Saturday, May 21, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another week has passed and the world is still here.  I must admit to a morbid fascination with the current crop of "end time" proponents.  I usually get a few calls to the news room everytime someone believes he/she has the exact time our planet will disappear and the faithful will be repatriated to paradise.  This week produced a bumper crop of the merely curious and the deeply concerned.  I treat these stories like any other event that crosses the news desk.  Most of the predictions are based on faith and little else.  You either believe or you don't.  The world is facing some real problems, any one of which could ruin your day.  Take your pick--the Middle East, natural disasters of various kinds, errant asteroids, and even the hotly debated climate change theories.  From what I've seen, humanity, with its propensity for both genius and stupidity, is quite capable of doing itself in without the help of the divine.  These radio and television preachers are free to express their views and confirm for all to see their profound ignorance.  All the pity, too, since most churches in this country are working to alleviate misery, care for the poor, and promote social consciousness.  There's enough fear and mistrust in this world without some self-appointed expert adding another layer of doubt to a rapidly changing world.  What does this have to do with amateur radio?  Probably little, other than recognizing that disasters happen and that one should prepare as best he/she can.

One way to get a feel for such a scenario is to participate in the ARRL's Field Day, which occurs over the 25-26 June weekend.  Field Day is part contest, an emergency communications exercise, and downright fun.  For a brief day, "hams" take to the field and communicate without commercial power and the usual comforts of the radio shack.  All of this has a practical side, too.  Just ask the hams still on duty throughout the tornado-ravaged South or the amateur radio operators working to restore communications in Northern Japan following the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  One never knows when a casual operating day in a public park will turn into something serious.  Many of us in the broadcast business will miss Field Day in the traditional sense because of work commitments.  However, there are alternatives which will draw you into the event.  In my case, the June drag races will tie up the daytime hours on that weekend, so I'll operate in the evening from the home station in class 1-E (home station, emergency power).  This won't be too much of a stretch for me, since my rigs run off batteries and solar panels.  In keeping with the spirit of the event, I'll make an "emergency" antenna from some speaker wire in the storage room.  I did this last year and had a good time...not too many contacts, but a good time none the less.  I'm planning on a few interviews with members of the Big Island Amateur Radio Club--the interviews will give the club a hundred extra points for publicity.  The focus will be on fun, public service, Field Day food (much of it is pretty good, since our club has a few good cooks), and mosquito control (Hawaii has some of the most hungry bugs I've ever seen).  More information on Field Day can be found in the June 2011 issue of "QST" or by visiting the ARRL website.

It's just about time to wrap up the news cycle for today.  Sunday will be a short day--mostly dedicated to writing stories for Monday morning, editing sound bites, and following the routine of meter readings and computer maintenance.  I'll squeeze in a few hours of cw as well if all goes as planned.  Have a good weekend.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.