Copthorne Macdonald, the inventor of slow-scan television, was motivated to organize east coast meetings following the positive results of the second New Directions Radio ham radio operators meeting in Petrolia, CA in 1980.
Last year, more than 20 West Coast NDR members spent an August weekend at Cambiamos—the country home of Bill Sturgeon and Judy Turnbull—in Petrolia, California.
That ham radio operators' meeting marked the second gathering of NDR West. Although I wasn't there, the gang was kind enough to share some reactions with me in the form of a "group letter." Several of the comments deserve a wider audience, and I'd like to pass them along to you.
Bill Goodart (K6CSP): "Wish you were here. This meeting is an example of New Directions Radio at its best. Being able to communicate in person helps keep NDR vital and meaningful."
Thacher Robinson (WB7PRV): "Lots of lovely things happened in Petrolla, but perhaps most significant was the Integration of technical and spiritual communication, two means of relating that are often divorced in our civilization."
Bill Sturgeon (KB6PC): "When I first read your column in MOTHER EARTH NEWS years ago, little did I know that it would lead to this rewarding experience. The word that best describes this assemblage of fine brothers and sisters is ... caring."
Bill Kibler (W6SAZ): "Amateur radio is only a medium. It's people that make NDR West prosper and grow, that make meetings like this possible. Politics, lifestyles, radio, nuclear energy, and philosophy are only a few of the topics of discussion that have begun to fill many radio bands over the past few years. Making connections and sharing resources will continue to be the cornerstone of NDR. Let's get the rest of the U.S. on the wagon, Cop!"
I've decided to devote more time—over the course of what will probably be an otherwise cold and isolating winter—to strengthening my own connections with other NDR people here on the East Coast. For one thing, I plan to spend as many extra hours on the air as I can afford, getting a bit closer to as many of you as I can reach. I want to determine, too, the very best times to hold our on-air meetings. The population density of hams Is higher In the East than in the West, so we do have more Interference to contend with than do our Pacific shore colleagues.
At any rate, if you're a ham in the eastern part of the continent, and are bent on forging stronger links with like-minded folks, just drop me a line. We'll get acquainted via radio and see what we can do to get "on the wagon," as Bill put it.
Furthermore, in order to help Integrate the technical and spiritual aspects of radio communication, I'm currently working on a few projects that I hope will make ham radio an even better "closeness facilitator" than it has yet been. One project is directed at breaking the tyranny of the present ham schedule. We can place a telephone call at any time, to any other number, but when two hams want to contact each other, they must meet at a prearranged time and on a predetermined frequency.
Cliff Buttschardt (W6HDO) has some promising ideas for bringing radio a bit closer to telephone-like convenience. And several of us are working with Cliff to develop a simple alerting system that would "ring up" other NDR hams when one member comes on the air and would like to talk.
My final winter project will be the putting together of an inexpensive ($150) computer terminal kit, and tying the "brain" into my own ham rig. As I've indicated previously, some exciting things are happening in the area of computer/radio systems ... and I've decided to get at least a bare bones setup operating.
The point of a computer/ham radio marriage, you may recall, is to allow broad access to the ever-growing number of available information data banks and—ultimately—to develop a free, and almost instant, electronic "mail" system!
Cop Macdonald (VE1BFL)