Hams we are!

An oft asked question, particularly from newcomers to amateur radio, is the origin of the name ham as applied to our hobby. Many explanations have been offered over the years but none have been as credible to me as this editorial in the December 1931 issue of QST:EDITORIAL

APPROXIMATELY every so often an anguished member writes in to ask us how we can dare to apply the term ham to radio amateurs. Not because it is undignified, for we’re not much on false dignity in amateur radio, particularly within our own family, but because, says our correspondent, everybody knows that a ham means a punk, a lid, a poor performer, a person not fully familiar with his vegetables. Why throw asparagus upon ourselves, our inquirers ask.

Now we arise to remark that if we felt for one moment that that was a correct interpretation of the meaning of ham, it would be a thoroughly hated word at the very  top of our Index Expurgatorious. We’d have a town ordinance in West Hartford prohibiting its utterance and we’d pay a bounty to QST‘s proof-readers to run down the despised term. But as a matter of fact we’re quite convinced that the appellation is an honorable one, one over which we need have no qualms whatever.

Somebody’s dictionary suggests that ham is derived from hamfatter, which was a word used in a popular refrain of many years ago. Just what the significance was is not now clear. Then there are many people who believe that the word comes from the theatrical field, being derived from “Hamlet”–because the ham actor was forever strutting the boards and reciting from “Hamlet.” For ourselves, we find a much more convincing account in an article on the etymology of the language of sports, by William Henry Nugent, appearing in The American Mercury several years ago. Mr. Nugent establishes that the United States learned its first lessons in sports journalism and sports slang from the British Isles, where early writers invented a special style and vocabulary that are still in use. Ham, says he, “began as an abbreviation of amateur to am, which the cockney foot-racers and pugilists of the 70’s pronounced h’am.”

The moment one glimpses that ham is derived directly from amateur, much is apparent that before escaped recognition. One has only to consider, for instance, the way the word amateur is abused. Webster says that an amateur is “one who is attached to or cultivates a particular pursuit, study, or science from taste, without pursuing it professionally”; there is no implication of lack of skill. Yet how often have we heard people say, speaking of many things beside radio, “Pooh, he’s only an amateur!” They are wrong, dear friends, as sure as you’re born, and they’ve merely displayed the depths of their ignorance. We accept no such connotation with respect to amateur; neither do we with respect to ham, and for the identic reason.

The word came to us in amateur radio from the wire telegraphing fraternity, where a
beginning operator was known as a ham operator. That our wire brethren, in professional scorn, employed it to mean a poor operator does not make that application correct; the misuse is, in fact, blood brother to the even more common distortion of amateur. If we borrowed the term from them we took its proper sense, and emphatically left behind any stigma of the opprobrious. There is, we repeat, nothing in the derivation of either amateur or ham to imply a lack of skill, but rather the contrary.

Hams we are, then, and proud of it!


K.B.W. was Kenneth B. Warner (Secretary, A.R.R.L.), Editor-in-Chief and Business Manager and the QST editorial offices were located in West Hartford, CT at that time.

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Kansas Weather Net: 55+ years and going strong!

I was looking through the July 1957 issue of QST (my local archive from QST View) and found the following in the Kansas Section News (I rarely look in this area of the old issues) on page 116:

“[W0]LXA, of Salina, has formed the Kansas Weather Net operating on 3920 Tue., Thurs. and Sat. at 1930 regularly or anytime the WX Bureau advises of adverse conditions.  Red states that 37 stations are reporting in to date and the list is growing.”

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A word on amateur radio kits

Over the next few weeks I plan a series of posts on the amateur radio kits that I am building this winter.  The other night I was describing the first one I am building, the AC-1 Junior by Dwight, KG4HSY, a single tube 40m CW transmitter with a roundtable group on 160m.  I was asked by Mike, K0XYZ, if I thought it would be a good first kit for someone getting started.  After considering it for a bit I offered that I thought it would be a good first kit for someone wanting to explore vacuum tubes but probably not for a very first kit due to the high voltage present.  That conversation gave me the idea for this post

Like most any recommendation for the newcomer, something relatively simple is often a good choice for a fist time project.  As noted in my previous post about the code oscillator, it was my first electronics kit and its construction involved a few different techniques from printed circuit board soldering of through-hole components, to soldering wires to various jacks and a volume control.  The component count and the simplicity of the circuits meant that a newcomer to electronics could probably troubleshoot it with a multi-meter.  Battery power from a 9 Volt battery meant that poking around in the unit posed little hazard.  Taken together, these are probably good qualities of a kit intended for a first-time builder.

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Kit building, a journey into amateur radio

Amateur radio has a long history of building.  Whether from the earliest days of the hobby where nearly every component had to be constructed or modified slightly to convert a landline Morse component into wireless service all the way to the present with the plethora of kits from various manufacturers, radio amateurs have been building their own equipment.  Sometimes building is a means to save a bit of money up front; other times building is required because the new idea doesn’t exist in hardware (or even software) yet.  Many times building is done for the pure pleasure of the activity.  I probably fall into the last category.

My journey into the home construction phase of amateur radio began with the Heathkit HD-1416 code oscillator in early 1982.  This led to the Heathkit SW-717 shortwave receiver not long after.  Later I added a digital clock to the lineup capable of 24 hour display, the HW-8 QRP transceiver, and HW-5400 HF transceiver with associated power supply by early 1984.  Later years saw construction of various homebrew items and partial kits such as the Idiom Press Super COMS 3 Morse keyer, several repeater controllers, a 30m QRP transceiver and most recently the partial kits of an Elecraft K3 HF/6m transceiver and its companion P3 panadapter.  Building of some form has been a part of my amateur radio experience from well before I was first licensed.

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“Ghost” a partition contents with rsync

The rsync utility may be one of the best kept secrets on any platform.  Certainly, its use as a backup tool is well known, but perhaps a bit less well known is it’s ability to replicate a complete partition’s contents with permissions and file dates intact (also important for backups).  I have used rsync to copy one or more partitions from one machine to another using a portable USB hard drive or over a network in order to install the OS on a new machine or to get the contents of a dying drive backed up and then copied over to a new drive.  This article will describe these procedures from a Linux/Unix user’s perspective.

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The Lutheran Reformation

Today marks the 495th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation begun by Martin Luther and his now famous posting of his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg.  Luther chose this particular day, not because it was Halloween as we know it in the USA, but because it was the eve of the church holiday All Saints Day and his theses were his attempt to guide the straying Roman church back to the Scriptural truths the saints who would be celebrated the next day had died for.

While his boldness and conviction of Scriptural truth gave rise to much more than it is likely that he could have ever imagined, it was certainly not his intention to do so.  Still, when it became obvious that the Roman church had no intention of mending its ways,  Luther did not shrink from had he had begun but, rather, with the strength given by the Holy Spirit continued to boldly preach and confess the truth of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola GratiaScripture alone, Faith alone, and Grace alone by which man is saved from sin, not by his own reason or strength but by the grace of God through the perfect life, death by crucifixion, and raising from the dead his son Jesus Christ.  Neither indulgences, human will, nor any earthly thing can provide this precious salvation.  This is what Martin Luther rediscovered through reading the Holy Bible and took the Gospel of salvation from the exclusive realm of priests and provided it to all sinners by translating the Latin Bible into German.  This is the basis of the Lutheran reformation–other “reformations” now termed Protestant occurred later in time.

Besides a scholar, Martin Luther was also a skilled composer, writing a number of notable hymns including A Mighty Fortress is Our God and From Heaven Above to Earth I come.  Along with these hymns and many more the Lutheran worship service is one of liturgy–scriptural readings and singing that hearken back to the earliest days of the Christian Church–with prayer, preaching, and signing.

From  the Reformation came the Lutheran Confessions, most famously the Augsburg Confession and later the Book of Concord and a number more (see left sidebar of the Book of Concord link).  Martin Luther famously wrote his Small Catechism which most likely every Lutheran confirmand has memorized prior to confirmation (the confirmation of instruction in Holy Scripture and Luther’s Small Catechism given before one may partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Lutheran Church).  He also wrote a Large Catechism which is a far more in depth treatment of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine.

Martin Luther’s boldness in faith set in motion a chain of events that continues to this day.  I am thankful to God for placing him in a critical time in history.  Would it always be that faithful servants be placed in this sinful world to preach the Gospel in it truth and purity!


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KZ650 with its new livery

As more or less promised, here is the KZ650 with its new livery and a luggage rack.

KZ650's new livery!

KZ650's new livery

More images can be found in the gallery.

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KZ650’s old livery

I stopped at the Marysville airport this evening.  The weather was so nice and the place so serene that I decided to snap a couple of pics of my KZ650 in its current paint job.  This is the paint is has worn since I put it back on the road in 2007.  Now newly painted bodywork is on its way here so these may be the last pics of this color scheme.

Some time afterward a small plane did a few landings and take-offs before landing and taxiing not far from the observation bench I was sitting on and went to the hanger.  As it was almost sundown I saddled up and rode home.  A rather enjoyable evening with a nice machine.

The new livery is going to look very nice.


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Weather Underground bought by The Weather Channel Companies (NBC)

Some reading this may know that I have been contributing weather data from my local weather station to the Weather Underground site–Marysville, KS forecast–since early 2005.  Yesterday I, along with, presumably, many other weather station owners received the following email:

Dear Weather Station Owner,

As an invaluable member of our Personal Weather Station (PWS) community, I wanted you to be the first to know that Weather Underground, Inc. has become part of The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC). Your weather station data will remain an integral part of our forecast modelling, and we expect that the combined forecast technologies of the two companies will enable us to provide even more accurate custom forecasts for your station. The service that we provide PWS owners on wunderground.com will remain unchanged for now, and will
only be improved in the long term.

With the increased audience reach that our union with TWCC provides, we hope to considerably expand our PWS community to further enhance the quality of our weather forecasts. With extra resources at our disposal, we will also be able to provide a greater level of support for our community members.

As always, we thank you for being part of our PWS network, and greatly appreciate all of the data you share with us. You can read my latest blog post for more information about the sale of wunderground to TWCC.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jeff Masters
Director of Meteorology

Well, that was quite a shock!  Now, I am not a fan of The Weather Channel at all.  Their TV broadcast is many times bordering on irresponsible and the Anthropological Global Warming agenda they push is well known and, I believe, a fraud being perpetrated on western civilization.

I found this blog entry from Weather Underground meteorologist Shaun Tanner and posted the following comment in response:

I have been contributing weather data since early 2005 when I put my weather station online. I am not one bit pleased to hear that Wunderground will be subsumed by TWC. I have enjoyed Wunderground’s independence and have enjoyed being a contributor, at least until I received the email yesterday.

I find TWC/NBC push an agenda that I disagree with and cannot in good conscience provide them with my weather data for free–zero cost to them. At some point I will shut down this feed which is the only one in this area and provided solely at my expense because I enjoy it. Whether I self host a weather page or find another site that I feel comfortable contributing to, I have not decided which I will do at this time.

Sadly, I have seen this sort of thing occur too many times to think that Wunderground will retain its former independence as a part of TWC. What I see is another media company thinking they’re going to get a bunch of new eyeballs to sell to and a whole bunch of free weather data. Well, from this person they won’t.

– Nate

As I wrote, I don’t yet know where I will be posting data from personal weather station.  Whether I take the time to write up a page and then set up a database for the data on this site or find another site remains to be seen.  Stay tuned.


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N0NB.us has a new home!

This past week N0NB.us moved to a new hosting provider, www.qth.com.  The hosting  site is owned and operated by Scott, KA9FOX, and offers a combination of personal and commercial accounts.  A number of amateur radio suppliers have been hosted on QTH.com for years so it’s nice to be in good company.

Scott expertly handled the details of transferring my files and database information and then provided a foolproof process of transferring my domain to QTH.com as the registrar.  Everything worked smoothly and much faster than I had planned.  Even though the account with the previous Web host didn’t expire for six months, I wanted to start early to avoid Mr. Murphy’s best laid plans.  Well, we got the jump and Murphy didn’t even know what hit him!

Another bonus is getting consistent answers and responses from one person with a vested interest in my business.  The support by committee approach probably works well in the board room, but when I deal with a different agent each time on the same issue, I get the feeling that sooner or later the ball will be dropped and it probably won’t land in my court.

Best of all is that I’ll no longer be helping to pay for advertizing of questionable taste nor funding a company that at times seemed to oppose an open and free Internet, at least until it was clear that supporting PIPA/SOPA earlier this year would cost them business.  Guess what guys, it just did!

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