Today, I am featuring a guest blogger, my long departed paternal grandfather, Lawrence E. Hauck, who passed away in 1979. He wrote this article, most likely in the 1960’s, for the Santa Fe Magazine, published date unknown. I would like to think that Grandpa would have taken naturally to blogging and social media as is evident of his interest, through hamming, to connect his thoughts, reflections and experiences with his “new friends” hundreds of miles from his rather isolated home in Newton, Kansas.
Glimpses Into Amateur Radio Stations, Owned and Operated by Our Employees, Who Nightly Explore the Lower Wave Lengths in Search of New Friends and New Adventures
by Lawrence E. Hauck who owned Station W9CYV
Many of our employees, tired from the day’s work, go home, drop into an easy chair and snap on the radio, little dreaming that far below the range of scheduled programs there is a new world, inhabited by thousands of amateur operators, a vast army of friendly “hams” (as they prefer to be called) who nightly split the ether with the vibrant scream of their code signals, chatting with friends miles away, whom they have never seen, handling messages of a noncommercial nature, or swapping information about the weather, the girl friend, or the intensity of the ever-prevailing static.
The radio amateurs of the United States, sixteen thousand of them, enjoy perhaps the most fascinating and yet the least known of hobbies. The public is privileged to gaze upon the efforts of the golfer or the stamp collector, but the radio amateur enjoys his hobby in an isolated upstairs room or basement nook, surrounded by a maze of wires and a barricade of equipment, where he can “pound brass” (operate) to his heart’s content.
The neighbors may view his squirrel cage aerial swinging from the mast, high above his house, and comment wonderingly on the necessity for such a contraption to bring the radio programs, and the postman may stare bewildered at the flood of postcards with strange call-letters on them which are delivered daily to the “ham’s” residence but generally speaking the public is scarcely aware of his hobby.
To tell about the growth and development of amateur radio would require more space than is available; sufficient to say, however, that no sooner had Marconi announced the first successful transmission of wireless signals, than a group of interested experimenters became bent on duplicating the feat, improving on his apparatus and extending its possibilities, not for monetary gain, but purely for the sake of the experiment. Their number has grown to thousands.
The United States government, immediately after the World War, began granting licenses to all who could pass the required examination, free of charge, and this practice is continued today. In order to operate an amateur radio station it is only necessary to have a working knowledge of the apparatus you wish to use, ability to send and receive Continental Morse code at ten words a minute, and a thorough knowledge of the international laws governing radio communication, such as preference to SOS calls and other rules too numerous to mention here. Once the applicant passed the examination and secured his operator’s license and his station license and call letters, he can design and build his own transmitter an “get on the air.”
The government has allocated six different wave bands for amateur use: 160, 80, 40, 20, 10 and 5 meters, respectively and of this group the 40-meter band (7,000 kilocycles) is the most popular. On this wave length static moderate even in the hot summer months, and radio signals carry like wildfire with a minimum amount of power. On this band only code signals are allowed. In other words, the operator is allowed to connect up a microphone and transmit speech, although the voice may be used on some of the other allotted wave lengths.
It might be well to clear up a point here: in this connection many people think of code signals as “wireless” and programs or speech as “radio”. This is a false interpretation, your radio set, placed in the parlor and used for receiving programs, is just as much a wireless set as is radio set used to receive code signals. Radio and wireless are one and the same thing, but there are different kinds of signals, code and phonetic, The majority of amateurs prefer to use code because of the greater distance that can be covered with a small amount of power.
During the past eight or ten years I have talked to hundreds of other amateurs throughout the United States, and it was a natural curiosity that led me to inquire as to the vocations of these “hams” when they were not tinkering with their radio equipment during their leisure hours. Being a Santa Fe employee, naturally I was interested in communicating with other Santa Fe men who were located in other cities along the line, and to my surprise I discovered that many of these stations are operated by our employees, who enjoy amateur radio as a hobby.