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    BOILHAM   33,535
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I Do Other Stuff, Too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One of my other hobbies is ham radio. My interest got started with radio stuff when I was a teenager. My grandmother bought me a transistor radio, which had a short wave band on it. I used to lie in bed at night and listen to the distant AM radio stations from the US and overseas. Also, I heard the shore stations sending and receiving morse code to and from the ships at sea. I was fascinated with the patterns and wondered how this strange language worked.

Years later when I joined the Navy, I tested high in morse code aptitude, and was offered "Radio School". I did well with the morse code, my electronics not so well. I passed school and was sent to the Panama Canal Zone at Navy Radio Balboa, and was assigned the CW (continuous wave, or morse code) station quickly. I rapidly progressed to high speed CW, and have loved morse code ever since.

So the years passed, and I got my ham radio ticket, and I continued with my love of CW. I often operate high speed. There are few people who do this kind of speed, and it becomes necessary to go much slower if you want to accommodate and communicate with others via morse code. However, one must exercise high speed if one desires to maintain this level of speed. It can be stressful operating at just above ones maximum speed, but that's how you improve. For what it's worth, I am talking about 40 to 50 words per minute, a very fast pace.

So, all this typing to express what I have found to be, the similarities between CW/morse code exercise, and running exercise. The paces in each can be stressful or relaxing. But both paces are necessary to maintain a useful fun filled stride. To backtrack for a bit, I cannot compare my skills in running to my radio skills, one is average - the other is excellent. But, the comparison remains, regardless of skill level.

I thought about writing this blog when I participated in a radio exercise on January 1st of this year. We had an event called "Straight Key Night" whereby ham operators are asked to get back to their roots and use a hand key rather than an electronic keyer.

To chat more and relax more with other like minded hams. This once a year event is very popular, and there were lots of straight key operators on that night, and early the next day. I talked to 14 different stations and had a swell time. This pace for me, in not uncomfortable, and enjoyable. Even though I am capable of the higher speeds, I acclimate myself to the pace and enjoy.

There can me much enjoyment in the excitement of fast pacing and knowing you are in an elite category of participants. And, the converse is true, there is also much enjoyment to be gained in the slower stride of just enjoying a hobby for the sake of doing it.

I hesitated to write this blog, because it necessitated a longwinded explanation of ham radio. My first draft was really long, so I shortened it a lot. If you've gotten this far in the reading, thanks for sticking with me and I hope you've found it interesting.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SKINNYPOWELL1 1/22/2013 8:49AM

    Thanks for sharing a little bit about you, who knew? And good comparision to running, I'm more of a dash dash dash instead of dot dot dot.

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FUNFROG79 1/21/2013 11:41AM

    Very cool, thanks for sharing!

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STRIVER57 1/21/2013 2:17AM

    very interesting blog. my father was a navy radio tech (in ww2).

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CM_GARDNER78 1/20/2013 10:48PM

    Wow! That is really cool! I love it! I do not know how to operate the hand key, but I have had the opportunity to tap on one. :-) Not sure I did anything that anyone could decipher, but fun nonetheless! I like watching people use them.

Thanks for sharing - I find this quite interesting!

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KA_JUN 1/20/2013 8:42PM

    Very interesting, thanks for posting it! emoticon

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NWFL59 1/20/2013 8:25PM

    Enjoyed the blog. The few times I use cw, its slow and mostly to work the short DX exchange but not to ragchew. For ragchewing I prefer PSK31 over most of the other modes. --... ...-- -.. . .-- ....- - -- -- emoticon

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JENN03275 1/20/2013 7:54PM

    Very interesting. Ty for sharing your other hobby.

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BROOKLYN_BORN 1/20/2013 7:43PM

    I was going to impress you with a reference to the Morse Code in Independence Day, but Synchrodad beat me to it.

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SPEEDYDOG 1/20/2013 7:32PM

    I know what you mean about long blogs. I think you did just fine explaining your hobby. I think it is cool that you can use a straight key. Can you tell certain key operators by their "fist"?

You probably don't use a key that often to be able to determine who sent a message just by listening to the rhythm.

Fun stuff.


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MASRITE 1/20/2013 7:24PM

    Loved reading about your other hobby!! Very interesting and didn't know much about ham radio until now!!

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SYNCHRODAD 1/20/2013 5:09PM

    Two current events in which Morse code saved the day. One was the peaceful acquisition of a first strike weapon called "Red October." Flashing Morse code. Then there was the world saving CW Morse code used when those pesky aliens had disrupted all enhanced communications in "Independence Day." I bet Samuel Morse never saw that coming.... emoticon

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DALID414 1/20/2013 4:14PM

    It was an awesome blog, I was very interested. Is this where the HAM part of your SparkPeople name is from?

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SOKKERNUT 1/20/2013 3:33PM

    What an very interesting hobby. How cool.

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RUN4FOOD 1/20/2013 2:21PM

    Don't think I've ever seen any comments on the similarities of running and morse code. Sounds to me like you are very good at both.

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BUTTERFLY-1976 1/20/2013 12:50PM

    Very interesting..Thanks for sharing!!

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JOPAPGH 1/20/2013 11:53AM

    I enjoyed this post. Rock on, regardless of speed!

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KELSEY54 1/20/2013 11:48AM

    That is so interesting. It is nice that you have stuck with it. emoticon

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NATPLUMMER 1/20/2013 10:48AM


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SEABREEZE65 1/20/2013 9:40AM


My brother was in the Navy and stationed in the Panama Canal zone - you know - a few years ago - probably about 1963 give or take a couple of years. He had something to do with electronics at that time.

Comment edited on: 1/20/2013 9:42:23 AM

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KANDOLAKER 1/20/2013 9:04AM

    Very interesting indeed! Thanks for sharing!!

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ROXYZMOM 1/20/2013 8:58AM

    Very interesting! I learned something new today! Do you practice every day to keep up your speed?
And...Is that why your Spark name has "ham" in it?

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