I got my call sign assignment from the FCC yesterday — KJ4HFJ. That seems a little unwieldy to me, but maybe I’ll get used to it. Kilo-Juliette-4-Hotel-Foxtrot-Juliette. For $12 I can get a vanity call sign (a bit like vanity license plates.) I might do that and get something I can remember like K4TWF — Kilo-4-Tango-Whiskey-Foxtrot.

This is not really about motorcycling, except that I got the idea to do this from a post on the Wild Goose Moto Guzzi discussion board. I’ve been thinking about some way to have communications on my street bike for a while. Emergency communications mainly but, ultimately, I want to be able to do bike-to-bike with other riders.

I looked into a lot of different walkie-talkie radio systems. The cheaper units (under $150) all got bad user reviews. I concluded that they are basically junk. The more expensive ones cost as much as handheld Ham sets and you still have the issue of having to have matched units to talk to anyone else.

In my research of available options I saw a post by a Guzzi rider showing the water-resistant, mil-spec Ham unit he uses. The idea of having a licensed radio that could reach repeaters and such seemed like a good idea, especially since the best riding roads are often off the cell phone grid — at least if you have a Sprint cell phone.

I like the idea of having a license to operate it. The test is not hard. Anyone who puts in even a little effort can pass it. But that’s the deal, you have to put in at least some effort and it’s clear that operating a Ham radio is a privilege, not a right. The privilege comes with an obligation to know the rules, abide by them, and act responsibly. I like that. And there is a lot more to Ham radio than just walkie-talkie function.

I’ll get to explore that over the coming years, and I look forward to it. I don’t have anyone to talk with yet — at least not on the bike. But that’s ok. I don’t have a radio yet. I don’t have a call sign either. But the FCC will assign that in a few days. I’ll post it here when I know it. In the mean time, let me know if you’re an operator interested in motorcycles. Maybe we can have a rag chew.