Choosing Ham Radio Equipment, New Directions Events and the Amateur Radio Test

With just a few pieces of ham radio equipment, New Directions Radio hopes to build a national communication network of amateur radio operators.

| March/April 1974

What's New

The Sunday afternoon New Directions Roundtable sessions continue, but now start an hour earlier than indicated in the January/February 1974 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS (for the new starting times, see chart that accompanies this article). Recent ham radio events of particular interest have included one in which Jim Stamper discussed his project to help poor people of southern Virginia through this winter's energy crunch and another in which North Country Anvil's Jack Miller returned for a talk about the media. Other highlights of the late winter: a women's session; Wes Thomas (W21KQ), editor of Synergy Access, talking about networking; and raps on organic gardening.

Randy Brink (WA7BKR) and Bob Hickerson (WA6RRR) - two fellows who've been communicating seriously via ham radio for some time now - recently started a West Coast section of the Roundtable which meets Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights at 8 p.m. PDT on 3898 kHz. Randy and Bob are very stimulating people - into doing, not just talking - and we're fortunate that they've made this considerable commitment of time and energy.

A group of us who are interested in alternative sources of energy started an ASE Net in late January. Sessions begin at 11 p.m. EDT on 3905 kHz. Although primary coverage is the eastern half of the U.S., the actual range depends on current propagation conditions, so don't hesitate to give these meetings a try even if you live in the West. We're hoping to have a fully national communication network.

Among the letters we've received recently was one from Godfrey Boyle (G30WC), who edits Undercurrents, a London-based alternative technology magazine. He wrote, "I've often been mind boggled by the fantastic possibilities of a planet-wide network of relatively self-sufficient alternative technology-type communities, linked to one another by low-cost, low-energy shortwave radio. The synergy a system like that could create would be tremendous!" Godfrey has no equipment at the moment - having gotten "bored with inane discussions about frequencies, DX, transmitters, etc. (ZZZZZZ . . . Z!)" - but we hope he'll be back on the air soon. Getting these international communication links forged is one reason for the daily monitoring of 21.390 in the 15-meter amateur band. (See the schedule for a summary of all current on-the-air activities at the time - late January - this was written.)

Advice on License Exams

Jim Stamper just passed his General and Advanced tests in Washington, D.C. and has a few comments on the current procedure. "Have Form 610 filled out in advance," he says, "arrive early and bring exactly $9.00 . . . the FCC staff doesn't make change." The test Jim took was given in an office - with all the usual distractions - and he suggests that you be able to copy solidly the 15 wpm transmissions from W1AW to counteract the anxiety of the scene. You're no longer allowed (as I was) to go back and fill in blank spaces at the end of the code test. There were no "trick" questions on the General Class theory exam, and Jim thinks that portion of the test should present no problems if you can handle the questions in the License Manual.

Communication Reliability

In a recent letter, Roger Jacobsen (a former ham who's getting involved again) ventured a guess that some people will be turned off by trying to communicate through the periods of interference common on the long distance"HF" bands. Also, Roger himself is bothered by the distortion of natural voice quality which commonly occurs in Roundtable operation when all SSB signals are not tuned exactly right.

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