Topband: LOTW Participation

Eddy Swynar deswynar at
Fri Feb 17 07:23:50 PST 2012

On 2012-02-17, at 9:44 AM, Julius Fazekas wrote:

> Why not use 'em all? (LoTW, eQSL, ClubLog, hard card)

Hi Julius,

Have you ever ventured forth onto the so-called "Lowfers Band" of 160- to 190-KHz, & listened for beacons...? I did, & one time I was rewarded with the thrill of hearing an "VE3"-based station. I was so amazed that I could copy the station despite the many restrictions conspiring against it that I actually built a beacon transmitter of my own here, & obtained special permission of our licensing body to put it on the air...

But that band's complexion has changed dramatically since that simpler time: the realities of the game now dictate that computer-controlled slow speed CW & associated software receiving / transmitting enhancements are "de riguer" anymore. Gone are the quaint---but readily copyable---CW "standard" beacons, many of which were driven by continuous loop tapes, notched 33 RPM record albums(!) mounted atop extra-slowplaying record players, etc. To be a viable participant anymore in that part of the spectrum necessitated a considerable commitment in peripherals that the curious & casual newbie simply is unprepared to invest, or even unaware of.

When I mentioned this fact to one prominent "guru" of the VLF scene---i.e. that the door is effectively being slammed shut upon the entry of "new blood" into that niche because of its "exclusiveness"---I was promptly reminded of the superiority of the "new way" of doing things, and that records for long distance reception were being laid by the wayside on an almost daily basis since its near-universal acceptance. 

What that guru failed to appreciate was the fact that his domain had suddenly become a closed one, limited to existing members of that "club"---and as demographics take hold & old members became SKs, there would be  precious few, if any, new replacements. 

Correctly or not, I view electronic confirmations like LotW & eQSL suspiciously. Are supporters of these any different from that "exclusionary" cadre of users who have abandoned CW beacons of yore on the "experimenter's band"? Surely the bug bit them when they first heard a beacon, just as doubtlessly the awards bug hit many of us when we received our very first QSL card. Why would anyone deny that thrill to a rookie Ham, dismissing it as being old-fashioned, when it inspired us oh-so-many years ago? An electronic notification is just not the same, IMHO...and it's hardly a much-loved tradition of Amateur radio---yet!

...But I'm doubtlessly showing my age in saying so!

Let the parade proceed---I'm quite content to just sit back & watch it from the sidelines.

~73~ de Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ

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