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“Talking to a Bunch of People Around the World…”

BY RICH MOSESON,* W2VU

*Email: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

 

– 73, Rich W2VU

An interesting Facebook exchange came to my attention recently, one which wrapped up in a few simple comments much of the way in which we hams sometimes relate with non-hams, how we should relate with non-hams, and how we should relate with each other.

The original post was by 2017 Newsline Young Ham of the Year Marty Sullaway, NN1C, who had just read the results of the 2019 CQ WPX CW Contest in our November issue and learned that his team at KC1XX had placed first in North America in the multi-operator, two-transmitter (M/2) category. (Congrats to Matt, Marty, and the rest of the team!)

“Woohoo!” Marty wrote. “Another nice contest North American win. CQ WPX CW. Proud to be a part of the KC1XX M/2 team. We just edged out the K1LZ M/2 team. Such a fun weekend. This marks a win on both modes in M/2 in WPX 2019.”

One of Marty’s non-ham friends commented that she didn’t understand anything he’d written but assumed it was something good. Another friend, a ham, replied with a detailed explanation of what each element in the post meant. Marty, on the other hand, responded that “I used a radio to talk to a bunch of people around the world, and we did better than everyone else in North America.” Yes! For someone who isn’t a ham, this was a perfect explanation. In one simple sentence, it captured the essence of ham radio and ham contesting.

I don’t mean to disparage the more detailed explanation — it was concise and accurate, and there’s plenty of opportunity for that if the person responds with interest and wants to know more. But many of us have a tendency to respond to a simple question with a long and complex answer. If we want more people to understand and appreciate what we do, sometimes less is more. There was an additional comment in the thread, one which bothered me a bit. One element of the detailed answer was that “CW is continuous wave, a fancy way of saying he used Morse code.” Also nice and simple, but it prompted a third person to add, “CW — another way of saying antiquated.” There’s plenty of room in ham radio, and on our bands, for all sorts of different interests and activities. Is it really necessary to badmouth an activity that many people enjoy just because you enjoy something else? There’s an electronic signboard outside my local high school with varying messages. One of them — presumably part of the school’s anti-bullying efforts — says “Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours burn brighter.” It’s a good message that extends beyond high school.

Technology Special
This issue is our annual Technology Special and, as usual, we’ve got a great variety of technology-related articles for you. Of course, we have that in every issue, but we ramp it up a bit for this one. We start out with a look into the near future — something of a follow-up to last month’s Digital Connection column titled “The Robots Are Coming! The End is Near!” Don’s title was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but the technology is real; and in this issue, WB2REM and K5PA discuss it in more detail in their article, “AI Meets AR: The Coming Convergence of Artificial Intelligence and Amateur Radio.” You’ll find it on page 10. Following that article, OH2RA shows us how he brought back to life a well-used Hi-Z Four low-band receive array that had seen a few too many Finnish winters, and made it even better with a dose of computer optimization.

We’ve also got a review of the Xiegu G1M HF QRP transceiver, a multi-purpose switch “debouncer” project, and Sherlock’s latest investigation … into the ongoing need for electrostatic discharge protection. Among our columns, we’ve got technology in the spotlight in Microcontrollers, Analog Adventures, Antennas, and more.

For those of you with more of an operating focus, we’ve got a report on the CY9C DXpedition to St. Paul island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, plus some great history, starting with the first-ever special event callsign issued by the FCC, to WX3MAS in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 50 years ago this month. Our CQ Classics series continues with our first FM column, from 1971, as well as a look back by WØRW at one of California’s early FM repeaters, W6AQY. FM and repeaters represented a seachange in amateur radio technology.

Keep on Learning
A personal technology note … you can teach an old ham new tricks. I’m finally working on the kit I got for Father’s Day and it includes several surface-mount resistors (see photo). With some good instructions and a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, I think I’m getting the hang of it! If I can learn to do this, so can you! Do yourself a favor — include on your list for Santa (you have been good, right?) some electronic device that needs to be built. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but building stuff is in our DNA as hams, as is learning how to embrace rather than fear new technology. To mangle a well-known movie line, if you build it, you will learn. And you might even be able to use it to talk to a bunch of people around the world! Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or whatever else you may celebrate at this time of year. And stand by for our 75th Anniversary issue next month!

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