Sometime this spring, I cannot recall exactly when, I will celebrate my 50th anniversary in Amateur Radio. As closely as I can tell it was spring 1959 when I began this adventure. I received the call sign Wv6GUL in San Diego Ca in 1959. Over the years I have been known as Wv6GUL, K3YMA, WB7SHJ, WB6SFM and now W7MAP.
Why continue doing this? It is old technology. It is boring as my children are prone to comment.
Well kids, it is also an adventure. Each day I get up at “O Dark Thirty” and turn on the radio, I know not who will be on the other side of any conversation. It could be a neighbor in my town, a journalist in Germany, a retired man from Tuscaloosa Alabama or a butcher from Boise, Id. They all have stories to tell for sure, but by being at the radio they are telling me that curiosity is alive and well. It matters a little of the “who” of it; but it matters much more about the “how” of it. Everyone has a story to tell but how I came to hear their story is the fascinating bit.
With the internet so reliable why bother? Because it is precisely the unreliability that attracts adventurers. Relying on Mother Nature to carry your thoughts to the far reaches of society is a spotty proposition at best. To be successful you must know about natures processes, be able to predict what mechanism is working and when it will be best, because you are a flea on the back of an elephant and your flea powered voice needs help from nature.
And then there are the multiple points of dependence. With any “system” there are points built into the system that require servicing, power and activity. In the internet there amount to many hundreds of servers, switches and conduits needed to operate a network. Any power failure, flood, fiber cut or act of God can drop it to its knees. With radio there are three points of dependence: the integrity of your station, your mates station and the integrity of the Ionosphere.
Finally there is E&M. Just as a star makes light and that light travels to an ever greater number of places over time, so our radio waves travel just as a light wave does. When you place a time varying electrical signal into a wire, electric lines of force are created. So to are magnetic lines formed and propagation happens. You see E begets B and B begets E. And on an ever expanding sphere of energy B cannot exist without the E and vice versa and Nature makes the missing ingredient and propagation occurs. Of course I am not positive if that is a exactly the way it occurs. I cannot see how it happens and Mr. Maxwell and I are not on speaking terms – yet. But you see I am only 50 years into the process and there is plenty of time to learn.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W7MAP/5