An interesting news item on Taiwanese television: people were complaining that they had to run USB extension cables from inside their home, through the kitchen, over the washing machine, onto the balcony, to get some decent wireless internet access from their dongle. Why couldn’t Chunghua Telecom provide decent coverage inside their apartments? “Because this is not why it is called wireless, is it?”
I love these NIMBY (not in my back yard) paradoxes: people don’t want antenna towers close by, but still expect a perfect service from their mobile phone or WiMax providers. But it made me ponder and come up with a theory.
We recently moved into our own semi-detached house. After emigrating from the Netherlands to Taiwan we were living-in with mother-in-law. It wasn’t that bad, but there’s no home like your own home, right? Back in the Netherlands we had a 90 year old town house. The kind of a house where you point your finger at the brick wall and there is a hole in it. Despite the soft walls, I could take any radio or HT and have clear reception throughout the house. So late at night I monitored 40 meters, practised taking morse code or talked some on my HT in bed before going to sleep. Heaven!
Here in Taiwan I am lucky to get any radio signal inside our new home. Shortwave is completely empty. Mediumwave too, apart from one or two local stations. FM is not much better, even though we live only kilometres from the nearest broadcasting facility. And it wasn’t much better in mother-in-law’s apartment. On the roof top or balcony things are fine and I can hear the world and some more. In the reinforced concrete cage that we live in now it is no dice.
So what is my theory? Radio is dying because we can’t receive it any more! We amateur radio operators know how to, but we are being curtailed by antenna restrictions. And potential hams? They don’t even get to discover the magic of radio waves, because they live in boxes that keep radio waves out. I started out with shortwave listening after accidentally finding Radio RSA on an old radio I found in the attic. I doubt that my son will ever make such a discovery on his own. But luckily he has a father who is heavily into radio, so he will turn out right, don’t worry.
For now I put up an old CB antenna on the balcony – with the railing acting as a counter poise – and I am enjoying myself. I was just testing the whole set-up when KA5PNX called me, so the first QSO was some good DX as well. Things are looking good so expect more reports from the Far East in the future.
73 de BX2ABT a.k.a. Hans “Fong” van den Boogert