Operating practice on the bird..

  • While listening to the narrowband transponder, I cannot but wonder about operating practice given events that happened in the last 30 minutes:

    There is a special event station "celebrating 100 years of radio in my country" that is calling. For a long time, few people respond, but some QSO's are made: standard ones, QTH locator and signals.

    At some point, another station joins the frequency and starts calling CQ over the special event station. Listening closer, this seems to be some kind of school station with a very inexperienced operator. But it is unclear if someone else at the school station is monitoring the QSO.

    The special event station, annoyed that the frequency got stolen, calls "frequency occupied" but is not understood and chaos all over.

    After a while, the school station stops.

    Then, the radio station from Bletchly Park comes in, with someone "whose granddad was doing radio 100 years ago", She wants to talk to the "100 years radio" special event station. And the Bletchly visitor tries to explain what her graddad did, and is clearly being guidend by someone else and guided what to say. And more specific, it is clear there are some audio quality issues and people are not understanding what is happening.

    Then the school station, perhaps triggered by the activity on this frequency on an otherwise mostly idle transponder band, joins again and starts calling CQ again, over the QSO that is running, over the shy lady explaining the radio activity of her granddad.... And it becomes a mess of three, nee four stations talking over each other, calling CQ, ...

    There is a number of things to learn from this. One, if you guide someone else, make sure the audio quality is OK so that you and your guest can truely track what is happening. A speaker at an exhibition may be OK to attract visitors but not to get them involved. And while uncommon, perhaps the use of a roger beep helps here: experienced hams know to talk, keep talking, until they audiably hand over the microphone. Radio guests do not, they stop speaking, don't know what to say, wait for someone to guide them. And the station at the other side, gets confused, starts transmitting and replying and doubles over the shy guest speaker.

    When I do JOTA, the use of FM at least more-or-less makes clear when a transmission has ended. We train our scouts before we have them in the radio room. And still mistukes hapen.

    What should have been a showcase of amateur radio, was not. And I wonder and think I should speak up and wonder if we all should learn from this. Monitor closer what is happening. Have the guide really follow the QSO - that was clearly not happening on either station with guests.

    QO100 may be "just a flying radio repeater" but it can be an excellent showcase of what radio is. But we need to make sure operation practice is clear, so that if a guest joins (exciting!) we have measures in place to make this first introduction to amateur radio a success and something one wants to do again.

    I am now pondering to at least add a roger beep for when I will be working with inexperienced guests in a few months. What do you think? And - would the introduction of roger beep make me an outcast on the QO100 community?

    73, Geert Jan PE1HZG

    (PS: for those who have not heard, there is this running joke about the introduction of technology in history:

    • Person one, from world power one, boasts: "During a ground dig, they found copper wires , thousand years old, in the ground in my country. Clearly, my country is very advanced because they had telephony thousand years ago"
    • Not to be outdone, person two, from world power two, boasts: "That is nothing. During a ground dig in my country they found glas, thousand years old. Clearly, my country is very advanced because they had optic fiber networks thousand years ago"
    • Person three, from world power three, shrugs and says: "Well, during a ground dig in my country, they found nothing, thousand years old. And that must be because we were already using wireless communication at that time"

    I could not let this slide given the situation)