Conservation of Energy

You can’t get more out than you put in…

About

Physics

Conservation of Energyis one of my favorite laws of physics, as it seems to have universal application in almost any situation. It’s also a useful description of my philosophy that there’s always a better way to do things, and even if there isn’t, it’s fun to try and find one. (Laziness drives innovation…) Not least at the moment – it describes my frustration with some of the AR email reflectors, and so I’ve decided to conserve my energy by focusing on a web-log rather than the reflectors. Oh, and of course, the art of radio is converting one form of energy to another… (but hopefully not heat…)

Geography

I’m originally from Sydney, Australia, and moved to Fort Smith, AR in September of 2000 as an inter-company transfer with Baldor Electric. I met Mendy at Baldor, and 22 months later we were married in Creekmore Park. Three months later we were living in Bristol, England following yet another inter-company transfer at Baldor. We moved back to the US in the fall of 2004 and were promptly sent up to Wisconsin to manage Baldor’s Generator Plants. We moved back to Fort Smith a year later, and have been here ever since.

History

My interest in electronics started with my paternal grandfather, Bernard Scott, who was a nuclear physicist at a large Sydney Hospital.  In his spare time he built audio equipment on his back porch on a converted 12 foot billiard table. He made amplifiers, reel to reel tape decks, turntables and even his own speaker boxes. It was the late 60’s/early 70’s and everything was vacuum tube (valve) technology. Some of my fondest memories are sitting with grandpa at that table, melting solder.

Around 1974, when I was in 6th grade, I received a Radio Shack “101 electronics projects” kit and I never looked back. What really made the difference was making a new friend at school, Ian, who had the same kit, and we really hit it off.

Ian’s grandfather was a radio amateur, VK2XX (SK) and so that was the catalyst for us to start working on our amateur licenses. At the time, you couldn’t get a license in Australia till you were 16, and that’s when we both received our first novice tickets. I was VK2NWS and Ian was VK2NXX. Less than a year later, we both had “full calls” (advanced) and I was VK2DEE and Ian was VK2DCX (now VK2XX).

We were very active for a number of years, into DX, VHF, RTTY (glass and machine…) fox hunting etc. We both worked for the same power electronics company (largely as a result of being hams) and the hobby merged into a career.  Working at something 10-12 hours a day wasn’t conducive to coming home and doing more of the same, so my interest in ham radio dwindled. The advent of cell phones and the internet supplanted much of the need for ham radio as a communications tool, and this culminated in the expiration of my license.

Shortly before moving to the USA, I decided to renew my license, however as my new postal address would be my parents house in Canberra, I ended up as VK1GF.

Just before we moved to England, I was looking for something non work related as a hobby to relax. While surfing on the web one night I came across the Elecraft web site (www.elecraft.com) and fell in love with the idea of building one of their kits. The K1 seemed like a reasonable starting point, and it fit my budget, so a few days later I found myself building boards again after 20 years absence. And what a kit it was (see other postings for more on this…)

There was a hiatus once we moved to Bristol, but on our return to Fort Smith, I decided I needed a stress busting activity and revived the experience by building a K2 as well. Once this was operational, I felt that it was more appropriate to get a US license rather than operate reciprocal. I joined the Fort Smith Area Amateur Radio Club and a few weeks and many hours cramming later, I fronted up up for my testing session to attempt all four elements at once. Despite a brief brain freeze during the CW (my weakest link after a long absence…) I managed to get through it all and was AD5YU a few days later.

Math (or Maths as we say in Australia…)

  • I am 44 years old, born in 1962 (Scorpio for the superstitious…)
  • I was married in 2002, to Malinda Kay (Mendy)
  • We have 2 dogs, Spike and Isabelle
  • I was first licensed in 1978, graduated high school in 1980, college in 1991 (I took a few extra years part time…) and again in 1995.
  • I got my US call in 2006.

Politics

I guess the most political issue in Amateur Radio these days is CW, so here’s where I stand. I passed sending and receiving CW at 10 WPM in Australia, and receiving at 5WPM in the US. I’ve always had an interest in it, but never been much better than 15 WPM. I’d like to get over 18WPM at some point, but never seem to find the time to practice enough.

I’ve never really understood why everyone had such a problem with it being a license requirement, as I guess I never had any trouble learning it. I can understand that some people have more trouble than others, specially those trying to learn it later in life.

I find it amusing when people question CW’s relevance, as the other elements all have some topics that are surely irrelevant to most operators at some point (I’m not likely to try moon bounce any time soon, but there were a couple of questions on my Extra exam…) Being interested in home brew and QRP, I find CW not only relevant, but essential.

The point is, everyone has their own particular interests and ambitions, and the licensing requirements should reflect a broad cross section of the fundamental principles and practices underlying amateur radio.

That said, I don’t think the world is going to end now that it’s been removed as a requirement, as it was in Australia some years back. I think it will continue as a popular and useful form of communication, specially with more and more interest in QRP and home brew, and certainly at times when propagation is poor.

Finally, I think the current license testing policy in the USA has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and probably needs some fine tuning going forward. I love that it’s real time and managed my the amateur fraternity – who better? However I think it is a little too reliant on a fixed pool of multiple “guess” questions.

There are lots of good ideas floating around (interviews, practical tests, in person course work, continuing education on air coaching etc.) all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses, but I encourage open and reasoned discussion, and welcome new ideas and hope that some of them make it into the actual process at some point.

7 Responses to “About”

  1. Scott said

    Great blog – looking forward to reading more!

    73 Scott AD7MI

  2. 🙂

  3. This blog is nice, im sorry to say but for some reason i can’t access your site on google chrome, thats why i used firefox.

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  6. I would have never guessed there would be great comments on this blog.

  7. John K7KTM said

    Enjoyed your portable antenna information, I am building one this week to take to the woods next month camping. I have been getting all the parts rounded up and will give it a try on the lawn this weekend.

    Thanks for your effort!

    John

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