Thursday, February 23, 2012

End of the World As We Know It

Don’t worry about waiting for the end of the world in December. It’s already happened. It happened five years ago today. February 23, 2007. The effective date the FCC eliminated the code requirement. The day that ham radio ended. Yup. We’ve been walking dead for five years now, whether we knew it or not.

Of course that was the most recent end of ham radio. Previously, ham radio ended on April 15, 2000. That was the date when the FCC dropped the 13 wpm and 20 wpm code tests, leaving only the 5 wpm code test required for obtaining a license. Brain damaged monkeys can be taught to copy code at 5 wpm.

Prior to that, ham radio died in February 1991 when the FCC dropped the code requirement for the Technician class license. For the first time, it was possible to get on the air without any code test whatsoever. Of course, we kept them corralled to the repeaters on the VHF bands, so no real harm done. Except that’s where they started and stayed, for the most part.

Of course, the end of REAL ham radio began September 2, 1984. That’s when the FCC got out of the license testing business. No more facing the grim faced FCC examiners. No sweating the code tests as they rattled off on a decrepit code player. They even started publishing the questions.

We’re just zombies. Walking dead playing our paddles and working DX. Sooner or later we’ll wake up and realize it. In the meantime there’s a 3C on 30m that I need.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Changes to ARRL Contests

ARRL Contest Czar and all around tall guy, Sean Kudzu, announced changes to the list of multipliers for ARRL sponsored contests using ARRL/RAC sections for multipliers. The changes affect the November Sweepstakes and ARRL 160m contests.

The changes include combining the sections of North and South Dakota into the plain Dakota section. Surveys show that most Americans can’t identify the Dakotas on a map and aren’t even aware there are two separate states, including most of the residents of North and South Dakota.

Two new sections are being created. The Florida Keys will become their own section and will be known as the Conch Republic Section. While the full time ham population of the new Conch Republic section is relatively small, lots of portable activity from CO and HK ops transiting the region is expected.

The second new section to be created is Northern Virginia, or NoVa section. The region of Virginia consisting of the suburbs of Washington,DC have long held a separate cultural, political, and economic identity from the rest of the Old Dominion state. The rest of Virginia finally got tired of the NoVa belly aching and decided to cut them loose.

In a bit of irony, Washington, DC remains part of the MDC section with Maryland despite the vocal protestations of quite a few Washington amateurs demanding their own section. The only explanation for denying separate status for DC is that doing so is an opportunity to do to DC what its most prominent occupants do to the rest of the country.

There are also some changes slated for the Canadian sections which are part of RAC, ARRL’s sister organization north of the border. It involves splitting one big providence into a couple of smaller sections. The details are confusing and obscure, as even several of the affected VE’s response to the announcement was, “Eh?”

The announcement of changes to the ARRL contests brought forth the expected shrugging of shoulders from most of the contest community, but a few of the internet contestsenti erupted with the usual roar they exhibit to any change to a contest. The most hardcore claim that the November Sweepstakes rules are carved in stone and carried down from Mt. Athos by Saint Hiram himself and should never be changed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

CW Twits

Here's just the thing for combining my two favorite worlds - cw and the intertubes. Only wussies use a keyboard. Real Big Guns use a key. For everything.

Here's a cool project that uses a straight key to post inane Twitter posts (are there any other kind?). Now if we can just hook up a real paddle and crank the speed up to 35 wpm this would be a Big Gun Twitter Telegraph. Dit dit.