Ham Radio Poetry by Wayne Burdick, N6KR
Q.R.Oscar and Q.R.Pete
by Wayne A. Burdick, N6KR
It happened in September, on a cold and stormy day;
The mother of all contests was now nearly underway.
Before the day was over, ears from Bonn to Surinam
Would hear a battle rage between two different breeds of Ham.
Oscar, a distinguished man of wisdom (and of wattage),
Lit his pipe and surveyed his substantial shortwave cottage.
"Let the games begin!" he cried, aglow with pride and power;
And with a grin he swung his twenty-ton rotating tower.
Not far away a man named Pete crouched low inside a tent,
His sleeping bag was soggy and his penlight made him squint,
Yet as he worked he smiled, twisting wires, tweaking pots,
And soon his rig was bristling with two hundred milliwatts.
Just after zero, zero, zero, zero (UTC),
Both men tuned up on twenty and they listened carefully,
But neither could believe his ears, and both began to pray:
On 14020 they heard "DE Zed-A-1-A".
Now Oscar moved up five Kc with dignity and class;
He gripped his paddle deftly and prepared to pound some brass.
The heterodynes were screeching, hungry birds caged in a zoo,
But he could snag Albania in one call--maybe two.
Pete took quite a different tack. He scanned for open space,
Listening to the bedlam with a frown upon his face;
He tugged his random wire to improve its ERP,
And finally he found a place to sign "slash QRP."
Well Oscar's monster, fire-breathing signal was the best,
But Zed-A-1-A knew him, and felt sorry for the rest.
With this in mind he listened for the meager and the brave,
And ignored the QRO boys (who began to rant and rave).
Soon the DX station heard a wimpy "QRP";
He fired off a "599" and waited patiently.
But Pete was eating trailmix, now, and feeling quite dejected;
Being called by rare DX was not what he expected.
Oscar heard the call and moved in closer for the kill,
Yet when he thought his turn had come the Q-so lingered still:
"So how much are you running?" "A quarter watt or less."
"A homebrew rig?" "My own design, or mostly, I confess."
"Well I'm a QRP fan, too; good attitude to foster,"
Then ZA1A signed and said, "OK, it's your turn, Oscar."
On Sunday Pete packed up his gear, his low-watt mission done.
(Birds who'd perched upon HIS wire would live to tell their young.)
Pete surveyed the hills and fields, a wondrous sight to feast on;
Then he stuffed himself into his trusty, rusty Nissan.
And Oscar? He had ruled the night with clear, demonic vision;
Slicing QRM with his unleashed atomic fission.
But near the stroke of twelve, he cut his drive by two dB,
Then worked some rare DX and said, "Not bad for QRP!"
By Wayne Burdick, N6KR
The old home-brewer and his wife were dining late one night
When suddenly she noticed that he’d frozen in mid-bite
His face was stuck in neutral and no protest would dislodge it
For his brain was working overtime…on an idea…for a Project
She’d seen this look before—she knew just what it foretold:
Weekend projects ‘round the house indefinitely on hold
Instead of painting, patching cracks, lawn-mowing and weed-whacking
There’d be tinkering, and soldering, and several kinds of hacking
Her suspicion was confirmed when he arose before the dawn
(Then later there were little clues to what was going on, like
The chewed-up wad wire and tape the cat left in the bathroom
And the sound electronic parts made as they’re sucked up by the vacuum)
What thing would he invent? This is the home-brew paradox:
The question’s not “What do I need?” but “What fits in this box?”
He’d thought up something quite unique—they’d pay to own the rights!
(But to the untrained eye it was just switches, knobs and lights)
Now, a true home-brewer knows a special kind of E-lectronics
A multi-decade self-paced course a bit like “Hooked on Phonics”
One learns that quantum physics works on big things—like resistors
And how repeated contact with real hot ones might cause blisters
So it didn’t take him long to wire-up a dozen chips
With the help of Elmer’s glue and ancient alligator clips
(Sure—some amplifiers oscillate, and some oscillators don’t
But you tweak things till they all behave and toss the things that won’t)
The parts must fit inside the box, and at this he was no klutz
(With one hand he can fix your watch, while the other torques lug-nuts)
He used mixed screws—6-32, 4-40—what the heck?
This was a prototype device—it need not be Mil-spec
A mix of pride and fear did then well up inside his chest
He cleared a spot upon the bench to perform the ol’ Smoke Test
Before he turned the power on he prayed the home-brew prayer:
“Dear Lord, don’t let this one explode; you know I’ve had my share!”
After all the tests were done, the old home-brewer smiled
He’d done this kind of engineering even as a child
Yes, he missed five football games; and the backyard looked like hell
But just think of all the glory that he’d have at Show and Tell!