Look for KB4T on 28.420 MHz on the 10M band between 0300Z and 0600Z

Daily Archives: February 3, 2012

Welcome to the KB4T HamSphere Blog site!

KB4T sorting out his Morse Code Key Collection: Straight keys, Keyer Paddles, Semi-Automatic Keys (Bugs), Code Oscillator & related items - Click on image for close-up view

Thanks for visiting the KB4T HamSphere Blog. If you have never heard of HamSphere or don’t know what it’s about, visit http://www.hamsphere.com and spend some time browsing. In a nutshell, HamSphere is a VOIP simulation of the High Frequencies complete with fading and static. No RF is involved. No antennas. No links to the real high frequencies. HamSphere is a world within itself in which anyone can experience what it’s like to be an Amateur Radio Operator but without the license exam or a radio and antenna.

People who have an interest in radio communications can become HamSphere subscribers. No ham license, indeed no license of any sort, is required. There is a small annual fee to use the service but it is a bargain when balanced against the hours of fun and education that can be enjoyed. It’s easy and free to get started. Simply download the software and use the service for free for 5 days. At the end of the trial period (or earlier!) you can decide to subscribe for approximately $35 USD or delete the program and go on your way.

Some HamSphere users have no radio communications experience at all. Some come from the ranks of the world’s Citizens Bands. Some are real licensed and experienced Amateur Radio Operators. While HamSphere seeks to emulate the real world of Amateur Radio, the mix of experienced & inexperienced, licensed & unlicensed and computer savvy & computer beginners  makes for a diverse universe…not unlike the real ham bands in many respects.

KB4T has been a licensed Amateur Radio Operator for 47 years. Most of that time was spent operating CW (Morse Code) on the lower high frequency bands. In 2009, KB4T became voice talent for This Week In Amateur Radio and discovered the world of VOIP Ham Radio. To create broadcast quality recordings for TWIAR and top quality Enhanced Single SideBand on HF, KB4T made part of his ham shack a recording studio complete with professional audio equipment. When the studio isn’t used to make broadcast quality recordings, the equipment serves as the launch pad for VOIP operation.

Starting first on QSONet.com and then HamSphere.com, KB4T found the world of VOIP Amateur Radio both inviting and entertaining. It’s difficult to pin down the attraction. Perhaps it’s the ease of use. Perhaps it’s the lack of static. Perhaps it’s the many opportunities to show non-hams how Amateur Radio really works.

VOIP Ham Radio is not a perfect world. Yet it is an incubator for radio enthusiasts who want to dip their toe in the Amateur Radio water and see what it’s like. QSONet requires its users to have an Amateur Radio License. HamSphere does not. Anyone can play in the HamSphere universe. For those who find the demands of licensing unattractive, HamSphere is the perfect world where one can experience the joys of Ham Radio without that pesky testing thing. Yet unlike unregulated chat rooms, anarchistic CB channels and other unruly VOIP services, HamSphere is a civilized environment, protected by Admins who make sure the irresponsible don’t make life unbearable for those who are responsible, courteous and intent on good clean fun.

To those who say, “It isn’t real ham radio!” I say, “You’re absolutely right.” It doesn’t need to be. I’ve always said that the medium is not as important as the message. If I could derive the same joy of personal electronic communication by using a string tied to other cans, I would do it. Like Ham Radio, HamSphere and services like it, open up a world of interpersonal relationships that is very rewarding.

For me the toughest decision each day is which medium to use. RF or VOIP. Both are fun. Both are rewarding. Both provide me with great satisfaction. In fact, I feel very lucky to have both to choose from.

See you on the bands, Real & Virtual!!!

73,   Frank N. Haas KB4T in Florida

The KB4T Ham Radio Blog can be found at http://kb4t.us but I admit that I don’t write about many subjects.

Email KB4T at          kb4t at kb4t dot us         [Be sure to change "at" to @ and "dot" to a period.]



The Importance of Listening

One of the first lessons all VOIP Ham Radio Operators must master is the art of LISTENING.

Commit this to memory: Never transmit on any frequency until you have spent at least 2 minutes listening there.

New users are prone to violating this basic operating procedure. They may be so anxious to make their first contact that they can’t keep their fingers off the PTT button. New users tend to barge into ongoing conversations without having anything to contribute. This is simply rude! Such behavior satisfies their urge to transmit but disrupts the flow of the conversation and leaves those who were talking feeling awkward and a bit annoyed. Not a great way to start!

Imagine you and someone you just met are chatting at a party face-to-face about something that interests you both.  Suddenly a stranger neither of you knows walks up to the two of you and starts talking about something random and unrelated. How would you feel if that happened to you? Very likely you would be momentarily shocked and then somewhat angry especially if you were the one trying to make a point. Breaking into an ongoing HamSphere conversation without a clue as to what’s being discussed is equally rude.

Be patient! Listen long enough to get a good idea what is being discussed. Resist the urge to break in just to say “Hi.” Such greetings are best done at a sensible stopping point in the discussion or at the end of the conversation. It’s always best to sit by quietly if you have nothing useful to contribute to the ongoing conversation. Only listening will you ever get in sync with the discussion underway. Break in only if you have something valuable to add to the discussion.

Avoid making a bad first impression. Learn to listen before you join an ongoing conversation. Gain respect by offering added value to the topic under discussion. Being a good listener will make you a better operator.