What is a Glitch?

By Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP


The first thing that I want to say is that a glitch wouldn’t be a glitch if we knew exactly what it was.  In the rest of this treatise I will try to define the word “glitch” and to give you some insight about its origins.


During World War II there was a rush to mass produce and fly military aircraft.  From this there had to be some new terminology to attempt to explain technical troubles that had no logical explanation, at least no logical explanation before better instrumentation could define the cause of electrical or mechanical troubles that had to be hardware trouble because there was no software and no digital computers at that time.  To account for the troubles, that were sometimes called “bugs”, a mythological character was defined to be the cause of any trouble that could not otherwise be defined.  The character was called a “Gremlin”, and a Gremlin was said to reside in any airframe whose ground crews could never rid that plane of intermittent bugs that were “griped” by the pilots.  Somehow something must be verbally used to blame that which is not entirely defined and in WW2 it was simply to say it was the work of the Gremlins.  In a similar vein we may comprehend that there must be a word used to define any intermittent trouble that can’t be easily troubleshot because it never happens when you are testing for it… but happens randomly when you aren’t looking. If you are an engineer or a technician, you know what I mean.  You can’t tell your boss that an intermittent trouble was the work of Gremlins because that is not scientifically acceptable.  Next we come to the digital age.  The digital age that began in the early 1960s brought us all a new set of words that specifically defined digital terminology.  Words such as bit, nibble, and byte defined specific digital units that formed digital words.  A bit was the smallest of these and it could only be a digital “one” or a digital “zero”.  What happens when a bit is not always what it is supposed to be?  This case had to be defined unless it was a “don’t care” case.   I know that if you are to succeed as a modern digital engineer you must use the proper buzzwords to define things even if you really didn’t know exactly what you are talking about.  When I was a field engineer I visited Sperry-Univac in Minneapolis.  It was there that I first heard the term “glitch”.  It was defined to me as an intermittent bit by a Univac engineer who I was working with.  I brought the term back to the Loral Corp. in The Bronx, NY, and nobody had heard of it before there, so I defined it for them as an intermittent bit that was intermittent for no known reason in an unknown random way but certainly a hardware problem of some kind.  Surely if the term glitch came from Univac it must have been a term that should have such a precise standard and limited definition.  Unfortunately the term became more generalized by astronaut John Glen who used it in a statement in 1962.  He said that “glitch” was a word ”..adopted to describe some of our technical problems.”  From there on it took on many meanings that might have been attributed to Gremlins.  It was defined later as any undesired spike or change in voltage or power surge in any electrical circuit and still later expanded to include mechanical snags that were in the realm of analog mechanics and had nothing to do with digital bits or electronics.  Some dictionaries say that ‘glitch” comes from Yiddish “glitshen” : to slide or slip.  I knew that it first came from Minneapolis and not from The Bronx, so its origin is more likely from High German “glitschen” to slip, which means slipping on a surface that is“glitschig’ meaning slippery.  That would be a hardware problem alright but not necessarily digital unless only toes (pedal digits) slipped.     If I don’t complete this glitschig newsletter on time it might slip as well.






I was able to hook up the amplifier to the Bethpage repeater, but things are not what we hoped for.  There seems to be some self-interference problem that is causing erratic operation.  Gordon tells me that the repeater in the past had some similar problems and lowering the amplifier output to 50 Watts instead of 100 helped a lot.  Well, 50 Watts isn’t doing too well now.  I will keep working on it.   


FIELD DAY – JUNE 28-29, 2008


Field Day is now over and I am really pleased at how well it worked out.  I have to thank Ray, W2DKM for getting us such a great site.  He also arranged to get us help with stringing our 40 and 80 Meter dipoles way up through the trees on Friday afternoon.  Thanks also to Bill, N2SFT for bringing his trailer to shlep the generator to the site.  (Note that the term “shlep” refers to lugging something from one point to another.  It is never a shlep to bring home new ham gear, no matter how heavy, but it always a shlep to bring something back from a hamfest unsold.)


We had some guests of Gordon, KB2UB from his affiliation with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  They joined us and set up with a ground mounted 20 Meter vertical.  We set up two rigs with the 40 and 80 Meter dipoles.  We operated continuously all day Saturday and straight through the night.  Sunday we closed down a bit early as I had some commitments and everybody decided to shut down early and take advantage of my access to return much of the gear to the Bethpage facility, rather than have to shlep the stuff twice. (See, you’ve got it.)


Of course I also have to thank Jack, WB2PYK for his sumptuous cuisine.  The Coquille St Jacques and Boeuf Bourguignon were magnificent, but the Canard a l’orange was a bit too tart.  (Just kidding – even Jack can’t do that at FD.)


Since the computers that we used  in the past are so old and no one remembers how to use them, we decided to do things the really old fashioned way with paper log and dupe sheets.  Seemed to work out pretty well, as I did not hear any complaints.  Remember that for decades that was the only way…and everyone managed fine.


Not only did Ray get the site, but he even volunteered to handle the scorekeeping.  In a magnificent coincidence he gave me a heads up on the details just as I was sitting down to write this.

Category 3A

80 Meters    183 CW contacts   185 Phone contacts

40 Meters    155 CW contacts   96 Phone contacts

20 Meters                                   51 Phone contacts

Total                 670 contacts


Looking at the results by band, it is clear that we are really in the doldrums of the Sun spot cycle, with most contacts on 80 and decreasing as the frequency goes up.  The sunspots are supposed to start to increase with the attendant improvements in RF propagation.  As the New York Mets used to say, “Wait ‘till next year!”     




 Karen KC2OPX, secretary.


            The meeting was called to order by Ed at 5:50 PM.



 Finances continue to be in good shape.              146.745 is putting out 50 Watts.  


VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP                             NET REPORT- Zack, WB2PUE

No VE session this month, since no                     Thursday night net was good.

applicants applied.                                                Sunday morning net was as usual.



Ed obtained insurance for the club. We will use it for Field Day.



We have one new club member from Northrop Grumman.



Continuing to plan for Field Day:

Gordon and Ray plan to meet with Ed at Grumman on the Wednesday before FD to pick up equipment.

Workers from the Township of Huntington will meet with us on Friday before FD to put up antennas using a bucket truck.

The meeting was adjoined at 6:30PM



40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.

2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz (-.600)at 8:30 PM EST Thursdays.

                                           145.330 MHz (- .600) at 9:00 PM EST Thursdays.

[Tone for both repeaters is 136.5 Hz]         (ARES/RACES) Mondays



General Meetings of the GARC are held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 5:30 PM.   The meetings are usually held at the Ellsworth Allen Park in Farmingdale.   Driving directions and maps can be obtained from http://www.mapquest.com   It is suggested that the GARC Web Site be checked to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter is distributed. Board meetings are held eight days before the General Meeting.                                                                     



The web site of the GARC can be found at http://www.qsl.net/wa2lqo/  Webmaster is Pat Masterson, KE2LJ.  Pictures of GARC activities, archives of newsletters, roster of members, and other information about the GARC may be found there.   






Most of you have been informed about the present popular theories about recent Global Warming.  The most popular view was publicized by politician, Al Gore and astrophysicist Steven Hawking.  This theory has more or less been endorsed by many academic professors, who tend to want to be recognized for agreeing with what they believe must be true because it has been made so popular that all politicians of all political parties in the US  are forced to agree with it or fear not getting elected to any office.  In my own opinion as a ham, who has lived through periods of Sun spot activity and decline, they should know better.  Actually there is now an extreme difference in the views of scientists as to whether or not Global Temperature is cyclic and whether or not Global Warming is being caused by the increased burning of coal and the generation of carbon dioxide and most importantly whether or not there is anything that humans can do by using energy conversion methods that can decrease what is now popularly being called Global Warming. 


I would like all of you who are interested in this subject to read a paper by David Archibald, called “Solar Cycle 24, Implications for the United States”.   This paper shows graphically that Global Temperature is cyclic and it also defies popular belief by explaining that increased carbon dioxide from coal burning can actually cause global cooling.  I kid you not.




I am not a qualified scientist but this paper and a report from the Soviet Astronomical Observatory, has convinced me that my ham radio DX intuition may be correct.   At any rate it presents a contrast to the popular Global Warming theories.  If it is true that we will soon be experiencing Global Cooling this paper should be of interest to any ham who lives on Earth and converts electricity from coal burning or oil burning electric generators to RF…even if he sells his SUV….I think.



Here is another cryptogram:  








Solution to June’s Cryptogram:  




President          Ed Gellender               WA2EAV           X02-14    516-575-0013

Vice President  Gordon Sammis                    KB2UB     Retiree     631-666-7463

Secretary          Karen Cefalo               KC2OPX                       631-754-0974
Treasurer          Ed Gellender            WB2EAV              X02-14   516-575-0013

1Yr Board Member    Zack Zilavy                 WB2PUE              Retiree     631-667-4628
1YrBoard Member     Dave Ledo                  AB2EF

1Yr Board Member   Bob Christen           W2FPF        

2 Yr Board Member   Bob Wexelbaum    W2ILP            Retiree     631-499-2214

2 Yr Board Member    Jack Cottrell          WA2PYK      Retiree     516-249-0979

Trustee WA2LQO Ray Schubnel        W2DKM Retiree




Contact VE:                Bob Wexelbaum     W2ILP     Retiree         631-499-2214

Webmaster                  Pat Masterson         KE2LJ     Retiree         813-938-4614




 Last month I wrote about my kitchen remodeling project. To keep you informed about this slowly evolving Darwinian progress I continue now, although I admit it has nothing to do with Ham Radio and I can’t blame Sun spots or Global Warming for my countertop template being made later than previously predicted and the countertop being delivered late as well. Surprisingly the heavy quartz silestone countertops are made in Spain! Today, (July 3rd) I finally had a plumber install the sink, the dishwasher, etc.  All that remains to be done now is tile work for the backsplash and sanding and coating the new oak floor.

In spite of the above, I did manage to attend FD and to stay over night working 40 Meter Phone.  I managed to work 50 contacts.  The going was rough due to noise and too many signals.  My best DX was western Washington state. I wasted a lot of time unsuccessfully trying to work a strong station from Hawaii.  There was just too much of a pile up on him.  Our WA2LQO call is a handicap because of its length.  I can still hear myself repeating.

“Whisky Alpha Two London Queen Ontario…Three Alpha…November Lima India… QSL?”, over and over…and getting replies like …”QRZ?… The station ending in Ontario from Northern Rhode Island; say again your category.”


w2ilp (Inventing Logical Phonetics?)





We are continuing to proctor exams for all classes of ham licenses on the second Tuesday of each month, starting at 5:00 PM.

The present exams are:-

The Element 1 CW exam is no longer required.

Element 2: Technician

Element 3: General

Element 4: Amateur Extra Class



The fee for 2008 is $14.00 for all exams taken in one sitting.


Applicants for upgrades should bring their present license and a photocopy of it and know their FRN number.


New, first time applicants should be aware that their Social Security number will be required on their application form, unless they register with the FCC for an FRN.


All applicants should bring picture ID such as driver’s licenses.


Until further notice exams will be given at:-

Briarcliffe College

1055 Stewart Avenue

Room: Long Beach #5

Bethpage, NY

Briarcliffe, Bethpage is located in a building that was formerly part of the Grumman complex.


All applicants should contact W2ILP to register, so as to confirm location.  If no applicants apply, the exam session will be cancelled.  Study material is available at the web sites of the ARRL


or W5YI


All VECs use the same Q &A pools.


Since the beginning of the VE program the GARC has provided opportunities to take the ham exams monthly, during all 12 months of every year.


Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP and the GARC VE team.  For any information e-mail [email protected] or phone: (631) 499-2214





July 2008

 VOL.  81, NO.  7



Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP

(631) 499-2214

[email protected]



All the members of GARC (we hope!)


CQ de WA2LQO is published monthly by the Grumman Amateur Radio Club for its members and friends. Send articles and amateur equipment advertisements to: W2ILP. Articles may be sent by e-mail or postal mail.  They can be in MS Word format or simply in plain text.  Articles will only be edited when permission is granted by the author.



For insertion to the WA2LQO website, information may be sent to Pat Masterson.

Pat Masterson’s e-mail address:

[email protected]

Ed Gellender’s e-mail address:

[email protected] or [email protected]






I have been a member of the Grumman Amateur Radio Club for many years.  Every year that I worked at Grumman I attended Field Day, except for two years that I was working in Melbourne, FL for Grumman and I attended Field Day with the Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Club.  Many of the times I participated in FD I stayed overnight and was present during the entire FD event.  This year, while I stayed overnight, I went home for supper at the request of my XYL.  From my point of view the GARC’s FD is but a ghost of what it once was.  It is not just that there are fewer club members and thus fewer FD participants.  It is that the FD event brings back memories of the many hams who are now silent keys or have retired to other locations or who are now too ill to join us in our traditional FD.  As I logged other FD stations I found more than the usual amount of operators who were using a category like 1E, which means that they may have been operating alone and were no longer a part of a club operation.  I think that club membership may be declining everywhere.  I also know that many High Schools and Colleges that used to have ham clubs are no longer participating and it is probable that those clubs may no longer exist.   I pay respect to the hams of the GARC who have made our FD possible but I am a bit disappointed because few could stay overnight and even I had to go home for supper.  This is not to say that our FD was not a success.  A newbie might have thought it was great if he or she could not have experienced FDs of the past to compare it with. I know that it would be too subjective to point out that the FDs of the past are gone forever and can now only exist in the minds of those who remember them in their memory banks. Frankly however, I must express my feelings and I hope that those who did lots of work to make our FD possible this year will not be offended.  We tend to forget details as we age but it is a rare old timer who doesn’t say that things were different in “the good old days”.  We tend to forget the many Hams’ names and call signs that operated with us in the past.  Younger aficionados don’t want to hear that kind of stuff and they don’t want to hear how old hams once built our own transmitters either.   For them FD may be a fun novelty which has lost much of its practical emergency need, but a ritual that must be endured if you want to be a “real ham”.  In my humble opinion FD has now become a bitter-sweet reminder of what it once was and will never be again.   I am sorry to be so pessimistic about FD, because I did enjoy it very much and I am certainly thankful for all the work that made it possible but for me Field Day is sort of like visiting a cemetery on Memorial Day.


VY 73,

Bob w2ilp (Incentives Long Past)