Sunday, December 19, 2004

Message in a bottle

My Christmas present last year was my amateur radio license. I took the RAE in August 2003, took some people three months to process the results, thus I got my result in November. Well, it took another month to get the application form, find 2 class A license holders as referees, go to the Commissioner of Oath, etc. Finally, my license was ready for collection on Dec 24.

Yeehaw!!! I can PTT now!

It is interesting to note the feeling of "doing it for the very first time". Hey, what are you thinking of? I am referring to the "mic-shy" thing. Some studies show that people are more afraid of public speaking than death. I guess this is applicable to new ham radio operators as well. Some people might dispute this, but at least, I felt really nervous talking on the air the day I got my license. I was aware that I was heard within the coverage of the repeater and of course, there were many strangers on the air too. All kinds of people, some are really keen to talk to newbies; but some are "pure listeners", monitoring only. One more thing, everbody wants to be successful for the very first time. So, I called up a friend on the land line, requested him to stand by the repeater frequency, waitng for my call. We really had a nice QSO. After a while, someone requested to join the conversation. I learned to pass the mic in the round robin style, quite challenging for a newcomer. Well, old hams are always good to new kids on the block. Another callsign to be recorded in the log book.

After talking to those you know, it is time to talk to those you don't. Many ways to do that, joining into people's QSO, call someone that had just finished a QSO with another guy, or make CQ call. A good old ham told me that you will be surprised that there are actually a slient majority monitoring. These people just listen and will never PTT. Hmm... interesting. Of course, after you get used to 2m, you will start to make CQ call whenever you are "mobiling", some kind of entertainment to keep you awake while driving. People fear of failure, people fear of rejection. When there is no one on the air responding to your CQ call, some people might get disappointed easily. A good old friend shared that, on the air, we should not have that kind of attitude. Keep trying. Hey buddy, this is not a cellphone. Even though you call, people might not hear you. It could be your rig itself not transmitting enough power to hit the repeater, or you friend has QRT. Sometimes on HF, someone on the other side heard you and he tried to reply you, but you can't hear him due to many factors, especially the band condition, propagation, etc. So, don't be disappointed, this is just a hobby.

This had led me to relate amateur radio to the practice of putting message in a bottle and throwing it out to the sea. Firstly, your bottle might be just floating around and not going anywhere. Secondly, even if your bottle is being carried away by the sea current, it might not reach the shore. There are many more possibilites such as the bottle is trapped in the fisherman net, someone picks it up but doesn't understand you message, etc. Going all the way, even if the guy who picks up the bottle and replies, there is no guarantee that the bottle will come back to you. Hahahaha... what a primitive hobby?

If you keep yourself positive and give people the benefits of doubt, you will be happy to be part of the ham radio community. Otherwise, you will be complaining, groaning, swearing, and not to forget "blame-storming". Again, keep your mind open, help each other as much as possible, and show the spirit of hams. You can't change the world, you change yourself. You go out and make a different, answer CQ call. Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give". Make sense? Maybe... it is up to you. Anyway, enjoy this hobby! 73.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

In the beginning was the word

In the beginning was the word, ... , and the word was radio. Japanese are well known with their method of representing foreign words with Katakana. Due to the fact that the Katakana set of characters could not accomadate most of the syllables in English, many foreign langauge words are being turned into Engrish. Of course, the example I am going to share here is the word "radio", which is pronounced as rajio (ラジオ).

You may get many hits if you try to search for the word "rajio" on Google but I bet you can't find any results being returned with the word "lehlew". The natives of the Pearl of the Orient call this communication tool as "lehlew". Well, enough for today, will continue this topic someday... 73.