Amateur Radio 2.0 (A talk by Ward Silver, N0AX)

Mike, KJ4Z and I have had regular conversations regarding old and new ham radio. Mike found a superb talk by N0AX, Ward Silver at a TAPR convention a few years ago:

Ward’s talk hit on so many points that Mike and I have discussed that its almost as if we had heard his talk before we both started blogging about this. Ward talks about the technology and social implications and the curmudgeonry (aka “you can’t do that because that’s just not the way its always been done”).

I’m giving two presentations at Pacificon – Lowband Antennas which will introduce the URAT idea, but will be centered more on the “Mod-Bob”, so in a way is a bit more “Ham Radio 1.0”, and then a second presentation which will be the URAT idea, fully Ham Radio 2.0

Ward says this, and I am 1000% in agreement:

“Outreach is critical. Every aspect of technology and it development must have a component of outreach. It is no longer sufficient for us to just play in our basements”.

Slight paraphrasing, but while blogging is one thing, I feel that I need to contribute to the future of ham radio by presenting at Pacificon. I have given two presentations so far this year at EBARC, so I do get out there several times a year.

Mike and I have endured all of the curmudgeonry that Ward talks about in the beginning of his talk, and our response, whether it was during VK0EK or Remote discussions or anything else that seemed to threaten the Ham Radio 1.0 crowd was to combine Ham Radio 1.0 and Ham Radio 2.0 and just keep moving forward.

It’s really great to get validation in the form of this talk. 

Ward also discusses new technologies and future possibilities that touch on some thoughts I have had but have been loathe to write about. Here is one such thought:

DX-ing and DXpeditions will continue, but how the game is played will more and more become a Ham Radio 2.0 thing. I did not have that 2.0 “upgrade” idea in my thoughts – so thanks to Ward, I now can sift through some of my thoughts more clearly.

The advent of Remotes has changed everything. For the first time ever (and I am sure I will sound like a real radio prude), the other day I wanted to hear what 160M sounded like in EU – especially since I have never heard the 5T5OK station from my home station. I did in fact hear them on a Swedish contest station. No – I did not make a contact this way because of the second part of my thoughts in this regard:

I want to “close out” my DXCC chase with the last 2 towards Top of Honor Roll and the last 12 on 160M, and then hang up my DXCC spurs for good. When I accomplish this “last mile” I will be switching to Ham Radio 2.0 and then 3.0. I have heard some DXers, especially on the low band chat claim that DXCC is meaningless because of remotes.

I disagree since you don’t compete with others, you compete against yourself. But I would agree that it’s the dawning of a new day, and it’s only bad if you let it be that way.

DXCC was created during the early days of Ham Radio 1.0, and I feel (as some others have groused about) – that Remotes have changed the game. Sure – you can stick to Ham Radio 1.0 as I have to accomplish DXCC whatever, but I have felt that the combination of aging baby boomers and new technologies have changed the game in a way that makes me feel like the days when I started DXing in 2001 are now over. I have to work really hard to try to stay stuck in the past – with ham radio 1.0, but this has been at philosophical odds since my career has been based on “move on or die”. If I had the same attitude about computer programming and systems – I would have become unemployable.

At about the 51 minute mark of Ward’s talk – he discusses “hybridization”, and I couldn’t agree more. During VK0EK we took this approach and I’m very proud of this. Its just so refreshing to hear someone who is so well known in amateur radio circles discuss this. Don’t get me wrong – I have some of the same feelings about sticking with Ham Radio 1.0, but the march of time has me now ready for Ham Radio 2.0.

Its why I jumped head first into the URAT project, and why I will be giving one Ham Radio 1.0 (Low Band Antennas) and one Ham Radio 2.0 presentation (URAT) at Pacificon.

Thanks Ward, this may already be 2 years old, but it made my day. And thanks Mike for sharing.

The KY6R Field Strength Meter

My take on the field strength meter is to use an old 1979 October QST circuit, but add a modern twist on the packaging and go with a clear Hammond translucent polycarbonate project box, 1591STCL.

the caps are .01 uf, the diodes 1N34A and the potentiometer 10K

The meter is a beautiful Simpson new old stock VU meter, model 7458.

I’m just waiting on a couple of 1N34A diodes to arrive.

There’s a Chill in the Air . . .

One week ago we drove past Lake Pend O’Reille in northern Idaho – visiting my brother in law as we headed to our last night in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest and Spokane.

Last night we hit 45 degrees (F), and so I wondered what its like where we were just last week – in Montana. Holy smokes – its like Winter there!

On my bike ride home, it was only in the 60’s. I love this weather, and love the autumn light. Luckily, we get autumn from now until just before Christmas. Then we get our rains and Winter weather.


Countdown to Autumnal Equinox 2017

from NJ.COM . . .

At 4:02 PM EST, the sun will be directly over the equator – meaning there will be equal daylight and night time world wide.

I’m up with a cup of my favorite French Roast listening to FP/G3ZAY fade, and with high hopes that the T88 fires up soon. They are both in my grey line sights. Last night, I worked FP/G7VJR because my FP/G3ZAY QSO, while in the log was so weak. Last night, on peaks, Mike hit S9, which I am sure as good as it will get for my #88. The Mod Bob is easily the best Low Band antenna I have ever had. It does have that “magic”.

Since I can’t find any decent pumpkin ale anywhere (except Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin – which is decent but not killer), I will go with a very excellent Stout – Old Viscosity by Port Brewing to ring in the equinox.

Its a nippy 45 degrees right now – so it really feels like Fall.

Oh I forgot to mention (as promised) – I did lose 2 pounds during my trip to Montana, and that was visiting brew pubs every day. Now I am back home and on a paleo diet and riding my bike every day and back to limiting my beer intake. Can’t waste my “beer calories” on crummy beer – that’s for sure.

The “Dirty Dozen”!

I’m now on a jag to get to 90 with only 10 left to go. T88XA was spotted this morning after my sunrise – so that’s one that should be easy. 5T5OK will require serious luck as I have not yet heard them, VK9XI starts up in less than 2 weeks, CT9 is a possibility, KG4HH another in October, VK9CI in October, A52SJ – doubtful – but you never know, V47JA mid October, 5L3BI maybe, VK9MA – probably, J5T – probably because these guys are amazing and I worked them when they were on Guinea, 9G5W – maybe. I’m going to say that I will work at least 8 this Winter, and with some luck more. Maybe Baker, KH1 in June could be my last DXCC for 160M and 9BDXCC? C’est possible!

I do believe that I will at least be at 90 with 10 to go sometime in October. Then it will really feel like I’m close. The best part is that 160M counter needs will exceed my lifespan, which means I will be a DXer for the rest of my life, its just that it will be very slow going, but I’ll take up the slack by continuing to experiment with Ham Maker stuff.

I’m loving my Mod Bob and Palstar BT1500A set up more and more as the days go by.

FP/G3ZAY: 160M DXCC #88

There was just enough of a “sunrise enhancement” to hear Martin, FP/G3ZAY.

I’ve tried for several days, and the only antenna I could really hear them on is the Wellbrook ALA1530LNP. What is interesting is that at night, its swamped with noise – and the Mod Bob is my night time RX antenna. In the early mornings, the Wellbrook seems to shine these days. The DXE DV-40-P also has been noisy lately.

Proving that you can never have enough 160M RX antennas!

This is my “Autumnal Equinox” Top Band QSO, so its time to celebrate:

12 more to go. I’m starting to think that just earning DXCC on Top Band from the West Coast is quite a bit harder than DXCC Mixed Honor Roll!


Autumnal Equinox Watch . .

While I enjoy the Vernal Equinox and the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Autumnal Equinox is my favorite. This Friday will be the Equinox for 2017.

This the highest rated (Beer Advocate) Imperial Pumpkin Ale – and I always have one bomber of pumpkin ale a year. I have never seen this in bay area stores, so will have to try another – maybe the Dogfish Head version.

There is an FP and a 5T on 160M, but I have an S6 noise level. The A is 17 and K is 2. Early this morning, I heard a few beeps and boops from FP, and he heard me and gave me a signal report – but I did not hear him come back to me.

I’ve been stuck at 87, with my last new on on 160M last July 7 – my only Top Band new one all summer.

Cheers to the Autumnal Equinox, and hoping to get to 100 this “DX Season”. I need Baker, and working them on 160M in June should be totally do-able. I’d love it if that were my last one on 160M and 9BDXCC – but I will need big luck for this to happen.

While I wait for DX to happen, I will have a nice weekend of tinkering. I will follow Mike, KJ4Z’s lead and get my new Asus Tinkerboard and KX3 running on FT8, and will see if I can get my Field Strength meter put together. Then I want to really dig into learning how to use my oscilloscope and signal generator.