I was chatting with a friend of many years this week and was distressed to hear he didn’t “get on” much any more. His fun has migrated to fixing things and then testing them on the air which by itself did not entail much “getting on”. But after I thought about it for a while I began to realize how big a “Tent” Ham Radio really is and it is primarily educational with a touch of adventure thrown in. Educational covers much ground. After almost 20 years or more, just having Ham Radio as a shared hobby has kept our camaraderie going strong. That is pretty amazing these days when friendships seem to fade as one changes neighborhoods.
Just having that conversation got me thinking about what I like most and what holds my interest in the hobby. Heck, its been 50 years now, whats the attraction? For one, it sates my curiosity about a lot of technical things. I believe I am always learning if I stay engaged with this activity. The hobby keeps me engaged in life and with other folks in general. If I didn’t have my hobby I would probably become a couch potato versus a radio potato as I now am! Strike that last my wife read it and is cheering me on. She bugs me to get out of the house more. It is really hard when, after all, the local Dx’ers only get together once a quarter, the contest club has gone underground and the local QRP club will not allow guys with amps in the hall.
All of that aside, it still is fun. Early morning openings on the lower end of forty meters conjure up memories of the smell of freshly brewed coffee, cold mornings and past days when the smell of salt air pervaded my sense. Forty was always great when you were at sea. Every time I think about it I see images of fog, the sound of fog horns working as we made our way up to the Port of New York to make a two week stop for the 1963 Worlds Fair in NYC. We had an SX-115 and some sort of HT- (32?) something or other on the Saratoga for that cruise. To get radio time as a two stripper I had to choose a time when the Dental Captain didn’t want to “play radio”. Every time I think about that trip I recall standing at the port bow compass repeater watching and listening in the early morning fog with a Foul Weather Jacket on and strong cup of coffee, freshly brewed inside the Comms shop at Frame 15.
40 Meters worked well because we had a 32 foot tilt-able whip available for the radio shack. The ship had a bunch of these and one was assigned to the Ham Station. 32 foot whips were mounted on small platforms welded to the side of an aircraft carrier at flight deck level. They were rotated down to a (-) 135 degrees when flight ops were in session. Also mounted on the platform with the whip and its tilting mechanics was a nitrogen charged cylinder that contained a remote antenna tuner. This whole affair was located around 90 feet above a complete saltwater environment. Verticals work well over salt water-no matter the attitude. It worked particularly well on 40M.
I suppose that is a long way around to describe to you what I think about sometimes when its dark and cold outdoors and I’m sitting by my radio with a hot cup o’ joe….but when the band begins to crack open with the dawn just sliding upwards and some long lost friend surprises me with a new QSO, well, I gotta tell you, there is almost nothing better.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG