Not the computer code kind, not even the hardware kind, but the stupid kind that keep trying to hack into by server and blog. Its a never ending game of wack a mole. So after been hit with a couple of big hack attacked in the last few weeks, I upgraded the security for the blog and then after the same douche bag hit me again, I managed to lock myself out of the blog. LOL not to worry, restore everything from backup takes a while 10 mins to do, but I lost a couple of posts. I only do weekly backups. Its not like this blog is anything other than a bunch of dribble from me and if i lose a post or two, its no big deal. So anyway, everything is back to normal and should mean I cannot lock myself out every again LOL.
Well its been coming for a while and today is the day that its been achieved. I am no longer a radio amateur. I am an electronics enthusiast. Yep, I am done with the people. When you have groups that lie, cheat and exploit for their own end, get exposed time and time again and other groups to gutless or hamstrung to be able to deal with it in a manner that will fix the issue once and for all, I figure, why bother. I am better than all this and so I am out.
I have some really good radio projects in the pipeline that will be released over the next 2 to 12 months. I am currently working on a 5 watt DSB hand held. Tonight I have laid out the Transmitter board, I have some fixes to make to the receiver board and I can sent those off to china to get made. I hope to have the whole project competed by the end of the year. And having quit just about all social media, I should be able to, with some luck, achieve that goal.
To just another form of CB
Marketed to shoppers
Spoonfed carton ham radio like sheep —Paraphrased, Jello Biafra.
Inspired by a post on Pete’s blog found here: http://n6qw.blogspot.com/2019/10/when-you-know-stuff-you-can-do-stuff.html I got to thinking that there are many reasons why we all should home brew. When you look at the discussion about home brew on various forums, you often hear the same excuses as why people do not home brew.
1. I am not smart enough.
Well, I am not an EE either, I am a construction worker who is as dumb as a bag of hammers and i can manage to not hurt myself or make the world explode, so I think you can do it also. I think what people really mean when they say they are not smart enough, is that they are just to lazy to put the time and effort required into learning. You passed an exam, so your obviously not dumb, just lazy. Its taken me 5 years to build a radio worth using more than once. Yes 5 years. And it will probably take me another 5 years to build something I am really happy with. These are not short term projects, there is no instant gratification here. It takes time, energy and effort to gain the skills and understanding required to be able to build a pretty decent radio.
2. You cannot make a rig as good as anything you can buy.
I agree you cannot. But you can make a rig that has utility and is good enough. Not that my home brew stuff is ever going to replace the Icoms i own. So why bother? well simply because home brewing gives you more than the radio at the end of it. Ham radio used to be about self education in radio electronics. Its now about consumerism. Where people once used skills and knowledge to solve a problem, people now throw money at it and act like this makes them the reincarnation of Marconi, Edison and Tesla. Throwing money at a problem is not a virtue, it is a cop out. If we as a hobby are going to stand for something and honour the past, then home brewing for the sake of learning is non optional.
And here is the thing. Home brewing is about learning. You learn at a fundamental level how a radio works. You learn other skills that are useful with your black box icoms like fault finding and trouble shooting. And it gives you something to talk about with others on the radio that is not the lowest common denominator dribble that many seem to think is the pinnacle of what the hobby has to offer.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get on 40m in the afternoon and have 10 other people to discuss home brew with? Actually talking nuts and bolts radio rather than politics or running thought some brag list of purchases like they are achievements worthy to be proud of? Or rather than listening to some I am not dead yet net where everyone checks in to thank the person running the net and announce they are still alive, that they come on and say, i got that thing i have been working on all week working right now. Or they ask a question and have a few really good responses. That is traffic I could listen to.
Or for that matter, the talk on DMR is not about how well the internet is propagating today and wanking on about what talkie walkie you code plug is using on your hot spot, but rather people talking about building a pixie and making it work or trying to understand why a voltage divider does what it does.
Yeah there is so much more we all could be doing and so many much more intelligent things we as hams could be talking about and dont. So many hams complain about things being dumbed down. Well, here is some space for hams everywhere to lift things on an intellectual level. I wont hold my breath though. Dumbing down is not the problem, laziness and apathy is.
In response to my state of the hobby address here: https://robs-blog.net/2019/10/18/we-promote-the-things-we-value-most/ I had someone send me this. Not sure how readable this will be for most people, but its from 1938 in a magazine called T&R Bulletin, which later became the RSGB magazine. It would seem that even way back when in the dark ages, there were those who were becoming disillusioned with the hobby due to the attitudes of predominantly the old guard.
There is no fool like an old fool, and there is nothing so pathetic on the air as a veteran amateur, who presumably is old enough to know better, making a complete idiot of himself.
It would seem that even back in the old days, black box operators and shit dribblers on 40m were becoming the norm and it was the newbies for the better part that were setting the example. Not a lot different today is there. Fcalls get all the abuse, but its their betters who are setting the shit example.
Let me preface this post by saying that for sometime I have been rather disillusioned with amateur radio as a hobby. The reasons are varied but can all be distilled down to a couple of core issues and the main one is that what attracted me to the hobby, namely home brew and electronics, which at one point was the core point of doing ham radio, is now, rather non existent.
And now what masquerades as a technical hobby is nothing more than Adult CB for those who passed a test one time that made them instant experts of everything or Amateur politics for small men with no life who want power, IE WIA and RASA. How many of these people do you ever hear doing radio? Other than Chapman and Smith, who i think are both shit stains on the hobby, I have never heard any of the others on air ever. So essentially you have people who for the most part do not partake in the hobby, deciding what should be done for those that do.
Take the LCD update as a classic example of how short sighted this hobby is. The WIA consulted with clubs on what to do with Fcall privileges. Have you looked around clubs? They are mostly old, grey and bald and male who has been an amateur for 30+ years with an advanced call. People who for the most part have no clue about the newbie experience in practical terms of what it is like to be a newbie, now, today. In other words, the opposite of who could give some insight into what its like to be an fcall or to be thinking about being an fcall.
If you want to know what the fcall gets right and what could be done better, why not ask some bloody fcalls or people who have been fcalls in the last 5 years? Of course we don’t ask fcalls because in reality, they do not matter, what matters are the opinions of advanced calls. Remember the title of this thread, we talk to those we value most and fcalls do not matter to the WIA because they make up such a small part of the membership as to be irrelevant. So what remains is Advanced call confirmation bias.
Oh sure, I can see some now who are reading this going, well that is not me. I do stuff and am part of a silent majority . And yeah you might do stuff, but is your voice one that is ever heard? A none heard voice is irrelevant. Take a tune though 40 and 20 meters any day of the week and have an actual listen to what transpires. I am running a transceiver i bought into an amplifier i bought, with a signal running through a feedline i bought into an antenna i bought, which is mounted on a tower i bought, so I am the king of ham radio.
You know this SKILL bullshit that people always go on about, my skill as a DX’r means I work more DX. Well, the actual skill is not in electronics or radio for that matter, its in comparative shopping methods and who has a bigger wallet, bigger yard and ultimately bigger amp, because the main skill in VK is who can run the most power without getting caught by an ACMA that is not looking.
One you get passed the dick waving about whose IcYaWood is bigger than someone elses, you get all the other stupidities. Sexism, racism, homophobia, misogyny, fcall bashing and other assorted hate passing as rag chewing. Yeah this is the pinnacle of amateur radio, there are less hateful people on the Brisbane UHF CB repeater and it takes a lot of class to out class the classy characters making animal noises on there.
So ultimately for me, I look at the dominant voices in this hobby and think to myself, I do not identify with these people, i do not relate to these people, I do not like these people and I certainly do not respect these people, so why the hell would i want to associate with these people. And as for people like myself who are trying to self educate in electronics and construction, who are trying to build a station from scratch that is worth using and is not just a novelty, well, they just don’t seem to exist or have been marginalised to the point where they just do not bother operating anymore.
You see, we promote the things we most value, and it would seem that the things we value the most are talkie talkes, wackers, contestors and those who want to be amateur politicians. The real ham radio, the stuff from the pre 1970’s where the first part of building a station was to own a soldering iron and know how to not make cooked chicken smells, well that no longer exists. It has been replaced with the Baofeng.
As for me, well I still have some goals left to achieve amateur radio. Yeah goals. A foreign concept to the talkie talkie crowd. But once they are achieved, I certainly do not see any compelling reason to remain in the hobby. I can easily switch to other forms of electronics where I can continue to learn and to grow. I have come a long way in 5 years, from not knowing what a resistor does, to now being able to design and build a transceiver that has practical use, covering everything from schematic capture and pcb layout to mechanical design.
But when i look at the hobby and those who are partaking in it, i don’t see myself represented anywhere. I see a lot of back in my day, old, white, bald, grey and male, i see a lot of conservative politics, anti science and fake news. But i don’t see a lot of ideals, morals and ethics worth emulating. And without people to look up to, people who are prominent and stand for something more than self interest and self indulgence, then there seems little reason to keep bothering. The very thought of turning a radio on, including the one i have just finished building, and making a qso or 2, just seems cringe worthy to me.
After reinstalling the server OS and restoring my backups there are always a couple of things that never work quite right again and need me to manually go in and change things. MySql database password is one and I can to that in my sleep, but something new this time is that the website is now SSL enabled with a Comodo SSl certificate. For some reason and I am not sure exactly why, restoring the backup borked the SSL implementation. I tried to find a fix for it for a couple of days and nothing that I did would fix it. So it was stuck in the to hard basket for another day. Well, yesterday I just removed everything SSL from the server and started from the beginning and got a new certificate issued. It all seems to be working now. Who would have thunk it, computers just never want to play nice HAHAHA.
I really don’t know why microsoft really wants to screw things up all the bloody time. This morning i wanted to burn a raspbian image to a sd card to fire up a new Pi i have that I am using in an project i am working on. And you would think something as simple as stick disk in slot burn image wold work. NO NO NO. Windows has been upto its old tricks and changed all the bloody device drivers so that my card reader no longer worked. After dicking about for 30mins and swearing profusely, I did some google foo to see if there was anything known going on. A quick driver roll back and boom we are back in business and have the Raspbian being written to disk. WOOP another tragedy in the making and total disaster avoided. HAHAHA Microsoft, what a steaming pile of turds. And before any of you linux fan boys comment saying oh just use linux, I can’t because i need to run some proprietary windows software for work as well as some other software that has no real linux replacement that will not work under linux and wine.
Well that went surprisingly smoothly after windows wanted to be a dick LOL
Well it actually happened. The flaky server actually died yesterday. Tech support had the motherboard replaced in short order but for some reason the OS kernel was not happy with the change and would not boot. I dicked about with it for an hour or so and still could not make it happy. So, it was put in the to hard basket and i got up early today, reinstalled the OS and restored a backup of my data and we are back online. I am missing a couple of posts because I was lazy and did not download the last backup, but hey, its a personal blog. A few posts missing is not really going to mean much. Anyway, i should now be back in the land of server stability and should not have any more issues.
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.