Missing In Action

This is going to be my last post for sometime. Where to begin. Well, there is nothing nefarious going on at all, just so much life happening. I have been doing a bit of operating over the last couple of weeks and have actually been enjoying it. Of course this has also coincided with a total lack of output in the home brew department.

So for the last 12 months we have been trying to either buy or build a new house and move our lives and everything that this entails to a small town in the country. Its been a journey and a half to say the least. The first rejection was early in the pandemic and no banks were actually lending to anyone who was in business, and me being a small business owner meant that there was no way to proceed. So we just kept saving and waiting things out and then tried again 6 months later.

Move ahead 6 months, hit the banks up again and this time finance was pre approved. In that 6 months the cost of the house we planned to build had increased by $40,000, the pandemic increase because trades are in hot demand and all put their prices up. This was starting to push our finances to the limit, after some changes with the builder we got costs down to closer to what we wanted to spend. Then the bank gave our file to an independent valuer and the valuation came back low. not by an insignificant amount either, but by $50,000. Not a problem really, but it meant that our 80%LVI became 95% LVI and with the mortgage insurance and the extra deposit needed we had to find $15,000 and so that plan was officially dead and buried. That 6 month delay just priced us out of being able to build a new home and everything that we could have desired.

So yet another talk with our mortgage broker and working out what we could afford for an existing property. Then the hunt was on to find a property that did not suck to much or was to much of a compromise on things we just could not live without and fit in with our requirements for work and the like, its not like we are funding this out of retirement savings, we still need to work and pay this off before retirement age.

After much debate and discussion the wife and I decided on a few places and started looking online at properties. Found a couple we both kind of liked and booked a viewing with the agent. When we drove down the driveway of the first place, it just felt homely and welcoming. We put and offer in on it the same day and it was accepted by the owner.

Went though all the drama again waiting on the bank, valuations and all that, this time very favorable, actually our offer was exactly the same as the valuation. Paper work has all been signed and we settle on the 28th of May. So between now and moving in I will not be posting here at all, or if I do it will be infrequently because as of this weekend my whole radio room will be packed up and the antennas will be taken down.

Not long now and we move from a city of 2 million to a small town of 800 people. 2 and 1/4 acres of I cant see nor hear my neighbors, i can put up a real antenna and have more than enough space to plant a fruit forest and grown all my own vegetables. I really cannot wait.

Asta La Vista Baby, I will be back.

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When Is A Newbie No Longer A Newbie?

So when is a newbie no longer a newbie? Like to be or not to be, that is the question and one that to me at least is rather interesting. You see, a few days back someone remarked to me that I am still a newbie. My initial thought was O’REALLY!, no, a newbie is not what I am, what I am is not soon to be deceased so to the old guys I just seem like a newbie.

For a start, I have been involved with ham radio since 2014. That’s 7 years. Think of your favorite sport, you have your rookie year then you become one of the regular players and after about 5th year you are considered a veteran and by the 10th year you are looking at retiring after hopefully a distinguished career and a whole slew of awards and accomplishments.

With ham radio, I think its more an US and THEM mentality being shown by some, and yes its some, not all, where you are always a newbie unless you are one of them and a 30 year veteran. Where as for me, I do not give to craps about how long you have been a ham. To borrow from Martin Luther King, i do not judge by how long they have been a ham, but by the content of their character. There are 30 year newbies out there and 1 year veterans, what matters is what one brings to the table, not the duration they have been sat there.

While I am no newbie, i am also no veteran either though my list of accomplishments is growing. I have worked DXCC, placed well in some big contests, scratch build a few transceivers and used them to make contacts, partaken in awards schemes like WWFF and received multiple awards, was DXér of the year in 2016 as an Fcall and have even turned my hand to elmering a few people in electronics until they found their feet and no longer needed my help. That is certainly not all of the things I have done and its certainly not the resume of a newbie and its a lot more than some veterans out there.

There is always someone to learn from out there, even those real newbies can have a perspective that might just change your world view, if only you are open minded enough to actually listen to them, rather than jump to conclusions that newbies are all dumb.

Baxter Out.

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The Quarterly Essay

How To Be An Elmer

Usually by now I have posted something of a state of the union address outlining what I did last year and what I plan to do this year. Most of it follow much the same outline, i set out a grand addenda and then 30 seconds later get sidetracked into other thoughts and get sucked into many other rabbit holes and I never get much done that I planned. So rather than do that this year, I thought i would take a very different approach to my first blog post of the year. I am going to take a topic, an action or something I have found interesting and write a whole lot of shit about it.

Even the title hints at this. The quarterly essay is an Australian long form journalism journal that comes out 4 times a year. There are no sound bites, no click bait titles, just a really good look at a specific topic in depth. And in podcast form Radio Lab from WNYC Studios kind of does the same thing. The whole idea of long form journalism has kind of lost its way in favor of click bait on social media to sell adverts because no one wants to pay to read real quality reporting, they want some fuckwit pundit to tell them how to think so they can go perform how woke they are on any given subject.

Take the youtube stars as an example, so much of what gets posted is essentially click bait. When I see a video posted with the guy pulling a face pointing at something in his card, I think, fuck that. Do not treat me as an imbecile, or as a means to and ends, I am not here for you to earn ad dollars, so stop with the stupid shill videos, just get to the point and show me either nothing, or something relevant, you pointing at something like a fucking idiot is not going to get me to click on your video, the content will.

So anyway, I have been struggling to a cohesive narrative for this post. Its been more rambling on than anything thus far, but all along I have wanted to talk about elmering. I have been sitting on this post for over 2 weeks not sure of where I wanted to take it, but now I know, and the reason why i know will soon become clear.

For a while now I have been helping a couple of people who have been struggling with focus and understanding concepts and via email i have been answering their questions by mostly asking them questions. I think this is the best way to gain understanding, though, my wife hates it when I do it to her and I have been helping her with essay writing for the university course she is doing for a promotion at work.

As far as elmers go, I have been lucky, I have a EE lecturer at a uni who confuses me more than most, but there is a lot of great technical knowledge coming from him and there are a couple of community leaders who i look up to and respect and while I do not ask them lots of questions, I like to share with them my progress, just so they know that their efforts in writing articles, blog posts and the like are not wasted and that there are some who really appreciate the effort they go to to share their time, skills and knowledge to a wide audience.

And it saddened me, while speaking with one of these wizened leaders of the home brew community that he said he was retiring from home brewing. And lets face it, he has certainly earned the right to retire and enjoy the fruits of his dedication to home brew and construction. But that is not why he is taking a break, he is taking a break because of emails saying things like I don’t like your designs and I disagree how you treat the radio art.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with people. If someone emailed me something like that, they would get told to go fuck themselves with a hammer, their email would be black listed and their IP added to IPTABLES to DROP all connections from them. See, I just do not have time for these kinds of gutless fucks. Which is why i just focus in doing what I do. People can come along on the journey with me and offer support or they can go to hell.

Its a rather sad indictment on our hobby that people who mostly do nothing, contribute nothing and build nothing are experts on everything that others are doing and building. As some of you are aware of, I moderate a couple of home brew related groups on fakebook and I see this all the time there also, people who really never build anything join these kinds of groups just to tell others how expert they are and to post stupid things that have nothing to do with home brewing. They do not last of course because I take a zero tolerance view to moderating and just delete their posts and or remove them from the group.

I have had a few people over the years tell me that my blog or my videos are not up to their standard. People who have never posted a single thing in their own lives, not even to their QRZ pages. Its tough tits to them hey? And I have others asking for X Y and Z, to which I reply, I am not doing any of this as a service to anyone, I am doing this because I want to keep some sort of documentation of what I have done. This blog for me is not a teaching tool for anyone, its my diary that documents my journey. I can look back in time and see where I was and how far I have come. I am also not really a teacher, I am more an encourager and hopefully and inspirer. If one person reads stuff on here and goes, well if this idiot can do all this, I am sure I can. Or if someone goes OHHH thats a good idea let me improve on it, then for me I have one and fulfilled my duty as a ham to pass it on. For me its not knowledge, but passion that I wish to pass on.

So, how to be a good elmer? Just get out there and do what you love and do it to the best of your ability and show the world just how passionate you are about your thing. It really does not matter what your thing is, be it home brew, portable operation, contests or heavens forbid bloody rag chewing. Do it with love and passion and inspire others with your addiction. You see, the people who I look upto and respect in the hobby and the guys who actually get off their asses and do something. Their actions inspire me to work harder, understand more and to be better.

Ultimately and elmer is someone who leads by example. And leaders are something sorely lacking in the world right now, lets not make ham radio less than what it already is, get out there and lead and show people there is more to the hobby than pissing and moaning on fakebook about who touched you on the frequency, who does not radio like you do, what the idiots at “Insert You National Organization” are doing. Be number 13 on the DX code of conduct: I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect. And be the best you that you can be and avoid the arseholes.

To my friends and the people who have inspired me, thank you.

Baxter Out.

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The Last Post Of 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

We have ticked off all the holidays and have survived the dumpster fire of 2020. Stay safe and stay well everyone. I will see you on the other side in 2021. May it be a whole lot better than this last year has been.

73’s

VK4HAT

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The End Of An Era

Welcome to the 7.130 dx net. We meet here Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 7.130mhz. I am Roy, VK7ROY your net control. Check us out on facebook and on twitter. Looking for check ins, looking for dx, this is VK7ROY, please send your call sign now.

The above quote is something very familiar to many Australians. The 7.30 dx net as we call it, because it starts at 7.30pm local time had been for as long as i remember an institution. In fact it ran for over 12 years, but sadly is no more.

On Friday just gone, i had some time and felt like playing some radio and thought to myself, look at the time, its almost time for the 7.30 dx net and off i went and turned on the radio, tuned up the antenna and spun the dial to 7.130mhz. Nothing, some “expert” (and you all know what i think about experts) telling an fcall what is what. So i sat and waiting for Roy or Mal to come on and start. But 10mins later and the “expert” is still pissing in the pocket of some fcall and no dx net, something has to be up. I need to find out.

Before i get to that, the dx net was a very friendly place for newbies to get their feet wet in ham radio. The net controls both had good stations that could hear the weak signals of the fcalls and took the time and effort to make them feel welcome. It was one of the places where I cut my teeth as an newbie fcall.  While i did not always check in, for many years when i was building or designing some electronics, I would have it running in the background as something to listen to. Then the bottom of the cycle came and i was more often than not, not hearing them, or mostly hearing asia, so i stopped tuning in.

Thats not to day i did not often try, or when I had some new toy I would use it as my testing ground as i did with a uBITx in the following post I made back in 2018.

Checking into the dx net

But alas, all good things come to an end. And after sitting waiting for the net to start and it not happening, I did what Roy would always ask us to do, i went and checked them out on facebook. Turns out, that the net has not run since May 2020. I am 7 months behind the times and did not even know that it ended. Hey I know it must be hard to pretty much run 3 nets a week by yourself for 12 years, Roy really deserves a medal for doing this for so long.

So to Roy and Mal and there also was a VK4 whose name and call alludes me, thanks for being there, thanks for being supportive of fcalls and newbies in general and thanks for being examples worthy of following and emulating. And while my interests went from operating to more construction and home brew, you should know that you certainly had an influence on many and that we appreciate all you have done. 73’s and thanks for all the fish.

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Taking 5 Minutes

Work has been quiet this week, so I have been really getting into some home brew, its amazing what you can get done when you have some time on your hands. Anyway, I have cleaned up my work bench, and I am currently sitting back and enjoying a nice double espresso and a home made doughnut. And thinking about what I am going to do next.

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Happy Birthday Corona Virus

 

Its officially been 12 months since the world awoke to the novel corona virus. While initially it was novel, the novelty has worn off. So far i have not caught it and I have no intention to put myself in harms way either. Stay safe, stay well is the motto here and hope you are doing the same. So happy birthday corona virus, lets hope you do not have a 2nd birthday.

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The Golden Rule

I have been mincing on how to approach this post for a few days now. I think that this is the eleventeenth revision. So lets see if i can manage this with some level of decorum and professionalism. So, the golden rule of ham radio, NO RELIGION, NO POLITICS.

Over time i have been slowly dropping out of the online space, specifically social media because I am just done with the yelling at each other over politics. From ham radio groups on facebook to general news, the US election is like a pox that is infesting every aspect of life and everything it touches it destroys. Once good communities where people from all sides of politics worked together on a common and shared interest start ripping each others faces off like vampires taking over the world, all because one person took a partisan political stand.

Our TV and newspapers in Australia are filled daily with partisan politics from the USA, so much so that even though we had a state election here on the weekend, stupid shit that trump says makes the headlines. Trying to find an escape from the fucktardery that is US politics is becoming harder and harder. There were still some bastions of hope within the ham radio community that were holding out against politics in ham radio, but the last beacon of light has also been snuffed out.

Soldersmoke decided to take a partisan stand in the US election. I understand what they did and why they did it. But the end result was always going to be the same. They turned a once mighty community focused on home brew, electronics and learning and turned it into just another platform for people to divide into their tribes. Fuckwits for trump, dickheads for biden and the third group which I am more a part of, cant we just have one fucking thing that is not perverted by US politics. The answer is no. We cannot.

Ham radio just died for me today. There is nothing left to hope for. It is just me and my soldering iron now. The last voice of reason has walked out the door.

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