Episode 200 - Eric Guth - 4Z1UG Transcript
Jim K5ND: QSO Today, episode 200, Eric Guth, 4Z1UG.
Welcome to the QSO Today podcast, this is Jim Wilson K5ND, your guest host for episode 200. Episode 200 represents for QSO Today, uninterrupted, week-to-week interviews of amateur radios favorite Elmers, for almost four years. To celebrate this achievement, a number of listeners emailed Eric to request that he be the QSO Today guest on this bicentennial edition of QSO Today.
Before this QSO, Eric sent a message to his email list requesting some additional questions. There were so many replies that Eric will personally answer the rest of the questions at the end of the show, beyond the usual ending. So, without further introduction, let's get started, 4-Zed-1-U-G, this is Jim Kilo-5-November-Delta. Are you there, Eric?
Eric 4Z1UG: I am, Jim. Thanks for being the guest host of QSO Today.
Jim K5ND: Well, that's great. Eric, thanks for joining me on the QSO Today podcast. Let's start at the beginning of your ham radio story, when and how did it start for you?
Eric 4Z1UG: So, for my birthday one year, I received from my parents, an Engineer Bill control panel that had a huge 12 volt transformer inside, and a bunch of lights, and bells, and switches, and circuits, and knife switches on the top with a big Nine Island map in the middle. So, I would say that was the beginning of my interest in electronics and electricity, and I had that for a while. And as I got older I adapted the transformer for other projects and used the Nine Island control panel to control some of the things in my bedroom I shared with my two brothers. I got interested in it, I wanted to build Heathkits. There was a neighbor that had built a television set from Heathkit, and I got interested in Heathkit, and of course I got the Heathkit catalog.
Eric 4Z1UG: I think I was in the fifth grade, and my mother said, "Well, before we get you a kit, it seems to me that you need to at least know some electronic terms." So, she took out a yellow pad and she wrote down two pages of electronic terms, and frankly, I was quite surprised but since she did crossword puzzles, maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. But she had terms like erg, and volt, and watt, and if I came back with her and I defined all these terms, she would buy me a Heathkit. And so, the Heathkit I got was, I think 32 Project electronic board with the little spring clips on it. And so that's how it was off and running, that was what caused me to begin an interest in electronics, and radio came a little bit after that.
Jim K5ND: Very good. Well, who were your Elmers or Mentors in amateur radio? And how did they help you? It sounds like you already had a couple right there, Zolar and your mom.
Eric 4Z1UG: The Great Zolar and Engineer Bill, and my mother, yeah, and my father. I grew up at a time, I think, during the '60s, it seems to be very common, although I don't see it anymore, and that is, is that people used to open their garage doors at night and they'd have projects, at least in my neighborhood. And so, my father was a person who spent every evening in the garage after work, and we worked on cars, or we worked ... he had some wood shop capability. So we were working in the garage one night, and a new neighbor from the end of our building, we lived in a townhouses in Whittier at the time. And a new neighbor came down and he wanted to borrow some wrenches, so I said, "What are you building?" And he says, "Well, I'm installing a garage door opener."
Eric 4Z1UG: Well, at that time, garage door openers were relatively rare and if you were a kid, they were really cool. So, I said, "Well, can I come and see what you're doing?" And he said, "Sure." So, I went to his house at the end of the building, and his garage door was up and he's putting together this Heathkit garage door opener, but I noticed that he's got this car, and on the back of this car ... I think it was a Cougar, 1969 Cougar, he's got a 40 meter loading coil. Now, I didn't know what that was at the time, but there was a Tempo 1 transceiver in it. And so, my very first Elmer was a guy named Gary Parks K-6-Uniform-India-Mike, and Gary got me into ham radio because I was so taken by it. And then he would take the Tempo 1 inside, and he had a 4BTV on the roof of the house, and he would work the world and I was hooked. He was my first Elmer and that's how I got interested in amateur radio.
Jim K5ND: That's fantastic. Yes, here in Texas, we do a little bit of that as well. And still, with the garages open and projects going on. Very good. When did you get your first license? How old were you when that happened?
Eric 4Z1UG: I guess what happened was, is I got bitten by the radio bug. And I think I was just 16, in fact I found my novice license in the drawer here, so I have my original novice license. I was just 16 years of age, this would be 1973. And I got my novice license, at that time we had moved, and I was living down in La Mesa, California in the San Diego area. And I had joined the El Cajon Amateur Radio Club, WA6BGS, and I got my first license there in the club. I had a few great mentors, I got to know my friend Wayne Burdick, who at the time was WA6HQH, he's now N6KR. And we did our first field day together, I was a novice at that time, and he had his advanced. That's kind of how it started. I guess I was 16 years old in 1973 when I got my first license, and that was a call sign, WN6VHV, which frankly for CW is a terrible call.
Jim K5ND: Yeah, it sounds it would be challenging in those contests and et cetera. So, very good. When you were sending that call sign, do you remember your first rig?
Eric 4Z1UG: Oh yes. From somebody in the club, I bought a used Heathkit HW16, so it was already assembled. And I had the HW16 and somebody gave me the dubious job of being the curator of the novice crystal bank in San Diego. So, somebody had delivered to me, a whole box full of crystals for novices for 80, 40, and 15 meters. So I had these and I would send crystals when people would recommend them, but I had a bunch of transmitting crystals. And then the HW16 had a VFO, so I used that until I upgraded to general a year later. And by that time we had moved again and I was up in Newport Beach, and I learned the Morse code, or at least I advanced my Morse code speed up to 13 words a minute by using Ameco Code Records. So I was using my HW16 on the air, and Ameco Code Records, and by the time we got to Newport Beach, I think I probably wasn't using the HW16 anymore because I was in a new neighborhood that had codes covenants and regulations. And so therefore, external antennas were not permitted.
Jim K5ND: Oh my goodness, it's interesting to see so many parallels with my own journey in amateur radio, I particularly remember that Ameco Record. How did amateur radio effect your decisions regarding education and your career?
Eric 4Z1UG: Well, I was intoxicated with amateur radio. So much so, that I think I started to worry as I got older that it was an obsession. And of course, my parents were worried that it was an obsession. But I spent those years as a high schooler in Newport Beach, every Saturday night was Orange County Transmitter Hunt night, and I would go out with my friend’s father, WB6FAT, Milton Ronnie, and he was a wild transmitter hunter. And I think I spent every Saturday night transmitter hunting for a couple of years until I graduated from high school. And at that time I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be an engineer, whether I wanted to stay as a technician, during that period of time I worked Spence Porter at Com Spec or Communication Specialist, as an electronics technician.
Eric 4Z1UG: And ultimately, I discovered that I probably need to go to college if I wanted to move on with my life. It had everything to do with the decisions that I made regarding my education and career. I ended up going to UC Irvine, I started engineering school at UC Irvine and then went on to UC Santa Barbara. And in the second year, as a sophomore in engineering, differential equations was converging in every class and I just didn't' have the brain power or the staying power to actually get through it. And so, sadly I dropped out of the engineering school and became a history major. And if it wasn't for getting married a couple of years later, when my wife finally said, "You know, you've been in college seven years, Eric. I think it's about time you declared a major and get out." I did, and so I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in history, which it was even a disappointment to me on the one hand, on the other hand, it taught me how to write.
Eric 4Z1UG: I ended up staying in the electronics field. I started as a test equipment salesman for a company called Electro Rent in Burbank, California. I did that for a year, and the moved to Denver in 1984 and started my own company. And the company I started was a pager repair company, I did that for a number of years. Pagers started to go away, so we morphed that into an electronic design company where I built remote control switches that operated from radio paging signals. I did that for 14 years, so I can say that yes, ham radio had everything to do with the decisions I made regarding my education and career. I was intoxicated by ham radio, and frankly, I'm still intoxicated by ham radio but I've got some balance, and I think even in your interview, we talked about balance, didn't we?
Jim K5ND: I think we did. And I'll share too that, calculus pretty much got me as well, I'm more technician certainly, than engineer because of that. Intoxicated is a good word as well, very good. A good description, certainly. As we come into today, what's your favorite operating mode and why?
Eric 4Z1UG: Well, I have to say, I would love to be able to brag that CW is my favorite operating mode, I think I'm in love with the idea of CW, but unfortunately I haven't operated CW since I was a novice. How I've spent most of my time, even from the time that I was a teenager on FM, part of the reason for that was, is living in Newport Beach, I could get away with doing VHF and UHF with the antennas on the house and no one would notice. And so that set the tone for even my professional life in terms of the things that I've done. I've done two way radio shops, I had a Motorola MSO for a while. Yeah, I would say that probably FM is my thing, I have an Allstar Repeater, so I have a UHF Repeater here in Israel that's connected to Allstar, it's a very nice confluence of raspberry pies, and computers, and networking, and all things that I like to do, and it works with radio.
Eric 4Z1UG: I guess there are some people out there who will say, "Well, that's not ham radio.", but I think ham radio is now a big tent, so it's inclusive of all these things. I'm playing with DMR, it's interesting, so I guess at the moment, I don't have a favorite operating mode, Jim. I just like the stuff, I like how it smells, I like how it feels, I think amateur radios without knobs is a challenge for me, but I'm up to the challenge I think.
Jim K5ND: That's a good review of amateur radio as well, there's such a broad tent that you can do so many things in. Given what you just said about knobs on radios, what is your current rig?
Eric 4Z1UG: Okay. I have, right now, I just bought what is a Connect System CS800 mobile radio. So, I've got a radio in my car now, I've got a hole in the roof of my car so I've got a little quarter wave antenna on it, and I'm playing with DMR and conventional UHF to the Allstar nodes with the mobile radio. I've got an Elecraft K2 sitting behind me that I turn on every once in a while to listen to 40 Meters. I've got a TS520 that I've had for almost 40 years I think, also sitting there. I'll probably sell those at some point and do something different; I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do different. I've got some QRP Labs kits that I need to put together that I haven't yet. I've got a lot on my plate to do and I guess those are the rigs at the moment. And I have a couple of portable radios that I don't use as much because I have the mobile radio, and I like a good, powerful mobile radio more than I like a portable.
Jim K5ND: Very good. Yeah, a wide range of ages and capabilities. Very good. Well, you immigrated to Israel, with your XYL Karen and your children. Why Israel?
Eric 4Z1UG: Oh, that's a good question. I actually met my XYL Karen here, when I was a student. So I took a junior year abroad from UC Santa Barbara and came to a program in Israel that was part of the Jewish Theological Seminary. As a result of that program, I became an observant Jew, which meant that I kept the Sabbath and we keep kosher and all that stuff, and I met Karen here. And she was from Denver, Colorado, so I married a Denver girl and she was interested in the same direction. We ended up actually going back and finishing school, and then moving to Denver, Colorado, which is where I started the businesses that I spoke about earlier. I left the business and I've started a ... I decided to change careers in 1998 and went to work for a cable television company. And that cable television company, I went to work actually as an operations executive, meaning that I was actually responsible for budgets.
Eric 4Z1UG: So, I became a finance guy instead of a technical guy which was a very interesting thing for me. But in that year that I was working there, they gave me some stock. And suddenly, a month after giving me the stock, they called me in and said, "We have good news and bad news." I said, "Well, what's the good news?" He says, "Well, we're going to pay you your stock early." And I said, "Well, what's the bad news?" "Well, we're going to fire you because we sold all your systems to Charter Cable in St Louis." And I said, "Well, I guess I can take the news either way." It wasn't a lot of money but it was some money. And so, one night my wife, she pushes me, she shakes me awake in the middle of the night and she says, "Are you awake?" I said, "I am now." She says, "We could do what everybody does with money like this." And I said, "Well, what is that?" And she says, "Well, we could buy two Lexus' and make our house bigger." And I said, "Yeah, we could do that but is that what you want to do?" And she says, "No, I want to move to Israel."
Eric 4Z1UG: So I said, "Well, okay. I'll do that." In 2000, we moved to Israel. Now, the reason we did that or why that was interesting to us, is we had met here, and Israel is a growing country, it's a new country. For 200 years, Jews haven't had a country and we have the opportunity to have our own country for the first time in 2000 years. And both Karen and I are people that like to play on the field rather than watch the game from the bleachers, so we were up to the task. Now, our children, that was a different thing. We brought a 15 year old and a 10 year old at the time; the 15 year old is now married and lives in Jerusalem with five children, which is great because we're close to grandchildren. And the 10 year old is now, I think 29, and our 11 year old is now 29, and he's living in Los Angeles and he has this love/hate relationship with being here.
Eric 4Z1UG: But it's a great place, that's how we ended up here, is we came here because we chose to. And in spite of what appears to be from the news, a dangerous place, we haven't found it any more dangerous than maybe parts of Chicago, and parts of Los Angeles, and parts of Miami, but there's a lot of exciting things that are happening here and we're just excited to be a part of it. And I'm happy to be able to do a podcast from Israel, that perhaps gives, even though we don't talk about politics, it presents ham radio from here.
Jim K5ND: Well, very good. Well, and I like your phrase as well, both you and your wife prefer to be on the field rather than in the stands watching, and you're certainly on the field and making things happen, very good. Well, what is the state of amateur radio in Israel today? And how might it be different from ham radio in the USA?
Eric 4Z1UG: Well that's a good question. I must say, I'm not terribly active in amateur radio in Israel here, in terms of being involved with the national club, there doesn't tend to be clubs like you have in America. There's a national club and there might be groups that meet for coffee in different parts of the country. We're a small, the countries smaller than the state of New Jersey, so it's only four hours from one end to the other, and depending on where you are in Israel, it may be only an hour drive from the west coast to the eastern border. So, we're not a big country. But I think that one of the problems that we suffer from here is, it used to be, ham radio was big here in terms of it's the number of Hams per capita. And that was because the cost of calling on the telephone to anywhere in the world was high, and so, ham radio was respected and it was well known in just about every village and every [inaudible 00:21:25] had a ham radio station.
Eric 4Z1UG: I think at the time, maybe at the height of it, maybe there was over 2000 licensed Hams in Israel. I think we're down to maybe 600, and the majority are not active. Now, there's a couple things that happened. One of those things is, that obviously cell phones and the ability to communicate for nothing over voice, over IP, things like that, took away the incentive to have ham radio. But there was an antenna law that passed that essentially made ham radio operators, similar to cell tower operators, so we got painted with the same brush. And as a result of that, it made it difficult for people if they moved and weren't grandfathered in, it made it difficult for them to put up antennas once they moved to new apartments. I think that was a problem. Fortunately, the Israel Amateur Radio Club, which is the national club of Israel, were successful in getting the law amended to allow wire antennas on top of apartment buildings, and if people are persistent with the law, and even maybe challenging it in court, then their neighbors can't prevent them if they are in a shared apartment building, from putting up these wire antennas.
Eric 4Z1UG: But for the most part, that's the difference. Obviously HOA in America is a big problem, but the other thing here that I've noticed, and I'm trying not to make this sound like a criticism, but nobody knows amateur radio. If you say, "I'm an amateur radio operator." In Israel it's called chovevei radio, old timers would know chovevei radio or amateur radio, but nowadays nobody knows about it and I think the fact that we don't advertise, we don't reach out to non-Hams in a big way, we don't educate the public. As a result of that, we have no support when it comes to putting antennas on our roads, or getting people to understand that those big antennas, even if we're operating QRP, it does not represent some kind of physical threat to them based on electromagnetic radiation. And then there's all kinds of issues with people trying to understand electromagnetic radiation.
Eric 4Z1UG: I would say that unlike the United States that has a growing ham radio population for a number of reasons, natural disasters, all kinds of other things. In Israel, we're dwindling, and unless we can find a way to turn around the public perception of amateur radio, I think that our numbers will just get smaller.
Eric 4Z1UG: And now this message from Icom America. "Now that Dayton is behind us, the next big event is field day on the weekend of June 23rd and 24th. Take your Icom gear into the field with your club or as a lone contester. The new Icom IC7610 is a direct sampling SDR, software defined radio, with high performance RMDR that has the ability to pick out the faintest signals, even in the presence of other rigs in your field day site. This is the perfect rig to take out with a club. Its dual independent receiver design and dual digicel, makes this rig even more fun when you're teamed up with one of your field day partners. The compact and state of the art Icom 7300 is the perfect field day companion, and is ideal for Ham on the go with its RF direct sampling receiver with 15 band pass filters, a large 4.3 inch color text screen, and a real time spectrum scope, allows even the beginner Ham to know what's happening in the band to find even more field day contacts.
Eric 4Z1UG: The Icom 7300 feature set and value are way ahead of other amateur rigs in its price class. For the amateur radio operator that wants it all, the best Icom all around rig is the Icom IC9100 HF, VHF, and UHF transceiver, capable of all modes and all bands including RTTY, D-Star, digital voice, satellite, and even moon bounce. Icom’s years of radio experience is reflected in this top of the line amateur transceiver. The Icom IC9100 has independent dual receivers, digital IF filters, satellite mode where the rig compensates for Doppler shift as the satellite flies overhead, and built in antenna tuner. The Icom 9100 can be connected by USB cable to your computer to operate digital modes, or even remote control. George Thomas has a great video demonstrating the features of the IC9100, and the value of this amazing rig on his Amateur Logic TV channel. I'll put a link to that next to the ad in this week’s show notes. So as the contest season begins, be ready with your Icom station today."
Eric 4Z1UG: And when you make that purchase, be sure to tell them that you heard it here on QSO today. And now back to our QSO.
Jim K5ND: Well that's very good, you remind me that one of the things that I talk to people about for jamboree on the air is that, we're introducing young people to amateur radio, we're planting seeds. It's not that we expect them to go get licenses, although that would be nice, but at least they know what it is. You've shared a good story of, people just don't know what it is there. And so it's alien if you will. Very good, well thank you for briefing us.
Eric 4Z1UG: That's the problem is, is that we have the most exciting hobby right now. There's no better time to be a ham radio operator in the world today, especially since we are interconnected using the internet. Not just with our networks, whether we're talking DMR, Allstar, or IRLP, or EchoLink, but we're interconnected in the way that we share information and as a result of that, there's no better time to be a Ham on the one hand. On the other hand, it's not in our schools, teachers don't know about it, even science teachers don't know about it, we need to make that effort. And I'm talking even in the United States, but we need to make that effort here in Israel, so that we can bring some awareness. And right now that awareness isn't happening.
Eric 4Z1UG: I'm complaining without being part of the solution, I admit that. I just don't have the time to be part of the solution, I'm hoping that the QSO Today podcast will help in some way, someplace else perhaps, but we need a QSO Today podcast or we need a Workbench podcast in Hebrew. We need a ham radio podcast that people will listen to in the native language of Israel, which is Hebrew and not English.
Jim K5ND: Okay. Well, we are celebrating 200 weekly episodes of the QSO Today podcast. What inspired you to start QSO Today?
Eric 4Z1UG: I'm a big podcast listener. Somebody sent me a message, "Oh, what do you listen to?" Boy I listen to everything, I use a Stitcher podcast manager, which I think I've mentioned before at the end of every episode I say, "Oh yeah, and I still use Stitcher to listen to podcasts." Stitcher keeps track of the number of hours that I've listened to podcasts, and I have over 4000 hours of podcast listening on my Stitcher podcast manager, since 2012. I love podcasts, I grew up listening to Talk Radio in Los Angeles and so, I just love Talk. And so therefore, I think I started listening to Ham Nation on the Twit broadcasting network on the Twit podcast network.
Eric 4Z1UG: And Ham Nation inspired me that there needs to be a way to talk about the people that were the original pioneers, so the original idea behind QSO Today was, "Could I record these stories of ham radio pioneers so that one, they'll be interesting, and they'll be"- ... they're stories, people love stories, but that they could also serve as a memory of the way that ham radio was, at least when I got into it, and how it's evolved. And I wanted to remember, as people will notice, the people who are my guests are people who are old enough to be my Elmers. And I must say, I still have Elmers, and Mike Kline WA6VLD, has been my Elmer since I was probably 19 years old, Robin Critchell WA6CDR, who is the creator of the Cactus Radio network but hasn't agreed to be my guest yet, is still an Elmer, I still communicate with him.
Eric 4Z1UG: There was a Ham in California, Leroy Sparks W6SYC, who used to hang out on 14694, if people remember back that far, in Orange County, Leroy was everybody's Elmer, and open to inviting a person over for a Pepsi and showing them how to build something or align something, or something like that. And so, the QSO Today podcast was a way to bring memories of the Elmers that I had, and it's been terrific, what can I tell you. It's been terrific for me, I've gotten more out of it maybe than my listeners, but I've had such a wild time with it.
Jim K5ND: Oh, very good. And given that then, what is your biggest challenge to create a weekly podcast for radio amateurs?
Eric 4Z1UG: The biggest challenge for creating any podcast is just doing the work. And each episode of the QSO Today podcast takes about 12 hours a week, so that's the management, it's also business. I must be honest, it has expenses and thankfully the listeners have been big supporters of the podcast, so they've helped me defray the cost of hosting and all the other things that I'm doing with the podcast. But the biggest challenge really is getting guests, getting guests is the challenge because I must send out tens of invitations, maybe half finally get answered if I am persistent and keep pinging the same person with the invitations. That's okay, it goes with it but I would say that it's the time and getting the guests is the biggest challenge.
Jim K5ND: Okay. Well, given that, have there been any moments of concern about continuing the show?
Eric 4Z1UG: Well yes, I mean, it's a huge time commitment and I love it, but it's a big time commitment. I spend every Friday doing the show, and then Saturday evening doing the final posting of the show so that it comes out in America during the day on Saturday. So yeah, there are times I'm thinking, "Boy, can I keep doing this?" And then I get another great guest and I say, "You know, I can keep doing this." And because I get so much out of it, it's been helpful to have QRP Labs, and Soda Beams, and Icom America become sponsors because I can justify to the XYL that it's worth the time, and that's also good. Yeah, there are times when it's a lot and I do a lot of things elsewhere, I have my own business here, I'm a consultant, and I'm a performer, so I sing in town and I also act in a theater company. So I do all these things at the same time and I see my grandchildren every week, thank god.
Eric 4Z1UG: Yeah, I'm a busy guy. So I guess, sometimes it's the time that is also part of whether I'm thinking, whether I'm going to keep doing it or not. But then again, I have a great guest like you Jim, and I just want to do it again, so that's what keeps happening.
Jim K5ND: Very good. It's personally rewarding and it's so rewarding for your listeners as well. Then we move on, what has been your biggest success with QSO Today?
Eric 4Z1UG: The biggest success with QSO Today is having people write me and say they've enjoyed the podcast, truthfully that's it. Having listeners say, "I was so inspired by that guest that you had." Or, "I've decided, you know what, I'm going to stay in ham radio, I was thinking of throwing in the towel, but I'm going to stay in Ham radio and keep listening. And I'm going to change gears; I'm going to try something new. Oh that sounds like a really ... your guest is talking about FT8 or talking about DMR, or he's talking about CW, QRP, we've had a lot of QRP operators and builders on the QSO Today podcast. And I've had QRO operators say, "You know, I'm going to try QRP, which sounds like a real challenge, especially with the solar cycle at the bottom." So yeah, I think that's the biggest success, is listener feedback.
Jim K5ND: Very good. Yeah, and you emphasized again what I've viewed over the years, amateur radios is so broad in all the different aspects that you can get involved in, one gets a little bit boring, you pick up something else. And the fire starts all over again. Well, you mentioned earlier that one of the challenges is finding guests and getting those guests to respond, but how do you choose your guests?
Eric 4Z1UG: Okay. I go through the amateur radio magazines, and I look for blogs and I look for YouTube postings from amateurs, and what I'm interested in, is I'm interested in Hams who share, who are passionate about the hobby, who feel they want to share it with the rest of us. So, I'll look at people who contribute articles to the ham radio magazines, both in the United States and elsewhere. I look for people that have a lot of years in, so for those people that send me suggestions that I might want to interview kids, or people who've just started in the hobby, at the moment there are other people doing that. So, I'm trying to get the story, the long story. I'm looking for usually people who were my Elmers first.
Eric 4Z1UG: So they got their ham radio licenses in the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, or they're my contemporaries but they've been really active and they've done a lot of stuff. There've been some exceptions, but for the most part that's a formula that I'm after, but I'm after, based on the listener survey that I did last year, the majority of the QSO Today listeners are over 50 years of age, the majority have been licensed over 30 years. So, my guests are talking to their contemporaries, and I think that's what makes the QSO Today podcast different. At some point, maybe I'll start a topical podcast, or continue to support my friends who are doing other podcasts. I love the ham radio 360 Workbench podcast, so what George and Jeremy are doing over there, I highly support and I'm one of their biggest fans.
Eric 4Z1UG: I think there's a lot of opportunity to create podcasts on subjects, we're a big tent, and I think at least at this point, I'm really narrowly focusing on the kinds of guests that I need, at least for now, and maybe that'll change later.
Jim K5ND: Yeah, that's very good. You remind me, that's what I've enjoyed on the podcast as well. I listen to a guy Dave Sumner is one example that comes to mind, and I think, "Well, my gosh, he followed a similar journey. I remember that rig." Or, "I remember that moment." It's been successful. You touched on my next question here on who listens to QSO Today, you mentioned over 50 years of age, often 30 or more years at ham radio. Other characteristics of your listeners?
Eric 4Z1UG: Interestingly enough, the majority of them are extra class licensees, so that's an interesting observation. No, I think that pretty much speaks of the ... we're speaking to ourselves. I'm 61 years old, I've been in ham radio for 45 years now, I think, and I'm interviewing my Elmers and contemporaries, and the people that are listening are like me, we're listening to ... maybe because we like the nostalgia, the old idea that ... my novice rig, I had a TriBand Inverted V, using K6QXN coils. Now, I haven't seen K6QXN for 45 years and I maybe only saw him the day that he sold me the coils, the loading coils for this antenna, but I still remember it and it brings back a pleasant memory. So I'm hoping that I'm bringing back pleasant memories to listeners of the QSO Today podcast.
Jim K5ND: That's certainly what I've experienced. And yeah, bringing him back and reminding me, "Oh yeah." We dive down a little bit deeper into the podcast, from your perspective, what makes for a perfect podcast interview?
Eric 4Z1UG: The perfect podcast interview is where I have a guest that likes to tell the story, because I think we all love stories. When I tell my grandchildren stories, or my wife tells them stories, they're captivated. I think the audience also wants to be captivated, or at least interested. So the best podcast interview is where the person I'm interviewing has the ability to elaborate on a question that I've asked. Now, there are sometimes we have guests who can elaborate quite a lot and I don't interrupt for a number of reasons, because I want them to make their point and frankly, if I start going in with the editor and start cutting things out, then the job that normally takes me about two hours, takes about six hours.
Eric 4Z1UG: I let it go where it goes, and I figure that either the listeners will be captivated or they'll turn the dial, and that happens every once in a while I'm sure. But usually as I say, a guest who can answer the question and give some detail and I'm smiling all along the way because I'm hearing something that I hadn't heard before, that's the perfect interview. And frankly, I think I've had close to 199 perfect interviews because I come out of them every time thinking that I'm the winner.
Jim K5ND: Oh, very good. I like that, 199 perfect interviews. Well, you've mentioned your sponsors, but how can listeners support your efforts?
Eric 4Z1UG: The best way to support the podcast, any podcast that you like, is tell your friends that you're listening to the QSO Today podcast, or the ham radio Workbench podcast, or 100 Watts and a Wire. Whatever your favorites are, podcasting is an amazing medium for learning about ham radio while you're driving to work, or mowing the lawn, or cleaning the house, or whatever it is you're doing, or working on your workbench. So, I think telling your friends is probably the best way to build up the number of listeners. And in terms of a monetary standpoint, I appreciate people who become listener sponsors.
Eric 4Z1UG: I appreciate now that we have commercial sponsors, those listeners, if they buy Icom, or Soda Beams, or QRP Labs, I appreciate them telling whoever they're buying from, that they heard it on the QSO Today podcast, that makes a real difference and it allows me to justify to the XYL that it's worth a full day and a half to do the work that it takes to put it out every week. But even with that, I love doing it, so I'm probably going to do it anyway, but it really helps if people support the sponsors as well as feedback and telling their friends.
Jim K5ND: Very good, thank you. Now, you've talked a bit about your family and your XYL, what effect has ham radio had on your family life?
Eric 4Z1UG: It's an interesting thing. I took what I thought was a 25 year hiatus from actually being an active amateur. When I actually had two QTHs in Denver, Colorado where I could have probably put up any antenna I wanted, and one of the houses had such a large lot that I probably could have put up a 160 meter dipole. I never did it, and the reason was is because I was working in the two-way radio business and I was doing radio all day long, and by the time I came home at night for dinner in the evening with the family, there wasn't any time for ham radio. So, unfortunately, my children don't know anything about ham radio, they never were really exposed to it. And so, therefore, they have no interest or knowledge.
Eric 4Z1UG: My wife on the other hand, once made me a promise that she would get her ham radio license, and I know that maybe at some point she will, but she knows where I am. She appreciates the ham radio operators that I meet. We just had Burt K60QK who was a guest on the QSO Today podcast, who was one of the first creators of amateur radio repeaters in North America. And he was just here with his wife, Margaret, for a visit to Israel, and so Karen and I went out to dinner with them and she had a great time. I would say that the effect on my family life is that as long as I pay attention to the other details of our life together, that my ham radio life doesn't seem to have a negative impact. And it even has a positive impact, especially when we have visitors from out of the country that come here and want to spend time with us.
Jim K5ND: Very good. Yeah, there's two sides of the coin. It takes some time, but it adds enhancement to your family. Very good. Well, telescope up a little bit, what do you think are the three biggest challenges facing amateur radio today?
Eric 4Z1UG: I think I already touched on one, and I think it's probably general in terms of, maybe even the United States too. Although for some reason, every time that people would forget about ham radio in North America, you have some kind of tornado or fire or something like that, that brings it back to the news. But I think the biggest challenge for ham radio is just the outreach to the general public, the general public doesn't know about it. It's unknown in most places in the world, maybe not the United States, but in most places in the world, and I think that that's the biggest challenge. Hams have to reach out, outside of our community and let people know what we're doing. Maybe that's through the maker movement, maybe that's through creating some kind of public relations efforts. I know that the ARRL in America does this, that needs to be emulated.
Eric 4Z1UG: Because the public doesn't understand ham radio and maybe doesn't support it, I think the issues of antennas and electromagnetic radiation and how harmful it is and all this stuff, I think those issues, that's an educational thing that we're not doing that needs to be done. In America, I think HOA is still a problem, although it's my understanding that maybe there's some laws that have been passed or are being enacted that will allow hams to put antennas up again. I think those are the biggest challenges right now.
Jim K5ND: Yeah, I would agree with you. I think you've hit those top three, public awareness, antennas, and electromagnetic stuff, and then homeowners associations. Moving on from that, what excites you about amateur radio at this moment in time?
Eric 4Z1UG: Oh, everything excites me about amateur radio. I have to tell you, before I started the QSO Today podcast, I was not aware of all of the things that were happening. I think I've said in the QSO Today podcast a few times, it's like being Rip Van Winkle and waking up and seeing what's actually happening. There was a ham radio outlet right at the end of the street where I worked in Denver for the 16 years that I was in Denver, and I might have gone in there three or four times and I'd walk over and look at the magazine rack, and I'd like at the gear. And the gear was getting more sophisticated, the knobs and stuff like this, but I didn't spend a lot of time on it. And so, when I started to get interested in ham radio again here, and I was thinking about the podcast, I actually was not aware of all of the stuff that was happening in ham radio. And so, what excites me the most about what's happening in amateur radio now is everything is exciting me about what's happening in amateur radio.
Eric 4Z1UG: Whether it's what's happening with QRP, and people like Han Summers who are building these little kits, or like Elecraft, or like Icom. Icom come out with this 7300 transceiver with this waterfall display on it and I'm thinking, "All this stuff is absolutely amazing and I love it all." So that, yeah, I would say it's a huge tent that encompasses all of this technology, all of it I'm madly in love with. And the hardest part, I think, that we have as amateurs is choosing a path. When I talk to people on the radio, I say, "Choose one thing and do it for a while. Do it for a year. Try something, master it, so that you feel like you really have that accomplishment. And then after a year if you want to do something else, try something else. But whatever you choose, give it some time so that you can have some mastery over it." But the problem we have I think, is that the tent is so huge and it's like being a kid in the candy store, you don't know which candy bar to take first.
Jim K5ND: Very good. I agree with you, there's so much going on. Satellites for example, have captured my attention over the past couple of years. Fantastic things that we can do-
Eric 4Z1UG: What are you doing with satellites, Jim?
Jim K5ND: Mostly just doing some operating, chasing grids, up to 500 confirmed grids now on satellites-
Eric 4Z1UG: Now, is this with a portable?
Jim K5ND: I'm doing that as well, a lot of that is from home. But I'm actually activating a few grids, activated a grid line, mostly I was doing that because there's so many rovers out there. Guys that are doing ... well, just recently a couple of guys VE3HLS and N6UA drove around the Hudson Bay, around James Bay, activating grids out in the snow in the middle of May. Yeah, I'm doing a bit of that to pay back, if you will, those who are activating grids that I can't get to or don't have the time to. But just one example of something that you start to look at and go, "Oh my gosh!" And your hair catches on fire and you go off and chase that for a while, then you find something different.
Eric 4Z1UG: I haven't interviewed any rovers, you've mentioned a couple. I think I probably should find rovers because I don't know anything about roving. It sounds really cool.
Jim K5ND: Well yeah, I'd be happy to send you a list of potential guests that do a lot of satellite roving. Rovers in the VHF/UHF contest world, are pretty amazing as well, but there's really only about four here in the US anyway, about four contests a year. With satellites, every day you can go out roving and do interesting things. Just one more, you remind me, there's also, it seems to be a young group, they do some fun things, a lot of communication on Twitter, but recently they had an event, Walmart Parking Lots on the air.
Eric 4Z1UG: Oh, that's incredible.
Jim K5ND: Yeah. They went out to Walmart stores and that was part of the exchange, "What store are you at? Put a picture on Twitter", and activate the grid that happens to be there as well.
Eric 4Z1UG: But that sounds like a great activity for letting the general public know about ham radio.
Jim K5ND: Very true.
Eric 4Z1UG: Yeah.
Jim K5ND: Yeah, very much so.
Eric 4Z1UG: And now, this commercial break from QRP Labs. "Imagine that you've already purchased the Ultimate 3 WhisperNet Transmitter from QRP Labs and have had a blast working the world on 40 meters. Now it's time to see what you can do on the other bands. The way to do this is to add up to five additional low pass filters to make a six band Ultimate 3. Add the Ultimate 3 relay switched LPF kit, and you now have a completely automatic, six band, Whisper transponder. What's more, you can add a receiver module and you now have an Ultimate 3 six band transceiver. The great thing about this process is that you can take it one step at a time, as your mastery of the project increases and as your budget allows.
Eric 4Z1UG: This is the beauty of the QRP Labs kits that Han summers G0UPL, builds for all of us. Start today on the Ultimate 3 or the QCX transceiver kit, both kits start for under $50 dollars US. Hans ships to destinations all over the world. Please click on the links and logos for QRP Labs, to get to QRP Labs from the show notes pages on the QSO Today website. This tells Hans that you heard it here on QSO Today. QRP Labs is my favorite kit company, it should be yours too." And now back to our QSO Today.
Jim K5ND: What advice would you give a new or returning ham radio operator?
Eric 4Z1UG: Okay. This probably is advice that people heard me say before, or I strongly always agree with a guest that says this, and that is, join a club in your area of interest. Now the thing is, when I was a kid, you went to the clubs because they were geographically in your area, but with the internet now, the clubs you join, I'm finding this, I'm learning this, I'm discovering this, is that you can belong to online ham radio clubs. If you have a particular interest that you're following, there's nothing better than joining an interest group, or a Facebook group, or a chat group someplace that is pursuing the thing that you're interested in. But I'd also encourage you to join a local club so that you actually can touch and feel, not in the literal sense, other hams. So that you can actually share the excitement and the field days and things like that with other hams. I think it makes such a big difference when you connect with the other people.
Eric 4Z1UG: And I guess, if you're an Elmer, you're an old time ham, find a pupil and share your expertise. I have had a great time taking a neighborhood kid and teaching them electronics, and getting them to build kits, and being confident with a soldering iron, and it makes a difference. One of the kids that I tutored from the time he was about nine years old, doing his specialization in high school in electronics now, and he's smitten with electronics. Now, I didn't get him into amateur radio and maybe that'll come later but if you're an Elmer, find a pupil and share your expertise, just because it's so rewarding. You're influencing a young person to perhaps not only join the hobby but join the area of expertise.
Jim K5ND: That's superb advice, to connect with local groups and worldwide, or nationwide groups as well, and to mentor new hams. And it doesn't necessarily need to be young hams, I'm mentoring my brother-in-law who is in his 60s and he's just passed his technician license and we're helping him set up a station. And it happens, there's a lifecycle of ham radio operators and you touched on it as well, you took 25 years off as you were running your business in Denver. That happens so many times, and people in their 50s and their 60s say, "Gee, I could have a hobby now. I wonder what it should be?"
Eric 4Z1UG: Yeah, no. Jim, you're touching on something, you're right. And I didn't mean to make it sound like you should go after kids only. There are so many, as you say, there are so many people, I think the majority of hams that are entering ham radio in the United States are 30 years of age and older, and they need help. They need somebody to show them how to put a PL259 connector on the end of coax, or to hang up an antenna, or how to build something just because it's so simple. It's funny, I just had a conversation with a ham on DMR, coming home tonight. He had just gotten his license and he's thinking about building a kit, he's not sure, he's following one of the podcasts and he's listening for the various things that they're doing.
Eric 4Z1UG: And I said, "You know what, you've got to choose something. You just got to choose one kit and start, just, you got to do it.", because you can sit there and wait and unless somebody comes in and puts their arm around you and says, "Let's do something. Let's build one thing to get you started." And that's all it takes usually. So I don't want it to sound like you only go after the youngsters, it's all of these people who are getting into ham radio even into their 70s and 80s, they all appreciate an Elmer, a mentor who will help them get off center and get started.
Jim K5ND: And that's exactly the way to state it, to get off center, to add that spark there. They're sitting back, they're not sure they want to do this, they take a look at it and wait. And then, if you come along, you can add that spark and push them over the hump, if you will, and get them started. So, excellent. Well, we've come to the end of our time. Thank you so much for your time, Eric, your insight, and certainly your ongoing efforts to provide interesting and insightful interviews with the leaders and all facets of amateur radio. 4Z1UG, this is K5ND, 73, and we'll look for you down the log.
Eric 4Z1UG: Yeah Jim, thank you so much for agreeing to guest host this episode 200 of the QSO Today podcast, I really appreciate it, 73.
Jim K5ND: 73.
Eric 4Z1UG: Before we get to the end of this episode, I wanted to answer the questions that were sent to me by email, so here we go. Carlos sends a message, "Which podcast do you listen to?" Well Carlos, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I like the Tim Ferriss podcast, I like anything that Leo Laporte makes on the TWiT.tv network, so I listen to those. I like the Ted Talk podcasts, on the amateur radio podcasts I listen to the Ham Radio Workbench, I listen to the ARRL, The Doctor Is In. I try to listen to all of them, I've listened to every Ham Nation podcast, but it gets to be an awful lot. Now, I listened to all of these podcasts at double speed, so if you practice, you can actually turn your podcast manager up to two times speed, and then you can listen to all of them in half the time.
Eric 4Z1UG: You asked, "How did your view of the hobby change since you started the podcast?" Well, I have to tell you in the four years that I've done the podcast, I've learned more and more about amateur radio than I ever did in the previous 40, and that has really brought me up to speed in terms of what's actually happening in ham radio. From microwave to ac line noise, so it really has made a big difference in my view of ham radio and what we're capable of doing. "On which bands talk groups do you normally operate? There should be a DMR talk root for podcast listeners and guests." Well, I think there is. I'm on the Bay-Net talk group which is the one that's made by the Ham Radio 360 podcast guys, and I go there. Normally, when I'm on, everyone is in bed. So if you happen to be up in the middle of the night America time, you might catch me on the talk group.
Eric 4Z1UG: In addition, there's some technology for joining Allstar to DMR, and I actually might build a digital ocean droplet that does this technology so that I can use my Allstar node, which I think I prefer more than DMR, to talk to the Bay-Net talk group. Thanks Carlos.
Eric 4Z1UG: Next one, Joe asks, "How popular is ham radio in Israel? And what is it called in Hebrew?" Okay, so actually, Joe Goren, KK6GKU asked the question. In Hebrew, we call amateur radio chovevei radio, chovevei radio. It's not popular in Israel, there used to be thousands of hams in Israel, but I think as long distance rates and the internet has proliferated Israel, in which means you can probably go to just about any corner of the country and still operate LTE now, and data. It has not become popular and it's a real problem because unless we get out there and we let the public know about us, then they're not going to support us when we have issues, like antenna issues. Thanks Joe, for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: Hap Holly, one of my favorite podcasters and creator of The Rain Report, sends a message, "Thanks for sticking it out for four years." His question is, "When you started the QSO Today podcast, were you concerned that you might receive some flak from Ted Randall, who is already running a shortwave radio show called QSO, or QSO?" You know, the fact is that I didn't know anything about Ted's show when I started the podcast and I've met Ted on a couple of occasions and he's always been very kind to me. So I don't think there's a problem, Hap. Thanks for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: Mike Murphy KI8R, sends me this message, "Congratulations on your 200th episode." His question is, "What does ham radio look like for you currently living in the city that makes HF difficult at best? I know that you're active on Allstar and more recently on DMR, but what sorts of things are you doing with radio, outside of the podcast?" Well Mike, the short answer is I wish I was doing more. I have a QCX to build, I have a couple of HF radios here, I've got to put up antennas, and I just need the time to do it. And that's where I'm at right now. The podcast takes me about 10 hours a week to do, if I wasn't so particular about the editing, then probably it would take a lot less time. I'm not used to free flowing, I'm used to editing myself and my guests so that we both sound amazing. And if I did less of that, probably I'd have more time for ham radio.
Eric 4Z1UG: Tom NU7J, asked this question, "How did you come to live in Israel? Were you, or your parents, or family members born in Israel? Do you have dual citizenship?" I answered some of that in the episode 200, Tom. My parents and family members were not born in Israel, I do have dual citizenship. It allows me to be an American citizen. By the way, America is the only country in the world where ex patriots are also responsible for all of the taxes that we pay there. So there's a tax treaty between Israel and the United States, and I guess I could make up to $125 thousand dollars a year without having to pay federal income tax, however I am responsible for social security tax if I'm self-employed. And there's some new laws on the books this year which will even make that even more difficult. So, yes I do have dual citizenship and it comes with responsibilities in both countries.
Eric 4Z1UG: Jesus, "Please tell me how ham radio and Israel and the health popularity and demographics have the hobby in Israel?" I think I answered that already. I think we could be in better health, Tom. I think sadly, unless we start making an effort to the public about who we are and what we do, we probably will go the way of the dinosaur. "Does the USA and Israel have a reciprocal agreement?" Yes, we're part of CEPT, so you can come here and visit and you can bring your ham radio and you can operate 4X/your call sign, and you won't have any difficulty. I've always carried radios back and forth with me on my carry-on luggage over a 40 year period, and I've never had a problem.
Eric 4Z1UG: "Is it difficult for a visiting ham from the USA or other countries to obtain a 4X operating license?" Well I'm not sure why you'd want to unless you moved here, Tom. But if you moved here you'd be more than welcome to get it. The way it works here is, is because we have licensing from the United States, those licenses are honored here. So if you moved here, if you made what we call, "making Aliyah" to Israel, then you certainly could get a 4X or 4Z license, based on your license and your operating privileges.
Eric 4Z1UG: Let me see. John KF6EFG asks, "I'd like to know if your impressions and contrasts that you observed between Israel’s Eurocentric and US views on ham radio?" I think I've answered that, John, to the most part. I don't think Israel is Eurocentric other than they go to Frederick Chaffin, but I'm not an expert on that.
Eric 4Z1UG: "What are the different attitudes and regulations that had to be negotiated here as a legali-" ... oh, okay. The question is, we do have a national radio club like the ARRL, it's called The Israel Amateur Radio Club. It has an interface to the communications ministry in Israel and they take care of ... believe it or not, The Israel Amateur Radio Club actually has a volunteer inside the communications ministry that handles the paperwork for amateur radio. Amateur radio is not a high priority unfortunately, in Israel, and so therefore, the national club has to supply a body to the communications ministry to get stuff done.
Eric 4Z1UG: Yehuda 4X1TQ, who was a guest of mine in a very early podcast. He says, "Regarding Israeli ham radio operators, how many are there?" There used to be a couple of thousand, I think now we're down to about 700, 800. "With Israel being a melting pot, could you estimate the percentage of native born, soviet, US born, and others?" I couldn't estimate that, although we took on a million Russians in the '90s and many of them were ham radio operators. Not a million, but I'm sure there's probably a couple hundred Russian ham radio operators who live in Israel now. "How have US born hams impacted the local radio scene?" Well Yehuda, as you know, we brought Allstar and DMR to Israel, and DMR seems to be picking up. There's a last count of a few hundred hams who have come out of the woodwork and have gotten DMR ID numbers, so that's cool. But I think US born hams, we're the kind of guys who like to break the rules and so therefore, we push the system to do things it may or may not want to do on the one hand. On the other hand, it keeps the things fresh. So, I think that's what's happening here in regards to that. Thanks for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: VK6OP Mark, writes that he's listened to the episode with Amnon Bar Giora 4X1DF, 20 to 30 times over the years. Wow Mark, that's really cool. Mark is interested in the stories of hams that have moved here. You know what Mark, I don't know that there's a lot of us that have moved here. There actually may be more in the woodwork than we know about. I will be happy to bring you more stories of hams that have come to Israel or that are in Israel, all of us have an interesting story to some degree because we're immigrants, and immigrant stories tend to be interesting. Anyway, thanks Mark for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: Okay, Bill KF5PQ, sends me this question, he says, "Where is your home located in relationship to Jerusalem? And do you feel safe with the increased tension due to the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and locating our embassy there?" That's a good question, Bill. I live in a city called Efrat; it is in the west bank of Israel as it is known internationally. I cross a border crossing to get to my house from Jerusalem, I consider, as all of the residents of an Efrat consider Efrat in Gush Etzion where I live, to be part of Israel, and any final settlement, if there is one, it will be part of Israel.
Eric 4Z1UG: I always feel safe, I lock my front door because I grew up in California where that was what we did, at least in the '80s. But I can walk on the streets of Jerusalem and on the streets of Efrat in the middle of the night without any fear of ever being mugged or have any problems. I think that the obvious increased tension due to the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is overstated. The embassy should be in Jerusalem, as that is our national capital of the country. And we're the only country in the world where that question is even being asked, so one would have to ask why is that question being asked. I'll leave that to the listener's imagination.
Eric 4Z1UG: Norma sends me a message and Norma, I don't see your call sign here, but I'll state your question. He says, "The last several podcasts you have aired seemed very interesting, however not able to understand your guests due to language issues. Not sure how you get around this, but had to turn three of the podcasts off." Well Norm, I try to be very sensitive to this. Sometimes the stories are great and unfortunately I take it as a given that people who speak English, where it's not their primary or first language, are often difficult because of accents. And even the use of language might be difficult to understand. I might find that easier because I live in a place where everybody has an accent except me, and so therefore, I've gotten my ears attuned to hearing conversations in accents. However, I am sensitive to this, the majority of the listeners of the QSO Today podcast, live, and work, and reside in the United States mostly, frankly almost 90%.
Eric 4Z1UG: So therefore, I try to not do as many of these foreign accent interviews as I try to keep to the ratio. However, there's a number of DXers who listen to the QSO Today podcast who have asked for these people. So, I try to be sensitive to everybody and so occasionally I understand that there may be a podcast that's difficult to listen to, especially at double speed. Try that, Norm. Thanks for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: Ron KF7ZN has a few questions, he says, "Did you always want to do this? And as a kid, did you want to be on TV or radio? Be a newscaster, or was this something that arose later in your life?" I'll answer each question, Ron, as you asked them. No, the fact is Ron, I never wanted to be on TV, or radio, or be a newscaster, however, I was hooked to Talk Radio from the very beginning. And I was a big listener to radio from the time I was old enough to turn one on, so I'm used to listening to this kind of stuff. To be a TV, or radio, or a newscaster, I was always behind the scenes. As a high school kid, we had a television studio in the school and I was always in the tech room, that's changed for me over the past number of years.
Eric 4Z1UG: You asked, "Now that you've had these conversations, what is your perception of the future of the hobby? Optimistic, excited, guarded, enthusiasm, tough times ahead?" Well, I have to tell you Ron, I think the hobby is in the greatest shape, at least in the United States, that it's ever been. And I think it's because, and I've said this before on the podcast, that the internet has exploded our ability to share and communicate and collaborate, and so therefore we're advancing the state of the art at a speed that we've never advanced before. And I think that I am highly optimistic that ham radio will be around for a long time and it will be driving a lot of the technology innovations that will come out in the commercial side.
Eric 4Z1UG: "What are some of your greatest surprises from the interviews?" Wow, that's a hard question. I always learn something new, so maybe the greatest surprise is that I always learn something new from every interview. I loved these interviews and I love speaking to the people behind them, and I hope that, that enthusiasm comes out. "Anything humorous behind the scenes?" Well, I don't know Ron, I stutter, and I say "ah" a lot, and I try to take those out when I edit. Right now I seem to be on a role so I'm not stuttering as much, and I sing more now, and that has helped with the stuttering, so I don't stutter when I sing. "How did you meet your wife? And how did you end up in Israel?" I met my wife on the plane to Israel 38 years ago. We came as students and she sat next to me on an EL AL airliner, in the very back row of a 747. And I figured if I could sit next to anybody for 18 hours, then maybe I should marry them. The truth is we were on the same program for a year and we became engaged here in Israel and we married the following year. We ended up in Israel, I explained that in episode 200.
Eric 4Z1UG: "Are you active in any clubs and do you have a role? Or are you just a member?" I started the Jerusalem Amateur Radio Society, but unfortunately it doesn't meet very often, and I guess my role is, I'm just an agitator. "If you could do one thing in ham radio, what would it be?" You know what, I would be doing QRPCW from the park, that's what I would be doing right now. Thanks Ron, for your question.
Eric 4Z1UG: Okay, so Phil KD2HTN, sends this message to me, "How did you get interested in radio and electronics? And eventually, what led you to ham radio? At what age?" I was interested in electronics from the time I was probably six or seven, I was an authority by that age, and that was very hard on all my friends and family. I answered the rest of this question in the episode. "What are my operation preferences? High power QRP, CW, SSB, AM, satellite, portable?" Well sadly, Phil, my operation preferences are just to operate. So, right now I operate on FM and DMR through Allstar and DMR. I frankly would be on QRP, I think that's more challenging and it causes less problems with the neighbors.
Eric 4Z1UG: "Do you roll your own bread boarding, experimenting, building kits, or prefer to buy ready-made?" That's an interesting question, when it comes to FM and stuff, I like commercial gear like Motorola, and right now I've been playing with Tate radios to adapt them for the amateur radio service. I also like building kits, I have an Elecraft K2 here, I do some bread boarding and experimenting, not enough. I have a very nice test bench with a nice HP80920B service monitor, so I love test equipment too, and I love having the capability and when I have time, working on it. "What operation or modes do you plan to delve into in the future?" You say, "Digi mode, CW, AMDBS?" You know what, I think CW and Digi modes look interesting to me.
Eric 4Z1UG: He's also asked, "What careers do you follow? Electronics ham related, what got you interested and motivated into becoming a ham radio podcast?" I've always followed electronics, I've spent some time doing IT, I've spent some time actually doing operations management for a cable television company, I've done a little bit of everything in business. And that's probably why I've never made any money, but I still had a great time and it's good to be good in just about everything, but not a master of anything. He says, "You grew up in the US and migrated to Israel, what career, or religion, or motivating factors? Do you ever plan to return to the US?" I grew up in southern California, I lived in Denver for 16 years, and I migrated to Israel, that's true. I think I talk about this in episode 200. I'm an orthodox Jew, moving here is part of being here after 2000 years of not being here. I don't plan to return to the US to live, my family, my grandchildren are here, but I think about it every once in a while only because I have very deep roots in the united states.
Eric 4Z1UG: "Do you have an interest or background in radio broadcasting?" Now, I've already answered that question, what stations. "Any other interests, meteorology, astronomy, radio astronomy?" He goes through a very long list here, but that's okay. You know what, I'm interested in everything, I have ADD so that makes me interested in everything. But right now, when I'm not doing the podcast and I'm not working, I actually am learning to sing Italian opera and I am part of a theater company in Jerusalem that does English musicals. So, as of tonight, will be my last night as the Chinese emperor in the Emperor and Nightingale scene as part of the Hans Christian Anderson musical that we're doing in town. But I've played Charlie in Annie Get Your Gun, and I've been in a number of different plays and musicals, and that's my new distraction.
Eric 4Z1UG: Devon Super, who I don't see a call sign here, "I'd like to know how you made it all the way out to Israel, and how life there differs from the United States. What do you miss from the United States? And what do you prefer in Israel?" I've talked about how I made Aliyah in episode 200, Aliyah means going up in Hebrew, when a Jew moves to Israel it's "going up". "What do you miss from the USA?" Costco. I think I miss Costco from the USA. "What do you prefer in Israel?" The food is great here. I like being a part of making history rather than watching it from the sidelines, I think that's probably the best way to answer your question, Devon.
Eric 4Z1UG: Timothy K2TF says, "What made you move to live in Israel?" I answered that question already, Tim, thanks for asking it. Peter VR2VPH, you must know, Peter writes me all the time, and I really appreciate it. Peter writes from Hong Kong, he says, "I have a great difficulty getting QSOs from the middle east, and certainly with Israel, I'm a CW man. Is this mode not popular there? Can you give us an overview of an amateur radio in Israel?" Peter, I'm not an expert in amateur radio in Israel, but I can tell you that the majority of the old timers in this country are CW operators and going no code here was not a popular thing. There's a CW net every Saturday morning, as an orthodox Jew who observes the Sabbath, I am never there, but there are a great many hams from Israel on 40 Meter CW on Saturday mornings Israel time. I don't think that propagates to Hong Kong very well, but you might check that out and see whether that's something you can hear.
Eric 4Z1UG: Glen, my guest twice on the QSO Today podcast, KW5GP, my Arduino expert, has sent me a couple of questions. "When you're not doing QSA or other ham radio activities, what do you like to do for fun?" I've answered that, I sing for fun. "What is your favorite aspect of ham radio?" Glen, I love all of it. And if I could do all of it, I would do all of it. "What is your personal favorite episode or interview?" Glen, you know better than that, I can't answer that, I love them all, they're all great. "What is your memorable episode or interview?" There's one with Blair that I did some time ago and I've said this, I'll say this publicly, Blair and I went for three hours and I went to my wife afterwards and I said, "You know what, I've got three hours of audio with Blair, and I don't know what I'm going to do." And so, I cut it down to two hours and I put it out there hoping that everybody would like it, and believe it not, it was one of the more popular interviews. So, I guess it doesn't matter how long the QSO today episode is, as long as it's interesting. So, that's the most memorable from that standpoint, but I love all of them Glen, so thanks for asking the question.
Eric 4Z1UG: VA1DWG sends me a congratulations on the episode. Dennis Jones KK0DJ, Dennis has been a long time listener and supporter of the QSO Today podcast since the very beginning, and he sends me a congratulations on 200. Ian KM4IK sends this message, "Your first license as an amateur here in the US, when you migrated, made Aliyah to Israel and got licensed there, what are the biggest differences in licensing process between US and Israel? What hurdles did you face as a new Immigrant getting your Israeli license and setting up your shack in your new home?" Well Ian, I'll tell you something, the difference in the processes is that we don't have questions that are published for learning here. Fortunately, I didn't have to do that, the only hassle was administrative. Amateur radio is not a priority of the communications ministry and its employees are also on other tasks and departments. So the biggest problem, frankly, was just waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the paperwork to get processed. And then when the paperwork got processed, it wasn't right.
Eric 4Z1UG: So, I actually have an operating license that on the face of it isn't right, I've spent two years trying to get someone to fix it, and at some point, they'll either come for me and throw me in jail, or they'll fix my paperwork. So that's really the biggest hassle when it comes to the licensing process here. There are some classes that the Israel Amateur Radio Club puts on, but there's no question pool so it makes it a little bit difficult for new hams to get licensed, I think. I have no problem setting up a shack in my home, anything I put up will cause my neighbors to question me, but I live in an amazing street, and the people are terrific. And I probably could explain myself away and everybody would be happy.
Eric 4Z1UG: Phil is W1PJE, Phil says, "With 200 episodes under your belt, do you see a general pattern, the types of hams you have interviewed? Young tech versus older experienced analog veterans, and doesn't that tell us something about where the hobby is going?" Well Phil, I'll answer all of your questions, you have three here. The first one, is I choose the guests deliberately who are old timers, who either were my mentors or my contemporaries. And the reason is, is because people like stories, and they like the ham radio story and I want to tell a ham radio story. I'm not going after young people right now to interview, because they don't have a long ham radio story. Phil continues, "Do you see your audience growing in the future?" My audience is growing every month, Phil. Thank you. Just tell your friends and we'll have more listeners.
Eric 4Z1UG: "Is there an untapped resource in those people who are late, middle age, and are coming back to the hobby after many years of raising a family? If so, how could we re-engage them? Does the maker movement hold the key?" Phil, the way that we re-engage people is to be involved with them. What I see is when people are coming back, is that they still need Elmers; they need people to expose them to the new hobby, because it has changed certainly. At least it did when I was out and then came back in. So, to re-engage them is, they need to be involved in radio clubs, or in areas of interest, they need to be involved in communities online, they should listen to podcasts. And does the maker movement hold a key? It does for people who make, but there are people who just operate. And those people also need to be involved. Thanks for your questions, Phil.
Eric 4Z1UG: Jerry, one of my QSO Today guest, Jerry Jurrens N25GJ, he's a big listener and he asks me a question, "Did Joe Taylor K1JT, destroy amateur radio?" That was, I guess, the name of the article and he sends me a link. Geez, I don't think so. I think if anything, he's created an opportunity for us to get on the digital modes when ham bands are yucky due to the sunspot cycle and continue to operate, so I guess it depends upon how you look at it. I think he's probably done more for advancing the state of the art and low signal communications than anyone on the planet, so I think it's great for ham radio, it's great to have Joe as a ham radio operator who keeps advancing the state of the art. What could be better than that?
Eric 4Z1UG: ZS6AKV asked the question, "After you have conducted an interview and package it, has it ever dawned on you, 'I should have asked another question.'?" It happens every time, there's always more questions and unfortunately, I have a limited opportunity so I have to ask the ones I asked and maybe be smarter next time.
Eric 4Z1UG: Randy Thompson K5ZD, also a guest on the QSO Today podcast, he wants to know the difference between ham radio in Israel compared to my experience in the US. I think I've answered that already, Randy, but thanks for the question.
Eric 4Z1UG: I got a really nice letter from Tom Loney, AG4XM, no questions, just a lot of praise. Thanks so much, Tom.
Eric 4Z1UG: Steve N8NM, sends me a congratulations. Thank you, Steve.
Eric 4Z1UG: Joe W4JF, asked the following question, "What kindled your interest in the idea of podcasting? And how did you find out about it? The equipment needed, how to edit, where to upload the edited content, what are the costs per episode to record, edit, produce the final thing? I've always wondered about these questions and they may or may not be appropriate for the 200th, but I'm going to ask them anyway." Well, I'll tell you Joe. I got interested in podcasting because I was a podcast listener, and I thought that what was needed was a place to tell ham radio stories. Especially since the people I wanted to hear the stories from were getting older and would, at some point, become silent keys. That was the idea behind it, but I started as a podcast listener. I listened to lots of podcasts, according to my podcast manager Stitcher on my smartphone, I have over 4000 hours of podcast listening, probably approaching 5000 hours now.
Eric 4Z1UG: The equipment needed, I followed the game plan of a number of different podcasters. There's Podcast Answer Man, so you can look at Podcast Answer Man, but the equipment that I use, is I use a Skype on my PC, I use a Zoom H5 recorder that essentially runs outside of the PC, so it's plugged into my PC. I'm using an Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone, that microphone has both a USB output and a conventional microphone output. And the reason for that is, I use the USB to talk to my guests on Skype, and I use the other output of the microphone to go in directly into my Zoom H5. And then, the output of Skype comes through a bunch of isolation transformers and stuff to keep out the hum and that goes into the other channel. So I essentially have been mixing a stereo track on ... let me see, what am I using here? On Audacity, and I use Audacity to mix down the track to edit both sides of the conversation so I can make us sound both brilliant.
Eric 4Z1UG: And then, I forward it to a company called Auphonic that takes the stereo track, gets rid of the noise, and turns it into a mono track. And then the mono track I upload on Libsyn, which is a company that does the podcast distribution. The cost of the podcast is about $150 dollars a month, I would say in terms of all the hosting and stuff that I do. It's only recently that I actually now have sponsors that are helping to pay for that, but thanks to many of you listeners, I've had some help all along. So, I'm not out of pocket a lot when it comes to producing the podcast. The biggest commitment for the podcast is the time, and it takes a lot of time, especially to do the back office. The back office actually is a business, so it has books, and bookkeepers, and taxes, and tax accounts, and all that stuff.
Eric 4Z1UG: But in addition, I have to invite guests, I have to follow up on correspondence and all that stuff. So I estimate it takes me about 10 hours a week to do the whole podcast including the interviews. And then, the interviews run in spurts, so I sent out bunches of invitations, I get some replies, I schedule those guests and then I do the interviews with them. And then I have to cut all that down and mix it around so that it comes out to what you hear, so that's the process. There's a number of people ... you might look up Pat Flynn, Pat Flynn is an online entrepreneur who has a very nice page on how to get a podcast started, and that's maybe the first place I would start, and that's where I did start.
Eric 4Z1UG: Dr. Ron Milliman, K8HSY, was my guest in an earlier QSO Today podcast. His question was, "What motivated me to move from California where I grew up?" Well, I left California over 30 years ago and I was following my wife to Denver, Colorado which is where we lived for 16 years. So, that was the reason for leaving California. "In terms of amateur radio, what are the major differences between my ham radio experiences in California compare with my experiences in Israel?" There was just a lot more hams in California when I was growing up, and they were all engaged in various things and there was a lot of activities, and I think when you have big activity and I think that's the biggest difference. My personal reactions to the capital of Israel being moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? What is my perception of the current president? Look, the capital of Israel is Jerusalem, and the American embassy belongs here. That's my personal belief.
Eric 4Z1UG: Ron goes on, Ron is a very respectful person, so there's a lot of qualifiers in here in his message to me about asking me these questions. I prefer not to get too political here. My perception of president Trump is that he's a New Yorker, and often times if you're not used to New Yorkers then they sound very differently from people than the rest, and therefore sometimes they're very out in the front. But I think that president Trump at this point, has a real understanding of what's happening in the world and what Americans position should be. And a strong America is good for the rest of the world, that is my belief, and it's certainly good for Israel. So, I'd say at the moment, I don't have a lot of complaints. Ron goes on with another paragraph of very nice compliments. Ron, I really appreciate. I so much appreciated your being a guest, and I appreciate every time you write to me. Thank you very much.
Eric 4Z1UG: Brian K1LI, sends me a very nice message on the 200th anniversary, but he wanted to know why I'm not interviewing younger hams, especially new hams. I think I answered this before Brian, that is that I am interested in telling the ham radio story. And I think young hams don't have a ham radio story yet, that's not to say that they're not interesting, and frankly there's a number of podcasts that interview them a lot. We especially hear from the young hams who make it to be recognized as young ham of the year. So I think there are other podcasts and venues for that, as much as I enjoy them, and I do enjoy them, I think at this point QSO Today is still committed to tell the ham radio stories of the older hams until those older hams are not around.
Eric 4Z1UG: That looks like all of the questions that were sent to me, I hope I answered many of them. If you send me questions in the future, then I'm happy to answer them, either on the Facebook page, or by email, or even on the podcast. Thank you so much for your questions, I appreciate it, and 73.
Eric 4Z1UG: That concludes this episode of QSO Today, I hope that you've enjoyed this QSO with me, please be sure to check out the show notes that include links and information about the topics that we discussed. Go to www.qsotoday.com and put in 4-Zed-1-U-G in the search box at the top of the page. My thanks to both Icom America and QRP Labs for their support of the QSO Today podcast, please show your support of these fine sponsors by clicking on their links in the show notes pages, and when you buy stuff from them, tell them you heard it here on QSO Today. You might notice that some of the episodes are transcribed into written text, if you'd like to sponsor this or any of the episodes into written text, please contact me.
Eric 4Z1UG: Support the QSO Today podcast by first joining the QSO Today email list by pressing the subscribe buttons on the show notes pages. I will not spam you or share your email address with anyone. Become a listener sponsor monthly or annually, by clicking on the sponsor buttons on the show notes page. I am grateful for any way that you show appreciation and support, it makes a big difference. QSO Today is available now on iHeartRadio and in the iTunes store, and now a host of podcast services and applications. Stitcher is still my favorite. Until next time, this is Eric 4-Zed-1-U-G, 73.
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