delara newsDelaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH VOL 33 NUMBER 2
Joe Papworth, K8MP
AVP: Aliens versus Pretenders
Have you ever listened to the CW portion of ten-meters when it’s open to South America? If you have, then you know it’s loaded with unlicensed radio stations, mostly jabbering away in Spanish. Another Ham told me they are called Free Banders. I don’t know if that’s a self-proclaimed title or if it was bestowed upon them by others. All I can say is that they are a major annoyance, especially during sun spot peaks.This has been going on for decades and I think it pretty much began with the CB craze of the ‘70s. To avoid the congestion of the CB channels, people started modifying CB rigs to work in the 10-meter Ham band. Heck, a lot of Hams were doing it too, legally of course. I remember some of my friends buying CBs and converting them to 10-meter FM for repeater use.Most of the “Pretenders” live south of the border but over the years I have heard U.S. truck drivers and even European and Canadian CBers operating illegally on our frequencies. They were loud too. With my Yagi aimed south, every ten Khz I could hear a conglomeration of SSB and even FM signals trying to talk over each other. Basically, they just moved the mess of the CB channels into the ten-meter band, including their echo-boxes and other audio gadgets.It was easy to empty one of their “channels” though. With a directional antenna and a few hundred watts, I used to clear them out in a hurry. I’d call CQ using CW until I received a reply or until I didn’t hear the Pretenders anymore. If the latter happened first, I’d move to another of their channels and do it again. Sometimes I’d hear South American Hams doing the same thing to them.“Legal Aliens”I used to wonder what the Pretenders thought was happening to their radios, especially during a big contest when the band was wall-to-wall CW signals. I imagined them thinking that Earth was being invaded by aliens. To their untrained ears, the sheer volume of loud, high-speed Morse code signals had to sound like it was something from outer space.I hope you and yours have a safe and healthy 2014 and I hope to see you all at the January meeting.(By the time you read this, our after-the-holidays party will be history and I’m sure we all had fun !!!)And I’ll see you next month, at Joe’s Place.