I have been an amateur radio operator, or “ham,” since 1997 when I was first licensed as a fifteen year old. At that point I was drawn to the hobby because my grandfather has always been very active in the amateur radio community and a stickler for disaster communication readiness. In 2011 I finally upgraded my license to a “general class” which opened up privileges on all amateur frequency bands. This has allowed me to communicate with amateurs all over the world from Europe to Africa to Southeast Asia.
About two years ago I discovered an area of ham radio that combined my interest in radio with my love for the outdoors. This program encourages hams to “activate” various summits for points. One of the primary guidelines for the program is that you operate without the benefit of commercial power. That is, you must operate using batteries or some other kind of power as long as it isn’t a generator. By nature this means that using low power, five to ten watts, is much more efficient than running fifty or one hundred watts. Furthermore, because of the low power nature of this part of the hobby it is much more efficient to operate using Morse code than voice communications (more on that later).