Quick story and fact. Often operators leave comments on the channel, suggesting I don’t have “fun” with amateur radio. I think this perception comes from the fact that so much time is spent on the channel, trying to optimize my station at home, and in the field, for effective emergency communications. That is a passion born from necessity. I don’t expect contesters or repeater users to understand that. It’s an aspect of preparedness I find necessary. It’s also something I’m very passionate about.
The fact is, there’s another aspect of amateur radio I’m passionate about. Its called weak signal work. I used to do this on VHF and UHF, but there simply aren’t that many stations set up for weak signal work on those bands anymore. I get the same pleasure from weak signal work on HF, as I do on VHF or UHF. Weak signal data with narrow bandwidth modes, is the “fun”. I understand it’s difficult and distinguish the two from one another.
Honestly speaking, I can’t imagine anything better than sitting at a tent in the middle of nowhere, having a keyboard to keyboard chat with a station thousands or 10,000 kilometers or miles away. Now these two things are not exclusive. Weak signal work gives us an amazing amount of experience operating hard-to-reach stations. The station may be hard to reach because of a poor path between stations, poor propagation, or an inexperienced operator who hasn’t yet understood why narrow data works, when voice doesn’t. Although I’m having fun with weak signal narrow bandwidth data on HF, I’m still learning and honing my skills for emergency communications.
We all get off on different things. Of course it’s fun working that contest station with big yagi, and an Ameritron amplifier. But I get a heck of a lot more pleasure, working that operator sitting in a tent activating a mountaintop, half way round the world. Or the operator sitting on a park bench with a low power radio and raspberry pi.
Don’t judge because you don’t see the “fun” in what we do. Just operate your own station, and others operate theirs.
73, Julian oh8stn