Zero Bias – All the Faces Are Ham Facesl
Plus Ham Radio Citizen Science – a CQ Tradition
BY RICH MOSESON,* W2VU
Heading home from the Dayton Hamvention®, I thought about different titles for this month's editorial, including "Back to Nature" (our booth was in a tent) and "A River Runs Through It" (did I mention that our booth was in a tent?). But the bottom line was that, despite the inevitable glitches that come along with moving a large event to new quarters on very short notice, the organizers pulled off a Herculean task, Dayton was still Dayton, and the Greene County Fairgrounds will be an excellent home for Hamvention in the long run. (We're planning a photo tour of the show next month.) So it brings me back to finding a title, and the one you see at the top of this page was a comment I overheard as I was boarding my flight in Newark to head to Ohio. "All the faces are ham faces."
I don't know the ham who said it, or even who he was saying it to, but probably a third of the passengers on our flight that morning were heading to Hamvention. Maybe more. And when you come down to it, that's what Dayton — or any other hamfest, for that matter — is all about. The people. People sharing a common interest in ham radio and perhaps in a specialty area of the hobby as well, such as contesting, DXing, building, QRP, or even operating bicycle-mobile. At Dayton this year, there were 53 forums, eight dinners, a balloon launch, a foxhunt, Contest University, and the Four Days in May QRP event, among other activities.
A look through the program book provides a snapshot of the amazing diversity of our hobby and the people who make it up. So many different people, so many different interests, but a unifying commitment to enjoying amateur radio. "All the faces are ham faces."
Many of those faces were also CQ faces. While Associate Editor Jason Feldman and I were chained to our booth (with a lot of help from Digital Connection Editor Don Rotolo, N2IRZ, and WPX Award Manager/CQWW VHF Contest Director Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, among others), CQ columnists, contest directors, and contributors were moderating or speaking at a wide variety of forums.
Kit-Building Editor Joe Eisenberg, KØNEB, led the Kit-Building Forum; regular contributor Carole Perry, WB2MGP, moderated both the Instructors' Forum and her 30th consecutive Dayton Youth Forum (congrats, Carole!); CQ RTTY Contesting Director Ed Muns, WØYK, moderated the RTTY Contesting Forum; columnist Gordon West, WB6NOA, moderated the Kids Training for Ham Radio Forum and spoke at the amateur television forum; CQ World Wide DX Contest co-directors Doug Zwiebel, KR2Q, Bob Naumann, W5OV, and Scott Robbins, W4PA, were panelists at the Contesting Forum; and VHFPlus Editor Tony Emanuele, K8ZR, moderated the VHF-UHF Forum, for which Antennas Editor Kent Britain, WA5VJB, was a panelist.
In addition, DX Editor Bob Schenck, N2OO, presented the CQ DX Hall of Fame plaques at the DX dinner and Contesting Editor David Siddall, K3ZJ, did the same for CQ Contest Hall of Fame inductees at the contest dinner (see Hall of Fame article in this issue). Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but CQ's columnists, contributors, contest directors, and award managers are not only active in their varied fields, but also leaders. And that's why you can always depend on CQ for authoritative coverage of just about every aspect of amateur radio.
A Broader Perspective
Back at the CQ booth, one of the comments I heard frequently was something along the lines of "I really like the changes you've made in the magazine over the past two years." At first, I was left scratching my head, wondering just what we had changed. Then the light bulb finally came on — what has changed in the past two years is our expanded coverage of the broader radio hobby beyond only amateur radio, prompted by the incorporation of Popular Communications (as well as CQ VHF and WorldRadio Online) into CQ, first in our CQ Plus digital supplement and then in the pages of both the print and digital editions of CQ.
This broader vision of our mission has given us the flexibility to publish articles of interest or importance about any aspect of the radio hobby, such as our monthly "Listening Post" column, the wellreceived series of articles on clandestine radios of World War II, and this month's detailed report on the FCC's recent rewrite of Part 95 of its rules, covering the Personal Radio Services, including CB, the Family Radio Service (FRS), and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Many of our readers are involved in multiple aspects of hobby radio and we are now able to serve them better through our expanded scope of coverage. Thank you for affirming that we made the right decision two years ago.
Citizen Science, Propagation, and CQ
There's a new program "out there" called "HamSCI— the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation." It's being spearheaded by a young ham and occasional CQ contributor, Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, a recent Ph.D. from Virginia Tech now working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research. HamSCI also has support from the ARRL and is an effort to promote more organized participation by hams in doing real radio science. You can read more about HamSCI's plans for ham research during next month's total solar eclipse in this issue's "Learning Curve" column.
This is a great idea and we support it fully…but with all due respect to Nathaniel and his colleagues, the concept isn't especially new, and CQ has been in the forefront of similar projects extending back to our earliest days. In 1946, CQ's first Propagation Editor, Perry Ferrell, enlisted our readers in the Radio Amateur Scientific Observations project, which used amateurs' observations to research VHF propagation. Much of what we know today about propagation above 50 MHz originated with this project, according to CQ's second Propagation Editor, George Jacobs, W3ASK, who was a participant in Perry's program1. George continued Perry's efforts to take the mystery out of the complexities of explaining and predicting HF propagation phenomena for over 50 years (including being the lead author of The Shortwave Propagation Handbook and The NEW Shortwave Propagation Handbook2).
George's successor — our current Propagation Editor, Tomas Hood, NW7US — continues that tradition with his monthly discussions of various solar phenomena that affect HF propagation. This month, though, as part of our informal "Mini Propagation Special," Tomas comes down to Earth with a look at ways in which surface weather may impact propagation on HF. It is long-established that weather affects VHF and UHF propagation and that is the topic of this month's "Gordo's Short Circuits" column by Gordon West, WB6NOA, as he looks at the annual summertime phenomenon of tropospheric ducting that results from temperature inversions.
Also in this issue, VHF-Plus Editor Tony Emanuele, K8ZR, discusses "airplane scatter" and the work of citizen scientist Roger Rehr, W3SZ, to develop a computer program to help pinpoint contact opportunities based on realtime locations of aircraft in flight. Finally, back on HF, our lead feature this month delves into the possibility that ocean wave heights may impact HF propagation on paths that require a signal to bounce off the surface of the ocean. Author David Day, N1DAY, conducted a thorough (and fascinating) analysis and concludes that more research is needed by more hams.
It is yet another call to CQ readers to become citizen scientists and help advance our understanding of the phenomena that determine how far our signals reach at any given time and/or frequency. We are proud to carry on that 70-year-old CQ tradition.
– 73, W2VU
1. See CQ, January 1995, p. 81
2. Currently available from the CQ bookstore