Alternate Realities


I recently read about someone who was suffering from a blockage in his heart, but was unaware of it. When it was finally diagnosed, his doctor told him that an artery had grown around the blockage – creating a natural bypass procedure. Sounds like a medical miracle, but as it turns out, that’s not terribly uncommon. The human body is wired for life on a cellular level and if one path becomes closed it will seek out, even create if necessary, an alternate path.

For some reason, that reminds me of the amateur radio service.

What has kept us growing into a second century of radio are the changes we embrace, often of necessity, to keep the patient alive – so to speak. The amateur service has evolved based on changes in demographics, technology, and government regulation. Sometimes that change seems sudden and shocking, other times it seems glacial and for some, can’t come quickly enough.

Consider the problems encountered by a growing number in the fraternity with antenna restrictions. I suppose one option would be to give up and take up a new hobby. But instead, the spirit of Maxim urges us to create bypasses around the blockage. While the ARRL attacks the problem by working for change via government regulation, other enterprising souls create and sell stealthy antennas.

Meanwhile, other antenna challenged enthusiasts have decided that life is too short to fight neighborhood association lawyers and it’s too short to struggle with limited, compromised home radio shacks. These have taken ham radio outdoors — who says you need a proper radio shack anyway?

A Buddipole and a KX3 magically transforms into the ultimate ham “shack” when operated from the great outdoors. One could easily argue that working DX with the sun on your shoulders and your toes in the sand is better than any super contest station ever built.

What is it they say, a bad day at the lake is better than a great day anywhere else?

This is but one of endless examples of the evolution of the hobby where we have had to solve problems by creating alternate realities. In fact, personal use of the shortwaves came about because the government tossed us a bone. Gave us 200 meters and down as a cruel joke – assuming these bands would be worthless for long-range communication.

Faced with that “blockage”, the Radio Elders went back to the workshop and forged a bypass.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Author: Jeff Davis


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