THE SPARK GAP A monthly publication of the Meridian Amateur Radio Club February 1997
President: Dennis KI5FW
Vice Pres: C.P. W5OQY
Secretary: Bill KB5ASR
Treasurer: John W5DEJ
President Report: First, I would like to say tnx to everyone for showing their confidence in me by electing me to serve as President of M.A.R.C. for the 1997 term. We have a great group of local hams & I look forward to having a productive year. In the near future I would like to get some volunteers to serve on the Field Day committee so we can start planning and preparing for that. Also I'll be talking to some of the other hams in surrounding areas for possibly working together to have a local Swapfest one Saturday afternoon in our area. Maybe sometime this spring. That's about all. 73's
Vice President Report: This has been a cold month but warm weather will be here soon. Then we will be able to repair our outside things like antenna etc. 2 meters has been good. Hf not quite as good. The bands stretched out quite early for some. The election is over and everyone who wanted to vote did. Now its time for us to move forward and have a good year in amateur radio. Each one of us can make a difference. Either good or bad. Hope you/we/me/I make the change. Maybe you would like to build an antenna. One kind of G5RV looks like this. 102 ft wire (I like 14 tw ) cut in half. 29.5 ft 300 ohm flat TV leading down to 4:1 balun. Then 50 ohm coax to transmitter. Don't make coax to short. I find over 25 ft will be ok. You will need an antenna tuner with solid state transmitters.
C P. W5OQY
Secretary Report: Don't forget to check into the Tuesday evening 2-meter net at 7 P.M. each week on 146.700. Any announcements, emergency traffic, or a simple hello and 73 can be passed along to others. Let us know how you are doing.
A Noble History:
Nobody knows when Amateur Radio operators were first called "Hams," but we do know that Amateur Radio is as old as the history of radio itself. Not long after Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian experimenter, transmitted the Morse code letter "s" from Poldhu, Wales, to St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1901, amateur experimenters throughout the world were trying out the capabilities of the first "spark gap" transmitters. In 1912, Congress passed the first laws regulating radio transmissions in the U.S. By 1914, amateur experimenters were communicating nation-wide, and setting up a system to relay messages from coast to coast (whence the name "American Radio Relay League"!). In 1927, the precursor agency to the FCC was created by Congress and specific frequencies were assigned for various uses, including ham bands.
Why do they call us "Hams?"
Although the origin of the word "ham" is obscure, every ham has his or her own pet theory. One holds that early amateurs were called hams because they liked to perform, or "ham it up" on the air. Another proposes that the name came from the "ham-fisted" way some early amateurs handled their code keys. One of the most exotic holds that "ham" is an acronym from the initials of three college students who were among the first radio amateurs. Perhaps the easiest to accept is that "ham" is derived from "Am," a contraction of "Amateur."
After a little more searching, I found this explanation
"Ham: a poor operator. A 'plug.'"
That's the definition of the word given in G. M. Dodge's The Telegraph Instructor even before radio. The definition has never changed in wire telegraphy. The first wireless operators were landline telegraphers who left their offices to go to sea or to man the coastal stations. They brought with them their language and much of the tradition of their older profession. In those early days, spark was king and every station occupied the same wavelength --or, more accurately perhaps, every station occupied the whole spectrum with its broad spark signal. Government stations, ships, coastal stations and the increasingly numerous amateur operators all competed for time and signal supremacy in each other's receivers. Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working across town, could effectively jam all the other operators in the area. When this happened, frustrated commercial operators would call the ship whose weaker signals had been blotted out by the amateurs and say "SRI OM THOSE #&$!@ HAMS ARE JAMMING YOU."
Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves in true "Yankee Doodle" fashion and wore it with pride. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely
From Tad Cook, KT7H
We are still at the solar minimum, with very little activity to report. Since there are no really active regions that we know of on the solar surface, there is no activity to forecast as the solar surface rotates relative to the Earth.
This week's average solar flux was exactly the same as the week previous, and the sunspot numbers were barely higher. Unlike the previous week, there were no periods of geomagnetic activity, and the A index stayed in the single digits. The next few weeks are expected to stay the same, with the solar flux around the low to mid seventies, and the A index around five. The A index may jump up to around ten on February 3, and again around February 6-9.
A wire service story this week said that scientists from NASA and the astronomy department at Yale University presented findings at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Toronto which predicted a decrease in overall solar activity for the next solar cycle. They admitted that their forecast was at odds with many other predictions, and that solar activity is highly unpredictable. But the scientists said that if their prediction is correct, it will reverse what they claim is an overall 400-year trend toward greater solar activity.
Have a great month
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