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Author Topic: "ELMERS" Who are you?  (Read 5924 times)
N4JTE
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« on: May 14, 2010, 09:36:54 PM »

I have used the elmer thing for the last few years when I have a sometimes, dumb, sometimes a well defined question and have always appreciated the well defined and on topic answers.  BUT, when I go to QRZ to verify who is responding to a antenna question I am asking and find out a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer". Kind of like the the teacher thing because those that can't do it ,teach, and the rest of us get on the air. I guess what I am saying is that I value the comments from the "Elmers" who actually get on the air and back up their knowledge with real world experience as opposed to those who live on the internet.
We have to be careful in the information we pass on to visitors to the eham elmers forum, and we need to respond from real world , current on the air experience's, the newbee's are relying on us and the esoteric, book defined dissertations will blow them off in a heartbeat.
Bob
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KF6QEX
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 10:23:16 PM »

Quote
BUT, when I go to QRZ to verify who is responding to a antenna question I am asking and find out a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer".

Sure...I have a 10 foot pole ...so here is what your problem is:

Your problem is that you are using the wrong method to validate the answers you are getting.

No more, no less.

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W0BTU
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 11:41:27 PM »

...  BUT, when I go to QRZ to verify who is responding to a antenna question I am asking and find out a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer". ...

Good question, Bob.

A lot of the regulars who answer questions either on eHam or QRZ are able to do so because they have been on the air in the past. They know which end of a soldering iron gets hot, if you get the idea. They've been there and done that, thank you, and they forgot more than you and I know about radio and electronics.

It's rewarding and satisfying to be able to help someone out with a technical question, when you know the answer. And these  web sites seem to be the place where it's done, rather than on the bands.

This is not to say that the answers are 100% accurate. But I think others will agree that when someone posts a bad reply to a question, the guys in the know usually come out of the woodwork and set things straight.

If you know where the techies meet on HF, let me know. But I've never heard a technical Q&A forum on any of the bands I can receive here. When I need the answer to a question, and I can't find it on Google, I think that this is a great place to ask it.

73 Mike
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G3TXQ
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2010, 03:56:25 AM »

I'm not sure that metrics such as "number of look ups on QRZ" or "time on air" are necessarily good indicators.

I don't claim to be any sort of "expert", but I have designed and built several multiband HF transceivers, designed and evaluated various antennas, and published articles in UK and US Ham magazines. I also spent all my professional career in Comms R&D. However if you took a look at my Log Book you'd probably find a couple of pages covering a year's activity. I'm not sure that makes me less qualified to answer questions than someone who spends all their time on the radio and who has no interest in design and experimentation.

73,
Steve G3TXQ
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W7ETA
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2010, 04:49:40 AM »

Huuuum.

Another opinion is we "need" more Elmers with correct knowledge and fewer hams preaching how others outta live and fewer people complaining about other hams.

But.  My opinion is just that, an opinion, not a statement of fact.

73
Bob
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LU2DFM
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2010, 05:14:13 AM »

Hi.

I've noted more than once that radio amateurs tend to judge people knowledge in electronics and RF based in radio amateur achievements, reputation, antennas size, etc. and has the notion that the only activity that make you know something about RF is ham radio.

In reality is just the other way around: although that for lots of hams radio == amateur radio, most knowledgeable people in this hobby is a professional radio engineer or has a career that's closely related (related to physics, electronics and science in general) so they have the education and formation that made them _understand_ how the stuff work, and their experience and savvy does not ever comes from their ham radio activity.

This seems to be somewhat related to the fact that lots of amateurs don't *trust*  antenna models :|

I, for one, am not in this hobby for _communications_. I like to learn, try and build things, restore some old electronic equipment, and things like that. I'm working full time since 20 years ago and have little time for the hobby. Whenever I'm making "lots" of radio it's probably because I'm testing/adjusting some piece of equipment or antenna, and that activity on the air most of the time means that whatever I'm trying is not doing very well... because the instant I see it working there is no need for more _communications_.

73
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KE3WD
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2010, 06:29:48 AM »

A lot of us had already earned WAS, WAC, etc. etc. and have the wallpaper to prove our DX. 

Only problem you're having is that we did it long before QRZ was created. 


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KG6MZS
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2010, 06:43:40 AM »

Interesting thread.  I'm on the air a lot - I have over 10k look-ups on my QRZ page but I certainly do NOT consider myself a technical elmer.  I have noticed that some very technical people seem to enjoy bludgeoning newbies' enthusiasm into oblivion by intentionally making their knowledge cryptic - a sort of secret handshake to keep newcomers out rather than encourage newcomers along.  I don't really consider them to be elmers, either.

I am enthusiastic about being on the air and I like to share that enthusiasm with practical suggestions about actually operating a radio.  I can't worry about pedantic curmudgeon killjoys and I suggest anybody discouraged by such to people let them roll off your back and move on to those that can share their knowledge invitingly, with respect for a fledgling interest in this hobby.

Another country heard from,

73 de Eric,  KG6MZS


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TANAKASAN
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 07:10:14 AM »

Mid fifties two kids three cats and a wife who understands.
Held a ham radio ticket for just over thirty years. Tried CB for a month or so and didn't like it.
Work as a maintenance engineer for a local telecoms company mostly on microwave kit.
Half way through completing my 100% homebrew shack. PSU, transceiver, ATU, 6m transverter, the lot.
Spend more time with a soldering iron in my hand than a microphone.

And finally........................

Believe that the best way to learn is to answer the questions of others.

Tanakasan
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K7ZRZ
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 07:27:37 AM »

I'm just a piano player, so don't ask me.

Brian K7ZRZ
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Brian K7ZRZ
N3OX
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2010, 09:12:17 AM »

a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer". Kind of like the the teacher thing because those that can't do it ,teach, and the rest of us get on the air.

I dunno, Bob.  Seems to me that the hams who are never on the air because they're constantly researching, modeling,building, and testing things with careful measurements might have the best answers of all, in terms of technical correctness.   Some hams don't actually like talking on the radio as much as they like experimenting with radio gear and techniques.    And besides, the "QRZ lookup" thing isn't even close to a good measurement of who's on the air.  There a few historically badly behaved people in the internet forums who actually use their real calls, and they have some pretty big QRZ.com lookups.  These are people who I've never heard on the air or even heard of except on the internet.  

-------

The point about some answers being too complicated, technical etc., is important, and has come up several times in discussions recently.  The problem is this:

Sometimes the truth is complicated.

And sometimes that complicated truth doesn't show up in 85% of hams' on  air experience, but you get that one person in a tough situation who needs to know how radio waves actually work to a great level of detail.  In that situation, you're doing them a disservice by not telling them, or by letting other people give them a "simplified" description and rules of thumb that actually aren't true.  Answers to peoples' tough questions should respect the asker.  They should not be condescending.  They should be made as clear and simple as possible.  But they shouldn't go  over the brink where they become wrong for the sake of making the message simpler.  That is a big danger of "on air experience" answers with no theoretical "book defined" background.

-------------

Some of this noise that answers should be simpler and strictly practical to  "protect the newbies from the complicated truth" stuff makes me wonder what you guys think of the newbies.  You think they're dumb?  You think they can't handle a complicated technical discussion?  You think all these adults who are trying to get started in ham radio are going to run away crying to mommy that ham radio is too hard and they don't wanna, just because someone posts something that's a bit beyond what they can understand with their current background?

The fact of the matter is that some of the "book defined dissertations" are actually the closest to the challenging mathematical truth of electromagnetic physics, and the simple, practical answers can have a lot of holes and flaws.  That doesn't mean that the simple, practical answers aren't useful to get on the air, but if the ideas in those simple, practical answers are wrong, someone should challenge them, in the hopes that we'll eventually arrive at simple, practical, and correct.

Do some people intentionally condescend to the newbies and "bludgeon" them with cryptic statements for the purpose of excluding and harassing them?  Yeah, I've seen that.  There's someone in particular in the "famous irritating internet forum participant" category that I mentioned earlier who was really good at that.  Thankfully, he's never been a participant in Elmers, and hasn't been on eHam for a long time.  I don't think anyone here currently does that.   I do think that people who answer questions here have various levels of patience for people who have built their current understanding around stuff they read on the internet or heard on 75m SSB.  Sometimes their frustration shows through.    But as far as KG6MZS's "secret handshake club?"  I know some hams who are in that but they're not here.  And to quote him:

Quote
I suggest anybody discouraged by such to people let them roll off your back and move on to those that can share their knowledge invitingly, with respect for a fledgling interest in this hobby.

Exactly!   Last I checked most hams were middle-aged or older adults!  I'm on the younger end but I'm an adult too. There are probably a few young hams around here too, and you do have to worry a little more about the self-esteem of people who are still developing their personalities and whatever.  But I can tell  something from my experience as 15 year old ham:  If you're willing to let all your friends know that you have a ham radio when you're in high school in 1995, you probably don't give a damn what anyone thinks of you.    And for the rest of us, if you don't like someone's answer, suck it up.  It might seem elitist or academic or head-in-the-clouds impractical.    If you're angry about it, prove 'em wrong.  Don't take their word for granted.  In fact, you probably shouldn't really take anyone's word for granted unless they're showing you a difficult mathematical proof.  The laws of electromagnetic physics are not dictated by simplicity and practicality.  They're not dictated by complexity either.  They're not dictated by authority, contest standings, logbook thickness, DXCC counters, or ham-famousness.   They don't come from past success with a particular engineering technique, they don't come from verbal, common-sense arguments.

The laws of electromagnetic physics are well described, to the best of human knowledge, by a coupled set of four partial differential equations.  That's the answer.  It's an answer that almost no hobbyist can use, but that's really the crux of the problem here.  Every answer in an internet forum, every answer that is cast in language instead of difficult mathematics is a translation of these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell's_equations

Some aspects of Maxwell's equations are easy to make "common sense" arguments about.  But not all.  Some things are wild, wacky and ridiculous from a "common sense" standpoint:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamaterial#Cloaking_devices

I can feel people getting mad ...  Grin    But look, this is my point:  the right answer is hard math.  The best answer, the holy grail of ham-question answers is the simplest answer that is completely consistent with that hard math.  In the absence of people who can do that, you should grow a thick skin and consider everyone's answers.  Don't pick the simple one from the guy who's being nice to you over the one that makes you mad, because that actually has nothing to do with which one is right and will help you more on the air in the long run.  If people are arguing about electromagnetic physics, it means someone is wrong. Could be one, could be the other, could be both.  Dissect the argument and try to figure out who's actually right based on other information you learn elsewhere.

73
Dan

« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 09:15:30 AM by Dan » Logged

73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
W8JI
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2010, 09:47:06 AM »

I posted in in an eham article thread by an article that claimed lower a six meter antenna would raise TO angle, and the low TO angle was the reason he had bad reports. The author claimed the TO angle was too low at high antenna heights.

I politely pointed out the data showed otherwise, that the average energy over the low wave angles did not change much but a bunch or deep nulls were eliminated, so I pointed out the nulls were likely the problem not the TO angle.

The author went nasty and said I never worked DX on six and he did, so he was correct. I think he also pointed out he had a real estate license, WAS, DXCC, and other credentials.

He was actually wrong. I have over 100 countries on six, and have sat here running Europeans for hours on end on six. I also have a motorcycle endorsement that he did not have.

I never responded that way because it is meaningless. If I never operated six meters in my life, it doesn't mean anything one way or another. When a technical debate gets into credentials, it means the person taking it there either cannot understand the problem or is trying to be a bully.

The same goes for sorting out value of comments. Having a lot of antennas is a help to me in some areas, but it does not mean I know more than someone with no antennas at all. I have worked 200 countries in one year on 160 meters at the solar maximum (the worse time for 160), but I have never sent in for DXCC because it is meaningless for me. Any certificate is meaningless to me.

73 Tom



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N4CR
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 10:21:22 AM »

I have used the elmer thing for the last few years when I have a sometimes, dumb, sometimes a well defined question and have always appreciated the well defined and on topic answers.  BUT, when I go to QRZ to verify who is responding to a antenna question I am asking and find out a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer".

Bob

Anyone can edit their own QRZ lookup number, so it's a meaningless measure. You can make it a million lookups or 100 lookups in 1 second of editing. For elmering, it's a poor measuring stick. There's so many other ways an elmer can get his knowledge and become expert such as a formal education in engineering, commercial work, etc. None of those show up on the radar on the QRZ lookup counter.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.
AH6RR
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2010, 11:11:09 AM »

I have used the elmer thing for the last few years when I have a sometimes, dumb, sometimes a well defined question and have always appreciated the well defined and on topic answers.  BUT, when I go to QRZ to verify who is responding to a antenna question I am asking and find out a great majority of them are never on the air considering their look ups on QRZ, it makes me wonder what makes them an "Elmer".

Bob

Anyone can edit their own QRZ lookup number, so it's a meaningless measure. You can make it a million lookups or 100 lookups in 1 second of editing. For elmering, it's a poor measuring stick. There's so many other ways an elmer can get his knowledge and become expert such as a formal education in engineering, commercial work, etc. None of those show up on the radar on the QRZ lookup counter.

How do you edit your look-up's on QRZ I can find no way of doing so so I am going to disregard that dumb comment. I would not judge a Elmer's ability by QRZ look-ups either. N3OX has a very good point in his whole post and agree with everything he said.

73
Roland AH6RR
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N9AVY
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« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2010, 12:26:08 PM »

Bob:     Many of us learned what we know about ham radio through talking with others who have had similiar questions/problems or just learned by doing, trial and error.  I've been in hobby 33 years and have a technical background, but I don't claim to know everything or even half of everything.  I suggest you try to look on line to verify advice you get from others and/or if more than one answer, check them out.

As for the QRZ lookups,  DON'T trust them as being the gospel. I found out a while back that those numbers can be edited. That's why the guy in PA I chatted with last night was amazed he was my 1 Millioneth lookup !   If those numbers meant anything, I'd be a genius !

On any of these forums you have to be careful not to feed the trolls. There are a lot of folks here who are very helpful and knowledgable. Stick around and you may find out who they are.

73,   Jerry
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