I was dorking around on the web getting prepared for the Colorado 14er Event this year (August 7) and came across some of Steve WG0AT’s goathiker videos. Steve does a great job of capturing the fun of being out on the trail with goats and radios (what a combo!)
Here’s one of the best videos, which captures the fun of the 14er Event:
Lots of important stuff spewing forth from the Internetz.
TWiT’s HamNation netcast keeps on going, so give it a look.
The debate continues about potential likely interference to common GPS receivers from LightSquared’s proposed adjacent-channel transmitters. See this recent article on the problem. If you want to dig deeper, the detailed documents are referenced here. LightSquared and the GPS industry are blaming each other. I tend to put the responsibility on the FCC, the regulatory agency that is supposed to keep spectrum and interference issues under control. This problem could be avoided by the use of basic EMC engineering but the FCC seems to be driven more by politics than engineering.
I have been playing around with Google Plus and, so far, I like it. It may be the optimist in me that says there must be an alternative to Facebook. If you need a G+ invite, send me an email: robtwitte at gmail.com
On twitter, I asked for suggestions on a big hamfest that is an alternative to Dayton. Most replies were for these: HamCom in Dallas, TX; Hamcation in Orlando, FL; Pacificon in Santa Clara, CA. Well, HamCom is out, as it conflicts with the ARRL June VHF QSO Party (the biggest VHF contest of the year). You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me!! The other two look pretty good.
The Colorado 14er Event will be held on August 7 this year. This is the premier mountaintopping event for amateur radio. The basic idea is to have fun making ham radio contacts from the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado.
Actually, we’ve started to see some of the 14,000 ft peaks in California on the air, too! Very cool. Rumor has it that some of the New Mexico hams might be active on the highest summits in that state (none are above 14,000 feet though). I don’t know whether the Kansas folks are going to brave the extreme conditions on Mount Sunflower this year or not. (That’s the highest spot in Kansas at 4039 feet, which makes it a “4er”.)
When the topic of ham radio comes up with normal people (that is, non-hams), I usually get asked the question “Who Do You Talk To?” I always come up with some vague and lame answer like “people all over the world” that gets me by.
I finally figured out what the problem is: amateur radio is not for talking to people. At least not for me. If you just want to talk to someone, there are much better ways to do it, such as the telephone…or Skype. There was a time long, long ago when one of the hooks for ham radio was “you can talk to a family member” when telephone service was not available or too expensive. Those days are gone. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the hook was often “make mobile phone calls via the repeater autopatch.” That was cool stuff that mere mortals could not do. With everyone and their dog now having a mobile phone, those days are gone, too.
So where does that leave us? Back where we started: the Universal Purpose of Amateur Radio is to have fun messing around with radios. Of course, this takes many different forms: public service, emergency communications, chasing DX, chasing counties, competing in contests, building kits, running QRP…to name just a few.
Now you will hear actual conversations on the ham bands but if you listen closely they usually have a radio underpinning to them. Hams are always talking about their equipment, signal strength, why their antenna is so great, why their antenna fell down, etc. It is kind of like making a telephone call where you talk about the quality of the phone line, the type of telephone being used and potential improvements to your home phone system.
Wait, you say, what about those guys on 75 Meters every evening talking about their medical conditions and complaining about the government? Aren’t those guys actually talking to people?