2023-01-27 - The Antenna(s) Problem, Microblogging via Amateur Radio
RE: Antennas. Back in the heyday of amateur radio, at least in the United States, antennas and towers were common. Pre-Cable TV rural and suburban television reception required outdoor high gain antennas. One could buy antennas, masts, rotators, cables and towers at the local hardware store. Everything you needed could be delivered by pickup. And for a weekend's worth of shovel duty you'd have 3 or 4 channels -more if you lived in-between markets, and FM too if you knew how to splice the twinlead. Much of that hardware was easily repurposed for ham and CB use. The knowlege needed to set up a tower wasn't siloed in amateur radio circles, it was known throughout the larger community. The shift to cable and satellite (and better TV tuners) meant those antennas weren't needed, and the residential tower market collapsed (no pun intended) into a niche. Small markets lead to specailized skillsets, that demand a premium. These days if you know how to stand up a tower it will be likely you do it for a living, not as a hobby or entertainment. That means certification, insurance and all that.
And then there's the ever shrinking lot size. My parent's home could easily support a decent sized tower fall without getting near the neighbors. The lot I'm on has fall lines that mean even a flag pole falling over would likely impact my neighbor's property. That said I have a few mast sections up for a delta loop, but it is by no means at an ideal antenna height. One solution I've used in the past was a 40 foot telescoping mast but anchoring it wasn't easy so it was rare that I pushed up the whole length. And of course everyone knows when you're transmitting so suddenly their Internet is slow, their lights flicker and the TV stops working, even if you're in the shower...
Microblogging: Paul Offord has written a Python script that implements microblogging using the JS8Call API: https://github.com/PaulOfford/mbserver -- this is really cool stuff!
I am troubled by what I read regarding the treatment of Ria Jairam N2RJ by ARRL. My problem isn't with ARRL as much as it is with the choices and behaviors of some in leadership. And the difficulty I have is that most of the information is available from a source that is not unbiased in this situation: the ARRL. It feels like an impossibility to objectively understand all of what has gone one. No matter the ultimate outcome, I honor Ria for being dedicated to amateur radio and for helping people get licensed. Licensing new hams isn't a competition and educating them must never be treated as a monopoly.