Sunday CW Ops

Back before gas got so expensive, there were lots of “Sunday drivers.” Sunday drivers were people that were just out driving, often aimlessly and at very slow speeds. Folks in a hurry often referred to them as “those !$#())%*#$@# Sunday drivers.”

On 30m, it seems we have a similar phenomenon–the Sunday CW operator. These hams send slowly and appear to just be operating for the enjoyment of operating.

Now, before any of you jump on me, let me explain that I’m not criticizing these ops. Quite the contrary, I think it’s great that there are so many. These are folks that may just be getting into CW or getting back into CW, and they deserve support, not criticism.

We should make an effort to work these guys and make them feel at home. I’ve had many nice QSOs with Sunday CW ops, and Lord knows that 30m could use the extra activity.

Trolling for Members

I’ve pontificated before on how to revitalize your ham club. Using these techniques, we’ve increased the membership in the ARROW Communications Assn. by more than 350% in the past couple of years. Now, that’s pretty good, but we wanted to do better.

Sam Proud KC8QCZ came up with the idea of querying the FCC database for hams located in our area. One way to do this is via the ARRL website. On their FCC License Data Search page, you can input a city or zip code, and the page will spit out a list of amateur radio operators in that location. Each listing contains a lot of information, including the ham’s name and address, the type of license they hold, and when that license was issued. (Before you get all excited, remember that this information IS public information.)

Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you the ham’s e-mail address. So, unless you’re actually going to do a print mailing (which can cost a lot of money), you’ll have to look up e-mail addresses. We did this by inputting the calls into the appropriate forms at QRZ.Com and the World Wide HamCall Callsign Server.

Doing this, we were able to find e-mail addresses for about 25% of the hams on the list. That’s not very good, but not too bad, either. And those who haven’t gotten around to adding their e-mail addresses to either of these databases are probably not that active anyway, and therefore, not really good membership candidates anyway.

Finally, we created a Yahoo Groups mailing list for prospective members and invited them to join the list. About 10% of those we invited actually joined the list, and one person actually joined the club. I hope we’ll do better as time goes on, but it didn’t take us all that long to do, and we do have mailling addresses should we decide to pay for a postcard mailing.

I’m all for QRP, but…

I’m all for QRP operation. The rules says something about using no more power than is necessary, and that’s a good idea for a number of reasons. It’s probably a good idea to limit your RF exposure as much as possible and the lower power that you run, the less chance you’re neighbors are going to hear strange sounds emanating from their stereos and computer speakers. And, of course, when operating portable, running low power will help preserve your batteries.

BUT…

If a station is not mobile, once a QSO is established, the QRP station should QRO if conditions are marginal. It certainly would make it easier for the QRO station operator. I have been in many QSOs where the QRP station could hear me just fine, but it was a bit of a struggle for me. The courteous thing to do would be to switch on an amp at that point.

Update 4/2/05
Check out the HF Amplifiers page on the Communications Concepts website. They sell parts for amplifiers based on Motorola RF transistors, that are described in the Motorola app notes. There’s an amp based on the AN762 kit that outputs 140 W or 180 W and an amp based on the EB10 kit that puts out 600W.

Need Help? Just Ask!

Recently, Sam KC8QCZ and I were discussing how to promote our Field Day activity amongst the hams in our community. He mentioned that he had a listing of more than 500 hams in the Ann Arbor area, but that there were no e-mail addresses. We thought about mailing out a postcard, but ruled that out when we calculated that this would cost us over $125.

Our next thought was to look up email addresses on QRZ.Com and/or hamcall.net. That seemed like a lot of work, so I came up with the idea of writing a small program that would take the callsigns as input and programatically query these databases. While I think this is do-able, I doubt I’d be able to get to it for a while.

Finally, the idea hit me to ask our members to help out. If I got eight of them to say yes, then I could parcel out 50 names to each of them, and that should take them less than an hour each. I put out a request on the club mailling list this morning, and by noon, I had already gotten four volunteers. How cool is that?

The point I’m trying to make is that instead of just writing off a club project or activity as being too much work, ask some of the members to help out. A lot of people won’t volunteer their help unless there’s a specific need. Identify that need, and they’re eager to pitch in. The result is a win-win situation for everyone.