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Short Takes #14: Age Discrimination in Ham Radio? Plus, the VTUS 5000 Transformer Review

By Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

 

Age Discrimination?

You don't often see discrimination on the bands, but I ran into it recently when posting to a Facebook forum called "Ham Radio." My son Tyler taught me about this kind of discrimination, from what he called "ageist people."

Sometimes older people would look at Tyler and think "This guy doesn't know anything . . . He is just a kid." That's frustrating when you are growing up (Tyler was taking college classes with kids 6 years older than him). Older people viewing the young as less knowledgeable . . . I am sensitive to that now, thanks to my son.

But it was a recent post on Facebook where I experienced the same thing, this time applied to my age group. Here's what a young ham had to say about why he doesn't use phone modes with his new ham license:

"As a newer Ham I began exploring FT8 because hearing nothing but old white guys having supposedly enthralling conversations about nothing but their local weather, back/knee pain, computer issues and lawnmower repair. It became exhausting after a while. I can see the voice end of the hobby improving in 15-20 years once a lot of the current old timers are no longer with us."

Do you believe this? Someone posting on an open forum, almost going so far as to wish that old timers would just kick off? In reality, there's plenty of room on the bands for anyone -- of any age -- to talk about whatever they want with whomever they want. If you don't like listening to two old timers ragchewing, just grab your Mic and throw out a CQ on any one of the hundreds of other frequencies that we have available for our use. There's certainly more than "old white guys" on the amateur bands.

Any kind of discrimination is rare in our hobby. I've always loved ham radio because of it's inclusiveness. My Friday ham radio lunch group has gentlemen, ladies, and young people as well, ranging from mid-20's to mid-80s and we all get along great. Our hobby smoothes the way for this kind of inclusion. Let's keep it that way!

The VTUS 5000 Transformer

A lot of equipment I look at operates on both standard household voltage as well as on 230-240VAC. I'm without dedicated higher VAC in my shack, so I've always operated with equipment running on standard voltage. Luckily, my shack was wired well and has a big capacity on 110v. Despite this, some equipment just operates better when it's plugged into 220-240VAC.

Recently it was frustrating when a piece of gear I count on was making a rattling noise on CW operations. It wasn't the clicking of relays in full break-in, it was a power supply that (despite being operational on household voltage) seems to like 230V better. I thought I'd try something in the way of a unique solution and bought the VTUS 5000 StepUp/StepDown transformer. This thing is built like a tank, weighs about 20 lbs or so, and supplies me with the higher voltage I need from a standard plug in the shack.

Is this a safe and smart solution to running 220-240VAC from a household source? No -- it's not something that you can leave running or that you'd want to make a permanent solution. But for my testing purposes with a variety of gear, it's handy and convenient to have the 230+ VAC available right from this beast sitting on my bench. It has never heated up, it's always performed when I've used it, and generally seems like a fine piece of gear.

It's sometimes "iffy" to buy something Chinese made, and in this case the same company makes a lot of cheap transformers that are used for things like kitchen appliances and so forth. Unfortunately, Amazon puts the reviews for those cheap goods onto the same page as this well-built and substantial $159 piece of gear, which can be distracting.

I recommend this as a great device to have handy on a test bench or for a limited use by one piece of appartus in your shack. Remember, it won't increase your available power output or available amperage. It will simply convert what you have now to a limited 220-240VAC source. For that purpose, I've found it very handy.

73 for now,   Dave

 

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Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

Dave Jensen, W7DGJ, was first licensed in 1966. Originally WN7VDY (and later WA7VDY), Dave operated on 40 and 80 meter CW with a shack that consisted primarily of Heathkit equipment. Dave loved radio so much he went off to college to study broadcasting and came out with a BS in Communications from Ohio University (Athens, OH). He worked his way through a number of audio electronics companies after graduation, including the professional microphone business for Audio-Technica.  He was later licensed as W7DGJ out of Scottsdale, Arizona, where he ran an executive recruitment practice (CareerTrax Inc.) for several decades. Jensen has published articles in magazines dealing with science and engineering. His column “Tooling Up” ran for 20 years in the website of the leading science journal, SCIENCE, and his column called “Managing Your Career” continues to be a popular read each month for the Pharmaceutical and Household Products industries in two journals published by Rodman Publishing.


Articles Written by Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

This page was last updated June 28, 2023 19:40