LID Operator With the $10k Rig -or- Which Way To The Inlet???

CW (Morse code) mavens (like myself) often talk about the advantages of “the mode” over other modes “like SSB”. After all, CW is a form of a digital mode now isn’t it? CW gets through when other methods fail. Far more QSO’s or contest points are made with CW in the same span of time when compared to other modes such as SSB.

When contesting with CW, you can work at least a 5 to 1 ratio (I am trying to be kind here, it’s probably more like 10 to 1) over SSB contacts. For example, I had a limited amount of free time two weekends ago and decided to work the IARU contest for awhile. In the span of about an hour or so I worked around 100 stations and took a bunch of short breaks while operating. It takes seconds for each Q. If you are using a keyboard of course  pre-programming the function keys is the best way  to send your call, the customary 599 signal report and the I.T.U. region number.

When ragchewing, CW’s narrow bandwidth permits more stations to leverage the same bandwidth without affecting other QSO’s. Of course the features built into the newer, more expensive rigs sold today make a huge difference in removing unwanted adjacent signals.

I have never had the opportunity to operate a radio with fancy gadgets like roofing filters or DSP but have read other posts that state the virtues of these awesome features. I don’t own a $20k ham shack but my old TS450S with its AIP, IF shift, Notch and selectable filters does a fairly good job at picking out what I want to work. We all know how those features greatly reduce operating fatigue.

Icom IC-756 ProIII

Icom IC-756 ProIII

I think the disadvantage of options like roofing filters, is that operators come on the air with them engaged and call QRL, hear nothing and start calling CQ without ever hearing the operators already working on or close to a specific frequency. There’s nothing like a LID with a $10k radio.

Being inconsiderate and not knowing how to use your equipment reminds me of a time when I was out bay fishing. Here we are in an open 17 ft skiff, quietly enjoying the day, when all of sudden a huge cabin cruiser slows down next to us, pushes up a big wake that caused us to roll heavily for a moment. I looked up to noticed a small radar dish going round and a boatload of antennas. From the upper bridge the guy yells down to me “Which way is the inlet???“. I wanted to point right to the closest sand bar, but just shook my head in total amazement and pointed.

Luxury Cruiser Yacht

Luxury Cruiser Yacht

So, now it’s Amateur operators with their $10k rigs acting like the guys in the $200k cruiser. These guys just don’t seem to give a damn about others and just bully their way in. One can only hope that they will learn to operate their equipment properly some day.

Even though CW is touted as an “outdated” mode, it is, and will always be a very effective mode of communication. In my opinion, it was a sad day when the FCC dropped CW as a licensing requirement.

With the megatons of space junk floating around the earth providing countless forms of commercial and military signals, I am glad that I still have a traditional way to communicate that gets the job done without a $10k station. I guess I will always be the guy in the 17 ft  skiff directing the $200k Luxury Cruisers to the inlet and getting my personal “last laugh“.

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Inappropriate Transmissions During Emergencies? What’s Next?

From the ARRL Web site and the 7/24/09 ARRL Letter:

Inappropriate Use of Amateur Radio: The Board authorized the President to appoint an ad hoc committee to prepare guidelines for use by the amateur community and others to identify inappropriate uses of Amateur Radio, while preserving our role of providing communications during times of disasters and for public service events. The Board asked the committee to present its findings to the Executive Committee within 30 days.fcc

In recent months the FCC has started an all out war on the way Amateur Radio Operators serve their communities. Once again the Feds are quick to demonstrate their lack of regard for the service Amateur Radio Operators provide. They seem to readily discount the potential Hams have to saves lives and property during disasters.

Does the ARRL really need to create new and amend existing guidelines to pave the way for Amateur Radio Operators to work with the Feds? Why are more regulations necessary to allow Amateurs to do what they have done for a very long time? I just can’t believe that big government and the ARRL have to stick their noses further into the goings on of the Amateur Radio Service.

We all agree that using Amateur Radio properly makes sense. But when those rules prevent a (paid) local emergency manager from talking about an ARES matter with a volunteer ARES leader over the air,  in my opinion, the FCC has begun to outlive it’s usefulness.

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Middle School Kids Learn About Shortwave Radio

Kids these days are consumed by cell phones, Twitter Tweets, text messaging and Facebook.

However, there is a group of youngsters in Calabasas, CA. that have become licensed Amateur Radio Operators. That action has led them to become leaders in a new wave of shortwave listeners.

They still consider Morse Code and the old guy with a box of radio parts and coax cable to be very old fashioned.

One middle school 16 year old always thought that cell phones were the most reliable form of communication,. “After all”  he said, “Everyone uses cellphones”.

Kids And Ham Radio

That thinking changed one day when there was a power outage in his area.

He then realized that cell phones and the Internet, things he took for granted every day,  just stopped working!

He also learned that battery powered radio equipment and solar powered repeaters continue to provide communication when “shore power” is dead.

When the youngster’s science teacher talked to his class about learning basic radio principals and receiving extra credit for passing the FCC Amateur Radio license exam, the youngster was all ears.

17 students passed the FCC exam that school year.

Over the next three years, 57 middle school students have earned their license. Plans are being made to offer the two day learning sequence in the coming school year.

The basis of the teacher’s motivation to bring Amateur Radio into the classroom was his personal decision to become a licensed Ham Radio operator right after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The youngster said he was nervous when he first signed on after he obtained his license and his new radio.

“I heard all these adults talking and thought, What will I say? I have only talked to one person my age over the radio. But they can hear your voice and know that you’re young.” he said.

Since high school students have tried and failed to find teachers that will sponsor the program, an attempt will be made to create a high school club to serve as a follow-up to the middle school class and help to keep teens active on the air.

I helped my son achieve his No Code Tech license when he was 11 years old. We attended a two day learning sequence sponsored by  SPARC, the Suffolk Police Amateur Radio Club of Long Island New York.

I served as a VE for a number of years and held sessions at Suffolk Community College.

I assisted a long time friend and fellow Amateur KF2P with classroom instruction for the No Code Tech License while working at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Click on the comments link below and add your personal follow up to this story:

Are you a youngster with a Ham License? Who helped you get into the hobby?

As an adult, have you helped youngsters achieve their license?

Are you a teacher that would like to comment on this idea for your own classroom?