A time for W2LJ to ponder and to vent. This is stuff I've been thinking over the past couple of days. I can't speak of these things to "civilians" as they would look at me like I was speaking in tongues (Ham speak?), not comprehending a word that I was saying.
The first occurred the other night as I was walking Harold, our beagle. As usual, I take my dual band HT with me and scan the various repeaters that I have programmed in there. The HT settled on a local VHF repeater that was holding an NTS Traffic Net. Having been a avid traffic handler in my early days as a Ham, I don't mind listening in on these - procedures haven't changed so much in all these years. At least I thought not.
The repeater itself was having problems. Some kind of interference or intermod was making communications difficult at best, almost impossible at worst. Two stations were having difficulty passing a couple of messages due to the interference. The receiving station asked the sending station to send him the messages via e-mail, and then he would deliver them. He told the Net Control Station to consider them passed traffic. Passed traffic?!? Would that be proper? Would that be considered the equivalent of going to another repeater or simplex frequency and passing them on the air? I applaud the ingenuity of the two stations, but ultimately passing traffic via a means that was not "radio" has me wondering if those could rightfully be counted as passed traffic. I may be a bit behind the current standards, so - anyone out there know if this would be considered Kosher?
When you get right down to it, I would think (IMHO) that traffic nets are supposed to be the resource available when everything else has turned to deep doo-doo. In that event, there will be no Internet to fall back on. IMHO, the two stations should have exhausted every RF means possible before resorting to e-mail and the Internet. But again, I may be just an old curmudgeon who's behind the times and isn't up to current standards. Can anyone shed a little light on this?
Secondly, the next scenario has to do with the QRP Fox Hunts. No calls will be used to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent. We have been very fortunate to get some new blood showing up in the hunts. New-to-Fox-Hunting Hams have been showing up to participate both as Hounds, as well as Foxes. This is a very good thing, because if there's no influx of new people, then sooner or later, the "sport" is going to die out. That would be a bad thing, as these are so much fun.
Anyway, a week ago we had a Ham perform his first ever shot at being Fox. I've been there, so I know what he faced. Believe me, for an experienced Fox it can be daunting, let alone your maiden voyage. The Hunt begins and close to, if not more than, a hundred Hounds are calling you all at the same time. A wall of barking, and they're all barking at you. No amount of "Here's what to expect" from an experienced Fox can really prepare you. It's truly a "deer in the headlights" moment for most newbies (myself included).
Here's the rub - it was an 80 Meter hunt, and according to Da Rulez, "The 80M Foxes will operate within +/- 10Khz of 3.560 MHz". Well, the newbie Fox got distracted, excited, or maybe just a bit overwhelmed and planted himself just a hair above 3.570 MHz - less than 600 Hz away from the boundary. As it was, 42 Hounds found the Fox and snared his pelt. So it's not like we're talking that he was so far out of bounds that everyone was left mouth agape, wondering "Huh?".
When he posted his log, he apologized for his error, and basically stated that this would not be repeated next time. Needless to say, that's not good enough for some. Let's just say that some of the responses were not exactly friendly, kind, understanding, encouraging or constructive. Here we get a volunteer to subject himself to a pileup of QRPers for 90 minutes and because you didn't think to look outside the box, you let the poor guy have it! Nice ..... really nice!
Did he break the rules? Yes. Did he realize his error and apologize? Yes. Is this a cause for making someone feel like a schmuck? Definitely NO!
It's not like we're talking of a deliberate act, like interference or jamming, or being a willful idiot. The guy made a one time mistake, apologized for it and intends to do better the next time. I'll be the first to admit, that in the past, I too may have been hot headed at times and may have been more than willing to jump on the pile with harshness. But due to some of my reader's comments to me on some of my own blog postings (when I've been harsh), I feel that I have learned and have come to realize that this is not the right thing to do. Constructive criticism is the best way to go, and we need to cut the poor guy a break. Otherwise, we're going to scare off volunteers and you're going to find yourself hunting a Fox that's literally not there (never mind just a little off frequency!)
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!