New rig fever

Gordon West Tech new radio watermarkHere’s another illustration I drew for Gordon West’s study guide for the Technician license, about buying your first radio. It’s easy to be swept away by something with the most bells and whistles — it sure looks shiny — but it’s not always the wisest purchase.

What’s my rig? Currently it’s an Icom IC-718, which fits my present budget just fine. Even though it’s marketed as a beginner’s rig, the IC-718 has almost every feature I need. Back when I got my first license in 1973, I would have killed for a radio with that many features.

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Musically inclined

Here’s another one of my illustrations from Gordon West’s new Technician class study manual. It illustrates a basic question many newcomers ask: Can I broadcast music on my amateur-radio station? For that matter, do I have to worry about music playing nearby that I accidentally transmit? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Gordo’s latest study guide covers the Tech question pool through 2022 and can be ordered here.

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All about public service

Gordon Wes Tech public service watermarkThis is another cartoon I created for Gordon West’s new Technician license manual, illustrating public service. We all know this guy, of course: Club baseball cap, orange vest, and a half dozen handi-talkies hanging from his belt. (The only reason I’ve never been this guy myself is I can’t afford a half dozen handi-talkies — a single dual-bander usually suffices.)

A lot of new licensees joined our ranks for just this purpose. Are you one of them? What public-service groups do you belong to? And how many radios do you carry on event day?

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Exit, pursued by a bear

W7CBA ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTSteve, W7CBA, lives in Montana and likes the great outdoors. Can you draw me being chased by a grizzly, he asked? Sure, I said. And thus began this QSL card.

I changed it up a little, with Steve fleeing in panic while the bears size up his abandoned handi-talkie and backpack. Next thing you know, the bears are going to want to get their Tech licenses. (By the way, there’s a really good Tech study guide that just came out with illustrations by N2EST. I imagine the bears will either find it helpful or delicious.)

For extra points: Who recognizes the source of the above headline? Hint: He wasn’t a ham-radio operator but did have something to do with Hamlet.

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Control operator?

Gordon-West-Tech-control-op-watermarkOne of my projects during Hamtoons’ hiatus was illustrating Gordon West‘s latest Technician Class license manual. I’ll be posting illustrations from it here from time to time.

Sometimes, all I could do was be literal to get the idea across. For example, do you know what a control operator is as defined by the FCC? (Hint: It does not have to do with putting a collar and leash on your rig.)

To get your own copy of the Gordon West study and learn the answer to this and other burning questions found on the Tech test, visit the W5YI website or call 800-669-9594.

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How fast is your CW?

N2EST cartoon for Gordon West Extra class study guideHere’s another cartoon I drew for Gordon West’s latest Extra-class license guide, shared for the CW enthusiasts among us.

Maybe 10 percent of my QSOs are CW these days (the rest are PSK31), and I can cruise along at up to 20 wpm as long as copy is good and I don’t have to write everything down. (Tip: You can speed up your CW if you read more in your head and learn to listen as if it were just another person talking.)

I thought I was fast — and compared to a lot of licensees, I suppose I am — but realized just how slow I really was when I worked Field Day with the CW old timers at the Alford Memorial Radio Club. Those guys copy 35-wpm-plus like it was nothing. I tried to help log and was left in the dust every time.

My goal for next year: Work enough CW that I can keep up with the Old Timers. What’s yours?

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Extra! Extra! (Class, that is)

N2EST cartoon for Gordon West Extra class study guideI’ve been licensed nearly 43 years but have a shameful confession to make: I’ve been stuck at General for about 42 of those years. The good news? A recent project finally inspired me to go all the way to Extra.

Last year I was commissioned to create new illustrations like this one for the latest Extra Class study guide by master instructor Gordon West, WB6NOA (along with my friend Eric Nichols, KL7AJ). Well, the new question pool just came out — and so did the book. And the book is so readable I now have no excuse not to upgrade. I plan to take the test before the year is up. All it took was this nudge.

For your own copy of the new study guide, you can order online at the W5YI website or by calling 800-669-9594. Or you can visit your favorite local ham-radio dealer where amateur-radio study guides are sold and pick up a copy.

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