What do I need to get on air?

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So you have passed your exams and received a statement of results from the WIA. Now what?

Well first of all, you need to get some passport photos done. Once you have them in your possession you need to apply for the relevant certificate of proficiency that you are eligible for. To do this you need to fill in a form and submit it to the Australian Communications Agency (or your local federal authority) who will issue the certificate.

Once you have the certificate, you can apply for a licence, also from the ACA. This all sounds pretty tedious doesn't it?

Well it's not really, because if you are like most new amateurs, you will probably take a few hours off work or school and go down to the ACA branch in your capital city and do the lot over the counter.

So you have the certificate, licence, and the basic equipment to get on air. What about and operating bench? Have you considered the comfort of yourself and others?

Think about this for a second, You are operating at three in the morning chatting to a fellow in Botswana, the temperature outside is two degrees Celsius and you are in the basement. Bit cold in the old tootsies wouldn't you think?

Or, your station is set up in the lounge room and you are engaging in the CQ worldwide contest (one of the biggest on the amateur contest calendar). When all of a sudden Search, Bash and destroy (the children) race in, over, around and through you operating position. Do you think that this might hinder your efforts for highest score somewhat?

Your operating position should be;

  • Safe - No Spiders or other bities
  • Comfortable - Warm in winter cool in summer and dry when it rains. There is nothing worse than getting wet feet when you are operating from a basement.
  • Clean - Try and select an area that does not have dust. Dust can cause all sorts of problems with electronic equipment. For example; block vent holes causing overheating, get in to potentiometers and make them noisy etc...
  • Convenient - Ideally, a spare room is the best place to set up because it has all of the benefits that are required for and evening of operating. Also, the spare room will not interfere with general family life. Although you can set up in the corner of the living room, garage or basement, as long as you can suitable modify the location to meet the criteria listed above.
Other things to consider are;

  • Power outlets - You can never have enough power outlets, but as a safety precaution, have all outlets wired to one main switch that is located somewhere near the door. This way should there be a problem (electrocution perhaps) and you are unconscious, anyone can safely shut the power off with one switch without endangering themselves.
  • Telephone jacks - Telephones are needed in case of emergency. There is nothing worse than running all over the house, relaying distress calls for the local emergency services. Also, you may want to connect a computer and modem to the outside world.
  • Good access - to the outside for running coaxial cables, rotator cables and the like. The access to the outside should be as direct as possible. Its no good having a fabulous operating position and then having high line losses because you have your antenna on the other side of the paddock.
See, there is more to Amateur Radio than just keying up and going for it. Plan your operating position well and you will enjoy hours of trouble free operating.

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