Last month as an April Fool’s article, I repeated a bogus story about why Radio Amateurs are called “hams”. This month I will (as promised) explain three theories that seem to have some logical probability of being the real reason. Since all three seem possible, there seems to be no way to totally eliminate any possibility. I originally researched this subject, years ago, before there was an Internet. Now when I research this subject using web search engines, I find that the three theories are still being considered to be the best guesses available. Maybe one of you readers can decide which of the three is correct. I can’t. Your Editor.
Before radio was invented there were land line telegraphers, who used a version of Morse code that clicked. This required a skill. The skill involved both the sending and the receiving of the tapped out messages. More often than not the final message contained errors or even missing words. Often the final recipients of the messages would complain to the receiving telegrapher. The telegrapher might say, “It’s not may fault. It’s the fault of the guy who sent the message. He must have sent it with his feet.” Good telegraphers were said to send with their wrists or fists but legendary bad ones sent with their heels. Note that a poor brass pounder could not be called an amateur, because there was no such a thing yet. People, who connected wires to commercial telegraph lines, in order to privately communicate without paying, were also not known as amateurs. They were tolerated by commercial telegraphers who enjoyed reading their mail. (A story was written in those days about lonely women in small towns who became pirate telegraphers in the hope of meeting lonely male telegraphers at the time before phone calls could be made.) It was the telegraphers who were sending with their feet that were eventually called hams, not the pirate non-commercial telegraphers. Some say it was because they were using the ham string muscles in their legs in order to tap with their feet. I don’t know if this concept is too abstract. Theory One does seem to be a likely first origin of the “Ham” word being applied to telegraphers and since it came before there were even any radio hams it could be the most valid….but no…
you saw the play “My Fair Lady”, you might remember that there was a man called
Professor Higgins in it, who was an expert on British dialects. He claimed to be able to tell which
This theory is based on a parallel concept, which could be illustrated by using a logical Venn diagram. It puts radio amateurs into a circular set classification to share the term “Ham” with actors and entertainers who over emote. A comedian like Milton Berle, who got himself into every act of a variety show, was jeered as a ham who was hamming up the show. Now we have to find out why the word ham is applied to show stealing actors as well as amateur radio operators. The early professional actors couldn’t buy professional cosmetics so they made their own. It is believed that they made “grease paint” from the fat that was on left over ham bones. The term “Ham bone” was used for the MC in early minstrel shows, who was also known as “Mr. Interlocketer”. He was like a net controller for talented performers who painted their faces black with ham bone grease mixed with chimney soot. This not only permitted white performers to work, and to mimic Blacks in southern segregated theaters, but it gave some very talented African performers a chance to perform in the segregated theaters when the audience thought they were really white folks painted black like the other mistrals. Al Jolson painted his face black when he sang “Mammy”. In my opinion he had enough trouble being Jewish without trying to be Black. Years later, Sammy Davis Jr. got even by converting
Judaism.. Ham performers are always
trying to confound the public by displaying unusual actions and appearances. Michael Jackson is a recent example. A case is now pending where a jury must
decide not only what role
A lot of research and detective work can be derived by studying the lyrics to songs that are popular during formative contemporary time periods. Theory One reminds me of the song “Why can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak?” from “My Fair Lady”. Theory Two reminds me of “Mammy” sung by Al Jolson in the first talking movie called the “Jazz Singer”. Theory Three reminds me of the song “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. “Grease Paint” is mentioned in that song as well as “A turkey that you know will fold”, which I referred to last month. I am always trying to relate songs and everything else to ham radio. In 19 51 (when I was first licensed) a Cole Porter song called “Nobody’s Chasing Me” was very popular. One line of that song was:
The HAMS are chasing TV
To this day I am not sure if the reference to “hams” in that song meant ham actors who were trying to get a job in the new media or hams who were blanking out channel two with TVI.
W2ILP (Illustrating Lingo Possibilities)
There is some room here so I’ll retell a story about inconsistent pronunciations that I told at a GARC meeting. It has nothing to do with the word “Ham”.
I was sent by Grumman to work on the J-Stars program in
When I pronounced it that way a southern gal cringed. She said “If you say it that way everyone here will know yer a Yankee fer sure. It is pronounced Melburn, which rhymes with sun burn.”
later I visited
is also the way that most people from the
so what is a dust bin? After more
research, I found that a British dust bin is the equivalent of a
W2ILP (Investigating Language Peculiarities)
Congratulations: Larry, AB2NT, recently achieved DXCC.
Please send reports of your ham related accomplishments to the editor, so that they may be included in future issues. Page 3
Every year we submit a budget to Recreation in hopes of getting them to help us with our annual expenses. They called a meeting last week (free pizza lunch) for all the Club Commissioners, and one of the topics was funding. They have been cutback in the amounts they are getting from the Company, and have thusly reduced the amounts that are being made available to the Clubs. Ed provided me with a list of our expenses from last year, and I used that as a request number. But, they subtract your income from you request, and that reduced our request to a little over $700. And when the final numbers were given out, we were approved for $500. That’s not too bad, and I am not unhappy with it. It’s time to start submitting requests to them, and pulling some money out of that account. We have big postage bills every year, plus Field Day expenses. The $500 will help us a lot. Now all I have to do is send in some receipts and see what happens.
Things are still busy here, not too much Radio going
on. Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do some things I’ve been putting off.
Of course I keep thinking about what kind of tower to erect at my retirement
Our next GARC meeting is 5/18th at UL. Bob (W2ILP) will be speaking on the use of crystals in electronics. It sounds interesting, and I hope you all make it.
GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
MINUTES OF GENERAL MEETING
Pete, N2PYV, secretary.
The meeting was called to order by Pat at .
TREASURERS REPORT – Ed, WB2EAV REPEATERS Gordon, KB2UB
Finances continue to be in good shape. Both repeaters are working. No activity.
VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP NET REPORT- Zack, WB2PUE
There were no applicants at the April VE Average activity on all nets.
Session.. There were 5 VEs present.
N2REM, KB2QFT,KC2HNN,AB2NT WAG ACTIVITY-Bob,W2FPF
W2ILP No activity. .
Gordon KB2UB gave a presentation about recent improvements in marine radio communication that are becoming popular with small boat owners. Selective calling, emergency channels, and radio connection to Global Positioning System units were discussed. This topic included the necessary compatibility with the Coast Guard, as well as large commercial ships, which utilize the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). For anyone who may be interested, the GARC VE team is certified to proctor exams for FCC GMDSS operator and maintainer licenses.
40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.
20 Meters: 14.275 MHz at 12 EST Wednesdays.
2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz (-.600)at Thursdays.
145.330 MHz (- .600) at 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 .
The meetings are usually held at the Underwriters Lab,
GARC WEB SITE
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.
Heathkit SB-102 (needs work), with matching Power Supply (works OK) $100.00
Call ZAK, WB2PUE @ (631)667-4628
The information pertaining to the time synchronizing correction site may require a new link address to access
If you have not been able to get to it, I suggest that you do a web search for Dimension 4 which will lead you to the latest address link..
Whitehat who has provided software for QSL cards, envelopes and logging, has updated his
software since I last reported. He seems to update it at least once every month. Thus if you have not downloaded it yet or want to keep it current, I suggest that you send an e-mail to his e-mail address: [email protected] and get on his list. He will then keep you updated with the latest links himself.
I am sure that most of you who have Internet access have gone to http://www.qrz.com many times to check on ham’s names and addresses from their call letters and vice versa. This saves us from having to buy call books and keep them updated. In addition to their basic information, as provided by the FCC, hams are encouraged to add short bios about themselves and even pictures. There are other sites that can provide call book type information but I like the QRZ site best. Most hams that use the QRZ web site pay little attention to the talk, chat, and joke threads that get posted there. There are lots of regular posters, who are also avid hams on there. There are lots of funny jokes, not so funny comments about recent news events…yep and even stuff about sex, politics and religion that we won’t write about in this newsletter. The chat threads are closely monitored by monitors. The monitors post in them themselves. They only ban hams that become extremely obnoxious, threaten others, or go to the level of writing XX rated stuff. R rated jokes seem to usually get by.
I had stopped posting on chat groups
myself for some time. After
I admit that I would not
write about many of the topics that come up on QRZ here. Surprisingly I have met up with some
interesting hams who have read and responded to me, including a former editor
of a now defunct Ham magazine, and a ham who worked for Collins at the time I
worked there. If you have an open mind
to the kind of rag chewing that is prevalent there you are certainly welcome to
join us. If this sort of stuff is not
your bag, maybe it is best that you stay away.
I need the laughter and lamenting and the social interaction that the
posters there provide me with and it is also a source of new ideas technical,
traditional and political. We can also see that most opinions of hams
Here is another cryptogram:
OK’E T CTCL YLCEZH RFZ RTHKE KZ FLTC RFTK FL NZLEH’K RTHK KZ FLTC.
Solution to last month’s cryptogram: COPY FROM ONE IT’S PLAGERISM.
COPY FROM TWO IT’S RESEARCH.
CQ de WA2LQO May 2005 VOL.
78, NO. 3 EDITOR Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP (631) 499-2214 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAT MASTERSON, KE2LJ PETE RAPELJE, N2PYV And 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: KE2LJ or W2ILP ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS If you want to
submit articles or amateur equipment ads via e-mail do the following: 1. For
submission direct to editor call him at above number to set up a transfer. 2. For e-mail
transfer: Internet Address I have not received any original articles
from you guys or from other hams. Therefore let me give you fair notice
that if I do not, I will again write the cover article next month. I know
that some of you get bored by articles that are too technical. If I don’t get any articles I will write
an article about a famous mystical tool, known as the Woff Hong and how
H.P. Maxim used it(using the pen name of the O.M.) to threaten all lids
who sent bad CW or generated unstable overly broad signals. If you don’t already know it, there is a
Woff Hong ceremony that still remains as a tradition. Without divulging
any secrets to those who have not been officially initiated, I intend to
explain some facts about this ritual. 73, w2ilp
(Initiating Lids Properly) GRUMMAN
AMATEUR RADIO CLUB OFFICERS FOR 2005 President Pat Masterson KE2LJ V01-01 516-346-7125 Vice President Gordon
Sammis KB2UB Retiree 631-666-7463* Secretary Peter
Rapelje N2PYV Retiree
516-676-0694 2Yr Board Member
Zack Zilavy WB2PUE Retiree 631-667-4628 2Yr Board Member
Bob Christen W2FPF 1Yr Board Member
Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP Retiree 631-499-2214 1Yr Board Member
Jack Cotterell WA2PYK Retiree 516-249-0979 Trustee
WA2LQO Ray Schubnel W2DKM Retiree STANDING
COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN Meeting
Programs Contact a Board Member FCC
Exam Coord. Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP
631-499-2214 * Gordon’s phone Number was incorrect in other CQ
Treasurer Ed Gellender WB2EAV X02-14 516-575-0013
2YrBoard Member Dave Ledo AB2EF
CQ de WA2LQO
VOL. 78, NO. 3
Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP
PAT MASTERSON, KE2LJ
PETE RAPELJE, N2PYV
And 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:
KE2LJ or W2ILP
If you want to submit articles or amateur equipment ads via e-mail do the following:
1. For submission direct to editor call him at above number to set up a transfer.
2. For e-mail transfer:
I have not received any original articles from you guys or from other hams. Therefore let me give you fair notice that if I do not, I will again write the cover article next month. I know that some of you get bored by articles that are too technical. If I don’t get any articles I will write an article about a famous mystical tool, known as the Woff Hong and how H.P. Maxim used it(using the pen name of the O.M.) to threaten all lids who sent bad CW or generated unstable overly broad signals. If you don’t already know it, there is a Woff Hong ceremony that still remains as a tradition. Without divulging any secrets to those who have not been officially initiated, I intend to explain some facts about this ritual.
w2ilp (Initiating Lids Properly)
GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB OFFICERS FOR 2005
President Pat Masterson KE2LJ V01-01 516-346-7125
Vice President Gordon Sammis KB2UB Retiree 631-666-7463*
Rapelje N2PYV Retiree
2Yr Board Member
Zack Zilavy WB2PUE Retiree 631-667-4628
2Yr Board Member Bob Christen W2FPF
1Yr Board Member Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP Retiree 631-499-2214
1Yr Board Member Jack Cotterell WA2PYK Retiree 516-249-0979
Trustee WA2LQO Ray Schubnel W2DKM Retiree
STANDING COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
Meeting Programs Contact a Board Member
FCC Exam Coord. Bob Wexelbaum W2ILP 631-499-2214
* Gordon’s phone Number was incorrect in other CQ issues.
GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
Sixty Years 1944 -2004
DO NOTpeaking of herbsDELAY
Continuing to write about the early development of radios, we now can consider early radio receivers. The simplest receiver is the crystal set. All that it contains is a tuned circuit to tune to the desired radio frequency and a detector. After trying various mechanical methods, it was found that the presence of an RF carrier and later the detection of the audio envelopes on RF carriers could be achieved by rectifying the carrier with a device that would permit current to travel in only one direction.
A device to do this needed only to handle small currents. It had to have a very low forward resistance. Early experimenters found that there were many semiconductors that could accomplish this detector requirement, long before transistor amplification was deemed to be possible. A crystal diode that can do the job of converting RF to audio frequency signals, which can be heard on headphones, was not the diode package that is cataloged today. Early detectors consisted of an exposed blob of some
mineral and a wire which was used to probe the mineral
surface in the hope of finding a spot where radio signals could be detected. The wire was called a “cat’s whisker” and the
mineral blob was the crystal. Together they were a detector.