People Issues

by Karl Shoemaker, AK2O


We humans, by nature, can be vicious, violent, nasty creatures that roam this earth for the last few million years or so. If you've seen the movie "Space Odyssey 2001" it illustrates (early) man and the challenges of survival, greed, dominance and power. Some where in this "mess" comes feelings, ego, motivation, communication and understanding issues over the years. Rather recently, our society lives in a "technological nightmare" with so much going on it's hard to maintain a point of reference or even to understand why we are here and what we are doing to better ourselves. Even in youth, kids play and fight almost each other for various reasons. It's only because of the majority of people were raised with some values and proper training for future generations keeps this world fairly stable and able to live in.

The Amateur Radio hobby is no exception. In most cases all Amateurs (Hams) are good people, willing to help out and get a long with the others in the hobby. However, in some cases, particularly in repeater and linking operations, there's a few owners, administrators, control operators or frequency coordinators can make life in the hobby challenging and sometimes miserable. This can range from simple ego's preventing improvement to one's self, due to lack of admitting one's fault and attempting to communicate and work out a reasonable solution to a problem. In worse cases people refuse to work out a problem and don't communicate, leaving the (innocent) users of such system to wonder around with no proper guidance on practices or usage of such system(s). In extreme worse cases these people become at war with each other, and terrorizing each other verbally, electronically or other unmentionable methods. Fortunately, our Nation does have some sort of enforcement by a division of our Government. Even though our system is complicated and weak (easy to abuse) it's the only system we have and generally works for the majority, therefore, is not a priority to improve for everyone.

In the case of repeater and linking operations many owners of such systems do not have the knowledge or background to operate properly such systems. As a result, poor sounding system draw that type of user-crowd, who are generally ignorant about improving operations in courtesy, audio quality and other people related issues. Fortunately, there are also many systems owners that are competent with proper knowledge, operational and technical skills and exercise proper discipline in these areas. This attracts a user-type that longs and appreciates good systems.

One classic example is the mis-understanding of flat audio systems. The Author experienced a "colorful" exchange of email (and other forms of communication) on the IRLP system. Typical conversation on this subject was thinking that "flat" audio was from speaker and microphone audio connections of radios to sound card/RoIP interface. While other owners/operators did understand proper (flat or otherwise) audio practices, they could not successfully work out the differences with these individuals that either did not want to listen or change. Recently the "solution" was for all nodes to run "conventional" audio, thus pre and de emphasized audio interface with the radios.

Another example is Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in many forms. Intermodulation Distortion (IM) is one common nuisance, especially in the newer type radios. There are many reasons why this happens and normally is not properly understood among the masses of users. As a result finger pointing and wrong accusations happen between users and groups of users, which sometimes turns into a battle and, at best, lack of communication from one or both parties "pouting" on such issues

The last example is a user understanding how to "work" a repeater when there is a conversation going on and wished to join or break in. Some "lively" funny conversations between several users may forget to leave a lot of time for a breaking station. The word "lot", of course, is relative. Some folks need a second or two to get one's thoughts together in time to key up and start talking before the next station does the same. With a large coverage repeater (such as 147.20) there are some delays for all the circuits to "open up" to allow a voice path to be heard. Many newbies are "taught" to say the word "break" to break in. Unfortunately, because of some path delays that single word may not be heard. The result is a mis-understanding that the present stations using the system are rude to the new station and the latter wanders off to another repeater, etc. Here's a tip: You need to know the different between your path opening and anticipating a station getting ready to stop transmitting. A mistake is to talk real fast, thinking that will get you in. That's not the correct way. Once you start talking the others will start to hear you after the delay. Therefore say something (almost) meaningless before your intelligence content. For example if you want to comment to the group "it's a pretty sunset here, in western Washington", add something before that the instant you key-up; "well... it's a pretty sunset here, in western Washington. Another example to identify say your "preamble" before your call sign: "Here is, AK2O". A chart was created for an illustrated version of this tactic. Although normally the group should leave a second or two gap between transmission, if that is forgotten and you need to break in study the timing lines for each function of operation.

The list is almost endless, and as examples come up and time permits the Author will update this page to enlighten and hopefully educate you and others to avoiding getting hurt or otherwise be prepared for such scenarios.

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