16 January 2007

Madness - Part 1

The Virus called "HAM BUG" is very dangerous.

The fever spread very fast. The realisation that I was listening to individuals who could build, own, operate and maintain a radio station was something I had not heard of - or for that fact imagined. I decided then that - as the saying goes - I would give my right hand to become a HAM. That put me in a odd sort of situation as the the future incidents will show. But all that a little later.

Now for some more background. After the realisation that they were down to earth individuals and not some "high flying" - I mean Pilots (Capt. Anup Murthy - no insult meant to you) - people, I got really locked on to the frequency. This was on the shortwave - just around where we had good Hindi film songs coming from Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corp. (Does any one remember listening to this station these days?). So it was easier locating these conversations at the slight touch of the tuning knob - too much movement and I would be listening to something else.

While listening, I started getting details of the hobby in detail. I learnt that the operators were - a businessman from Rajapalayam (Nickname - "handle" in HAM jargon - Suri - VU2NPS), a retired professor of Science from Salem (Vasan - full name Srinivasan - VU2NS), a retired All India Radio Installation Engineer from Mysore (Muthanna - VU2MP - the first HAM I met in person - that is a story in itself), a BLIND electronics serviceman from a small village in Tamil Nadu (Chak - full name Chakravarthy - VU2TTC - more details about him at www.qsl.net/vu2msy/chak.htm), to name a few.

It was Chak, who I take as my first "guru". It was Chak who used to talk about all topics related to the operating procedures, principles and other general details. It was also the person who encouraged listeners to send our "reception reports" to him - he always gave his address at the end of his transmission session for the day. He also gave out tips on how to send out the reception reports. I immediately sent out a post card to him giving him the details of who he was contacting and what was being discussed along with the time of the transmission.

Two days later, as was his usual habit, at 2.30 PM, he started mentioning the names of all the listeners (fondly called SWLs - Short Wave Listeners) who had sent our reception reports. It was then that I got the thrill of my life. "CHAK" CALLED OUT MY NAME!!!!!

It was the first time other than from a regular broadcast station that my name was mentioned by a person in what was a "LIVE" transmission.

The "HAM BUG" had entered my blood. I was bitten for life. This was the beginning of my "Madness".


SHIV said...

Hi Madhu,
Nice to see you on your blog sooner than expected.Firstly a happy New year.Please give my greetings to all at home.Nice to know how the HAMBUG bit you.I have read about Chak else where that he is blind.Hamming is a great hobby which keeps some people going in life.QSL about every thing in your last post.VU2MUD there is one thing in my mind which is haunting me for quite a while.That is i would like to know a cell phone emits about 2 watts and research says that it can be harmful on the long run,but we ham entusiats are with our radios which emit 50watts and at times on HF transciever it is 100watts or more.Dont you think it may also be very harmful[Many folds].Please give us some info regarding it.Otherwise nothing speacial for now.Take care.Hope to meet you soon on your blog.

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Shiv,

Thanks for the greetings. Wish you and your family also a very happy and prospersous New Year and an active Hamming year ahead.

Yes Chak - VU2TTC - is blind. You should see the shack photo. You will be scared about all the live wires running about. It was a surprise that he used to operate his homebrew (Home assembled - ham parlance) equipment without getting any high voltage shock!

There was an incident when VU2RRN (OM Naidu) visited his shack. It was known that Naidu had a characteristic laugh at regular intervals. The story is that he forgot his usual laugh when he saw all the live wires running around and Chak operating his equipment with ease.

About the usage of the high power by amateurs and the comparision of the cell phone and its uses, consider the following:

1. The Antenna - the radiating - portion of the equipment is within the radio (Cellphone) whereas it is mounted on the roof of the HAM's house. The proximity to the radiating element is what makes it dangerous rather than the power output

2. Also the frequency or wavelength the radio signals that amateurs are much less than that of the cell phones. Therefore the direct impact of the radiating is more harmful by the extended use of mobile phones.

3. Ham radio equipment is simplex mode - you either listen or you transmit. The radiation from the antenna is only when you transmit. The transmission time is usually less than 30 secs at a stretch and mostly the equipment is held atleas 2 - 6 inches from the mounth while using a VHF handheld set. Whereas when we answer a mobile phone call - until we end the conversation and the link gets disconnected - the handset is always transmitting - called duplex operation. Thereby increasing the exposure to risk.

Hope I have been able to clear a few of your doubts - even though in a crude and simple way.

Keep those queries coming.

Madhu - VU2MUD

SHIV said...

Dear Madhu,
I wish all is well.Thank you for giving me the required clarification.I think you have not given a crude explanation but enough info to change my assumtion and clear my doubts.I have not seen Chaks shacks photo's.Anyway people who are blind are a little over skilled in certain aspects.Probably thats the reason he handle's his radio set up with total ease.Madhu if possible[i do not insist]could you please give me leads from where i could source rigs from.Thank you once again.

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Shiv

Please send me your email id to vu2mud@gmail.com
I will try to give you some details.

Madhu - VU2MUD

parvathivattam said...

hai sir,
your article on radio dragged my memories to childhood days specially your mention about SRI LANKAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION ASIA SEVA VIBHAGA where hindi and telugu songs were played. We as children used to sit beside the radio to hear AKKAMMA(if i remeber correctly) her malayali accent of english. thanks sir

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Dear Parvathi Vattam (I hope I have split the name correctly)
The memory of radio - especially SLBC - lingers long in the memory of all radio listeners right from the early 1970s. It was that station that brought "Antyakshari" to light which is now a popular programme in all languages. It was also synonimus with Ameen Sayani - the compere.

This gives me an idea to start writing about radio listening and its thrills