Monday, January 26, 2015

Ham Radio Net: Lightning, the "Wouff Hong" and the "Rettysnitch"

Ol' Backwoods local ham radio net on our repeater last night had 21 check-ins, of which 14 were short-time or mobile stations.  In our ragchew segment, we had a record 7 checkins last night.

I really have enjoyed getting to know the guys in our local ham radio club via the Sunday night nets, and our in-person club meetings.  On this blog, I have always talked about having a "tribe", a community of folks that you know, that you can rely on and who can rely on you when unexpected tragedy hits.  Church and family are the major part of my "tribe", but my amateur radio friends are definitely part of that, too.

Topics last night tonight ranged from lightning protection for our rigs and antennas, to W4AP membership renewal, to a brand new rig one of our members got on sale (Ten-Tec OMNI 7), to a newly operational 6-meter beam antenna, and our local ECHOlink node.

I have really got to do something about lightning protection at my station.  I really need a station ground, particularly for HF, but also for lightning protection.  And I need to get a polyphaser on my vertical antenna on the house.

We also talked about an interesting event that happened on our repeater the other night.  Ol' Backwoods was headed home from the deer hunt (no, I haven't gotten one yet; more in another blog post).  I was listening to a podcast, but my audio in my truck is set up so I can also hear my ham radio, which was tuned to my local repeater, and the squelch was turned up so that it wouldn't make any sound until someone transmitted.  

Well, all of a sudden, the radio comes on, there's a slight pause, then a tremendous "BURP" into the repeater!  The station did not identify himself, but I have my suspicions.   I picked up the mike, and said, "Seriously?  A burp into the repeater?" and gave my callsign.  One of my regulars from the Sunday night net came on and said, "You heard that too?" and we talked about it.
Amateur radio operators sometimes take our hobby too seriously, but transmitting a noise like that, without identification, well, people's licenses have been taken for repeated occurrences of interference like that.  Just. not. cool.  
And this kind of thing is not new.  Intentional interference and other rude behavior was there even it the early days of amateur radio, last century.  In the 1920's, the first president of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Hiram Percy Maxim, had a lot to say about such rotten operators.    Maxim had a keen but morbid sense of humor, but effective in getting his point across.  His editorials were famous-- and hilarious.  He wrote a letter to the ARRL journal, QST,  suggesting that law and order in amateur radio be enforced by punishment with a torture instrument he himself had invented in jest, which he called the "Wouff Hong".  
Maxim's "Wouff Hong" (ARRL Museum)

From the ARRL website:
[The[ Wouff Hong is a fictional tool used to "punish" Amateur Radio operators, who demonstrate poor operating practices.
Legend has it that the Wouff Hong was invented by Hiram Percy Maxim (founder of ARRL) under the pseudonym, "The Old Man," just as amateurs were getting back on the air after World War One. 
Early in 1919, "The Old Man" wrote in QST "I am sending you a specimen of a real live Wouff Hong . . . Keep it in the editorial sanctum where you can lay hands on it quickly in an emergency." The "specimen of a real live Wouff Hong" was presented to a meeting of the ARRL Board and the Board voted that the Wouff Hong be framed and hung in the office of the Secretary of the League.
Maxim's "Rettysnitch" (ARRL Museum)
The rough-looking thing still exists at the ARRL museum.  Maxim also suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that decency on the air be enforced with another torturous instrument of his invention, the "Rettysnitch".  Of course, Maxim wasn't serious, but his point was well made: because some people can't behave decently, some punishments for infractions are required, even if they are simply the disapproval of their fellows, if not the application of the "Rettysnitch."

Okay, maybe our "burper" doesn't need to be tortured with the "Wouff Hong" or the "Rettysnitch" but maybe they could learn some manners.


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