Category Archives: K9ZW Just Rambled

What does an Amateur Radio Rating or Review really mean?

What does an Amateur Radio Rating or Review really mean?

The annual pre-Hamvention “who is rated highest” games has started it 2019 round with yet another new rig be trumpeted as “the bee’s knees.”

As I write this radio hasn’t been on the market for a month, but the campaign is lauding the rig as so exceptional that you just have to buy one. (The FCC approval for one version was achieved April 12th 2019 despite a Hamvention 2018 May debut, and the higher power version is still waiting for FCC approval.)

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Check out Dustin N8RMA’s 2019 State of the Hobby Survey Results

Dustin N8RMA did a great job again putting together a survey and using Microsoft’s “Sway” to present results.

Definitely worth spend a few minutes checking the results.

(Click on the SWAY button once you have his article up in your browser to access the report):

I’m going to hold my comments so as to not bias your reading of the results. I think much speaks for itself as it is.

And again a reach out & thank you to Duston N8RMA for the fine work!



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REPOST: Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain – Cause & Effect of Non-Elmers

A repost from January 2007 that still rings true today.  This morning I was reading various forum posts by amateurs who couldn’t see anything positive and missed the point that by Elmering we better ourselves as well.

Original publication


A wonderful aspect of Amateur Radio is the on going opportunity to share what we learn, or in “Ham Speak” to be an “Elmer” by teaching & mentoring.

There is something so special about encouraging someone to get on the air, or work their first contest, or to try digital modes, or to take a turn as net control, or any of the 100’s of other operating experiences.

I’ve been lucky and met some very fine people who have taken time to explain what to do, shared their experiences on what worked well for them, and have offered both encouragement and advice.

A puzzling side of the hobby is those of us who purposely miss out the chance to share, rather holding-close their knowledge & never passing on what they have learned.

One wonders if they are taken with the mystique of the hobby – puffing up & making a display for effect and not disposed to explaining how they pulled off that DX contact or Managed that Net. Sort of the thing like in the Wizard of Oz where the great Oz was really just a clever man who’s nature was to not share his understanding of technology, hiding behind it as something greater than he actually was.

Or is it the more likely situation that not everyone can Elmer and those who might need to be learn how just like they learned all their other radio skills?

The few of us to who instructing & mentoring comes with great difficulty because the strengths of our personalities are different than the needs of the tasks of an Elmer are rare.

But those of use who haven’t yet discovered a Elmering pattern, a set of methods that work for us, are common.

When given confidence that they know the material, the situation is under control, and with the knowledge that what they are doing is important & special, many an Amateur would do just great at Elmering.

Not everyone takes well to the “toss them in and see if they swim” introduction to Elmering – the Radio equivalent where without much preparation you are pushed off the end of the dock and told to “just swim.”

Most of us like to be prepared to do something we’ve not done & might find difficult.

In my industry there are several “Train the Trainer” programs, where specific skills are taught to people who will instead of just using the skills (Technical or Safety) are expected to teach those skills to others.

Maybe it is time for clubs & organizations to look at doing “Train the Trainer” Amateur Radio education?

Every opportunity to help another Radio Amateur should be a natural call to action to share, teach and encourage, or we’ll be no better than that “Man Behind the Curtain” pretending to be “The Great Oz.”



Natives vs Innovators, Closet Ludditism, and Petulant Frenzies (Or how the Peanut Gallery improves your Readership)

Natives vs Innovators, Closet Ludditism, and Petulant Frenzies (Or how the Peanut Gallery improves your Readership)

Seems that some clever folk puzzled their way through the obfuscation efforts pairing my comments with the observed original incidents in my recent posts.

Then they decided to show us further how clever they are by deciding it was a an high act of their clever genius to act as spoilers explaining their dismay to the world – not in a personal blog but in an active community forum – appealing to some sort of guiding parental body to make me do something or be punished somehow.

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NASA Earth Observatory (EO) started 20 years ago!

This is about one of the cool parts of our NASA program. For the most part it is complementary to ham radio, rather than a foundation source. I know I have enjoyed their online photos these last 20 years:

On April 29, 1999, NASA Earth Observatory (EO) started delivering science stories and imagery to the public through the Internet. So much has changed in those 20 years…

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Playing Well With Others – It’s part of the Radio Amateur’s Creed, but is it Part of Your Personal Creed?

Playing Well With Others – It’s part of the Radio Amateur’s Creed, but is it Part of Your Personal Creed?

Our hobby is about communications – more exactly “cooperative communications.” If we are a Contestor, a DXer, an Awards Chaser we’re looking to make each radio contact a cooperative one so we get our return reports, confirmations and are logged. We may be looking to cooperate towards exchanging online, LoTW or QSL Card confirmations of our cooperative contact.

If we are a rag chewer we look to achieve that cooperation get a two-way dialogue going, sustained and perhaps even end up with an agreement to schedule another contact.

Any which way, when we key up a radio we’re looking to share a communication event with at least one other ham.
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