The Joys Of HF

It seems that contesting clubs in Manitoba and New England want to show non-hams, new hams and all hams, the 'joys of HF radio'. In a beta test of their idea, called 'Discover the HF Experience', participants in Manitoba will have the opportunity to get on HF by operating K1K, in Massachusetts, remotely, from the Garden City Canada Inn located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Saturday, April 2nd.

Future events will take place in Massachusetts from the Yankee Clipper Contest Club's venue on April 10th and a much larger operation, featuring four operating positions at Dayton in May, at the ARRL's Expo site. Full details of all operations can be found here.

The idea was the brainchild of Gerry Hull, W1VE who, along with Cary Rubenfeld, VE4EA, has brought his idea to life.

“Our amateur population is at an all-time high, but most new hams are getting a Technician ticket, getting on VHF and UHF, and hanging out with like-minded friends,” Hull said. The limitations on what Technician licensees can do often leads to boredom, Hull said, “and they drop out of the hobby. They never get the exposure to HF ham radio, and as any veteran radio amateur can tell you, that’s a lifelong exploration.”

Now I fully concur that far too many of our newest amateurs land on VHF or UHF and never move, almost totally unaware of what HF radio is all about. Being exposed to HF radio is a great idea, yet ... and maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I'm not sure that this 'first experience' is best done via remote operation. From my own initial exposure to ham radio, seeing the magic happen in a basement or attic radio shack, complete with glowing dials and a wall full of QSL's from all over the world, was enough to hook me for life. I'm pretty sure that same feeling can't be conveyed by sitting in front of a laptop and pushing a few keys.

I am not a fan of 'remotes' but from what I have seen, this may be one of the better examples and if it grabs and convinces even a few to explore HF on their own, that would be a good thing ... then all we'd have to do is get them on CW !
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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