Out in Public Ham radio operating.

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by AJ2I, Nov 29, 2021.

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  1. AJ2I

    AJ2I Ham Member QRZ Page

    When we ( ham radio operators) are out in public what is your go to response when asked "What are you doing?"

    I generally try and be honest and explain "I'm a ham radio operator and setting up to communicate with other people around the country" or something to that affect. That usually is enough and most of the times confuses people.

    Often I will get "oh, you mean CB?"

    One guy asked me if I was a scientist and doing animal tracking.

    I try and keep some pamphlets with me to to hand out and if someone really is interested and wants more info.

    What do you do, how do you act?
    KC4YDY likes this.
  2. N1IPU

    N1IPU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Brandish a firearm?

    Not really, I just tell them what it is and what I am doing. My guess is one out of 10 show interest or they are a Ham themselves. Try to be cordial but that goes for any public interaction.
    I guess it depends a lot on where you live and the situation. My thoughts though are if your an old ham and unable to defend yourself just be careful. World is in a crazy space these days.

    N1VAU and KD9TTB like this.
  3. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have operated in a few public special event operations. I always operate CW at these public operations and don't use headphones so the Morse code can be heard by the public. I do this for a few reasons. Foremost, because it's my favorite mode. But another reason is because it always draws in spectators, if only for a few minutes, and it's never mistaken for CB or some other radio service.

    I always send by hand using an iambic dual paddles keyer in true iambic mode and I either copy in my head, but when spectators are present I copy on a PC keyboard using notepad so the spectators can see what is being received. I boost the font size up to where it can easily be viewed by spectators.

    Then between QSOs I explain what's going on, and demonstrate the function of the iambic key, showing dit and dah strings and inserting the opposite code element in the string by tapping the corresponding paddle. Then show how alternating dits and dahs are sent by squeezing the paddles.

    I then ask the most interested person their name and write it down on a note pad. I slow the keyer speed down to about 8 wpm ask them to have a seat and get them to send the first letter of their name. I don't draw out the "dots and dashes" but I just explain how to send the first character. It always works best if it happens to be a Tom or Sam as the T and S are easier than and F, as in Fred for example. But usually I can convince them to stick with it long enough to be able to send their name or maybe just the first few letters.

    It usually seems to impress not only the participant, but also the spectators. I'll go on to explain a little more about ham radio in general if they stick around that long. I don't know if any of this results in new future hams, but it seems to hold their attention at least for a while.

    By the way, I do exactly the same thing with codeless hams at club field day operations, hoping to spark an interest and get some converts.
    KC4YDY, K4CUA, KE8OKM and 15 others like this.
  4. K8XG

    K8XG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It was really strange with the Fox Hunts at the local metro parks. 10 guys and 2 women running around the park with Yagis, radios, and GPS. I simply said we were practicing Search and Rescue when asked over and over again by different folks.
    N3RYB and W0AZ like this.
  5. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I liked the entire post, but my favorite part is what I quoted above.
    WD4IGX, NG9F, WA9SVD and 1 other person like this.
  6. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think next time I get asked, I'm going to tell them that I'm doing a documentary on the recent Space Alien Contacts for the Science Channel! :eek::D
    KD9TTB, K0UO, VE2ZEB and 1 other person like this.
  7. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    One day during NPOTA, an excited kid ran over and asked if I was a scientist.

    I told him that I was not, but that I was using my radio to contact people, and the last guy I contacted was in Canada. I explained that my signals bounced off the ionosphere, and I pointed at the ionosphere in the general direction of Canada.

    The kid then asked, "so you're like a meteorologist?"

    I think I said that it was something like that.
    N5HXR likes this.
  8. W0AZ

    W0AZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I usually operated Field Day from a remote place in the mountains with a friend. One year, when his wife was ill and he wanted to stay close to home, we parked my small trailer in a parking lot up on the mesa where the local college (where I work) is located.

    A few people came by and asked what we were doing. I explained Field Day to them as an emergency preparedness exercise - in case a natural disaster were to take down either power or normal communications infrastructure, hams all over the country would be prepared and practiced in setting up temporary emergency communication networks until standard communication could be restored.

    I had my campus ID on a lanyard around my neck and magnetic ARES stickers on my car doors, which kept the campus police from worrying.

    That explanation seemed to go over well.

  9. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    In the dozens of times I've operated CW from a picnic table over the years, I have never once been asked by anyone "what are you doing?"

    I've offered it up in advance a couple times, when I saw a ranger and thought I'd give them a heads up but I've never been approached. Not even the few times I did operate SSB or even digital with a laptop next to the radio

  10. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Same here, knock on wood. Not the slightest interest, including in my POTA activations.

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