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How are you going to request assistance when you need help during a major disaster?

I know, I know, we like happy thoughts, but bad situations do happen. The rains will arrive and may bring mud slides along with washed out bridges and roads.  Remember the last big flood in Boquete -- when was it?

Can't speak about your life, but our electricity, internet, and telephone service is frequently non-functional.  Battery back-up systems can help, but how long does the battery last? Got a generator? Can you plan on using a cell phone, sending an e-mail, or calling someone on a land line or cell telephone? A battery and/or home generator can power your i-pad, cell phone, etc., but will towers or the communications infrastructure be damaged and not carry your distress message. How will your family and friends be notified of your situation?

Depending on traditional communication channels during a natural disaster emergency may mean you are unprepared or naive.

Amateur radio service (aka ham radio) operators could be the only method of communication for the general public. Ham radio operators are the traditional fall-back resource during a natural disaster like fires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Ham radio activity is a hobby and by law cannot be commercial.

Have you hugged a ham operator recently?  

P.S., I have.

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For the uninitiated, the official name of what we are talking about is "amateur radio service", but we generally use the term "ham radio". Ham radio is one of the oldest communications hobbies in the world.

In the Boquete area there is a monthly "gathering" that is managed by Hazel Bowling. Hazel is a member of CL Her Display Name is "Hazel Bowling", natch. The gatherings typically are the first Saturday of each month. The April gathering was at Mike's Global Grill. About 10 to 15 people show up. The conversation generally is more about life in our area rather than ham radio talk.

I have been led to believe that there are quite a few (dozens?) of ham radio operators in the David area. I do not know how to contact any, however. And I am told that there is a sprinkling of ham radio operators in other areas such as Potrerillos, Volcan, Bugaba, etc.

Amateur radio, worldwide by treaties, requires licenses. The process for getting a license varies by country. For instance, most western countries require an exam, which includes components about electricity and electronics, operating procedures, the laws governing the use of amateur frequencies, electromagnetic radiation, safety procedures, emergency communications, etc. But I've been to the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas if you are Argentinian) a couple of times and there a license is (was?) simply a paperwork application thing.

I got my Panama license based on reciprocity with the USA. I know a couple of people (one Canadian) who have taken the test in David and rather enjoyed it. It definitely helps if you speak Spanish to go through the local test. I am told it is not as onerous as some people believe.

You might want to check out two documents by Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia:

Let me know if I can help any more.

73, (that is ham talk for goodbye)
Bud, HP3EWH and K5EWH

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Good on you Hazel.  Suggest you post on CL the time and location notice of the next ham radio meeting. There may be other folks in our community who are interested in this activity and would like to attend this gathering. Enjoyed meeting Joe and Jim, new  attendees at the last breakfast at Mike's Grill here in Boquete.

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Bud's path to become a ham radio operator started several years ago.

One day when eating lunch in Oregon, Bud mentioned he had always wanted to be a ham radio operator since he was 15 years old.  My reply:  "get on with it".

Off we went to Powell's Book Store to purchase some reading material and training documents. We attended a ham radio meeting and learned when and where test exams where administered -- at a fire station just a few miles from home.

Three weeks later and after a big Saturday morning breakfast, we headed out to find that certain fire station. We were greeted by three (yup, three) test officials. These folks (two men and one woman) graded and scored in tandem each individual test paper and gave a pass or no-pass report immediately. In the meantime I as a non testee was directed to sit at the back of the conference room and told to "be quiet -- no talking to anyone".

Bud passed with almost a 100 percent perfect score. Turned toward me and gave a thumbs up (no talking!) The senior testing official then asked if Bud would like to take the second level, more advanced exam. Bud said he had not studied the material, but since the second test didn't cost more money he would take it. Bud turned toward me again with a big thumbs up (no talking!) when he passed the second exam. The same official then asked if Bud wanted to take the most advanced test. No extra cost again, but sorry to say Bud did not pass the third test.

Two weeks later after more study time, back to the fire station we go. Bud did pass the most advanced exam this time, but one man didn't. At several minutes into the test period this electrical engineer jumped up from his chair, tossed papers and pencils into the air, stomped around the room while shouting and swearing and then left the conference room via the rear door.

I quickly lowered the paperback book and ducked under my table.  No talking! The other testees continued taking the exam.

What an experience......and oh yeah as Bud's reward for passing all three exams, I had to buy lunch at the Old Stagecoach Tavern located in the hills near Portland.

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This has been an interesting and emotional thread for me. As Marcelyn mentioned above, I have wanted to be a ham radio operator since I was 15 years old. Here I am now in my 70s and finally having gotten my US and Panama licenses. Those were happy days.

However, I still have not transmitted one single minute on the ham radio bands. As hard as the tests were, they are nothing compared to the stress and difficulty in trying to get my ham radio antennas installed here in Boquete. There are some people who are adamant that they do not want me to install any antennas, even though I have all of the permits and licenses, etc. They apparently do not want me to be able to enjoy my hobby for reasons known only to them.

This makes me reflect on what the real meaning of a neighbor is versus should be. Not pleasant thoughts. Almost three years and still having to deal with this mess. Got any suggestions?

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I think that because of the current " be frightened of everything" phase that most sheeple are praying to, they are worried that your antenna will do many things, including increasing cancer, causing Alzheimer's, lowering property values, being an eyesore and affecting TV reception.  Have you ever asked them why?  Don't forget, you cannot prove a negative - if the claim is cancer, you cannot prove it won't....Not being a particularly neighborly person, I would suspect my action in the face of sheepleicity would be to put the darned thing up.  It's your property.

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On 4/13/2016 at 8:00 AM, Penny said:

The only advice I can offer is the old adage my grandma told me "Don't let the bastards get you down!!"

 

Grandma must have been a fan of General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, who famously kept the pseudo-Latin version of the saying on his desk during WWII.

  Stillwell 01.jpg

illegitimi_non_carborundum_framed_tile.jpg

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17 hours ago, MJ said:

Very interesting thread.  I've thought about getting into it from time to time...

If you decide to pursue the hobby, I'll do what I can to help. Note that there is a monthly meeting of the ham radio operators on the first Saturday of the month. Lately they have been at Mike's Global Grill.

If I can't get my antennas installed, then perhaps you could get a complete ham shack at bargain basement prices.

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  • 2 months later...

Well, it's been awhile since I hugged Bud but tell him he's owed one when he's back in town.

I remember Bob Bartlett (no longer with us, RIP) telling about how he and his radio were a major means of communication during a crisis. Can't remember what crisis it was, . . . maybe the American invasion of Panama.

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On June 15, 2016 at 11:50 AM, Dave and Leiann Scee said:

Hi Bud, 

KF7HDA here. Recently moved to Boquete and am interested in your Ham Club and bending your ear. Where will your next meeting be? Do you have an email or phone where you can be reached? 

Thanks, Dave

There is a monthly gathering of the known ham radio operators including XYLs (wives for the uninitiated). Hazel Bowling is the manager/scheduler for those meetings. These typically are the first Saturday of each month, starting at 8:30am. They are breakfast gatherings, recently at either Mike's Global Grill or the Boquete Sandwich place.

For details, contact Hazel. She is a member here on CL, and her Display Name is "Hazel Bowling". Just send her a private message here on CL.

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17 hours ago, Penny said:

Well, it's been awhile since I hugged Bud but tell him he's owed one when he's back in town.

I remember Bob Bartlett (no longer with us, RIP) telling about how he and his radio were a major means of communication during a crisis. Can't remember what crisis it was, . . . maybe the American invasion of Panama.

I seem to recall that Bob's emergency communications services last were during the big flood of November 2008 (at least I think it was 2008, but it might have been 2007).

I still miss my conversations with him, and Anita. I believe it is now a bit more than three years since Bob made his transition.

P.S., Bud says he's 'on' for a hug when we next see each other.

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  • 3 months later...

Hazel Bowling is the person who schedules and announces the monthly ham radio breakfast meetings. She can be reached here on CL via her "Display Name", which is @Hazel Bowling. Simply click on the blue hotlink, and then select "Message". That will take you to the PM (private message) function, and you can dialog with her privately. Hazel routinely reads CL and so it is likely that she will learn of your interest.

73,
Bud

 

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