The Best Part About Ham Radio? Learning

I’m very pleasantly surprised that my latest big excitement in Ham Radio and “Making” is reading about the physics of electronics. Its because I am finding this book to be fascinating.

When I was at University of Pennsylvania at Lock Haven in the late 70’s, the physics professor needed a full class for an electronics class he wanted to teach. Lock Haven did not have an engineering curriculum that I knew of (besides Computer Science and which is the program I was enrolled in), but what stood out is that the professor advertised that the course was offered for those who were pursuing a physics / science degree and those who were not. He basically split the class in what I called Electronics for Smarties and Dummies. We shared the same text book, but us dummies took a much simpler test each time we had a quiz or test. The smarties had to do calculus, us dummies, trigonometry (at best). I remember being totally amazed reading about semiconductor physics especially. How in the world did anyone conjure up such notions?

Answer: The Diode. Take the physics surrounding a Diode, and then build on that. NOW – the Diode in radio started out as the “coherer” – which is where receivers started. A little history and physics combined is just too cool, and its the kind of thing I think of on BART or on my bike rides.

What I love about this book is that it reminds me of that Lock Haven class. The authors start with a really superb description of the physics with great diagrams, then they show the simplified trig equations, and then the full on calculus. I like it because while the calculus loses me – I like to see how the theory is more involved than what I have learned in the ARRL Handbook, the ham tests and whatnot.

I’m going to decommission the URAT tomorrow an re-use its parts for future projects. I simply don’t need it because DX-ing has become mind-numbingly boring – like watching the grass grow. Heck – having to go out with my Rig Experts AA-30 and a coax cable to manually tune the remote tuner gives me something to do in between what seems like months where I actually work anything I need.

What really excites me is reading about Thevenin’s Theorem or whatever and then building a little circuit and using my test equipment to see whats going on. I also have various Arduino shields and Raspberry Pi hats that I want to play with, and code I want to try.

This is all just for the fun and education – andvfor no other reason. I am finding that just being inquisitive and learning has been leading me down paths I normally wouldn’t go down, and its kept me in the shack doing something, and having big fun.

I also love the fact that I can share knowledge and have some fun techie stories to tell. I have several people visiting the shack for Maker stuff, but they then look at the Ham gear and get interested.

Giving presentations is also a blast, and I’m really excited about Pacificon – more than ever because I have one Ham low band antenna presentation and one Maker URAT presentation.

I found out that the Pacificon seminar schedule will be published on September 1.

When I wrote yesterdays blog post – and where I have been “colluding” with Mike, KJ4Z on techno-philosophical things related to DX, I find that my mind expands and some very cool “unintended consequences” of the good kind happen.

Learning is Rad.

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