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Hunting the HZ 100 km square

Dear Reader,

I have had a lesson in patience, self control and civility recently. I took part in the international lighthouses on the air weekend, I tend to ‘gatecrash’ this event to try to collect rare WAB squares. I freely admit that in my life at this time I have no interest in collecting lighthouses or islands (IOTA is not for me) but in common with the vast majority of radio amateurs I have the motto of ‘live and let live’, as long as someone is doing no harm I tend to leave them to their devices, I do my best not to harm the interests of others and I even behave in a gentlemanly way to those who have inadvertently harmed my interests. I do not wish to set myself up as God almighty or a spectral policeman as I do not think I am perfect, as a radio ham I take seriously the advice of “take the log out of your own eye before the splinter from someone else’s eye”.

I am aware that there is the problem that a pathetic little man hiding behind his radio (or computer) can start acting like a big macho man. He might feel that he can kick sand in other people’s faces without any consequences, but thankfully in the radio community very few people choose to kick sand or otherwise act up. The great problem which the radio ham faces is that radio spectrum is a finite resource and he/she needs to be able to get on with all the other users of that slice of the spectrum. I think that three things sum it up.

It is like a workplace in that you do not need to like them, you just have to get on with them !

It is like life, what you get out is what you put in !

It is like a joke, it helps if you keep it clean !

Despite the need to only get on with them, most radio hams tend to be friends with their fellow hams. It is said that the ham radio community is an international brotherhood which does its best to look after the interests of all its members.

One of the things which helps people get on with is an etiquette of how to behave. This weekend I wanted to use about a 3 kHz slice of the 14 MHz band, it seemed empty. The rules are that unless an empty space in an amateur band has a nationally or internationally agreed special use then it is free for any ham to use. I paused for thought, I could hear nothing going on that frequency but before I used it I took a little precaution to reduce my risk of harming someone else’s interests.

I called out “Is the frequency in use ? Is the frequency in use ?”

A moment later a voice spoke back

“Yes this frequency is in use ! Thanks for asking !”

I had inadvertently intruded on someone else’s activity, now if you ever do this then I would advise you to not to apologise as that would create more QRM (interference) and then change frequency. I choose to simply change frequency to somewhere else in the band.

A short while later I was faced with being the station of interest in pileup, I have to confess I like working pileups. I strongly hold the view that when working a pile up then the following rules apply.

  1. I have to be totally fair
  2. I should give low power and mobile stations special treatment
  3. I should never reward bad behaviour

The way I like to work a pile up is that I make a list, if I hear a complete callsign then the first one I note down is the top of the list, I quickly confirm with the station calling me their callsign before I then ask who else is calling (QRZ). Then the next one gets added to the list, it goes on until I can not hear anyone else who wants to join the list.

I then work my way through the list having a short conversation with each person in the list.

If things get so hectic that I can not hear a complete callsign then the way I like to do it is to use ‘filters’. I will do things like specify

‘Any station with a zero in the callsign’

‘Any station with a one in the callsign’

‘Any station with a two in the callsign’

etc etc

others filters include

‘Any low power station’

‘Any station outside europe’

I then work my way through the list of filters in a methodical manner, collecting callsigns for the list. When the list is finished then I start to work it.

The most important thing here is self discipline on the part of everyone if the list system of dealing with the pile up is to work.

While I am on the subject of operation I want to have a mini rant about some things.

  1. Do not make up funny alphabets of things like

Lizard, Tiger,London, Cat, Arse and Toad.

For starters the rude word is a big no no, and also it is more confusing than

Lima, Tango, Lima, Charley, Alpha and Tango.

  1. Use your callsign each time you work a new station,

If you are not willing to use it then something is wrong with you. Is some part of your callsign dirty ? Are you ashamed of it ! I happen to be proud of my two callsigns (G7LSZ and SA6BID)

  1. Do not recite your callsign super fast like a infernal machine gun, you know your callsign well, I know mine well but I do not know yours
    well. You give out your callsign not for fun or to make you feel ‘good but to allow other people to note down who you are. So take your time
    please !

On keeping it clean, my view is that by careful choice and use of a radio then the transmitted RF will be clean and free from nasties such as harmonics and other unwanted emissions. By avoiding any discussion of sexual matters, politics, toilet humour, religion and other controversial matters it will be clean from offensive matter.

I say if in doubt then do not say it, and also pretend your mother, a 10 year old child and the local nun/rabbi/priest/your boss are in the room. If you would not say it in front of that crowd then do not say it.

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