I just happened to be in Newcastle overnight and had 30mins spare to run a quick activation. Hunter wetlands was the closest park to where i was staying so off i went and played a little radio. Pretty much had an instant pileup going that lasted the 30mins i was there. There were only 2 annoyances, broadcast breakthrough on the uBitx, never had that before and mosquitoes and big as helicopters. The Bushmans dealt with them, but there was nothing I could do about the broadcast breakthrough. 30+ contacts in 30 mins, not bad at all really for an unplanned activation.
There has been a lot going on of late. Mostly drama of the usual kind, but in among all that, I have got to thinking about a lot of different things to do with ham radio. Mostly, this has a lot to do with things happening within Australia, but there are still some broader more global parts of this opinion piece that might interest some within the international community. Let me first paint a picture of what I see and then pose the question in the title.
So, lets look at some of the things that have been going on of late. Firstly I was banned from a contest by the contest manager because of my email address. I hold 3 call signs, one of which is an Australian F-Call VK4FFAB, its included in my email address. Now Fcalls cannot use digital modes in Australia, and so i recently entered a VK contest and submitted a log using my Standard call sign VK4HAT. My log used that call sign, my cover letter used that call sign, even the files were named vk4hat-contest name and the contest manager saw fcall in the email address and banned me.
Next. In Australia we have some rather restrictive power limits. For advanced calls its 400w SSB and 120w CW. So recently a video was published by a VK ham showing him running 500w CW. I pointed out exactly what was going on and called him a power cheat on social media. You would think that for a hobby that is mostly self policing that people would be upset that someone is taking such liberties with our operating standard. If this was an Fcall being caught running 100w instead of 10w, you would have everyone calling for their license to be revoked.
But in this case, did anyone do that? no, in fact you have what is essentially a cabal of power cheats defending his use of 380w more than what is legal and a whole bunch of people out for my blood. Some issuing warning about how I have a big X on my back and they are going to get me, others being even more straight forward and threatening to punch me in the face. Such is the state of ham radio in this country.
And then you have the special case of RASA. Another cabal that is hell bent on destroying the hobby in this country any way it can. Because of their narrow minded views and desire for power, the whole licensing framework in this country is a total mess and shambles. Good luck if you can get an exam, the question pools are weak at best, you cannot apply to have reciprocal licenses from the USA, its under review, you cannot get a vanity 2 letter call sign, its under review. The whole system is broken.
So, then given this background and the passing of George Dobbs, of Sprat and GQRP Club fame, a man worthy of respect and looking up to and that a lot of the people who i actually admire in this hobby are getting on in age and not going to live for ever, i started to ask myself, “Who is going to be the next person to stand up and become someone worthy of looking up to?”
If you look over some of the VK contests you have names like John Moyle, Harry Angel or awards like Keith Roget, GA Taylor and Michael Owen. Out of the current cohort of Australian amateurs who are the names that might one day fill the shoes of men who actually did great things for the hobby and have something named after them? I mean seriously who is there? Because I dont see any. I do not see anyone for anyone new or aspiring in the hobby to look up to and I am sure that this is probably the same in many other countries also, its just the names that vary.
So who is there? Is there even a single person out there currently who is going to stand up and be counted for something greater than their own self indulgence? If there is someone, let me know, because there is a real lack of people with character and integrity currently within the hobby.
And that for me is a real shame.
Some people are always moaning that the hobby is dying. In some ways that is happening literally, but the hobby itself will be truly dead when there is no one left worthy of emulating and that list of truly inspiring people is getting rather short and the self indulged man children are never going to fill that void. Many of you had great elmers, people now dead who you wanted to lookup to and respected. I got google and am surrounded by people i have zero respect for. It is, what it is and what it is, is pathetic.
Ok, well it was not one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Certainly not an Agatha Christie novel, but, I found out what this morse key actually is. The key itself was easy enough, its a PMG key from WW2, it was the base that I could not find anything about on google. Anyway it turns out that it was a lantern signallers key from WW2. Use for short range communications on the battle field and came in a metal case, with a battery and a hand held light. They are pretty common and not worth a lot. But, still an interesting bit of history none the less.
Here is a picture of one in mint condition, all bolted into the lid of the box that housed the battery and light.