The Weekly North Texas YL net

Making a difference in the way women connect.

Blog - But I want to be a "real ham", Geppetto!

I came to ham radio from a completely different direction than most women. I have no facts and figures to back this up, but I would guess the majority of YLs came to the hobby because of their husband’s influence. While my other half is a ham, his license came a little after mine. So, while you ladies have the luxury of having an Elmer permanently installed in your home, my other half has been slow to take the bait.

It’s been a good thing for me actually, because I don’t take instructions well from him and I don’t want him following me around giving me (air-quote) advice. It’s also forced me to become proactive about learning the intricacies of ham on my own. Plus, I have a wonderful hobby that is completely, and 100%, my own. The downside, of course, is that I have a wonderful hobby that is completely and 100% my own. I hate to say it, but I understand why husbands strongly encourage their unlicensed wives to become licensed. Part of it is – you just want to be able to share the joys of the airwaves with the person that you love the most.

So if you were “strongly encouraged” as well, take heart. It means he loves you and wants to share his world with you. And if you’re listening to this net, dear YL, *you* have your very own wonderful hobby, too. Congratulations and good on you! Stay focused and I can guarantee you will be successful in all that you pursue.

I’ve been very lucky. My interest in ham radio flourished for several reasons. The obvious one, of course, is that someone within the club recognized my curiosity and fostered it. To his credit, he never *once* hesitated to teach me or questioned my interest. My fellow club members are an endless source of information and support.

Also, if I’m going to be completely honest, one of the things that drew me to the hobby to begin with was the fact that there are so few women. That has nothing to do with wanting to be different and everything to do with being tenacious. I don’t believe that being a female is a limiting factor in my life in any way and I tend to go out of my way to prove that point to others, as well as to myself, on a routine basis. That’s not to say I’ve never bit off more than I could chew in one sitting. I just don’t quit chewing. Probably even when I should.

Lastly, I guess I just have the geeky mindset necessary to want to understand the one part science and one part Voodoo Black Magic that makes up ham radio. (Analogy shamelessly stolen from my friend, Jack. Thanks, Jack.) It drives me absolutely insane not to understand how something works. And when I don’t understand something, it pretty much becomes an obsession to figure it out.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling like I’m missing something very important in my ham education. As I see it, there are three parts to hamming: the on-air protocol and dynamic interactions with others part; the understanding of the aforementioned science/voodoo black magic part; and lastly – the electronics part. Yep, I’m talking about wires, connectors, soldering, coax, radio installs and antenna builds.

Now, I totally understand that this part of hamming may not be for everyone – be you male or female in gender. I also know that it’s not necessary to know how to do all that electronics stuff in order to consider yourself a “real ham”.

But I had my antenna installed at a radio shop. I had my mobile radio installed at a radio shop. When I got ready to start this net, some of the guys from my club showed up one rainy Saturday morning and POOF! I had a 24’ pole with an 8’ antenna installed.

Somehow, I cannot seem to escape the feeling that I’ve cheated. And I have absolutely no idea where to even start trying to learn about the big E -- Electronics.

So tell me this.

How do you know if you like something or not if you don’t try it?

How do you know if you’re good at something or not if you don’t try it?

I tend to let fear guide me in life. Meaning, if I’m scared of something, it probably means I need to face it down.

For me, the self-confidence gained from staring things right in the eye well outweighs the fright. And believe me here and now -- I feel a healthy dose fear when it comes to the electronics. Cause you know. Electricity has been known to kill people. Or so I’ve heard.