Zero Bias – A CQ Editorial
Become a Newbie!
Plus Remote Possibilities
BY RICH MOSESON,* W2VU
This is another one of those issues that not only seemed to put itself together, but also went out and picked a theme for itself. Perhaps it felt left out, being sandwiched between our Emergency Communications Special in October and our Technology Special in December. This issue’s theme, it informed us, is a focus on “newbies.”
We have no less than five articles (highlighted in the Table of Contents) aimed either at helping newer hams with operating activities, understanding more about the technology that we use, or building on existing skills to become mentors to other hams even as newcomers to the hobby themselves.
For example, Mike Pulley’s “New Kid on the Block” article offers tips to new (or returning) hams on finding a repeater that will welcome them, the basics of repeater etiquette, and who to get to know in your ham community (as well as who not to listen to). Dee Logan takes us to the HF bands with tips on expanding “5-9, 73” type contacts into real conversations. Columnist Wayne Yoshida covers the proper way to attach coax connectors. And “Learning Curve” editor Ron Ochu continues his discussion on understanding antenna radiation patterns. In addition, two articles in our CQ Plus expanded digital edition offer newcomers' perspectives on different aspects of amateur radio.
It has been part of our mission for the past seven decades to help newcomers to amateur radio. This is a responsibility we have always taken seriously (we had the first Novice column in any ham magazine back in the ’50s, and today we are the only magazine with a monthly column focused on the beginning ham — “Learning Curve”).
Most of the articles and columns we've mentioned so far follow the traditional “track” of teaching and learning — people with considerable experience and knowledge in particular areas sharing their knowledge with others through the pages of our magazine. But there is one article in this issue that flips that model on its head, and it’s something I’d like to focus on here:
When Randy Schulze became a ham just five years ago, his interest was immediately drawn to FM satellites as a fun and hi-tech way of expanding the range of his VHF/UHF handheld. He soon found that he’d qualified for several different certificates on the basis of his satellite contacts,
shared that with his club and was asked to present a program on how he’d done it. In short order, Randy and two friends licensed at the same time became fixtures on the club and hamfest circuit in the Kansas City area, presenting “Hams in Space” ... even though they’d been licensed for less than a year. They had developed experience and knowledge in a specialized area of ham radio that they were then able to share with people who had been licensed far longer, but who had little to no experience in their particular specialty — working DX via FM ham radio satellites. Randy’s article, on page 18, is more about how they developed their presentation — and how you can do the same in an area of interest to you, regardless of how long you’ve been a ham — as it is about working the birds.
One of the fascinating things about ham radio is that it is such a broad-based hobby encompassing so many smaller sub-hobbies and activities that all of us — even grizzled veterans — are still newbies at something. There is no one in this hobby that I know of who is good at everything ham radio offers, or even who has tried everything. And even if you think you have tried everything, well, there’s always something new coming along.
In our August and September issues, Contributing Editor Cory Sickles, WA3UVV, wrote at length about Yaesu’s new “System Fusion” digital voice and data system; and in this issue, Gary Liljegren, W4GAL, introduces us to Remote Ham Radio, yet another marriage of ham radio and the Internet
that allows antenna-restricted hams to essentially rent a timeshare on well-equipped stations around the U.S. and even in Europe and the Pacific. While the use of remote station technology is growing in popularity, the bottom line is that the vast majority of us have never tried it and know only what we’ve heard on Internet rumor mills. Gary’s article offers some first-hand understanding of what Remote Ham Radio is all about, how it works, and why it’s something that’s becoming an attractive option for more and more hams.
(While remote station technology is growing in popularity, it is also growing controversial, especially among DXers. The ARRL Board of Directors will take up the issue at its next meeting, and the subject has been a topic of considerable discussion by the CQ Awards Committee. We have
decided to create separate award tracks for stations using remote technology. Details are on page 93.)
Become a Newbie (Again)
Every once in a while, I come across hams who say they’re getting bored with the hobby. It usually turns out that they’re bored with the particular aspect of the hobby they’ve been pursuing. My response to these people is always to encourage them to try something different — become a newbie again — and begin learning from the ground up about an entirely new aspect of ham radio.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve chronicled my experiences as a newbie in the overlapping fields of QRP (lowpower radio) and trail-friendly radio. I still consider myself a newbie in this arena and still regularly consult my excellent mentors on the subject. As a side benefit, I’ve found that getting active in QRP and trail-friendly radio has reignited my interest in building and spurred me to make connections with my local Maker group, HackNCraft NJ (see more in this issue’s Makers column on page 81).
So, if whatever you're doing in ham radio is getting to be a little old — or even if it isn't — I encourage you to find something in our hobby that you haven’t done before and become a newbie! Explore. Experiment. Learn. Share. You never know where it might lead.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers in the U.S.
Introducing Associate Editor Jason Feldman
With the recent departure of Gail Sheehan, K2RED, after more than three decades as CQ’s Managing Editor, her responsibilities are being taken over by Jason Feldman, who has already been an integral part of our organization for the past several years. Before their incorporation into CQ Plus, Jason was Associate Editor of Popular Communications and WorldRadio Online. He has continued in that role with CQ Plus, our expanded digital edition, and now takes on similar responsibilities for the entire magazine. Jason is an active shortwave listener, administers the CQ (formerly Pop’Comm) monitor registration program and enjoys fishing in his free time (his monitor registration ID is WPC2COD!),
We welcome Jason to the “front of the book” and are confident that the transition will be seamless. Now all we have to do is get him a ham license!