On the origins of “Elmer” – a reasonable theory

It seems the origins of the ham radio “Elmer” as a teacher or mentor has been lost over time.

Well maybe just a bit forgotten?

Here is a 1920s Amateur Radio book in its more recent reprint that might offer a clue:

It seems the down to earth writing and persistent mentoring by the author created a name recognition in radio’s early days.

One attribution is:

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Entering My Fourteenth Year writing With Varying Frequency

It was January 21st 2007 when the first post for this blog appeared – https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2007/01/21/ponderings-on-the-k9zw-shack/

My computer ran Windows XP, my main transceiver was a TenTec Pegasus, the antenna was a Gap Titan-DX, my software was MixW and N4PY Pegasus Control, and I was still using my original call sign KB9GPN as a General Class Ham.

The Blog project started as a dare from my then school aged sons – basically they told me about this new world of blogs and said I was “too old” to really understand.

Having cut my online teeth running a FIDO-net Node and BBS (do you remember Opus?) and other non-realtime packet switchstream experiments since the onset in the early 1980s, I thought the boys had underestimated me.

Hence “With Varying Frequency” was born.

Some statistics:

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Washington Island QTH Internet Woes

Since we acquired our Washington Island QTH five years ago we have struggled with a bundled phone/internet package from Frontier Communications.  The internet side is an aDSL link that never meets speed or reliability promises.

Frontier replaced our buried underground in an effort to improve the situation a few years back, in the process they cut the wires for ten of our neighbors which didn’t make us the most popular.

I’ve been running utilities to do a casual monitoring of the internet service, and as an example in the last 72 hour visit on island Frontier’s aDSL was down complete twice and had serious difficulties passing traffic on another ten occasions.

At a service disruption averaged out ever 6 hours (a number which also ignores disruptions too short to catch with my very amateur tracking protocol) you would think our Broadband was dial-up services from the 1980s!

As for throughput, hey if anything makes it through it is a bonus.

There are limited options on Washington Island:

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Midnight Design Solutions Phaser 20m FT8 Transceiver Kit Has Arrived

The week of December 9th 2019 I ordered one of Dave Benson’s K1SWL’s newest kit designs, Midnight Design Solutions Phaser, in the 20m version, along with an enclosure kit.

The kits arrived on January 10th 2020, earlier than originally predicted or expected.

Here is look inside a a Phaser:

Midnight Design’s Phaser FT8 Transceiver

These radios are single band designs, and the main FT8 frequency for the band is fixed, while an alternative frequency is defined but can be used modified. Actually it appears that the programming will work out of band, but the filtering & circuits not so much.

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Bad Manuals – Impromptu Programming of a TH-D74A Handheld

Over the weekend at a friend’s ham shack, he handed me a Kenwood THE-D74A and asked me to program his local repeater frequency for him.

With great capabilities to often comes great complexity.

After several minutes of floundering I ask “where’s the manual for this radio?”

So you can follow along here is the link to the English version


Now here I am struggling with an overly complex handheld radio with a poor manual.

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Thinking Ahead – Misinformation and disinformation techniques to mask your true identity as an Amateur Radio Operator

Another in a series of posts in the Thinking Ahead Series started with:  https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/im-a-ham-or-am-i/

Misinformation and disinformation techniques to mask your true identity as an Amateur Radio Operator seems like a bit of mischief in the making, until you reflect on what the costs of being fully identified as a Ham Radio operator might be.

I’d like to run thoughts from the common sense easy end to the more involved techniques.

At the easiest and most passive is to simply use identifiers and operating techniques identifying you to the minimum.

Another Call Sign

This could be using a club or station call sign.  It is common practice to use such call signs in many normal instances, and you will often hear a number of operators using a club or event call sign, rather than their own individual call signs.

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