Friday, January 14, 2005

Some updates from Folsom, CA

A good friend of mine who is currently in Folsom, California took the ham radio examination last night at WT6G QTH. I am sorry to know that my friend failed. I am sure that he had done his best. The test consists of 35 multiple-choice questions and you have to answer at least 26 questions right. On the other hand, he passed his Malaysian RAE before going on assignment. At least, he can still go on air when he comes back to the home land. Well, it is not the end of the world, keep trying, man! Have a nice day and 73!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The salt mine penguin's parrot

I found it! I did kerchunk it and I got a response. Of course, I am not going to disclose the downlink, shift and tone here. The interesting part is not the technical aspect of it. I am trying to imagine what if those salt mine penguins found out that I can listen and even talk to their parrot.

I guess they will make a big fuss over it, call this kind of activity all sorts of names and even try to associate it with negative words like immoral, malicious intend, illegal, intrusion, crime, etc. They might even convince the management to give me a love letter. Yes, I am referring to people with this kind of mind set, which I think the brain is already half dead. They are just wasting oxygen.

First of all, they should understand the technology itself. It is plain analog voice over UHF. What does this mean? Well, even a TV can be modified to receive the transmission. Secondly, CTCSS is pretty much standard, and people can scan from all the available tones. If it is really meant to be private, please use digital mode plus encryption. At least, this will buy some time before being cracked by people who love challenges. Otherwise, please do not stupidly think that nobody is monitoring. The tuck shop publishes the figures of the parrot's mouth and ear on their website. Who are there to be blamed?

This applies to those scanners with blocked cellular band. Before the digital GSM becomes popular, the 850/900 MHz region for cellular band is a favourite entertainment avenue. In order to make sure the stupid public is convinced, a bunch of semi-smart people thought of blocking the cellular band on scanners and even make a law to make listening illegal. This happened in Uncle Sam land. This is the same kind of stupidity I am trying to relate to the salt mine parrot thing. OK, the law is in place now, but the analog 900 MHz cellular signal is still on open air. Do you really think that there is no rig that can receive cellular conversation anymore? Do you really think that people will not do a mod the their scanners? Do you really think that the law protects the privacy of your conversaton? OK, make all scanners illegal then. Do you think that nobody can listen to the cellular phone conversation anymore? The same paradigm applies to those analog 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz cordless phones. It's a dilemma, isn't it? Have you heard of double sided sword? You have to trade your privacy with convenience. Else, please use the old phone with entangled cord.

Happy scanning and 73!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Vanity callsign

Unlike the FCC, Malaysian ham radio operators can choose their own vanity callsign without extra charges as long as it is not taken by anyone. First come first serve. FCC requires you to pay some premium which I think is still affordable. Here are some that I thought of and could be used as a reference:

India Lima Yankee - I Love You
Mike Bravo Foxtrot - My Best Friend
Bravo Mike Golf - Be My Guest
Mike Tango Tango - Mou Tak Ting (Cantonese)

There are also people who prefer vanity callsign like LUV, FUN, ETC, IBM, FAT, and so on... As far as I know, WIN, ACE, EAT, and of course, CPU have been snapped up. Anyway, Sierra Echo X-ray will not be issued as this is mentioned in one of the documents on the tuck shop website. I would also think that people at the tuck shop will not issue callsigns like PAS, DAP, PKM, ASS, TIT, FUK and those with political, religious, race, sexual and negative connotations. For a Cantonese guy, TNS and LLM should be avoided at all cost, while a Hokkien guy should stay away from KNN or TLP. A grey one here, WTF which could represent World Taekwondo Federation or something else. So, think and ask those old hams before submitting the form.

On the other hand, new kids out there has to be careful too. If one is going to apply for OSO, think twice. Oscar Sierra Oscar is innocent enough but when you read the letters, it will sound like Old Ass Hole. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Happy hamming and 73!

Eyeball QSO

As the day goes by, more and more new hams accessing the repeater, announcing their callsigns. The ham community is growing again, and we are making new friends on the air. Later down the road, there will be eyeball sessions in order to satisfy people curiosity. Depending on the number of people, other common hobbies that they are having, and any special restrictions*; a rendezvous will be selected so that everyone can have round-table together and even some "tanni" as well.

"Hey, Ah Huat ar... you face doesn't match your voice la..."

"I thought you are a tall guy."

"You sounds like a 60-something old man on the air."

"Oh... lu si [callsign1] hor... Wa si [callsign2] arr. An juar? Ho seh bo? Lai lai, chiak chiak chiak..."

"Your lehlew mana tempat beli one?"

"I think I have seen you somewhere before"

"Uoo hami kangtau bo?"

"OK, I see. You are working at [multi-national company]. Could you help me buying a rig from your saltmine?"

"What is your Lima Lima number?"

These are some of the interesting QSO during eyeball sessions. Everybody is usually very happy to meet each other face-to-face for the very first time. After glugging more "tanni" into the tummy, some started to sing songs, tell dirty jokes, dance, like they have known each other for many years.

The next few days after any eyeball sessions, the repeater will be unusually quiet. Most probably people already have enough QSO during the eyeball and need a rest. This is something that we went through before. For newcomers, don't be shy, just come out and play!

*special restrictions = allergy to pork and alcohol, cannot kill for food, etc.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Please don't do this at home!

An exaggerated ugly side of ham radio QSO. One fine day on a 2m repeater far away,

Stupid newbie: Kohling! Kohling! Enly stesen? Lis is "callsign1" stenby.

Old man: "callsign1" this is "callsign2". Good day! Welcome to the band. Go ahead with your traffic.

Stupid newbie: I doonlow enly trefit, I no ailea, I no driving now, I at home.

Old man: Roger! Roger! QSL that you are at home at this moment. Have you eaten your lunch? Over to you "callsign1" this is "callsign2".

Stupid newbie: Aiya! My lem no Roger la... My lem Mister Ah Huat! I eat morning liao, afternoon no eat. Over!

Old man: OK, sir. Copy your handle loud and clear. You audio is Q5, full quieting. Congratulations to you for getting your license. Please do come on to this repeater frequency as often as you like. Back to you "callsign1" this is "callsign2".

Stupid newbie: No kopi la... I link teh lis morlin and eat pau oso. Over!

Old man: "callsign1" this is "callsign2" returning. OK, I got you, no worries. Thank you for this wonderful QSO and will catch you further down the log. I would like to make this my final round and you have a nice day! "callsign1" this is "callsign2" listening for your final. 73.

Stupid newbie: okeh, lex time tok tok on lehlew again. Dankiu. You gif me 73, I gif you larble, 146. Bai-bai.

Old man: (Luckily I have HF privilege, I think I had better switched over to 40m from now on)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A new batch of hams

It had been a busy fortnight since I last blogged, and many events had taken place since. Time really flies, but only when you are occupied. You will feel the satisfaction when tasks were completed. Like removing a rucksack from your back.

First of all, good news from the ham radio community in Malaysia. The results for the last RAE held in November 4, 2004 was release on Christmas Eve. This means a lot to many people as this could be one of their best Christmas gifts. These people studied hard, worked hard with their elmers, and of course, listened to QSO to gain real life experience. I share their pride and joy too.

Congratulations! Good job! Well done! Excellect! Fantanstic!

You may find the RAE 2004 results here. Find your national registration identity card (NRIC) number and good luck! For those who failed, this is not the end of the world. Try again. These two words "try again" makes me think about the "snake and ladder" game. There is no loser, someone might reach the 100th square first, but if you keep the dice rolling, you will reach there everntually. You might reach there a little later than some people, but there are also others who haven't reached yet. Life is full of ups and downs, so does the game which is full of snakes and ladders.

Thomas Alva Edison once said, "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework". If you did your homework, and had given your best, no problem, there is always another RAE on the way.

If you didn't do your homework, then shame on you! Even though you passed your RAE by luck, please don't go on air! Well, I understand that you are a newbie, and you may ask "anything" that you want to know, BUT not those already in the RAE syllabus. It shows that you know nothing and your ham license is just a piece of worthless toilet paper full of shit. Hey, many people are monitoring out there. Foreigners who are monitroing might think that either you bribed the officer at the tuck shop or Malaysian hams have no standard at all. What a disgrace? Please QRT and sell your rig off immediately. Use FRS radio instead.

Back to good news. Those who have a rig before the ticket (license), it is time to press the PTT button. I know you have waited for quite sometime and can't resist the temptation to start talking. Go ahead man, make a general call, CQ CQ CQ. The ham community likes to talk to people with new callsign. This is a hobby that you can make friends over the air. Ham radio has been around long time before the arrival of the Internet. One of the major difference is that all hams are licensed whereas virtually anyone can open a account with ICQ. Since all of us have to go through stringent test, you can be sure most of the hams are enthusiasts in homebrewing gadgets and antenna. There are a lot of things to be learned from those experienced old men out there. Enjoy this hobby!