My 10 year Amateur Radio Anniversary

January 21st 2009 marked my 10 years in Amateur Radio!

I wanted to post this then but it’s been very busy.

I can’t believe it’s flown by already.  My interest in Amateur Radio started years before.  I had got a police scanner for Christmas one year. Before I had a list of stuff to program i hit search just to see what i could hear.  The first thing it picked up was the 145.350 KX4I repeater in Tuscaloosa, of coarse at the time i had not clue what it was.  I just hear people chit chatting on there.  Over the next few months i continued to listen and learned quite a bit from the hams that talked on that repeater.

I found other repeaters to listen to over time time and had a great time.  I also found out I had a relative who was a Ham and I got up with him to find out more about the hobby. Leland Hartley WR4O, came to visit and he showed me his 2 meter radio. He had a custom mic on it that was a an old style Telephone handle that had a PTT on the hand grip.  I was fascinated.

I still didn’t get my license right away. I don’t really remember any specific reason that made me start wanting my license after so many years of listening.

It wasn’t until I had completed a year of college.  I had just finished a fall semester of 1998 and was going to have a few weeks off when I started studying for the Technician (entry level) class. At the time there were 6 license classes.  A month later after talking with some other Radio operators I was ready to take the test.  One Friday night the Tuscaloosa Amateur Radio club was giving a test session so I drove up to some church just before the Northport bridge on HWY 69.  I got to meet some of the Hams that I heard on my scanner over the past few years.  The test was easy because i was really prepared!  I think I only missed one or two questions.  Over the next week I checked to see if my license had been granted.  I don’t remember exactly when but it finally showed up and my callsign was KG4BQK.  I ended up getting a mobile radio the Yaesu FT-2500M which I’m still using but for APRS now. I had a lot of fun programming in the repeaters i used to listen to and getting to finally join in on what everyone was talking about.  One of my favorite things to do was check into the AICN link net.  At this time the AICN was a link system that covered the entire state of Alabama. The system is no longer around at least in that form.

When I graduated college in 2001 and was on  a 5 month job search, I took the opportunity to upgrade.  The license classes had changed so now there were only 3 licence classes. I got my General and Extra almost back to back.  Studying for 5 WPM morse code was a difficult thing for me. I was very opposed to having to know such an archaic means of communication just to get a higher license class.  What funny is once i got into it i really enjoyed morse code. I easily passed the code portion and the question pools weren’t that difficult either.  I got a yaesu FT-100D for HF communications.  At a ham fest I got a paddle and I used CW a few times on the air.  I ended up applying for my current callsign KV4S because I wanted a short callsign to reflect all my hard work!

The rest is history! The next couple years i got interested in SKYWARN and now I’m active with the ALERT group in Birmingham. They assist the National Weather Service in getting storm reports from spotters in the field.

Russell Thomas, KV4S

Social Websites for Amateur Radio

In the recent months I’ve noticed an Amateur Radio explosion on the Internet. It’s not the same as we’ve seen before with the QRZ forums or or even Echolink. Those are great services and are still around today, but new sites like,, are on the forefront of this new interactivity. is a free “social networking” and “micro-blogging” service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Some even call it “micro-messaging” which is more the way I think of it.

Based on “Following” principle, you follow people you know or find interesting and then people follow you.


1. keep up with friends

2. news aggregation/discovery

3. blog integration

4. Conversations; with the use of @ followed by user name.

How you interact:

1. Web

2. Desktop

3. Mobile (Web/Clients)

4. SMS

Web Explained:

Web is where it began, use the web to create your account customize your profile page. Use it to keep up with your friends.

Desktop Explained:

Desktop clients bring you Twitter as a program you install on your pc.

Twitter clients, there are more twitter clients out there than you can shake a stick at. I personally think TweetDeck is the best out there. Has follower grouping,  easily see your replies and direct messages in separate columns, TwitScoop so you can see common words all users are talking about (great way to see breaking news), and even a custom twitter search column.

Mobile Explained:

Similar to the Desktop if you have a smartphone you can get on twitter’s mobile website or install Twitter clients. Some of the better mobile clients have a nice feature that I don’t see on desktop apps and that is that you start with your last update and move through the timeline instead of having to find your last update and going from there.

SMS Explained:

From your twitter profile you can configure twitter to interact with your cell phone via SMS.  I usually enable this for very important people I follow! Using 40404 you can post updates to twitter via sms. created by a fellow Ham Chris Matthieu, N7ICE.

Hams can create an account, customize a profile.

1. You can post status updates (short like twitter).

2. Blog post

3. QSO log entries

4. QSL’ing

5. Post video’s

6. Built in forum created by fellow Ham Chris Matthieu, N7ICE.

Chris host a short Web program about various topics on Amateur Radio. Sometimes he gets demo radios from manufactures that he un-boxes and shows on this site.

That’s it (at least all I can ramble on about).

I hope to demo some of this at the next ALERT meeting hope to see you there!

Russell Thomas, KV4S


Posted via email from kv4s’s posterous

Thanks to Twitter I have 2 more sites to add to the list:

Both sites appear to give you blogs, classifieds, photo’s, events, and polls ect.
Since I just heard about them. I don’t have many details. As I work with the site I’ll post more details.

Remembering the Tuscaloosa Tornado of December 16th, 2000

I was on vacation in Gatlingburg, TN on this event. I remember getting a call on my cell from Tuscaloosa Skywarn saying that they had activated. I immediatly turned on the news luckily i found a station that was showing some coverage (not wall to wall). It was a horrible thing to watch not knowing what was going on.

I later learned my family was in Tuscaloosa that day but they were at the University mall not even realizing anything was going on. When I talked to them later said how hot it was that day and figured it would be a bad day.

This was a turning point for me. I had participated in SKYWARN but it was mostly just so i could listen on my ham radio. After this event I voluntered with the Tuscaloosa County EMA and Tuscaloosa SKYWARN which later lead to some storm spotting. This event made me realize how vital SKYWARN is. The reports passed that day probably saved many lives.

When I moved to Birminham I immediatly joined the ALERT group. Their role is different from what I was used to in Tuscaloosa. They actually go to the NWS and facilitate communication with Storm Spotters and their office. I’m still involed with this group to this day.

Below I’m providing some audio and video links to this event they did a great job! and click on SKYWARN Audio.

Live Mesh: My Viewpoint

Mesh is an easy way to “sync, share, and access” files between multiple PC’s.

From their site:
“Your work computer. Your home laptop. Your Mac. Your mobile phone. Devices live in multiple places. But the files you need—and the programs that open them—often don’t. Live Mesh changes all that.”

I began using Mesh during the Tech Preview and I’ve been primarliy using it to sync certain folders between 2 pc’s (even though it does much more). This is valuable because I can do things like maintian my Ham club contact list no matter which pc I’m on, check my bank balance or enter new check register entries, maintain other files and documents i need quickly, and everytime i save i know it will update on the other pc . It also has a website where i can logon and see my files even if i’m on someone else’s pc.

A few weeks ago at PDC2008 (Professional Developers Conference) they unveiled this platform for use on Windows Mobile and Mac. I had been waiting on this from the beginning because I have a Windows mobile phone.

I have established folder sync on my Window Mobile Professional 6.1 Phone (HTC Tilt) so now I can do the same type work no matter where I am and everything stays in sync. I’ve even used this to install programs without having to plug a cable or swap the SD card around. Also, any picture or video I take on the phone is automatically synced to my computer.

If any of this sounds interesting to you I recommend checking out the site I believe it’s an open beta now so you don’t have to get in the invite queue!

Have Fun!
Russell, KV4S

%d bloggers like this: