delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 36 NUMBER 12

Joe Fischer


Resistance is Futile!

At one time, I did some research on Ye Olde Spark, which is not really what this missive is about.  But, anyway, there was a revolution that took place as spark began to lose its place in the world to a new- fangled technology called continuous wave (CW).  Supposedly, the transition was somewhat acrimonious and I can imagine the old timers saying “Durn kids!  Breathing a little ozone never hurt anybody.  What’s the world coming to with that there continuing wavies, or whatever they call it?” Soon enough, the durn kids won out as radio regulatory agencies all over the world made sure that King Spark was dead and buried. Later, there was another revolution as ancient modulation, whoops – I mean amplitude modulation – started to see competition from a new-fangled technology called single sideband.  OK, let’s get technical: suppressed carrier single sideband – SCSSB.  Ever heard of that? Unlike with the spark-CW war, a few hams remember the AM-SSB skirmish.  How about: “I remember how the bands sounded when AM was the ONLY mode.  Wall to wall heterodyne.” “SSB generally stayed up above 3900 while AM ran 3800-3900.  The heterodyne mess was there, but still many hams stayed put in the heterodyne jungle below 3900 rather than joining the quackity-quack above.” “The benefit to SSB remains. That is that a far greater number of conversations without interference will fit on the band.” Eventually, SSB took over because the overcrowded phone bands could handle more signals with SSB and transmitters got a lot more stable.  Plus, it was more efficient, thus a given power would carry an SSB signal further than an AM signal.  But, AM is not dead and it still has its fans, including a member of our club. We seem to have another revolution underway right before our very eyes.  Thanks to the ever-ubiquitous Dr. Joe Taylor and another guy – Steve Franke – we have a new-fangled mode called FT8 that is sweeping the world by storm. There was a wide-ranging, and at time noisy, discussion on a top band reflector about how FT8 is killing the traditional DX challenge of 160 meters.  There has also been chatter indicating that whenever a 6 meter opening occurs, nary a peep of CW or SSB is heard but the FT8 watering hole is as crowded as the restrooms during halftime of a football game (is that a bad analogy?). I don’t know what to think.  I am not equipped for 160 meter action and the only time I head up to 6 meters is when a VHF contest is underway.  And, then, I only do CW.  I think I missed the September VHF contest so I have no personal experience with whether the bottom end of 6 meters is more dead than usual. Resistance is futile!  You will submit!  For me, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, if at all.  I have never even transmitted on AM so I still have some catching up to do.  Or regressing, perhaps. GL es 73 de Joe AA8TA dit dit
© DELARA News, the official monthly newsletter of the Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware, OH