OCTOBER 2016 C.A.R.L. W7ASC NEWSLETTER
BEHIND THE SCENES
Every shift at the Harkins Ham Shack
brings a new experience. Each visitor enters the station with a unique set
of expectations. The Volunteer on duty must be attuned to the visitor's
attitude and find a way to move the demonstration along lines that create an
impression that resonates with that visitor's world view. No one has
suggested that this is an easy task.
Some visitors are quite
young. They would like to push buttons with no real concern for cause and
effect. The idea of using that button for other than just the feel and click
is alien to their experience up to that point. Timing, duration and rhythm
must be introduced one step at a time, or the visitor never gets the
message. Of course, no two youngsters are identical. To some, the idea of
dits and dahs makes instant sense. Get on with my name! To some the mystery
remains behind a cloud and the Volunteer/instructor plods on, hoping that
somewhere along the line the concept will break through. That is why this
Volunteer never invites a visitor to try Morse. Every one who stops in the
Shack reaches some degree of success. So we suggest the they “do”, not
just “try” (thanks, Yoda). That is, after all, what the signs say. “Do
your name in Morse code”.
A family stopped at the entrance to the
Shack. Typical nuclear family/ Father, Mother and two young girls. The girls
appeared to be about 7 and 4. Under the gaze of the proud parents, the older
girl took up a pen and proceeded too demonstrate that she could, indeed,
write her name in the boxes on the form. That task completed, she followed
instructions to use the button (key) too form the dit, then the dah, and,
finally, combine them to form the Morse A. A little light came on in her
eye. The parents glowed with pride at what their offspring had learned in
that brief moment. Now the Instructor/Volunteer filled in the code for each
letter of the girl's name, and she proceeded to do it. A pause for further
instruction about the need to separate the letters. Then her name could be
heard, in Morse of course, across the gallery. Certificate awarded.
Sticker/badge (I sent my name in Morse Code) proffered and affixed, by her,
to a prominent place on her blouse. Session done? Her voice is to soft to
work on the radio, so we wait for her to leave. But not so fast! She insists
that her young sister must do her name. Well, we are there to serve. How
will we do that? No need to worry. Big Sister becomes the instructor! Fills
out the code sheet with little sister's name. Asks the Instructor to fill in
Shows little sister how to do the dit,
then the dah. Guides her finger to make the Morse A. Then on to the name in
Morse, guiding the little finger through it all. Hands the form over to the
instructor for validation and certification. Peels off a fresh sticky badge
and places it on the little sister's shirt waist. Looks up for approval!
(which she did receive from all observers). So – is the mission complete?
Not really. Little sister has a stuffed
animal that must learn Morse code. Big sister does the entire protocol again
for that animal. Without complaint or hesitation.
The family seems reluctant to leave the
Shack. What else can we do for them? We talk a bit about Ham radio and
present some colorful flyers. Since they are Science Center members, we
invite them to return for a refresher. As the family walks on to other
activities in the area, the girls turn to show those new Morse badges to
their parents. The day is off to a great start in the Harkins Ham Shack.
(Hint – that Volunteer could have been YOU)
The Great Roof Repair Project may
actually be complete! Not really sure, but it was to start the evening of 29
August. Unless the Cosmos has taken an unusual turn, that is a date in
history. This is a project with many pieces and many performers/managers.
Let us explain.
The City of Phoenix owns the building
that house the Arizona Science Center. The roof also belongs to Phoenix. It
has been up there in the Arizona sun for almost eighteen years. As is
typical of flat roofs in this climate, it has developed a few flaws. The
City wants to repair those flaws in order to protect the integrity of the
building. But Phoenix does not
have roof repair technicians on its payroll. Phoenix has issued a contract
for the work to an local roofing company. That company, in order to stay in
business, has a backlog of roof jobs, each with its own problems and
imperatives. This job apparently requires access to both the inside and the
outside of the roof. Special equipment must be used inside, and some
exhibits are in the wrong location for that to happen. The Arizona Science
Center has a relatively small exhibit staff. Their job is to keep the
exhibits in repair. This small, though experienced, staff must now move some
exhibits in order to allow the roof repair contractor to get that large
equipment into the correct location. One of those exhibits is a HUGE
motorized preying Mantis. That does not belong to the Science Center! It
must be moved very carefully. The Science Center wishes to stay in operation
and not shut down.
When the Ham shack was first installed,
it was on the Science Center second floor. At that time the decision was
made to place the antennas on the roof! That roof now leaks and is the
subject of the repair project. Back in the last century, the W7ASC volunteer
corps was 20 years younger, fearless and nimble. The roof, the platform for
the antennas, is about sixty feet off the ground. Access is ONLY via shaky
ladder that is bolted to the outside of one wall. No other options exist.
The building was not designed to be an antenna farm.
There is yet another factor. A crane is
required in order to move equipment and materials up to the roof. A crane
that can lift heavy stuff sixty feet in the air is expensive. It will be
on-site for the shortest possible amount of time. The roof will be sealed
and the crane and the contractor will leave.
Somewhere in this flurry of activity the
Ham shack antennas will need to come down, be replaced and possible
repaired. New cable will be pulled into place. Some of the original
volunteers are now grandfathers. They have life insurance with “falling
off of buildings” exclusions. Some have arthritis. The ranks of the
available have thinned.
The above gives you some idea why we are
unable to give you a firm schedule for Ham shack operations during this
project. Volunteers will probably be there to teach Morse. EchoLink should
work. There have been suggestions that we use mag mount antennas. Great
idea, but the ham shack is all wood and plastic. We can reach the ARA
network through the Chase tower repeater using a hand held. Count on the
Volunteers to be resourceful! They are, after all, Hams!
73 de W4CIH Jean