Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ham Discovers New Band

Last weekend, Tom Sharp, NE1CLU, discovered a new amateur radio band. While tuning around last weekend during the ARRL DX contest, Sharp accidentally hit the band button on his radio marked “10” and heard signals.

“Ever since getting on HF four or five years ago, I’ve never heard anything on my radio when I pushed the ‘10’ button. I used to think the radio was busted, but it seemed to work fine everywhere else. So I figured that must be a band the FCC hadn’t let us on yet.” said Sharp. “I’d just forgotten about it and never bothered pushing the ‘10’ button anymore. Then, last weekend I accidentally hit it and there were signals on the band. Guess I missed the announcement from the AR-double-L about the FCC opening that band up to hams.”

Sharp worked several South American and Caribbean stations that were in the contest as well as hearing numerous US stations. “Wow, it great having a new band to play on. That ‘10’ band was a lot of fun.”

However Sharp noted that that day after the contest the band was again devoid of signals. “I hope last weekend wasn’t just a one time thing. Maybe the FCC only gave us access to the ‘10’ band just for the contest weekend?”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dear Cousin QRM

Dear Cousin QRM,
My YL has corralled me into finally tying the knot. I’m trying to save money on the wedding so I can buy a K3. So I had the brilliant idea of printing our wedding invitations on the back of my QSL cards. Most of my friends are hams, so I know they’ll appreciate it. My YL isn’t too keen on the idea. What do you think?

Desperate in Des Moines

Dear Desperate,
Cousin thinks it’s a wonderful idea to print your wedding invites on the back of your QSL card. Ever since the A-R-Double-L started up that online log program, LoLTW, our stack of custom printed QSL cards from The Little Print Shop has been sitting pretty constant and gathering dust. Sounds like a good plan to use those cards up, but make sure you use the one with both of your calls on them. What? She doesn’t have a callsign? Wellllllll, good luck. In our experience those mixed marriages don’t work out too well.

Dear Cousin QRM,
How many radios are too many?

Broke in Bangor

Dear Broke,
This is one of those rhetorical questions, ain’t it? Like, if a tower falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it fall, can you still work the ZL7? After great deliberation, Cousin’s answer to your question is ‘two more than you currently have’.

Dear Cousin QRM,
The FCC rules say we’re supposed to use the minimum power necessary to make a contact. But my QRP signal is always getting blown away in the pileups by all these guys running amplifiers. Because they are running excessive power, I can’t work the DX. I spent five days in the pileup for the South Orchid DXpedition, calling and calling and calling before I ever worked him. Obviously, if I could work them with 5W, they don't need a thousand. If it wasn’t for all those QRO fellows QRMing me, I could have worked them a lot sooner.

QRP in Quantico

Dear QRP,
You spent FIVE DAYS calling in the pileup? Cousin flipped on the Alpha and worked them in about 15 minutes, after which he went back to catching up on episodes of Desperate Housewives. Who caused more QRM?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contester/DXer Files Disability Claim

Avid contester and DXer, Melvin Blouhard, K6LID, has filed a claim for disability with the Social Security Administration claiming physical impairment of his left index finger has made it impossible for him to work. He is applying for benefits claiming to be permanently disabled.

Carpel tunnel of the left index finger, know as F1-finger, is emerging as a major threat to active contesters and DXers. The constant, repetitive motion of pressing the F1 key on the computer keyboard to call CQ produces stresses on the index finger and can in extreme cases result in painful inflammation of the finger’s ligaments.

“A typical contest weekend I might press the F1 key two to five thousand times,” says Blouhard. “Then add in all the hours sitting in pileups or rare DX stations - I use F1 to send my call when DXing - that’s probably another three to four thousand times a week. It starts to add up.” “We’ve had a lot of good DXpeditions the last couple of years,” he added.

When questioned how impairment of his left index finger would make him completely disabled, Blouhard responded,”Everybody has to use a computer these days, regardless of the type of work you do. My left index finger is so sore and painful, I can’t hardly type anymore. I can barely stand to type out responses to some of that bull bleep stuff on CQ Contest, let alone set those boneheads on QRZ straight. The pain is just constant. Even when I’m not in front of the computer, it hurts so much I can hardly do anything using my left hand. I’m single so my, uh, personal life has also suffered tremendously.”

It is not known just how many active amateurs suffer from F1-finger, but it is thought that this is the first time a claim for disability from the syndrome has been filed. If successful, Blouhard’s claim may open a floodgate of claims based on contest and DX related injuries. The law firm of Howe, Dewy, Cheatham, and Wynn is considering adding disability claims to their radio related portfolio of services offered to the amateur radio community.

In the meantime, Blouhard continues to suffer with the pain of F1-finger as he sits in the VP8ORK pileup and attempts to log a new one.