QRZ.COM
ad: MyersEng-1
ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: abrind-2
ad: L-MFJ
ad: Left-2
ad: Left-3
Latest Awards
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued
United States Awards Issued

Short Takes #21: End of Year Ham Radio Gripes

By Dave Jensen, W7DGJ

While this is a time of celebration and of renewal with a new year arriving soon, it's also a time of griping as we hear on the radio (and off). I plan on writing an end-of-the-year "Short Takes" each December listing my biggest gripes. You're welcome to jump into the forum discussion at the end of this column and disagree with me -- or, add fuel to the fire. Have at it!   73,   Dave

LIDS at the Holiday

I am sometimes so completely disgusted with what I hear on the radio that I move immediately to another part of the house and turn on the TV or pick up a book. When I was a kid with my first ticket, we had the occasional operator who would do something like power up an amplifier on top of a QSO. I always assumed it was just an inconsiderate person who hadn't checked the frequency first, and not someone purposely targeting others. But since relicensing a few years back, I've found that the number of these "inconsiderate" operators has expanded so greatly -- and taken such a turn for the worse -- that the result gives the Amateur Radio Services a black eye. 

Have you listened to 7200 lately in the evenings? It seems as if half the operators there have had a few too many and they continuously spew out the worst kinds of hatred, without any fear of retribution from the community or from the FCC. I've heard antisemitic, racist, and just about every foul word you can think of. It's made me ashamed of my radio at times. And there isn't anything that I can do about it. If the FCC hasn't taken action, or our national organization, who is it that can deal with this? Complaining about it won't do anything (what I'm doing here, sadly). Only action can stop it. But what action can we take?

I'm having some trouble with a neighbor and my antennas. That's a subject that I'll save for a future column. But as a part of my "solution" to the neighbor issues, I brought him into my shack and spoke to him about amateur radio's value in an emergency. I showed him the gear, made sure he knew about the extent of my communication ability if it all hits the fan, and he asked to take a listen. I switched on all the cool lights to demonstrate and unfortunately it was on 75m in the evening, where some idiot was nailing another operator with a non-stop rant. For just 4-5 seconds (before I spun the dial), this character managed to get out at least 8 or 10 top-tier swear words. It was embarassing to say the least.

Maybe its the time of the year that brings out the crazies?

 

Arguing about Antennas

Another of my favorite gripes is about how nasty people can get when you start to tout your favorite antenna. I mean, seriously fellow operators . . . this is one of the single biggest hot buttons on the QRZ forums and in "real life" ham radio as well. We all have our personal likes and dislikes when it comes to RF radiators, but do we really need to get hostile in talking about them? I was enjoying a cup of coffee not long ago with several other guys and someone mentioned how much they loved their blah-blah antenna, a plug-and-play product they bought over at Ham Radio Outlet here in the Phoenix area.

Immediately, one of the other guys (a normally outgoing and socially engaging fellow) jumped on that person and his choice. Evidently, that antenna is not worth a hill of beans, and pales in comparison to another type of antenna using a blah-blah design and one that this guy made in his garage workshop for $10. You've heard the same argument a hundred times or more, I'm sure. Both friends walked away upset, and the whole thing just made me wonder about why it is that antennas are such a disputed topic?

Here's my opinion on the matter, whether you like it or not (again, feel free to jump into the forum link at the bottom of this page). My thought is that you can literally make anything resonate if you try hard enough. Everyone knows another ham constrained by HOA regulations who has made his roof gutter system into an antenna, and we've all seen the YouTube videos where some operator has decided to hook his radio to the cattle fence. Each and every one of those hams is making an antenna, and if it gets a signal out the door, what does it matter if it isn't the best possible use of his or her efforts? Why do we feel the need to put down their ideas or talk about how much better our own homebrew project is? I wrote about an off-center dipole a number of issues ago, and spoke about its high performance in the review. I have never seen such angry comments as I got after that one -- wow, just completely discouraging to me. That is, until I read the eHam reviews where a 5-star rating over hundreds of reviews showed me that I was at least in the majority.

Let's face it -- a person's choice of antenna is personal. You start attacking that kind of personal decision, and you might as well be attacking the person's political or religious beliefs. Antennas hit THAT close to home.

 

Ham Radio - Still a Lousy Place for a Mac User?

I dumped my PC's twenty years ago and bought a Mac. (Yes, here's another hyper-opinionated subject for arguments). At the time, during some early incarnation of Windows, I grew frustrated by the constant issues I was having with software and bought what looked like a cool new product from Apple. I never looked back, and have since lost all of my skills on the PC in favor of being quite productive with Apple software and suppliers to that platform. And in the day job, it was not a problem as the best of the software was always either designed for the Mac or suppliers make a Mac-compatible version. But ham radio always proved a different story.

For some reason, and I guess it was the experimenters (the builders and electronics gadget lovers who wanted to put together their own PC) who forced the ham radio community to grow up around the PC. Radio manufacturers, and developers of software for amateur radio, focus today on the PC as if it represents 100% of the community. I need to update the software in my IC-7300, for example, and I've got to borrow someone else's PC laptop, because there's no feasible way to update firmware for a Mac user. 

But I'm happy to report that more and more quality amateur radio software is being developed for the Mac computer. The logging software that I use is a good example . . . MacLoggerDX is an awesome product, with features that even PC users would love to have. A new SDR control software brings huge capabilities to your IC-705, IC-7610, IC-9700, IC-R8600 and finally the IC-7300 (via USB for IC-7300). In short, the world of Mac software is changing for ham radio. This may be the time, if you've considered adding a new platform to your computer operations, to consider the Mac.

 

Have a comment? See what others are saying now in our Forum discussion!

CLICK HERE and JUMP INTO THE CONVERSATION

 

 

 


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 December 7, 2023 15:51