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Zero Bias – A CQ Editorial



*e-mail: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

I almost skipped Field Day this year. It had been a long week and by the time Saturday rolled around, I was feel- ing tired and not particularly motivated. But I knew that I al  ays enjoyed my Field Day visit with one of my local radio clubs and usually came home reinvigorated. So I went. And I did.

As usual, this year's group at W2GLQ, the Nutley (NJ) Amateur Radio Society's Field Day station, was a mix of old- timers and newcomers to ham radio. While I always enjoy seeing old friends, I especially enjoy the opportunity to help newer hams “get their feet wet” in moving beyond the world of FM handhelds and repeaters. This year was no excep- tion, and there were two experiences in particular that I’d like to share.

The first started as I was walking past a group of hams in the middle of a discussion (one of the things I love about Field Day is that as much good stuff happens off the air as on the air). “How much power do you need to talk across the ocean?” one of them asked. “A half watt,” I interjected, adding “I worked the Czech Republic with half a watt just a few months ago.”

“On VHF?” asked one of the newer hams, holding up his HT. That led to a discussion of propagation on HF and VHF, sporadic-E, satellites, and more. It was the kind of discussion that flows much more easily in an informal setting than in the structured environment of a club meeting or a classroom.

A little while later, this new ham and I sat down at the 80- meter station, which had all of five contacts in the log (it was mid-afternoon, so there was nothing surprising about that), and we decided to check out some of the higher bands. Ten meters appeared to be open only to World Cup special event stations in Brazil, which didn’t count for Field Day credit (although I made sure to point out that all the activity was right in the middle of the portion of 10 meters that’s avail- able to Technicians). We tried to get through anyway, but couldn’t get past the wall of “4-land” stations that had much louder signals on the other side of the Equator.

We next went to 6 meters, where I was hoping for a good E-skip opening, but instead heard only a few local stations. Didn’t matter. I was at the logging computer. He had the mic. I coached him on how to make a call and when that first station came back to him, the look on his face restored all the motivation I’d been missing earlier. Pure joy. He’d put a call out onto the airwaves and gotten an answer. His con- tacts this weekend may have been his first without benefit of a repeater, but I can almost guarantee you they won’t be his last. This is what makes Field Day special.

But wait, it gets better …

A little later on, I was introduced to a young ham who had just upgraded to General two weeks earlier. We were in the process of switching back to 80 meters and I offered him the seat by the rig. “Can we do CW?” he asked, looking at the paddles next to the mic. “Absolutely,” I answered. It took us several minutes of scrolling through the rig’s menus and calling over its owner for help before we got it transmitting on CW as well as receiving, and got the keyer setting changed from “bug” style (automatic “dits,” manual “dahs”) to full iambic (automatic “dits” and “dahs”).

We immediately heard a station calling CQ. It took a few calls to get him, and a bit of nervousness led to a few send- ing errors, but the information got through and the contact was successful. The young ham jumped up from his seat and pumped his fist in the air. Pure joy, take two.

He started to walk away, as though he’d accomplished what he’d come for. “Wait a minute,” I said. “We didn’t do all that setup work for you to make just one contact! Sit back down and make some more.” Contact #2, same response — jump up, pump fist, more joy.

At that point, it was time for me to head home, so I passed along the logging computer to someone else and started saying my goodbyes. When I actually did leave about 20 minutes later, the two of them were still there, cranking out those CW contacts on 80 meters.

To me, this is one of the most valuable parts of Field Day, along with the emergency preparedness training and public relations for ham radio … the opportunity for newer hams to try new things under the guidance of more experienced oper- ators, and the opportunity for old-timers to share in the pure joy that comes along with accomplishing something new.

DX, Digital, and Beyond

We hope you’ll find some joy in this issue of CQ. It's anoth- er one of those issues that kind of assembled itself and told us what it wanted to be about. We’ve got a couple of themes that thread themselves through the issue. As in the past, our writers and columnists have focused independently on sim- ilar aspects of the radio hobby at the same time.

First is ham radio’s unique ability to promote internation- al friendship and cooperation, as we see in BA4DW's “WAC Travel Project” article on page 10, as well as our Emergency Communications, Disaster DXing, and CQ World Wide columns, all of which focus on international cooperation.

Second is the ever-expanding digital portion of our hobby. WA3UVV begins a two-part review of the “new kid on the block” in terms of digital voice, Yaesu’s “System Fusion” and its FT1D handheld (p. 30); K2DLS digs into DMR (Digital Mobile Radio), and N2IRZ introduces a new data radio, Northwest Digital’s UDRX-440.

We’ve got plenty more as well, from the CQ WW 160- Meter Contest results (and K3ZJ's story of operating the contest from a World War II German command bunker in Denmark) to the fun of getting onto the microwave ham bands and a profile of two prominent EME stations. Plus, we’ve got reports from Dayton and much more, all designed to maximize your level of ham radio joy. So dig in and —en … joy!

73, Rich W2VU

Random Notes

We are pleased to report that, as of this issue, CQ is once again available on selected newsstands, specifically Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million (BAM), and Hastings bookstores. Please encourage your friends who are not current sub- scribers to buy CQ at one of these stores.

Also starting this month, you will see that some of our columns that normally run in the digital-only CQ Plus por- tion of the magazine are “up front” in the print and digital segment. This is not a fluke. CQ is one magazine, even though portions of it are published only in the digital domain. When particular articles have strong tie-ins with content run- ning in the print segment, then those articles will run there as well. This is the case this month with the “Morse Code,” “Disaster DXing” and “Radio and Computers” columns. Each issue, we will look at all the articles and run them in the order that makes the most sense overall.

Finally, if you're a reader of CQ’s print edition, you are no doubt aware that it’s taking us longer than we hoped to get our print distribution back on schedule. Again, we apologize and we thank you for your patience. The support you’ve expressed at hamfests has been extremely gratifying.

We are continuing to do our best in difficult circumstances to get the issues printed and mailed as quickly as possible. Please remember that our event calendar and contest cal- endar are posted on our website by the beginning of each month (usually a little earlier), so you can access that infor- mation in a timely way regardless of when the print issue arrives on your doorstep. Thank you again for your patience and support. — W2VU

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