Too much testing. Not enough teaching.

I typically do not operate on 40 meter during the day, however today I did spin around the band for a few minutes, and came upon a conversation that caught my attention. I was listening to an (new) Extra class ham asking questions that a Novice from 40 years ago could have easily answered.

Why are these clubs that are testing, not teaching?

Is memorizing answers to the test questions now the norm?

First it was “for ID”

now a popular ignorant trend is to announce your call, then announce the 10 minute after the hour segment it is.

Example AW2WWW on the fifty.

Meaning I’m AW2WWW and it’s 50 minutes after the hour.

Not only does this sound stupid, it serves no useful purpose.

How about we just go all the way and say…. AW2WWW for ID on the fifty.

Customer Service

Over the past 40 years, I have acquired a lot of amateur radio equipment, having a good chunk of change invested. My homeowners insurance policy covers most electronics, however I was looking for a policy specific to my amateur radio gear. The search was on….

Ham Radio Insurance Associates

For more than 10 days I have been asking Bill at Ham Radio Insurance Associates for a printed copy of what the insurance he is offering, actually covers and excludes. I feel this is a reasonable request, so I can read what I’m actually purchasing beforehand. A verbal statement is not satisfactory. I want it in writing. However Bill at Ham Radio Insurance Associates would never comply with my request! Becoming frustrated, I called the insurance policy underwriter and asked a few questions. I was not surprised to learn that what I was being told verbally, and what was on his website was not accurate information. Learning of these inaccuracies, and misleading answers I received from Bill, made it clear too me that I need to look elsewhere for additional coverage. I did.

The American Radio Relay League

I sent an email to the contact as listed on the ARRL Web Site concerning the insurance policy being offered by the league. Within 2 hours, YES 2 hours I had a copy of the policy available for purchase in my hand. A night and day difference in customer service. I’m currently going over the information I received from the ARRL about coverage and exclusions.

If I do decide to seek additional coverage, who do you think I’m going with?


59 with 3D2AG ‘Antoine’ in the Republic of Fiji this morning on 20 meters.

I was using the Yaesu FTDX101MP, the Palstar LA-1K @ 1KW, with the Force12 pointing to 260 deg. He was calling CQ DX. Many were answering. Heard me on my first call.

We exchanged pleasantries, and I then sat back and listened to people from all over the Earth give him a call.

It all begins at the microphone

Here are some hints to having great audio within 3kHz of bandwidth on amateur radio. I actually run 2.8kHz. 100-2900Hz, with fantastic results.

As Bob Heil says, it all begins at the microphone. And he is correct. Use a high quality mic, no matter the brand you choose. Use high quality mic cable and connectors. If you construct your own cable (I do) pay close attention to all solder connections.

Station grounding. This is extremely important to transmitting clean audio. Unfortunately many hams skimp on proper (rf) grounding. Don’t be that person.

Understand the settings in your radio. Unfortunately many hams have no clue on how to properly setup their rig, due to having never thoroughly read, and understand the operators manual. Truth be known, their operators manual is probably stored away in the shipping box the transceiver arrived in. These people stick out like a sore thumb on the air. Don’t be one of them.

Listen to your audio with some high quality headphones using the monitor feature of your transceiver. By doing so, this gets you in the ball park of the correct settings.

Once you sound decent with the monitor feature of your radio, use a 2nd high quality receiver to listen to your actual transmitted audio. Don’t have a second receiver on hand? Use a on-line SDR to listen to yourself. Make any necessary adjustments to your transceiver as needed.

Once you have your settings to your likings, get on the air and make some contact. Always monitor your ALC. I found an average of 75% ALC works best for me. Avoid compression/processing as much as possible. There is a time and place for compression/processing. This is not that time.

As you are making contacts, NEVER ASK anyone how you sound. If you sound good you will receive UNSOLICITED comments. Once you begin receiving these UNSOLICITED comments, leave your settings alone. Don’t be one of these LIDS that re-adjust their setting each time they get on air.

A word about outboard audio gear. Is it necessary with the current transceivers on the market? For most, the answer is no. Especially if you’re using a modern Yaesu or Kenwood. Several of the newer models have a parametric eq feature. Learn it! As for ICOMS’s I can’t say with certainly they have this feature. From what I’ve been told most ICOM’s only have a bass and treble setting. It’s possible that many ICOM’s would benefit from outboard audio gear due to the lack a parametric eq function.

In closing. The above is simply a primer for transmitting good, articulate audio. Complete guide? Absolutely not. Depending on your situation you may have to go an extra mile to achieve your goal. However, once you reach that goal, STOP screwing around with the settings! Remember you can not please everyone, and everyone’s receiver may be setup differently.