20 June 2002
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SHORT NOTES: NOTES: Email for 4X6UO should be addressed to
email@example.com, Thanks to the many responses to my plea!
If you grew up anywhere near New York City and had an interest in radio,
there was but one place to go. A magnet for hams and hams-to-be and anybody
else with an interest in radio, this special place was called Radio Row, a
perfect definition of a Manhattan neighborhood devoted to the subject. You
see it all again by dialing to www.sonicmemorial.org/radiorow/radiorow.html.
Take a peek and enjoy for there is nothing left of the real thing!
An interesting note from Dick KD6AZN/7J1BBC followed up on the attitude and
practice of the PSK31 operator during traditional contests and DX pileups.
They are a different breed. After commenting on the ARRL poll, blaming PSK's
victory on the faddishness of new modes, Dick went on to make the
following observations: 'Lots of guys with computers and digital soundcard
modes (PSK, MFSK, etc) really don't understand where they are transmitting
on the spectrum. In the recent Wake Island DXpedition, the op called .5 to 1
UP. With my 4 Khz spectral display I could see half the callers were split
must have been LSB. They call went .5 to 1 DOWN, into the Pacific Ocean. No
chance of a return from Wake.
My favorite, though, is the software that allows the operator to send out a
macro saying-logged in at TT:TT:TT Z. The computer calculates and precisely
enters the time . . to the nearest 1/100th of a second. Remarkable! But many
times the operator failed to set the computer and the time/day report was
hours or even days off. Makes for interesting logs!'
Thanks Dick. Yes, I've seen it all. Hi! In reality, though, I don't think
many of the PSK operators think in terms of exact frequencies. Rather they
Bands. If they want to work 20M, they set the USB dial at 14.0695 and work at
the visible signals. Clicking above or below that QRG doesn't register as a
frequency shift. It's merely a mouse click that puts the cursor on the next
or best trace on the waterfall. It's an easy habit to form. After all, what
does it make whether it is to the left or the right of the 14.0695 mark. My
Pegasus dial on the laptop screen doesn't change from that setting whether I
move up or down as I tune. The exactness issue is quickly forgotten in that
environment and, though the habit may change over the years who needs to
know whether the contact was made on 14.068.2 or 14.070.4?
All of which leads to much of the confusion seen when the DX op goes to a
split operation. It's not too difficult even for those of us who have been
from such stuff for a long while. But for the typical new PSK user it is
probably so much doublespeak. Maybe some kind sole will write up a nice,
fundamental tutorial on the subject. I'll surely be happy to distribute the
Joe EI4FV is, yes, Irish. And it was with some obvious pleasure that he
forwarded the story about Lee DeForest and his Irish experiments during the
1903. It involved stations in Ireland and Wales and operators who were
sending code back and forth at 30-35 WPM, even though amply fortified with
product from the local pub! The excellent tale of life in the tower (and the
incredible event that followed) can be found at
Do read it.
In any event, the Bayside Scouts are going to commemorate this important test
operation by operating EI4LDF during June 29-30. All bands included and
modes are CW and PSK31. Work them!
But that's not the end of the EI4FV story. During an Email exchange, he
suggested that I might want to root for the Irish soccer team who were to
Spaniards that very night. I wished his team well, though I had absolutely no
intention of staying up all night long to witness the event! HI. In fact I
so little about soccer having watched but a few minutes on TV over the years
that it just isn't on my schedule. Oh, I admit to a bit of enthusiasm when
US Ladies team won big a while back and now there is a bit of a tingle now
that the US Men's team could do something. But that's a bit of pride in the
flag, not a love or understanding of this strange game.
I do admit that the morning after receiving Joe's Email, the first thing I
looked for in the newspaper was the soccer score. Ireland lost on penalty
The game ended in a tie. The two teams then participated in some kind of a
shootout to determine a winner. Perhaps because of such a strange rule, I
decided to watch a bit of the game in this most popular sport of all to see
if I could make any sense of it..
Gradually, I began to understand the reason for the game's universal
attraction. Wherever it is played, in every country in the world, the game is
same. The playing field is level, completely so. There are no fields that
favor one team over the other for if it's muddy, it's muddy at both ends of
No team fields more players than its opponent. Yes, players are recruited,
bought and sold to improve the team, though money alone cannot produce a
winning team. For, in the end, the game is decided by a combination of skill,
dedication, durability, intelligence, coaching and coordination performed by
players assembled from one geographic area. In the end, every team has the
opportunity to work a miracle and it happens with some frequency. That's
an unbeatable combination for the fans. And their numbers prove the case. I
can't count the billions and billions who watch the World Cup on TV,
numbers that dwarf the appeal of the more familiar sports here in the US.
So, you ask, what the heck has this got to do with ham radio? Not much,
except for those activities some describe as radio sports-Contesting, for
example. In general, success in any mode is dominated by those with big
antenna farms, multiple rigs, and seriously amplified signals. I don't mean
suggest that it is wrong to build the super station or run the biggest
amplifier or operate the largest number of rigs possible. It is legal and an
method. If winning is that important, and if that is what it takes to win,
it's your privilege, if you can afford it.
But, the only level playing field around is PSK and its puny bandwidth,
piddling power output and dinky antennas. As a result PSK has a bit of the
of soccer. Anybody can do anything in PSK. Nobody, even those who
occasionally destroy the band with a giant signal, have much of an edge over
person running a measly 25 watts to a dipole in the attic.
And that, to get back to the beginning of this epistle, is why I don't think
the ARRL poll is a fluke. The 'fan' appeal of the PSK mode attracts thousands
participants who occupy the various bands 24/7 simply because they love to
play the game. It's no surprise to me that PSK is the favorite by a big and
a growing margin.
73 de Jim N2HOS: GAZETTE at www.n2hos.com/digital