Tuning in before tuning up

No, CW doesn’t make bad amateur operators. But tuning over somebody does. Is there a connection between the two? [hint: probably not]

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago when, prior to a net on HF, a few members we’re ragchewing for a bit beforehand. As seems to be all too common, somebody started to tune on top of them. Then came a comment from one of the operators who mentioned how he wished they had never done away with making CW a requirement to get your Amateur Radio license. He connected the two: no CW and bad tuning practice. I was at a loss — thankfully I wasn’t talking then, just listening.

I fail to see how the two are connected. I am grateful that CW is no longer required. Even if I had to, I couldn’t make out any code with the exception of S.O.S. But that doesn’t make me any less of an operator than one who knows code does it?

Does my lack of CW skill/knowledge mean I will disregard common courtesy — and FCC rules — regarding tuning my antenna? Again the answer here is no. Sadly I know many who know CW yet do that very thing. Some of them tune at full legal power.

Common courtesy would be to pre-tune at low power prior to making the final adjustments at the power level you will use for the QSO. Sadly, there’s a large number of Amateur Radio operators out there who disregard that courtesy.

An ideal solution is for all of us to play by the rules. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen. So what can we do? For starters, listen before tuning. Pre-tune. When someone starts overpowering you by tuning, wait for a lull and politely remind the tuner that it isn’t OK to interfere with another operator’s signal. Another thing we can do is keep talking about this problem, and any other problems on the bands. We’re supposed to ‘police’ ourselves. We have a nice code of ethics yet we don’t talk about them much.

Another idea, and this is one that I can’t do, is to find a new way to tune. There are lots of very smart, savvy engineers in our hobby evidenced by the many different modes and protocols, more being added almost daily it seems. What if some of those programmers were to work on a better way to tune?

Maybe a subaudible tone? I’m sure that someone out there could come up with a solution. I’m asking on behalf of all of us on HF who get annoyed by tuners who lack courtesy. Will you help us?

10 Responses to “Tuning in before tuning up”

  • ab8xa:

    I see you’ve learned how to spell, “amateur” in the year or so you’ve been on HF.

    People who are transmitting on or near you may not hear you. And they’re typically tuning a boat anchor or linear amplifier, or matching their antenna or feedline to their radio, not “tuning [their] antenna”.

    Learn to use the “notch filter” on your radio, or failing that, to QSY. Don’t start a pissing contest by broadcasting to an unidentified transmission.

  • Jason Marin:

    This may sound funny, but even though we may not be totally on the ‘same page’ with this, Thank you for your comments! [I’m very big on having topics discussed from various points of view. That’s one good way for us to make stuff better, by learning from each other!]

    While I can concede a point to you, that ‘People who are transmitting on or near you may not hear you’, I think my argument can still stand.

    The tips, such as pre-tuning and how it would be good for a programmer to come up with a less aggravating way to tune up, and the not using full power the entire tune up time. Those are all still valid even IF the tuner can not hear you.

    The point regarding a lack of a connection between operating CW and the impolite tuners also still stands in my opinion.

    Sure I can QSY, but our bands are supposed to be first come first serve, and if I’m running a net, how is it fair that I should move the entire net? [The qso where the gentlemen tried to connect a lack of CW know how and bad tuning practice was before a traffic net with OVER 100 members who check in, should they have to move the entire net if after a few check in’s somebody tunes on top of them for a few minutes?]

    It doesn’t matter what they are tuning per se, it’s the methods they use [not checking the frequency, and starting at full power and not having pre-tuned]

    Also, I do use my filters, frequently … Notch, Auto-Notch, Attenuator, Noise Reduction and more …

    One other concession, you have a point on how it wouldn’t be good to start a ‘pissing contest’ but I didn’t mean to sound like I encouraged someone to do so.

    Have fun on the bands!
    ~J [ke7tdy]

  • N5TGL:

    Moe: Wow, you’re rude. On your QRZ page, you say you are “blessed” but your snarky response indicates that’s nothing more than lip service, as from your short blast of spleen venting it’s apparent that you don’t live that way. My apologies if you do, but you certainly aren’t practicing what you preach here.

    Who cares if he’s been on HF for only a year? Maybe you’ve forgot that there is a time-honored tradition of elmering in our hobby? You could have written something to help, but rather you picked the low road of insulting the author in the 1st sentence. As for picking apart “tuning [their] antenna”, it’s a phrase that is commonly used and understood. You know what it means, I know what it means, and I’m pretty sure everyone else knows what it means (the whole article is about tuning!) At least Jason is contributing something to the hobby other than negativity.

    Apparently you’ve also forgot one of the other maxims of amateur radio: if you don’t like what you hear, turn the knob. Same thing applies here.

  • ab8xa:

    Pot, meet kettle. If you don’t like what I post, QSY.

  • Tom W5GV:

    I guess the same would hold true for Moe. If he doesn’t like what Jason posts he should QSY.

    At least Jason learned something in his first year. It would seem the Moe wrote the book on ham radio before he got his ticket and the only thing he has learned since is how to be a jerk.

  • N5TGL:

    ab8xa: you first

  • Jason Marin:

    ab8xa: I’ll ask nicely, could you please be a little more courtesy about this? I replied respectfully, it’s obvious others agree with at least some of my points. [It seems you won’t even offer one concession despite me trying to make peace and find middle ground]

    They stand up in agreement and you seem to hate that fact … c’mon, no need to be so rude.

    73 and have a great weekend everyone
    ~j [ke7tdy]

  • KJ4ZIZ:

    Hi all, do you know how it feels to be working DX and you hear a good station on the band, Your making your call and then the tuning starts. Now a few seconds doesn’t bother me but when it lasts and goes on for 2 to 5 minutes it is crazy.
    Yes it is rude and yes it is an interference of the qso, Yes sometimes the person tuning can’t hear you, but now you can’t hear the DX station.

    It would be nice if hams would tune up on and empty band near the qso and not over top the qso. But that would be too easy……LOL

    A dummy load would work for tuning or some type of small attachment to the radio for tuning would work…Seems there are ways to tune without causing a problem or breaking the rules….Hams just need to follow the rules.

    I can see that this topic causes problems just from the replies above. If the rules from the FCC were followed there would be no need for comments like that or to QSY. Didn’t we all take a test to get into this hobby that explains the rules and what is considered good radio practice. How about the hams who use 700 watts to talk 100 miles away to their friend…Just crazy…oh well….what u gonna do…Anyone can learn CW any time. A personal choice in this fine hobby…

  • Jason Marin:

    Hey all~
    Thank You for your support … I’m glad to know I’m not alone on those thoughts. Maybe there’s hope yet that those who share the bands will play nice!

    Thought of another possible ‘solution’. We have ‘DX windows’ ‘QRP calling frequencies’ ‘AM windows’ ‘Beacon Frequencies’ and areas for voice and data etc.

    What if we designated areas for tunning? I understand it’s ideal to tune to where you will transmit, but what if, since CW [which most use to tune with I think] is so narrow, what if we designated that like tunning gets done on xx.25 [so like 3.975.25 or 14.295.25 etc.? Probably not a perfect solution but could possibly be helpful?

    Just thinking out loud 😛
    Thank again … I’m working on my next submission to this site [on signal reports!]
    73 all
    ~j [ke7tdy]

  • Ron N6MSA:

    Greetings, I’m late to the party on this one–but I’ve got at least one answer for the actual question.

    Not everyone is tuning an amp when they park on the pile-up frequency and begin sending the interminablly long and annoying carrier, they are indeed, often using an antenna coupler/tuner.
    so, my answer to the question regarding another way to tune up which will not cause the interference: If one wishes to “tune” one’s antenna using an antenna tuner, one can use a 50 ohm wheatstone bridge (forgive me if I’ve forgotten the right name since the days of my amateur exams long ago). I’ve got a Palomar engineering Antenna Tuner tuner which uses this kind of old tech. it generates white noise which is nulled when a 50 ohm match is presented to the transmitter. It works very well both with my manual antenna tuner and with the Super Antenna MP2 portable “screwdriver” antenna I own and the Bluestar manually adjusted portable antenna. I can match and tweak to my heart’s content, right on the target frequency, achieve a 1-1 match, when the antenna allows (hold breath, cross fingers, eyes and counterpoise wires) and i don’t radiate a single chirp, burp or annoying carrier.

    73 all

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