Pleasant QSOs

I woke up early in the morning when it got bright outside. It was starting another cold and quiet day here. Bringing toastes and coffee in ths shack, I started watching 15m. It was wide open to the US. There were a couple of pile ups going on. Apart from that mess, I started calling CQ.

A number of friends have given me calls in a row. A friend in New England told me what a blizzard they had had there and, despite of that snowy storm, he had walked 3km this morning, wearing a coat, a muffler and a hat. He was pleased to tell me his wife had called him crazy. Another guy reported about the latest result of his cancer check up. No signs of recurrence. He will finish his treatment protocol in 3 more courses. He and his family must have been relieved a lot. I felt thrilled when he started telling me about it like the result was and so forth. I wished him very good luck for the rest of the treatment. A guy would see our mutual friends for the very first time when he comes back to the west Coast from the mid US where he has been on duty for months. I have pictured of their eye ball over there.

And a few more interesting QSOs. What a wonderful hobby ham radio is! This slow and unexpected mode of communication would give us much pleasure when we could share our lives in the short communications. I felt thankful to all I met today. It is still worth spending some time and some energy to be on looking for those friends. May we be blessed having such QSOs throughout our lives. I am sure ham radio won't die if such communication would go on.


Spring is not so far

By this time in a year, we always have ume flowers come out in our garden. They are still buds now like the photo shows. The sunray is already pretty bright and the daytime is elongated much more than in mid winter. The cold snap still remains here. It is always freezing early in the morning. There is some snow left on the shaded area.

Believing in the saying that once cold winter comes here, it won't be too long before warm spring follows, I would like to look forward having spring arriving here soon. We will have that day of March 11th in a few weeks.


A CWT trouble

A friend of mine, Bob W7AYN, has encountered an embarrassing situation last Wednesday. I happened to listen to him at that time. He was working a W8 guy on around 7026KHz. All of sudden, another pretty big one started calling CQ CWT right on his frequency. Bob had to quickly finish that QSO then. I don't believe the CQ caller could not hear either of Bob or that W8 guy. I have ever experienced this due to those contesters in the past. I am running 500W with 3el. Hearing this mess, I sighed and thought the same thing had happened again.

In a day, Bob wrote to me on this event. He seemed to have sent a mail to blame them to a CWops head. It seemed that guy had delivered that personal mail itself to the CWops members through their reflector. Bob's mail seemed to contain my call. A few friends told me about that. Even though I am not directly involved in this event, I may have a right to express my opinion on this issue here owing to the above mentioned course of the event.

It might be essentially a problem of negotiation and compromise between the contesters and the non contesters as for how to avoid such interference to the latter by the former. In the major contests like WW CW etc, we, non contesters, could escape from the mess. Because the schedules are well known. It is not the case with minor ones. It is difficult for us to escape somewhere prior to such minor ones as CWT starting.

CWT should have been held in the week ends like the others. So far as international contests are concerned, it is the first contest ever held on "a plain week day". It is held once a month. There are increasing number of contests being held right now. I am afraid CWT might lead them to be held on the plain week day since the week ends are already full of contests for now.

CWT is divided into 3 sessions with only an hour of duration for each session. The trouble is apt to occur in the very beginning of the contest. Non contesters are not ready to avoid the mess especially in the beginning. The chances of the mess is up to 3 times in a CWT event. All these factors are causing the mess as Bob has experienced this time.

I would propose them to limit the band width in use to its certain portion, for example, from 7010 to 7020KHz etc. And it should move from the week day to a week end. I sincerely hope they won't mess the bands with such games on any plain week day even for 3 times in a day, when we could enjoy slow and meaningful QSOs.

Lastly, a personal whispering. There are "too many" contests. "Redundant" activity. I suspect it will all the more decrease the non contest activities. Eventually, it may harm the ordinary ham radio activities.


A priviledge in young age

A cool cellist, Cicily Parnas, shows an excellent performance as if in an audition. In young days, anyone could concentrate in something like her, whatever talent he or she may have. Parnas is performing in really stunning way as for technique. She seems to express herself fully with cello. What concentration!
It is another question how deep she could sing with her instrument. I would look forward listening to her playing music which requires her real talent in expression. Her concentration in music is still really admirable. Maybe, a priviledge for her young age.

Incidentally, I have been thinking why I feel less cozy with the skimmer/RBN stuff than the old fashioned analogue set up. Maybe, unexpectedness in ham radio is disturbed with this cutting edge technology. Give me a bit more time to put ideas in shape. 


The other comment on the skimmer/RBN issue

I got this mail from Alan KF3B. It is uploaded for a reference of the discussion. I asked Alan if I could upload it or not. So far, no response. Since this won't contain any personal information etc, I would quote the whole here.



First I thank you for your thoughtful posting about RBN and SKIMMER. It caused me to reflect on these matters.

Before talking about radio, I should share bits of my own sense of our existence. I think that every advantage is also a disadvantage. For everything we gain, we also suffer a loss. Every strength is also a weakness. This sense of duality is not limited to technology, but seems to me to be universally true about all parts of life. However, I'll limit this email to radio.

I became a ham in, I think, 1955. Technology at that time was so advanced compared with Marconi's time. Compared with today's technology, it was, of course, quite primitive. I remember having mixed feelings when I changed from my J-38 straight key to a Vibroplex bug. First, I enjoyed very much the ability to send faster. On the other hand, I always fancied myself a good code sender and felt a sense of loss because it took less skill to send a good string of dots. When I moved from crystal control to VFO I felt only slightly sad because it took skill to search for guys calling me off my frequency. With VFO control, the skill level was reduced. (I must say that I always hated the limitations of crystals, HI). Then radios were improved. They drifted less. Changing from receive to transmit became effortless. Again, a very positive movement, but a sadness because I always tried to perform these tasks well manually and that opportunity was forevermore gone. Then coaxial cables replaced twin feed lines. Again, a good improvement, but a loss personally because I had enjoyed building antennas with odd shapes fed with twin-lead and matching then with my old Johnson Matchbox. Then came broad-band transceivers. No more dipping-peaking-dipping. I was good at it and missed performing those activities. Then phase-lock-loops. Rock solid transceivers. Big forward technological movements, but a personal loss because I no longer would need to utilize a skill set I had learned.

I went inactive in 1971 until 1994 to raise my family and devote myself to my commercial life. In 1994, more or less by accident, my close friend Don brought down to my then QTH the old 75A-4, KWS-1, TO Keyer, paddle and matchbox.. We threw some wire out the window to a tree, turned it all on (nothing caught fire) and I made a CW QSO. I still could copy 20+ wpm easily, but had never heard "5NN" before. I had to ask for three or four RST repeats before I understood that 5NN was 599.

Replaced the 75A-4/KWS-1 with Yaesu FT-1000D. Began to have mixed feelings again. The 1000D was like heaven. But ... I did not have to zero beat the receive frequency. I did not have to worry about anything. The new radio did everything. What about my old skill-sets? How sad it was to use the internal keyer in the 1000D instead of my old Hallicrafters HA-1, the original "TO Keyer". On balance, forward progress, noting with a bit of sadness that my old skill sets were no longer needed.

Then replaced the 1000D with the K3. More wonderful features. Great technical progress. But what about my old skill sets? When noise reduction is active, I don't have to use my ears. I was good at picking up signals near the noise floor. But the K3's amazing technology removed the need for me to do what I had learned.

Technological progress seems to imply a shift in effort from people to something else.

Society seems to adopt a technology if the advantage outweighs the disadvantage. The not so obvious part of this is that the scale for measuring advantage and disadvantage is not universal. It depends on who is measuring. For example, a new computer program to reduce the amount of labor needed to to a job is valuable to an employer but harmful to the employees who stand to lose their job. So, the 'measure--ment' depends on the 'measure-er'.

I once tried skimmer. I didn't like it. I never will. It's not for me.

As long as I can send without friends telling me QLF (your code sounds like you are sending with left foot), I will never use a keyboard. As I age and my ability to use the paddle decrease, I might try a keyboard but it will be a difficult choice. I might also give up this wonderful hobby. That choice will come sooner than I would like it to.

But I will use RBN. There is a growing scarcity of good ops. I would prefer rag chewing with them than looking for them. To me, as measurer, the value of the RBN outweighs its cost.

Now to your point of "insulting to liberty." I learned that everything said on amateur radio was to be considered a broadcast to the universe. People always "read the mail." Personally, I have spent many hours just listening to good ops chatting. I am fascinated with how they abbreviate words or just how they generally express themselves. Some of the commonly used idioms are interesting. So I've never had thoughts about lack of privacy on the air because I never thought there was any privacy.

Skimmer or other machines that copy code well are used. They are networked together and that cluster of networked skimmers comprise the RBN world. My personal choice is whether or not I will use it.

Is it sad that machines to copy code exist? Yes AND no. The person who must answer that question will have his own sense of how to value the measurements of benefit versus harm.

Now the argument changes its form. Given that RBN exists, one can ask: Does RBN's existence cause harm? One could, indeed, argue yes it does cause harm - because, with the existence of RBN, people less skilled, people who without RBN would never call me, are now wasting my time, adding to QRM, making my life worse! That's a real argument. It has merit.

RBN usage during a contest changes everything. It drastically reduces the need for a certain kind of skill. Good ears are replaced, to some extent, with good internet bandwidth. Etc.

As technology continues to advance, seems to me that contest sponsors must consider that entrants who use RBN are in a different class from those who don't. Other technologies like remote receiving antennas are also dramatic reasons to sub-class entrants along these severe technological dimensions. Radiosport is evolving. It might not be fair or attractive in the short term, but it will probably stabilize if and when radiosport related technology stabilizes ....

Shin, I think that I'll stop now. I see technological progress a two edged sword. However, it is hard sometimes for me to apply this two edged sword way of thinking to medicine. How can tomography be harmful? How can vaccines to eliminate Polio, Malaria, TB be harmful? I don't know. Perhaps my thinking needs lots of refinement.

In any case, I am grateful to you because you say things that stimulate my addled brain.

Thank you.

Discussion on the skimmer/RBN issue

Here is a quote from face book discussing briefly on the light and shadow of skimmer/RBN technology. I would present it here for a beginning of the discussion.


I found this sentence on Jim W6YA page in QRZ.com. It made me laugh at first. Seemingly, it keeps the point. I am sure the skimmers have deprived us of more than half of the pleasure in ham radio;

I believe skimmers are the worst thing that has happened to ham radio since I started in 1954. It reminds me of using anabolic steroids to enhance physical performance in sports.

  •  Personally I detest Skimmer, and have never had one. But I got beat in the WRTC qualifying by technically savvy guys who recognized the importance to the Skimmer for contesting, and invested the time and money to learn how to use it fully legally, because at that time it was legal in some of the S/O contests. These things are changing ham radio. They are not for me, but they are the future for most people.
  • JA1NUT:
  •  It seems to me that it has already totally changed the ham radio as a whole. It used to be depend on the technique of operators and the fortune for the good condition. But the skimmer and RBN have made it like wireless internet. No excitement nor skills to achieve a QSO. Boring!! Maybe, we are still the Luddites destined to disappear. The idea of anabolic steroid by Jim struck me as an excellent analogy.
  •  One thing is good. Reverse Beacon Network allows me to find friends, I found you Shin one day that way. Also I saw an old friend who never gets on the air, I switched frequency band, and talked to him. Also it is good on dead band - I turned my beam short path to Africa at 2000Z and saw I was being picked up in Perth, Australia, so I started hunting for watery sounding signals, and I worked several VK, a FK8, and a FO8 via long path. I had forgotten about the LP opening on 20 meters at 2000Z to Perth (10,000 miles) on 20 meters. I worked more stations than were spottee, the RBN just told me long path was open to extreme distance. 73 de DR N1EA
  • JA1NUT:
  •  David, thanks for the comment. I fully understand that you have used it as a handy tool. It is quite evident. In my view, there could be a conflict between unexpectedness and necessity in this argument. I have got an interesting comment from Alan KF3B by peronal mail. I would put my ideas acceting your and others' thoughts into shape and describe it in my blog soon. Please stay tuned for that and give me your further comment. I haven't heard you for several months. See you again soon.

Marathon early in the spring

Since I uploaded the last article, I have been thinking of the problem of the skimmer/RBN. I read in the QRZ.com page of Jim W6YA telling that the skimmer was the worst thing he had experienced in his ham radio career since 1954. When I introduced it with my full approval fot him, I got a personal comment by mail from Alan KF3B on the standpoint to accept it as a cutting edge technology, which was also persuasive to me. It might be involved with the conflict between liberty and necessity in modern technology. I would further consider how to treat this interesting issue by myself andsubmit it here or somewhere else. Any comment on this issue is welcomed.
I have been active in FOC Marathon last week end. I was going to fool it for a while saying hello to some old friends. But, since I could spend as long time as I want now, it has lit something in my mind. I have been on any band where there were paths open to Eu or NA. They say it has been in very good condition. But, in this area of the world, the path over the pole to either the North Eu or the East Coast was not very good. They were surely open but in a manner with a veil.
I still had much fun working some 300 stations. Since I operated only with a pen and the check sheets, I haven't summarized it yet. I won't care for the result. My main purpose was to meet old friends and to say hello to them as told in the beginning. Ken GW3KGV told me he had been inactive because he had been caring for his sick wife. I didn't recognize Wino PA0ABM operating his fancy call of PI4HQ. I have ignored him until he introduced himself as Wino apparently in an anger. Sorry for that. I fully understood why he got mad at me. Ron K5XK seemed to have had a family member seriously ill for months, which also kept him away from ham radio. Welcome back, Ron. It has been quite sometime since I heard Dave VK2AYD as well. His new or repaired antenna made him comeback on the radio. Congratulations, Dave. And so forth. It has not been a competitive event but a real QSO party all over the world for me. I won't be so active or could not be so active as this time from now. But I still go on enjoying it every early spring.
We have some flowers getting ready to bud out here. This is a kind of camellia along the north wall of the house. It is one of the coldest places in the house/property. But, amazingly, some flowers are already coming out. Life is still going on. 

The plum tree along the street on the western side, suffering from a kind of mold, seems to be alive. I hope it will show us fresh leaves very soon. The strawberries, planted on the ground but not in a green house, are still alive. But it seems tough for them to survive. No room ro bear fruits! Spinach is almost over. I should be ready for the vegetables in the spring very soon.