Thursday, 22 October 2015

What a great hobby ham radio is.

I know that amateur radio can be technical and social. Certainly it can involve electronics, physics, earth sciences and all sorts of complex science. But it is often promoted in the UK as being a social pastime.

In the UK, our "national society" promotes the social side as participation in local societies and their contesting activities. To me this conjures up the image of old codgers moaning about the biscuits at the meetings, and poor souls up to their oxters in cold mud pounding vainly on morse keys. So the social side, as represented by "the powers that be" does not really appeal to me. You can guess which clubs created those images in my head.

But another aspect of the social side is very important to me. Being "communication" people we can always keep in touch. For example by this podcast and others, by emails, and even by radio. So it is my contacts with individual amateurs over the past few days which have struck me.

Richard, GI4DOH, posted a nice note on my last posting, wishing me good DX with my new antennas. Thanks for that. A bit of encouragement is what we all need sometimes and this was particularly well timed.

And then Andy, GM4JR sent me an email agreeing with my comments about the poor element fixings on the Sandpiper beam - he uses one too. And he suggested what I had been thinking, it might be possible to re-engineer it. My own plan was to replace the element fixings, change the boom mount, and replace the braces. I was great to hear from someone who can confirm and develop these ideas.

Doug, GM6ZFI, contacted me and we agreed to go out for an early lunch (which turned out to be a sausage roll). Doug had asked for the 10 element Diamond. It is a bit bent and there was no cash charge for it, though Doug paid me with:-

a tin of Diet Coke,
a caramel slice, and
half a bag of cable ties.

Very nice. Good to have a chin wag and complain about everything which is wrong about the in the radio (and railway) world. I worked Doug on 2m later after he had put the Diamond up on his mast in 60kph winds.

When I got back, the postman handed me an envelope which contained a book called "The Radio Amateur's Hand Book". I had loaned this book to Bob, G3KML. I might point out that it was written in the 1920s (no date on it), and has been reprinted. I missed the Galashiels rally on Sunday so Bob posted it back because he couldn't hand it over there.

It was a pity that I could not make the Galashiels rally, but I hope to go to the "Fog on the Tyne" rally on Gateshead on Saturday. I might meet some more of these interesting people.

This evening Chris, GM4ZJI, phoned me up to tell me he was on 2m working a German station on meteor scatter. I went straight to the frequency for what was an excellent test of the new Wimo antenna. For over a hour I collected signals from Germany. Thanks Chris, and thanks also for spotting me on the DX cluster.

Now, have I got the social side of this hobby wrong? Can I leave that image of boring meetings behind me? I can see that lots of people are contacting me and we are developing new ideas and plans.

This posting is all about people. The image of amateur radio is not all about Tony Hancock types in isolation. It is about working together and supporting each other, either in person or by "other means".

Thanks folks.



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