All Things HF: March 2019

About 18 months ago the FCC along with the ARRL commenced a dialog regarding the Ham census. There has been little change in the numbers of license holders since then. The dialog was and still is how to get more people into the hobby. I wrote in my blog at that time of my objections to both the FCC and the ARRL’s solution of giving HF band width to the Technician license holder in order to attract larger census numbers.

In rounded off numbers there is a total of 757,000 licensed Ham radio operators consisting of Techs, Gen, and Extra. The numbers of licensed Technicians is 385,000 and so if you do the math, that’s over half of the licensed Hams in the U.S. There’s a lot wrong with those numbers and so the idea of attracting more people into the hobby, the FCC and the ARRL’s solution is giving Techs phone and digital band width on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters.

My answer is simple; upgrade to General and Extra for your privileges. I’m celebrating my 24th year in the hobby and I worked for my privileges the hard way, I earned them. I personally do not see an advantage to the hobby by inviting the buy me, get me, give me, bunch into the hobby by giving them band width they should earn by upgrading. How about a concentrated program to encourage and to help these 385 thousand Techs to upgrade rather than entice them with a giveaway program and then invite those with open arms who want to become licensed Hams. Take the entry exam for a license then upgrade like you and I did…the right way, we earned those HF privileges.

Just when you think there’s no positive message in this blog, I worked Juan Fernandez Is. (XRØZRC) using CW and I did it the hard way, I busted through the pileup after 2 agonizing hours of brass pounding. Welcome to spring!

Before closing, remember to sit at your station and call CQ, someone somewhere is listening for your call, don’t disappoint them. So long from my station in Huntersville to your station wherever it may be…see ‘ya next month.

Best 73 es gud DX de Bob, WØZPE

All Things HF: January 2019

No matter how you slice it or how you dice it, we Ham radio operators are all about communicating. We communicate using various modes such as SSB, CW, Digital or perhaps modes yet to be developed used to communicate with robots, even a chat now and then with extraterrestrial beings.  Mostly we communicate with others in this interesting avocation of ours, others like ourselves. We have an art called ‘conversation’ and lets face it, not everyone has the ability to sit behind a mic to spend hours conversing intelligently with perfect strangers.
Marcia and I were at Applebee’s in Baxter waiting to be seated for lunch along with several others when I noticed most of the people were holding smart phones as their thumbs moved over a virtual keyboard at warp speed. My very first reaction was ‘there’s a lot of carpel tunnel in the making’ but they were communicating with a device that was not eyeball to eyeball and the thought that they were losing some of the art of conversation occurred to me as the communications were all digital.
After being seated I once again looked around the restaurant to notice almost every table had at least one, sometimes more still moving their thumbs at warp speed over a virtual keyboard. Hardly anyone was in a conversation at the tables and including…the bar, that were in an eyeball to eyeball encounter. I quietly wondered how the texting by the folks at the bar would look like after a few drinks. Anyway, the point is that you and I use a medium called Ham radio which is far too cumbersome to sit on the table or even the bar so we do our ‘thing’ at home or on occasion we’ll take our stations afield to operate portable. Sadly the cycle 24 minimum has a strangle hold on our band conditions making most DX off limits so I find myself calling CQ fully expecting an interesting fulfilling QSO to answer my call on the other end.
That’s about it from my QTH in Huntersville for this month so let remind you to sit at your station, call CQ because someone somewhere is listening for your call. Don’t disappoint them. I hope to see you next month…
Best 73 es gud DX from my station to yours…Bob/WØZPE

All Things HF: February 2019

I detest the word ‘Amateur’ and its multiple meanings. The word ‘Amateur’ is both a noun and an adjective depending how it is used. How about this…as a synonym its usually associated with one or more of the following descriptions: incompetent, inept, bungler, useless, botched, crude and so it goes on and on.
If asked, I reply, I’m a Ham Radio Operator plus I’m good at what I do. So are the rest of you license holders. We’re good, we’re talented and we’re there when we are needed to provide our expertise in the event of disasters. We can communicate with other Hams around the corner, across this country, and even across the oceans of the world to far away exotic places with skills that make us Ham Radio Operators…not Amateurs.
Remember all of you Ham Radio Operators to sit at your stations to call CQ to other talented Ham Radio Operators who are anxiously waiting to QSO with you…don’t disappoint them. So long from my station in Huntersville to your Ham Radio Station wherever it may be.
Best 73 es gud DX from Bob Feuer WØZPE

All Things HF: December 2018

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year.

The past 30 days or so of HF band conditions have been whatever one wanted to make of them. Some bands were open, some bands were so-so and some bands were closed. There was some good DX to be operated 12 and 17 meters then the following day…nothing. Good openings into Europe were plentiful on 20-meters if you looked, listened and called CQ. We seem to be stuck in the doldrums of the minimum of sunspot cycle 24. The band conditions seem to be the main focus of our QSO’s these days.

I still continue to maintain a positive attitude when I sit down at my station that there is always something worth working out there in radioland. I make it a habit to turn on the station in the afternoon with the antenna beaming west to take advantage of greyline propagation…I am seldom disappointed. I also make use of my favorite DX spotting website (DXscape) which is a Japanese operated spotting system with excellent reporting of present DX operators worldwide in real time.

As the minimum of cycle 24 continues, and it will for quite some time to come, good old fashioned rag chewing will be the dominant factor which is really the backbone of what this hobby is all about. My feeling is that most of us active operators consider ourselves to be somewhat technically inclined so allow me to stray a bit from radio to the subject of robots.

Robots are dominant in the manufacturing sector. Robots build our vehicles with precision, they build the circuit boards in our radios. Robots do it all. I’ve been fascinated by robots since the early days when they were considered ‘boy toys’ and not respected self programing operational robot systems that have landed recently on the planet Mars. Sure, I’m building up to something here that I would like to share with you. I purchased an iRobot for me and my wife’s anniversary (mostly for me). The robot is the 900 series Roomba for cleaning floors and carpeting. This amazing robot leaves its docking station on demand then proceeds to clean the floors in every room all the while programing and reprograming itself with the use of an onboard camera that sends it photos back to the robots systems to correct or re correct its plan of travel. Should Roomba sense its batteries are getting low even though the cleaning job is yet to be completed…she heads directly back to her docking station for a recharge. When the batteries have been recharged, she heads directly back to her unfinished cleaning from where she left off. I am totally impressed, my wife is totally delighted and…that iRobot is scary as she returns to her docking station until called upon to clean the floors again. Life is sweet!

Remember to sit down at your station and call CQ because someone somewhere is listening, don’t disappoint them. The best 73 es gud DX from my station in Huntersville to your station wherever it is. So long for now and once again, Merry Christmas, Happy New year as Santa drives through the skies of our radio frequencies bringing joy to the world…de Bob WØZPE