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Re: 11 meters and Morse code:

>> On Tue, 26 Oct 1999 20:22:33 +0000, Margaret Leber <maggie@voicenet.com>

>People like doing work like Bob Bruninga are the best hope that "packet
>radio"--and the amateur digital modes in general-- have to avoid sliding
>into irrelevance. 

The following is a general comment, not a personal criticism of Maggie or
anyone else.  But I'm sensing a tone in this thread that needs to be answered.

In the U.S. two purposes of the amateur service, stated in the regulations,
are creating a reservoir of trained communications operators, and
international friendship and goodwill.  So even those of us who are not
personally advancing the radio art have just as much of a right to be on
the bands as anyone else.  

I prefer my radio communication to be real-time.  In other words, I want
technology that enables me to exchange thoughts and feelings with somebody
else, often from another country and culture, and do it *now*, so we can
react to each other moment-to-moment.  

This is why I like analog satellites, and why I like PSK31 and Pactor.  And
why I like HF.  It's why I don't care so much about yet another variation
on the email/flying mailbox theme.  And I consider the cultural changes
technology imposes.  For example, I wonder how the pressure for us all to
become nodes on a network will affect the individualist operator who just
likes to explore and make random contacts?  Or, what will spread spectrum
do to weak-signal work, and to the concept of a frequency as a physical
meeting place, a street corner in the ether?

I get a bit irritated when the technocrats among us start throwing epithets
like "obsolete," "irrelevant," "buggy whips," "stone age," or--you should
pardon the expression--"11 meters."  FM works.  SSB works.  CW works.
Baudot RTTY works.  Even tube gear works--and if it's what a brother or
sister amateur can afford, why should we disparage it?  Part of being a ham
has always been getting on the air somehow, even when you can only afford
last year's junk.  

I confess that APRS does not float my boat enough for me to devote myself
to it.  I read about it, I admire the ingenuity of it. The recent
development of using APRS to send brief messages is a nice touch with some
exciting possibilities.  But right now--and I reserve the right to change
my mind next week--there are other things I'd rather do more.

On the other hand, when PSK31 came out, I embraced it immediately, because
it was a way to communicate real-time a lot better than before, and it
meant that a low power, small antenna guy like me could now work HF DX
under crappy conditions even if I didn't feel like copying CW.  I even did
some experiments on AO-10 that suggest that a somewhat wider-bandwidth,
doppler-compensated "son of PSK31" would make a dandy satellite keyboard
chat mode for those that can't make the link requirements for SSB. 

Now PSK31 was really nothing earthshakingly new, but it was a practical and
ingenious adaptation of DSP and some well-known modulation methods that
offered a real improvement to amateur communications, using equipment most
of us already had.  Pentium, sound card, just add software and stir.

Sometimes we tinker with technology for its own sake.  Sometimes we do the
best we can with what we can.  Some of us design the radio equivalent of
hydroplane racers, and some of us sail.  Let's celebrate both.

73 from KD7MW,

--- Peter
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