humans care about pollution, robots give a sh.t // 18-6-23

It seems currently has issues with gopher access, but (which basically should serve the same content) worked always well these days for me. Therefore one should publish both server names for redundancy.

While we were having a picknick during our little bike tour today (with a 5 year old, you don't yet make it far), I happened to catch a satellite transmission from a German ham, probably on AO-07, if my web search went correctly. Not that I'm much into satellite operation, but it was anyway nice, especially as my older son happened to be around and heard it as well.

I'm taking a new attempt to get back into amateur radio. I bought some additional cheap FM handheld TX, which I will test with the help of a nice spectrum analyzer I may use at my former research group. (When I asked whether they have some available, my former colleague told me "up to 23 GHz", to which I replied "So I'll use it in almost DC operation" because the TX goes up to 470 MHz..)

I'm also intending to continue work on my project about Morse broadcasting. And then I've got some idea about a cheap, portable 430 MHz CW TRX, with the aim of getting people locally reachable by CW, to promote interactive modes.

Something I completely missed in the past years was the apparently tremendous success of automatic low power, slow data modes like FT8 etc. There's a big discussion ongoing whether they kill amateur radio or not. (If you want to read more, K6BJ's post might be a starting point.) As I never was interested in making a lot of contact with stations far away (called "DX'ing" among hams), I don't mind at all if the necessary score now can be made by robots, fully automatically — to me, those Honor rolls etc were anyway meaningless.

However, what I really care about is keeping the radio spectrum as clean as possible. There is much too much pollution everywhere, from the seas to the air to the soil to the souls, and of course also the electromagnetic spectrum. Light pollution has been noticed as a problem for animals (and astronomers), and if you ever switched on a shortwave radio in a modestly developed country's cities, you know what noise is. And it constantly gets worse, for various reasons: bad designed power supplies (coming almost for free with LED illumination and smartphone chargers), power line and ADSL communication, power converters for photovoltaic installations, and cheap electronics in general.

Now the main problem with all the digital communication surge (in consumer products as well as in amateur radio equipment) IMHO is the "human ear missing on the waves". Computers are never annoyed by noise, it only creates more work, but they happily try for another three minutes, hours or years.

So if you're using automatic means, like your WhatsApp client on the smartphone, or FT8 on the amateur waves, you will most probably not give a sh.t about noise, because you never notice it in the first place. It just takes longer until your message (even a tiny one as with FT8 and Co's case) gets through. Because in the meantime, you're anyway distracted by some other sensoric noise initiated by your smartphone or another IoT thingie (unless you prefer reading a book, of course).

So even radio amateurs may become indifferent to noise filling the waves, and when people like myself, who like to really listen to the tropo- or ionosphere, complain about noise, they will not get it and just shake their heads about the grumpy old men.

But as I like my water clear, my air fresh, my soil fertile, and my soul sober, I also like my electromagnetic spectrum free from noise. This is another instance of waning respect for the commons.

I dislike all those robots crowding the waves. Not because I don't like their business, but because they don't care about mine.

/End Of Rant/