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Robin McMurray, N4YRH
It started as a bet from my father, "get your technician's license and I'll pay for the class, books and supply your first radio." I never really thought about being an amateur radio operator until that moment. As a little girl, I remember sitting in the basement with my father, surrounded by huge radios with shiny displays and dials that were begging me to turn them. I would watch my father tap out messages to an unseen party using Morse code - dit da, dit dit dit, dit da. I was fascinated by the fact that my father knew what was being said, and anxious that I did not. Now I was being offered an opportunity to be a part of this special world of my father's, one that my father felt was the ultimate way in forging new friendships with people all over the world and to possibly help someone in need. I believe that one of my father's secret wishes was to have one of his four daughters join him in this world and he was offering the opportunity to me, his youngest.
I felt a rush of emotions upon his proposal, fear being the more consuming one, but also a feeling of pride. If I accepted his challenge, and did in fact receive my technician's license, I would be a part of my father's life that none of my other sisters had the desire to be a part of. I saw this as an opportunity not only to be inducted into a class of people that are known for their help in providing communication during disasters, but more importantly, an opportunity to bond with my father in a way that no one else in my family had. On the other hand, if I accepted the challenge and failed, I would let my father down and I would be crushed knowing I had done this.
Pondering my father's proposal, I had to question more than my desire to have a special bond with him, I had to question my intelligence and my ability to stick with a subject that was very much beyond my comprehension. Also, not only was I going to have to learn Morse code and what a capacitor and a resistor are, I had to achieve a technician's license! A "tech" license is the second highest class of amateur radio license among five, novice, technician, general, advanced and extra (of course, my father has an extra class). In a moment I would sometimes refer to as my brush with insanity, I heard myself telling my father "you're on." My first thought upon entering the classroom where I was to learn everything I ever wanted to know about amateur radio but were afraid to ask was, "what have I gotten myself into?!" I took a seat near the back of the room and intently listened to the instructor. The first fifteen minutes of class would be devoted to learning and practicing Morse code, the remaining two hours would be spent on learning the ins and outs of operating the radios, what restrictions we would have and what frequencies we were allowed to use. In the beginning, I remember thinking that learning Morse code would be the harder aspect of becoming an amateur, now, sitting in this class hearing such terms as sine wave, propagation and what effect the sun spot cycle has on radio transmission, I quickly realized Morse code was going to be a piece of cake. Maybe dad would not be too let down if I threw in the towel.
As the weeks passed I was amazed to discover that I was actually beginning to pick up on what the instructors were talking about. Fortunately, I had invested in a set of "code tapes" which were nothing more than a person giving specific letters of the alphabet in code - "dit da - A" I listened to those tapes until I heard Morse code in my sleep. During one of our last classes, the instructors informed us we were going to take a "mock" code test so that we would know what to expect during our real test. To become a novice or tech, you must receive Morse code at five words per minute. I sat with my pencil ready and eagerly wrote down each letter as I heard it. Our papers were collected and class continued as normal. About fifteen minutes before class was due to end, our instructor told us we had been tricked. Attending our class were three "VEs" (volunteer examiners, it is a requirement of the FCC to have three VEs present to administer an exam), we had actually taken our code examine and all but three people had passed. Surely with odds this great, I had to be one of the ones to pass. It seemed an eternity before my name was called. I broke speed limit laws to get home so I could call my dad to tell him I was almost there.
Finally, the day of the written exam. I was so nervous I thought I would pass out from sheer terror. The novice exam was distributed. Fortunately, our exams would be graded after we took them so we would have the opportunity to take the next highest exam if we passed the previous one. I quickly finished the novice exam and had it graded. I passed! I decided to take a break and call my dad, "dad, I'm halfway there, I just passed the novice." I could hardly contain myself. My dad said "call me as soon as you finish your tech, I'll be waiting by the phone." I entered the exam room with confidence as I picked up the exam for tech. My stomach was a flock of butterflies as I read each question - not as easy as the novice. I walked with great trepidation to have my exam graded. I passed! Rather than immediately calling my dad, I decided to try for my general license, wouldn't it be great if I could tell my dad I had surpassed his challenge. The exam for general was a lot more difficult but I had nothing to loose. Unfortunately, I failed the general exam by only two points. Nonetheless, I was on cloud nine. I made my call, "well dad, you just lost a radio." I swear I could hear the distinct sound of buttons popping off of my dad's shirt. I was now, on a small level, my dad's equal.
I received my amateur radio license in the mail about four weeks later. I was now recognized by the FCC as N4YRH. My first contact was to my father. "K4SG, this is N4YRH." "Go ahead N4YRH." My father and I were communicating.
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Regular readers of Feedline will recall how this editor related his appreciation for, and dependence on, tab cards as a tool of self-organization. This self-serving appeal for replacements worked! Not once, but twice.
At the CARC Holiday Banquet, an anonymous package appeared at my table. It had the thickness and heft of a paperback book, and was just a bit longer. It never occurred to me that a kindred spirit would part with an inch thick stack of tab cards. I immediately surmised that this person is either very generous or very listless! I appreciated the gift and the stack eventually made there way to my desk.
Fast forward three weeks and a thousand miles away to a crisp Christmas morning in the 'burbs surrounding Chicago. In the atmosphere of greed and avarice that accompany the ripping of wrapping paper, I came to a rather heavy Land's End box that was lightly doctored to fit its contents. "Too heavy for clothes. Has to be a re-wrap. HMMM. Tools? Ham gear?" Wrong on both counts.
From across the room I remember hearing, "Oh Dad, cut it out. You know what it is!" No. I didn't. I was clueless.
A pull of tape later, and I was face-to-face with 1200, hand-made, tab cards. Stacks and stacks of them. Micro lines defining their edges, the box was a nearly solid block of manilla reproductions...right down to the chamfered corners.
"Amy's been cutting them for days," was all I remember hearing thru the haze of astonishment. What a gift. What a true, loving, gift.
Hey Bill. Ain't daughters great!
In a surprising about face, the U.S. DOJ today dropped its investigation of Microsoft and announced that it is instead suing Microsoft's customers.
According to Assistant Attorney General for Anti-trust, Joel Klein, "We realized that customers were choosing to purchase Microsoft products on their own. Customers could have bought Apple Macintosh, IBM's OS/2, Linux, BeOS and other operating system products. But they were not doing so. After years of investigation we realized that customers were choosing to buy so called "IBM PC" products over the others because they had the features that customers wanted. Being that we in the U.S. government have a monopoly on government, we assumed that that Microsoft got to its present dominant position through "monopoly" tactics. But the facts demonstrate that Microsoft's dominant position in PC operating systems is the fault of customers making their own decisions, not Microsoft."
"We have concluded that Microsoft's dominant position in the marketplace for PC operating systems is the fault of the customers, not of Microsoft. The customers are clearly aiding and abetting Microsoft's product line, propelling its product to pre-eminent positions in the marketplace. Clearly, the customer's are at fault."
The result of this unique twist is that the DOJ is going to sue any customer who chooses to purchase Microsoft Windows 98. According to sources, the DOJ never intended to halt the shipment of Windows 98. But the attorney's general of several states were adamant in their demands to the shipment of a consumer product. So the DOJ began working on the injunction.
However, the DOJ became aware that several of the state attorneys general were, in fact, currently running for the Governor's office of their respective states. The AG's believed this measure would be popular with voters. When polls showed overwhelming support to allow Microsoft to ship Windows 98, the AG's quickly backtracked. The DOJ, needing to show something for its years of investigation, realized that its only choice was to sue the customers instead.
Mark Murray, a Microsoft spokesperson said only that "We are cooperating fully with the officials and are confident that once they fully evaluate the facts, the government will realize that our customers are intelligent, discerning consumers that do not need to have the government choose software for them."
Asst. Attorney General Joel Klein explained that "Any customer who freely chooses to acquire Windows 98 will be hit with an anti-trust lawsuit. We believe this is the only way to stop customers from 'over purchasing' of successful products. Once the demand for Windows products is reduced, and we get our kickback from Netscape, we will once again allow competition to occur in the marketplace. But mark my words - we don't want unsophisticated, untrained ordinary people making decisions on purchasing complex PC software."
In a related move, Vice President Al Gore announced a new government program to train customers to make effective purchase decisions regarding software. President Clinton said that he "cautiously endorses" the program and may propose to Congress the establishment of a new tax on software and the Internet to help fund the hiring of 100,000 consumer software training specialists. The President said that he is also considering the establishment of a new Department of Software to assist the DOJ in determining the appropriate quotas and acceptable feature sets for software.
U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, who recently accused anyone who defended Microsoft of being a tampered witness, pressured by Microsoft, said that this approach by the DOJ had his approval. "This will prevent those darned customers from being coerced in to buying products that have features that the customer's want. This is how we solve problems when the government gets really creative", he said.
Gary Reback, Netscape's legal counsel said "I support this measure by the DOJ, but I would like them to expand this to include Windows NT, Microsoft Office, BackOffice, Commercial Internet Server, IIS, Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, Windows CE, Visual Basic, those blasted Magic School Bus CDS my kids play endlessly, the stupid Solitare program that has caused enormous productivity losses to the American economy, and.... oh, it just goes on. Like where does Microsoft come up with this stuff anyway? When have they ever created a product that anyone actually needs? The only way they've achieved any success is because these mindless consumers just don't know any better. If we could educate them, they would understand the damage that is caused by their choosing to buy Microsoft products."
Other comments came from Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, saying, "This is one of the most profoundly stupid things Bill ever came up with." No comment was available from longtime Microsoft critic, Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems. A staff member would say only that "he's taken the staff out to lunch to celebrate. He said the burritos at Taco Bell are pretty good."
An Apple spokesperson said that Steve Jobs was busy working a big Mac for introduction later this year.
This humor item comes to you from Ham Radio Online, available free on the Internet at
Members of the FCC's engineering and legal staff conducted two surprise Amateur station inspections on two Carolina hams last Thursday, January 21st and Friday January 22nd. The FCC says that both John Abernethy, K4OKA, of Hickory, North Carolina, and Richard Whiten, WB2OTK, of Easley, South Carolina were the subject of numerous complaints concerning their on-the-air operations on both the 75 and 20 meter Amateur bands.
The two hams were on the air when the inspection team, consisting of FCC and local law enforcement personnel arrived unannounced. Both hams are said to have cooperated fully with the station inspection process. The FCC says it spent about two hours at each location. Officials decline further comment until they have had time evaluate the data collected. The Commission has no comment on future enforcement activities. But it is likely more station inspections like these may take place in the coming weeks.
SPCL ARL ARLX001
Radio amateurs around the world joined in mourning the death over the weekend of Jordan's King Hussein, JY1. Hussein, 63, died Sunday morning. The Middle East's longest-reigning ruler, he'd been Jordan's king for 47 years, taking the throne when he was just a teenager. His son, Abdullah, 37, succeeds him. Hussein had earned a reputation as a catalyst for peace and as a conciliator in the Middle East. President Clinton is among the heads of state from around the globe gathered in Jordan today for King Hussein's funeral.
Hussein was a life member of the ARRL. ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, called him ''an enthusiastic radio amateur whose support was invaluable to us in obtaining new amateur bands at the 1979 World Administrative Radio Conference.'' Sumner recalled that in May 1979, International Amateur Radio Union President Noel Eaton, VE3CJ, was invited to Amman to meet with King Hussein.
"Jordan's support of the Amateur Service was much in evidence at the conference that fall, and was a crucial element in our success,'' Sumner said. The WARC-79 resulted in Amateur Radio's gaining the 30, 17, and 12-meter bands. That same year, JY1 was featured in the film, ''The World of Amateur Radio.'' Hussein regarded his 1983 contact with Owen Garriott, W5LFL, on board the Space Shuttle Columbia, as a high point in his Amateur Radio activity.
King Hussein also participated in the historic 1995 joint Israel-Jordan JY74X operation on Mt Nebo, where hams from both countries participated in a Field Day-like operation. The King put in appearances both on the air and in person, much to the delight of the participants and those waiting to work him and JY74X.
Hussein's friend Bruce ''Blackie'' Blackburn, W4TA/JY9BB, of St Petersburg, Florida, called him ''one of the world's most respected amateurs'' and recounted many stories about King Hussein as a person and an avid Amateur Radio operator. ''He was a wonderful guy, interested in everything and everyone,'' he said.
Blackburn said King Hussein ''promoted Amateur Radio to the hilt in Jordan'' and saw to it that Amateur Radio classes were instituted in elementary schools. King Hussein also dropped in on meetings of the Royal Jordan Radio Amateur Society in Amman. King Hussein also was involved with the early satellite experiments.
Hussein had been active in recent months from the US while seeking cancer treatment at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. A QSO with JY1 was considered by many hams to be both an honor and a privilege. His elegant QSL card was prized. AMSAT Area Coordinator Bruce Paige, KK5DO, in Houston, worked JY1 while the king was in the US last summer. ''That was a very exciting moment for me,'' he said.
Pat Kilroy, WD8LAQ, says he enjoyed a three-minute contact on 20 meters with King Hussein in the fall of 1995. ''JY1 was traveling aeronautical mobile, en route to the United Nations. He insisted on me addressing him simply as 'Hussein','' he said. ''In one of the oldest traditions in Amateur Radio, Hussein upheld that this kinship transverses not only age and nationality, but also between citizen and head of state.
All members of the Jordanian royal family automatically have Amateur Radio privileges in Jordan. Although the new king does not appear to have a call sign, King Hussein's widow--the American-born Queen Noor--is JY1NH. King Hussein's brother, the former Crown Prince Hassan, is JY2HT, while his cousin, Prince Raad, JY2RZ, is chairman of the Royal Jordan Radio Amateur Society.
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) replaces the use of Morse code as of 1 February 1999. This new system is based upon a combination of satellite and terrestrial radio services, and has changed international distress communications from being primarily ship-to-ship based to ship-to-shore (Rescue Coordination Center) based. Ships are now required to carry GMDSS equipment and satellite EPIRBs, marking the end of maritime "S-O-S" signals.
SB QST ARL ARLB007
The FCC has issued an Experimental Radio Service license to the ARRL to permit two-way tests in the vicinity of 5 MHZ, the most likely site of the next amateur HF band. The license, bearing the call sign WA2XSY, was issued January 8. A group of 15 current amateurs in various parts of the US and the Caribbean will conduct experimental, two-way RTTY and SSB transmissions within the band 5.100 to 5.450 MHZ. To avoid interfering with existing services, the participants will confine their operations to the least-populated 50-kHz segment.
''The idea is to show that an amateur allocation there will improve our emergency communication capabilities by filling the gap between the 3.5 and 7.0 MHZ bands,'' said ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ. Sumner pointed out that several of the participants are phone net members in the Caribbean and Gulf area who frequently handle hurricane-related traffic and now must alternate between 75 meters and 40 meters. Other participants are members of a nationwide digital data-forwarding network.
The Experimental license is good for two years. Two studies by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) include an allocation at 5 MHZ among the future spectrum needs for the Amateur Service. The subject is not likely to show up on the agenda of a World Radiocommunication Conference for several years, however.
Participants in the WA2XSY experiment may run up to 200 W effective radiated power. Similar multiband trap dipoles capable of operation on 80 and 40 meters as well as at 5 MHZ will be employed at each station location. Operation by participants will consist of short transmissions to determine propagation characteristics.
Participating stations are located in New Hampshire, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, California, Utah, New York, Texas, the US Virgin Islands, and Maryland.
CARC Minutes, January 28, 1999
Meeting opened at 7:31 p.m., by Pres., Charles, KE4CDI. All introduced themselves.
Jim Marino, WB2RQF, recently became a Silent Key. Jim had been fighting the effects of diabetes for some time. CARC will be sending a contribution to the Diabetes Assn. in his memory.
SWAPFEST '99 - Discussion of the July 17, SWAPFEST brought to our attention that some changes were needed. It was clear we were not going to resolve these changes at this meeting. A committee was appointed to make a recommendation to the Club at the February meeting. The committee members are Bob,K4HA; Lee, N4AJF; and Reed, AB4W.
Treasurer's Report - In the absence of Will, K4IWW, his report was: Savings, $1,205.78; Checking, $1,306.33; C-O-H, $7.00; Total, $2,519.11. Will further added that the Cary Community Center has been reserved for the SWAPFEST. The good news is we will have everything under one roof. No need for the Page-Walker Hotel for testing. The ladies group has be scheduled for their breakfast, lunch, and snack services.
Piedmont-Coastal Repeater Network (PCRN) - Ed, AB4S, PCRN Treasurer, discussed the makeup and purpose of PCRN. It is for those who want to support their local repeater. The suggested contribution is $15 per year.
American Radio Relay League (ARRL) - Reed, AB4W, NC Section Manager, said that there may be a name change in the works. Stay tuned on this. // You can get an e-mail address through ARRL, if you are a member. // No word on the restructuring NPRM (notice of proposed rule making). // There will be a forum at the Charlotte Hamfest on Emergency Management. It should be a good one. // One thing we as Amateurs is to put forth a good face for the media. We tend not to toot our own horn. That really needs to change. How we look to the public is VERY IMPORTANT.
Wake Digital Communications Group (WDCG) - Lee, N4AJF, reported that the digi-peater at the home of Stan, WA4NRR, will be lost, since he is moving. We need another location for the digi. It probably will need some antenna work.
We will do a pre-purchase of tickets for the Raleigh ARS Hamfest, Sunday, April 11, at the February meeting for distribution at the March meeting. Bring a check made out to "RARSfest" for $5 times the number of tickets you want to the February meeting. The tickets will be distributed at the CARC meeting on Thursday, March 25.
After a break for refreshments, Frank, KE4ZEQ, presented a program on radio propagation. Good program, Frank.
Please mark June 26-27, 1999 on your calendars. THAT IS FIELD DAY WEEKEND!!!
Editor's note: Since the ordering date for the kits has passed, anyone joining the group will have to order their own kit.
NCSU Student Radio Society (StARS) members and several other interested folks are building QRP CW rigs this semester as a group project. The purposes are to have some fun together while learning about solid state circuitry design, construction and testing. By the end of the semester we each will have our own homebrew QRP CW rig, and hopefully we will also increase CW proficiency in the group as we work with these rigs.
The board and parts will come from Small Wonder Labs. Each participant can select his/her own band (80, 40, 30, or 20). The cost of the basic board and parts is $55 and there are some options available for extra cost (custom cabinet, RIT, frequency counter, wattmeter, S-meter, memory keyer). Rigs will be constructed in modules, and we plan to meet about once a week or so to test each section as it is constructed. Facilities and test equipment are available through StARS. This particular rig has excellent documentation, because it has been used as an electrical engineering class project at other universities. So we will be using a college freshman level "lab manual" during construction.
To see a comparison to other QRP rigs, and for general info about QRP rig specs, see http://w4atc.ncsu.edu/qrp.html For further information EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org or send packet to ko4py@w4mr or phone 781 1004 Brent Smith.
VHF FM dual band Alinco TX/RX on 2m, RX only on 440. Why $2K? It includes roof mount antenna attached to a 1990 Plymouth Voyager.
6 cyl/auto - all power / very clean / non-smoker / needs roof painted - just starting to peel- not rusted / classified ads in the southeast run from $2500 to $4000. 1998 trip to Chicago produced wind-assisted 24 mpg HWY. I have a line on another vehicle and need a down payment. See it, drive it, make me an offer - 572-3285W - 469-5129H.
Feedline is a member-supported publication of the Cary Amateur Radio Club and is published monthly. Deadline for submissions is the second Thursday of the month. Editor: Tom Klimala, KM4LB 1545 Seabrook Avenue Cary, North Carolina 27511