How It Started

How it Started – The 2 Meter Critical Mass Amateur Radio Practice

(First written by me April 24, 2012)

Way back in early 2010, I was sitting at home looking at my HT radio that hadn’t needed charging in some time. Since I got my license in January 2009 (Technician & call sign KI6NYQ), I had taken all the HCT (Ham Communication Team) classes offered by SF NERT and many emcomm classes offered by Santa Clara County ARES/RACES, even participated in their drills, volunteered as a radio operator for Bay to Breakers, SF Marathon, SF Nike Marathon, joined SF ACS; but I still did not feel like I knew that much about my radio and emergency communications and needed more radio practice opportunities.

I came to the realization that here in San Francisco there were few opportunities to learn more about my radio, simple UHF/VHF radio communications and few opportunities to practice using my dual band HT.

I decided to start a radio practice group. I thought I would gather together other ham radio operators to learn and practice with them and help them to learn and practice– about simple UHF/VHF radio communications. For weeks I scouted many venues in San Francisco and chose Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park. I announced the radio practice at the end of weekly ham nets, handed out announcements at an ACS meeting and an SFARC meeting.

Two of my best friends, Jan WB6SPX and Jim KI6RYE, said they would help and we three met over a nice bottle of red wine at Jim’s house to work out (loosely) the details of the first practice. (Better than a garage in Los Altos.) I told them I had a name for the radio practice: “The 2 Meter Critical Mass Amateur Radio Practice”.

On July 10, 2010, the first 2 Meter Critical Mass Amateur Radio Practice took place from 1000 hours to 1200 hours at Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park.

Twenty (20) hams were in attendance. Imagine that!

We talked on our radios. Some had trouble with Tone, Tone Frequency, offsets, phonetics, low battery power. There were lots of questions and the Elmers answered them.

I learned a lot that day. Exactly what I had wanted.

Since then, when we meet we continue to talk on our radios, solve problems and learn new things about our radios. I have learned something every time we met.

Only once a month. Only two hours from 1000 to 1200 hours on a Saturday. Where else can you go in the City to learn about ham radio and help others learn? If you know of another place for radio practice, please tell me.

Update: Thursday, April 7, 2016

I am now an Amateur Extra with call sign AA6SF, and it is 2141 hours; sitting at my desk and computer I am planning and preparing for the 2MCM Radio Practice this Saturday April 9, 2016. For the third year we will have what I call a “Marathon Radio Operator Practice”. We will talk about being a volunteer radio operator at a special event and then actually use our radios to contact “event net control” and report the “goings-on” at our assigned “aid-stations”.

Our next 2MCM Radio Practice after that will be May 14th, then June 11th.

The July 9th practice will be the start of the 7th year of meeting at Spreckels Lake to talk on our radios! Imagine that!

I wish to thank all the radio operators who have come to the Lake. I have learned a lot about radio communications, talked on my radio, drained my radio’s battery, and made a lot of friends.

Best regards and I hope to see you at the Lake,

Peter McElmury AA6SF

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