can I use inside the US? Answered. Can I hand my gear to another KAPer to use while I’m there? Answered. Can I give someone else my gear to take home with them and use, knowing they don’t have a license? Yeah, answered. Sometimes Google is your friend. Sometimes it helps to have all the information packed into one extremely dense book that you can read cover-to-cover. This is one where the book wins.

At the same time, though, I do find myself with head in hands thinking, “Ya gettin’ deep, man!” Back when I was an undergraduate, as we were filing out of the final exam for our Stellar Atmospheres course, one of my classmates turned to me and said, “I just wanted to look through a freaking telescope, man!” Amen, brotha. I just wanted to see what my camera was seeing when it’s on the kite.

But I can’t complain. Knowledge is like candy. It tastes great, but it can be overwhelming when you try to swallow too much. It’s an utter high when you’re sucking it down, and the crash at the end can be a killer. Occasionally you get some gawdawful bit like an orange strawberry nougat, but most of it is pretty darned sweet. Reading about radio technology? Pretty darned sweet if you ask me. One more week and I think I’ll be ready to take the exam.

– Tom


2 Responses to ““Ya gettin’ deep, man!””

  1. Another benefit is that you get to meet a great community!

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