Amateur radio attracts a huge cadre of enthusiasts. And with licensing at an all time high, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into an occasional knucklehead. My own initial encounter with one of these unique individuals came early in my ham career. I was struggling through my first contest experience and was clearly not following the information exchange protocol. I had read the instructions. I had listened to others do it. But, in one of those “minutes make the man” situations, I just couldn’t get it right.
From the midst of the pile up a sonorous utterance bellowed above the QRM. “Do us all a favor. Get off the air.” The voice had a linear amplifier behind it and I was pretty sure everyone heard him.
I was stunned and didn’t know what to say. And then, thankfully, another voice spoke up. “He’s learning. You were once a beginner, too. Cut him a break.”
I felt like I wanted to unplug my antenna and find another hobby. But only for a few moments. I realized that our beloved hobby reflects the rich diversity of attitude and opinion that defines the human race.
What are some effective strategies for dealing with a nasty operator?
Is there a nugget amidst the trash? Sometimes people inject negativity because of something that’s happening to them. Their anger may have nothing to do with you. But it’s always useful to see if an unemotional analysis yields a teachable moment. If so, put the nugget in your pocket and throw away the wrapper.
Apologize. If you’ve clearly done something wrong, contrition can defuse anger. It’s ok to say “I’m sorry”. Even if it doesn’t get a positive response from the troll, you’ll come across as a class operator to everyone else who might be listening.
The FCC is interested in policing patterns of inappropriate behavior on the air.If the guy is bullying everybody, make a note of his callsign. If you’re on PSK or a digital mode, save the QSO information. It may add value later.
The most common answer I got to this question when I posed it on the Amateur Radio Reddit was this: QSY – VE8AEG says it’s a simple as changing frequency, removing yourself from the unacceptable. KG4AKV says, “Don’t feed the trolls”. There are lots of places to play, pick one where the people are nicer.
As retired FCC Amateur Radio enforcement guru Riley Hollingsworth told a group of enthusiasts at the Dayton Hamvention, “We can enforce the rules, we can enforce kindness, courtesy or common sense, but we can’t regulate ‘stupid’… Spin the knob”.
VA6NWR shared a link to Riley’s farewell speech from the Spring of 2007. It’s a wonderful mixture of wisdom and humor that will resonate with everyone who has ever enjoyed a QSO.
For those without a D-STAR repeater in the neighborhood, the Raspberry Pi is a highly serviceable solution. With a number of SD Card images available and the ease of interface to the ubiquitous DVAP Dongle, talking digital is a breeze.
Now comes the Raspberry Pi Zero, a $5.00 iteration that’s smaller and faster than it’s larger brothers. The Zero runs the same Raspbian Linux distro on an identical ARM11-based Broadcom BCM2836 SoC you’ll find on the $25 Raspberry Pi Model B+. Clocked to 1GHz instead of 700MHz, this chewing gum sized item is actually 40 percent faster than the original Raspberry Pi Model B. As the old saying goes, dynamite comes in small packages.
We run the Maryland D-Star Image, which supports a half dozen different platforms, including DVAP, 70CM GPIO Boards including the DVMEGA Pi Radio, 70CM & 2M Boards including the DVMEGA Dual Band, DV-RPTR V1 through V3, a GMSK Modem, Sound Card and Split Repeater. Extended tests confirm that the Pi Zero is just as robust as are its siblings.
Most D-Star Raspbian distros give you the option to program your WiFi access points, allowing seamless operation from a variety of different SSIDs. I have configurations for both the house and the car, using the hotspot on my iPhone for mobile connectivity. D-Star is not bandwidth intensive, so you can talk a ton without seriously denting the limitations of your cellular data plan. The image also facilitates turning the DVAP power down to to next to nothing, saving battery while still facilitating flawless connectivity within the small operating radius that’s typically the mobile or shack environment.
One consideration: You will need a multi-port USB hub to connect both your DVAP and a WiFi dongle. This brings the total cost of the package within range of the Model B+, so an old-school approach may still be the way to go. For either application, you’ll need an Edimax USB WiFi dongle and a DVAP Dongle.
When on the road, I toss my setup under the front seat, plug the USB cable into my cigarette lighter and I’m good to go. I also program my IC-92AD HT for nearby repeaters, both analog and digital so I have coverage, even in an event where the cellular network might fail.
It’s small, lightweight, strong, only requires a single support, needs no rotator, gives full size dipole performance on all 5 HF bands, is fed by a single 50 ohm coax, and produces a horizontally polarized signal that minimizes RF interference.
Actually it’s been around for some time and is a favorite for those of us with limited space for an antenna. It’s design let’s you run some serious power with a minimum of interference that could agitate the neighbors and it’s light enough to hold fast and steady on a single pole. It’s a true omnidirectional antenna so you’ll lose those inevitable nulls that long-wires and dipoles can create.
And although there are places that sell them in relatively easy to assemble kits, you can fabricate your own.