One of the things that crossed my mind at the day when I started being a Lecturer of Communication Science was to involve in anything to do with the field. Strangely, I found that I didn’t find anyone in my peer (and those in Communication Faculty) who took amateur radio as something worth exploring. Yes, it was only later I realized that amateur radio (also called ham) is a hobby for people inclined for experimenting with electronic stuffs, especially in transceiver. It’s always technical, while Communication Science (or Communicology, if you will) is a social science.
I am always in the grey area of interests, so I am into both. Anyway, they are not such separate fields that the two is unrelated. A transceiver is a medium of communication, while communicating through a transceiver might be regarded in Communication Science as just one of human way to connect to others. The Ham World is about experimenting technically with the medium (although some people downgrading it to merely rag chewing). Communication Science is a bigger scheme to enable viewing the whole phenomenon of human communication. That is to say, my being a member of Orari (Indonesian organization of Amateur Radio) should enrich me in a way. My current callsign is YC1MTT.
Yesterday was the day I had been waiting: to fix three antennas for the bands I operate on most of the time: VHF, UHF, and HF (80m & 70 cm). After some make-over of my office, all those rigs and antennas had been neglected (all of them are in my office). When I tried to put them up again, I was not sure if they are safe enough, especially for the SWR (standing wave ratio) values. I didn’t even have an SWR meter, so the best way to cure it is to call for some help. Two of my friends did the recalibration: YC1LBX and YC1LEK, and they have done a real good job. Now receiving is way improved in all bands, noticeably of course on 80m and 70cm. In fact, I never know my IC-718 could be what I have now. Am I lucky or was it the propagation ? I could hear stations from across the islands, louder and clearer.
I don’t consider my self as a big time fan of amateur world, so my rigs are not that fancy. Here are the picture of some of my rigs :
There are at least two things that I have learned so far :
As a hobby, amateur radio is the one that would prevent you from judging others by the look of the owned gears. As long as you sound good on the air, then you’re just fine, no matter how old, or even ugly your equipments are. I got this notion so well-pointed out by an amateur-radio friend who is also an avid member of local photography club in Bandung. He put it that you are how good your camera is, no matter the fact that photography should have been result-oriented (pictures).
It could be the one and only in this modern world, that the older your gear is, it could have a chance to be better than the newest, latest ones. What I mean is if you’re up to the latest rig on the market and think that it’s going to beat the older ones in term of quality, you’re going to have to see the real world. It may have pack of features on board, but the real test is whether you sound good and can receive weak signal and respond to it with decent 5-9 report. The thing is, there’s always the sense of tweaking here and there. So, a used radio might have a chance to be better this way (if you’re lucky, of course).
However anyone should admit that the thrill of reaching somebody who is a distance away could just be different these days. Here we have Internet already, not to mention 3G cellphones. The rate is getting cheaper as well. What is the importance of investing the money for such radios ? and the fact that those that you communicate with are people that might not well be your significant others, close circles, or business acquantainces ? I think if one’s goal to join the organization (Orari) is to find somebody that you can chit-chat with, such question might indeed have relevance. If it is your ultimate goal, it’s a matter of time before you get stuck, bored, live a long radio silence, bring down the antenna, or even sell out the rigs 🙂
It’s a hobby and it’s not primarily for chatting. As usual, it’s easier to say it out loud, rather than to follow every trail in the path. It may come a bit challenging to maintain the creed that I have just laid out, especially for someone whose life is not entirely devoted to anything electronically technical or homebrewing-sort-of-like. I suppose at least I have got the guts of it and try my best not to degrade it in any chance of QSO. As a matter of fact, there are still stuffs to examine and discuss in the frequency even if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. Yes it’s going to be a chit-chat then, but of course it should be a different one. Don’t ask me why, but too much emphasize on conversation has proven to end up in the wrong way. I have seen enough.
Anyway, there’s always the dark side in everything. But here I am, back again in the ham world. I always make sure that this is for anything to enrich my life. I have done that in the past, really. That’s the reason I won’t let anyone, anyone at all, stopping me from this hobby.