Special Event Celebrates 100 Years of WWV

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology Radio Station WWV will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in October 2019. The oldest continuously operating radio station in the world deserves a
grand celebration.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (NCARC) have reached an agreement and are working together to organize the event.

NIST will focus on the plans for Tuesday, October 1, when they will host a recognition ceremony and an open house at the radio station north of Fort Collins.

NCARC will operate a special event amateur radio station, call sign WW0WWV, on the WWV property starting September 28, and going 24-hours a day through October 2. The goal is to make as many U.S. and world-wide contacts during the 120-hour period as possible, using multiple bands and multiple modes on at least 4 simultaneous transmitters. The effort will require hundreds of volunteer operators.

Information on the Special Events Station visit: http://wwv100.com

https://www.nist.gov/news-events/events/2019/10/nist-radio-station-wwv-100-year-anniversary

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Remembering D-Day, 75 Years On

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

In the early morning of June 6th, 1944, many Americans heard initial reports of The Invasion – what would become known as D-Day, on American radio networks. The allied invasion of Europe was shrouded in such secrecy that even the press of the day had significant doubts as to the veracity of the reports, which were heard by shortwave listeners of German radio broadcasts aimed at foreign audiences. In the days before, Roosevelt’s Office of War Information, or OWI, increasingly warned of the possibility of intentional false reports of an invasion by the Germans, in order to cause a premature response by the Resistance. Many reporters thought that this was what they were hearing.

Click here to listen to Bob Trout anchor Columbia Broadcasting System’s early morning coverage of the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion on D-Day. Most fascinating, and in contrast to modern media’s delivery of news events, is CBS’ careful, scrupulously-vetted accounts of the Normandy landings.

Operations began several hours before, on the evening of June 5th. Minesweepers cleared the way for ships, and over a thousand bombers left before dawn to attack coastal defenses. Over 1,200 aircraft departed England just before midnight to drop three airborne divisions (U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne, and British 6th Airborne) behind enemy lines several hours before the beach landings. Their objectives ranged from securing positions on the Cotentin Peninsula, to capturing intact bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, which would be necessary to advance troops and equipment. The Free French 4th SAS battalion was also assigned objectives, in Brittany.

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News reaches home. Click here to listen to part 2 of CBS’ broadcast on the morning of June 6, as Bob Trout walks listeners through the newsroom, reading bulletins off teletype machines. “FLASH,” he says, taking a moment to describe the rarity of that word in news circles. “LONDON – Eisenhower’s headquarters announces Allies land in France…” Finally, there was allied confirmation that the invasion was underway.

Operation Neptune, which targeted the Normandy coastline, commenced at 5:45am with naval bombardment, followed by the amphibious invasions of Utah Beach (U.S. 4th Infantry Division), Pointe du Hoc (2nd Ranger Battalion), Omaha Beach (U.S. 1st Infantry division, supplied by troops of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division), Gold Beach (British 1st Battalion and Hampshire Regiment), and Sword Beach (British 2nd Battalion and Shropshire Light Infantry). Some 132,000 men were transported by sea on D-Day, and a further 24,000 came by air.

Click here to listen to part 3 of CBS’ broadcast, which begins at about 5:00am Eastern War Time, when many Americans on the East Coast would’ve been waking up.

Although it was ultimately a success, not everything went according to plan. Rough seas and high winds made the landings at Gold and Juno difficult, causing delays, and aerial attacks failed to hit their intended targets, leaving many defenses in place. The landing at Omaha would be the most heavily defended. The U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry faced the German 352nd Infantry Division, rather than a single regiment, as expected. Strong currents forced landing craft to drift further east of their intended positions, and the men faced heavy fire from the cliffs above, leading to more casualties on Omaha than on all the other beaches combined.

At Point du Hoc, the plan was for 200 Army Rangers to scale the 98 ft. tall cliffs to destroy a gun battery there. While under heavy fire, they scaled the cliffs only to find the guns had already been removed. The surviving 90 men would eventually locate the guns about 600 yards further south, and disable them, but they would then have to fight to avoid capture for almost 2 days until relief came from the 743rd Tank Battalion.

Allied casualties on D-Day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Comparatively, the Germans lost 1,000 men. The invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah), linked with a front line 6-10 miles from the beaches. None of these objectives were achieved. The five bridgeheads were not connected until 6 days later, by which time the Allies held a front 60 miles long and 15 miles deep. Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until July 21st. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on June 6th, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

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Hard battles followed. The Allies would go on to capture Cherbourg on June 26th, which was especially important because it would provide a deep-water harbor, and Caen by July 21st. They would breakout from the beachhead in early August and push south from Vire towards Avranches. Patton’s 3rd Army would reach Alencon on August 11th and the Canadians, under Montgomery, closed in around German forces, trapping more than 50,000 of them, by August 21st. Operations continued in the British and Canadian sectors until the end of August.

Meanwhile, the French Resistance in Paris rose against the Germans on August 19th. French forces of the 2nd Armored Division under General Philippe Leclerc arrived from the west on August 24th, while the U.S. 4th Infantry Division pressed up from the south. Scattered fighting continued throughout the night, and by the morning of August 25th, Paris was liberated.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion ever attempted, involving nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. They hastened the end of the war in Europe, drawing large forces away from the Eastern Front that might otherwise have slowed the Soviet advance. The opening of another front in western Europe was also a tremendous psychological blow for Germany’s military, who feared a repetition of the two-front war of World War I.

June 6th is always a solemn day to remember the struggles of those who defended our freedoms and values, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This year may be a little more poignant, however, being the 75th anniversary. I encourage anyone reading this to listen to the audio clips included, because even from hindsight and the knowledge of history at our disposal, we can experience those extraordinary events with a surprise and anticipation, similar to those who experienced them firsthand over seventy-five years ago.


Works Cited:

Canadian War Museum. 04 Jun 2019. D-Day and the Normandy Campaign: https://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/newspapers/operations/ddaynormandy_e.html

Wikipedia. 04 Jun 2019. Operation Overlord: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Overlord

Internet Archive. 04 Jun 2019. Complete Broadcast Day – D-Day: https://archive.org/details/Complete_Broadcast_Day_D-Day/Complete_Broadcast_Day_440606_Part_001.mp3

The Telegraph. Newspaper. 03 Jun 2019. “British soldier taking part in D-Day celebrations drowns in France.” Photograph. Pegasus Bridge.

National WW2 Museum Archives. 03 Jun 2019. Photograph. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/d-day-allies-i

 

WS1SM Team Activates Mt. Agamenticus for Summits on the Air (SOTA)

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

YORK, ME – The WS1SM team ventured to the summit of Mt. Agamenticus on May 19th, meeting for breakfast at Maine Diner, in Wells, before making their way up the mountain. Among those who participated were Greg Dean K1ME, CJ Carlsson W1CJC, Brad Brown KC1JMH, Eric Emery KC1HJK, and myself. It was my second activation from the summit, having been part of the 2013 team, but for the others, it was their first SOTA activation from Mt. Agamenticus (W1/AM-381).

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Greg Dean K1ME (left) operates 20m CW, while Eric Emery KC1HJK (foreground), makes his first HF contact, on 20m SSB

Being a former ski area “The Big A,” Mt. Aggie is more developed than most of the mountains we hike to. There is a summit house, that was once a ski lodge, well groomed hiking trails, a parking area, and remnants of an old T-bar chair lift, among other relics. We set up our stations on a picnic table on the northern side of the clearing at the top.

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CJ Carlsson W1CJC, operates 40m SSB

Among the equipment used were my Yaesu Ft-857d and BuddiPole rotatable dipole, which I used on 14 and 21 MHz, CJ’s Icom IC706, which was paired with a 40m dipole strung in the trees, and various VHF radios. Greg brought a yagi for 144, which made for some interesting contacts, and we also used a TYT TH-9000D and J Pole for 220 MHz. Brad KC1JMH also took the opportunity to try his partially finished QRP kit on the air for the first time.

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A friend stops by

The weather was cloudy and windy at times, but otherwise pretty nice compared to the several days of rain that preceded the expedition. The only rain we experienced was a little bit on the drive toward the mountain, and some during setup, but it didn’t last. Conditions on the HF bands were much worse, however, and contacts were slow going with only a handful on SSB and CW. We made the majority of our QSOs on VHF, making one summit-to-summit contact, and one as far away as Boxboro, MA on 2 meter FM Simplex.

Photos courtesy of Eric Emery (copyright mark), and Brad Brown

For more information about WSSM SOTA expeditions, click here.

WS1SM Team to Participate in 9th Field Day from Wassamki Springs

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by Pete Donovan, K1SK

Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise June 22-23 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.

The public is encouraged to attend on Saturday, June 22, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more than 100 years, amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the internet. Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day last year.

“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise, and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” says club Vice President, CJ Carlsson, of Portland, ME.
During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League. Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities, and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites, and digital technology.

“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Carlsson.

Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.

“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries, or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” says club member, Tim Watson, of Saco. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we’re ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts, and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”

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The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency and members also support the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN operations in Gray, ME.

“Since 2014, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, has recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and hopes to finish on top again in 2019,” says Carlsson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”

Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. For more information about Field Day, and amateur radio in general, please visit: http://www.mainehamradio.com

GSSMO Outgoing Mail Stuck in Outbox Solution

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Typically, I keep these posts strictly related to Amateur Radio, but having spent a good two days searching for a solution to this issue, I thought it’d be worthwhile to share what I learned.

Last Friday, Outlook users at my workplace began experiencing problems with sending emails. The emails were getting hung up in the outbox and going nowhere, despite the fact that G Suite sync (we use G Suite for an email and productivity solution), was showing no sync errors. Also, not everyone was effected.

Only an Outlook Send/Receive error was occuring: “Task ‘G Suite – Sending’ reported error (0x80048002): ‘This task was cancelled before it was completed.'” Once this error occurred, whenever you clicked Send/Receive, it would just flash and do nothing.

My own Outlook being effected, I decided to use myself as a guinea pig. The problem seemed to follow a recent Office update, but I couldn’t find any way to roll back the update, so I looked for other alternatives, and began by removing my mail profile and installing a clean version of G Suite Sync. After re-adding my account and waiting for it to do the initial sync, everything synced up perfectly, but after sending a test email, the problem persisted.

I then contacted G Suite support, who of course, suggested that I should “remove my profile and reinstall a clean version of G Suite Sync” – exactly what I had just done! After explaining that I just did this and it didn’t resolve the issue, I was told that my problem was most likely the result of having too big of a mailbox. I think he was grabbing at straws at this point. If the only ones in our organization that were effected by the issue were the ones with mailboxes over 4GB, for example, he might be on to something, but that wasn’t the case. One of the people effected was a new employee with only a handful of messages in his inbox.

Going back to my original observation that this occurred shortly after a recent Microsoft Office update, (to Version 1904, Build 11601.20072 Click-to-Run), I started looking for a way to roll it back to an earlier version. Microsoft doesn’t make this easy. You can easily turn off updates, but rolling it back is another story. I tried many suggestions and scripts that were offered on forums, but none of them worked, until I found the one I’m sharing here, which actually failed at first, but I was able to clean up a few things to make it work – and not just for my installation. I copied the script to a USB stick and ran it on all the effected PC’s and all the Office versions have been rolled back to 1903, which plays nicely with G Suite. This works on both Office 2016 and 365 installations.

Here’s what to do:

Click here to download the script. Once you have it downloaded, open it in Notepad, and copy it. Then open a Windows Power Shell session and paste it in. The script will run for a few seconds and then prompt you with the following window:

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Choose the following options: Monthly Channel (Current Channel) in the first drop-down box, and select a previous version from the second drop-down box. I chose Version 1903 (Build 11425.20202). Also check the “Disable Updates” box, so it won’t install any additional updates, including the one that breaks G Suite. This can be revisited again in the future, if/when a patch is written to fix the issue, but for now this is our only option.

It looks complicated, but it really isn’t. Once you make your selections and check the box, choose update, and a window will pop up saying that Office is Updating. Let it do its thing, and once it completes, your office will be rolled back to the version you selected.

Hopefully this helps anyone who is experiencing this issue.

 

 

 

The Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is Sunday, April 14th

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CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT

Sunday, April 14th, from 12PM – 4PM

The 2019 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Sunday, April 14th, for 4 hours, beginning at 12pm local time!

Getting started is easy!

Choose a power level from: QRP (5 watts or less), Medium (Greater than 5, but less than 100 watts), or High (100 watts or more), and decide whether to operate as Fixed or Mobile.

The Exchange is 3 items: your call sign, the name of the city, village, town, or township you are operating from, and your power level.

For example, if your call sign is W1ZZ, and you’re operating from your home station in Gorham, and running 50 watts, you’d say: “Please copy, Whiskey One Zulu Zulu, Gorham, Medium Power”.

Suggested frequencies: 146.475, 146.490, 146.505, 146.550, 146.565, 146.580, 147.420, 147.435, 147.450, 147.465, 147.480, 147.495, 147.510, 147.525, 147.540, 147.555, 147.570.

New for 2019: Contacts with an EOC, SKYWARN, Red Cross, or other served agency station are worth 2 points each! Check out the official rules for more details.

Now, get on the air, and have fun!

Click here for complete rules and details.

Amateur Radio in Popular Culture

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A scene from the 1938 film, Nancy Drew, Detective

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Amateur Radio has never been considered a mainstream hobby, but it has had its fair share of time in the spotlight of American popular culture – the most notable being when the hobby is featured on television or film. We’ll take a look back at some of ham radio’s more memorable appearances from the past, and a few recent ones.

When I was a boy, I used to love reading detective books and watching movies of the same genre. One of the first ones I remember that featured ham radio was a film called Nancy Drew, Detective, starring Bonita Granville (Warner Bros., 1938), where the teenage sleuth’s friend, Ted, showed off his radio shack and demonstrated the art of making a QSO. It played a minor role in the plot of the story as well. Ted even had a call sign – W8YZR, by which we can infer that Nancy’s fictional home town of River Heights must be located somewhere in the Midwest.

Another film from around the same era is The Men of Boys Town (MGM, 1941). In this sequel to the popular film Boys Town, Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney), has frequent conversations with his friend Pee Wee (Bobs Watson) over the airwaves. Whitey transmits from the home of his adoptive parents, while Pee Wee operates from the Boys Town club station.

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Orson Welles confronts reporters after the radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds

A scene in Orson Welles’ famous rendition of The War of the Worlds for Mercury Radio Theater, which aired on October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System, features an amateur radio operator saying: “2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York. Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone . . . 2X2L”

The Glass Bottom Boat (MGM, 1966), starring Doris Day, who has a “20-foot antenna,” shows her corkboard full of DX QSL cards above her Collins and Marine radio gear. Day uses a radio to talk to “Pop” (played by real-life ham Arthur Godfrey, K4LIB).

Based on true events, The Red Tent (Paramount, 1969), tells the story of the dirigible Italia, which crashed over the Arctic ice cap after flying over the North Pole in 1928. Authorities believed no one could have possibly survived the accident and soon gave up searching for survivors, until a young Russian radio amateur, Nikolai Schmidt (Nikolai Ivanov), heard on his modest radio set the faint SOS signals sent from the wreck site by Roberto Biagi (Mario Adorf). Thanks to the information provided by Schmidt, the rescue of the survivors was organized. The Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, first man to reach the South Pole, perished during the rescue operation.

Another film from around that time, The Anderson Tapes (Columbia 1971), starring Sean Connery who portrays a recently paroled thief that decides to rob an entire apartment building, while unknown to him, the government is watching and listening to every move via telephoto lenses and shotgun mikes. His character disables all telephone lines, but a young boy, in a wheelchair, is able to summon help via his ham radio. In the end, the government destroys all tapes because they had no legal business placing him under surveillance.

Ham radio enjoyed a renaissance in popular culture in the 1990’s. Some movies from the time include Pump Up the Volume (New Line Cinema, 1990), where a teenager’s father provides him with amateur radio equipment to keep in touch with his friends on his native east coast when his job transfers him to Arizona. However, the teenager uses the equipment to start a pirate radio station promoting his cynical views on American life.

The science fiction film, Contact (Warner Bros., 1997), starring Jodie Foster playing Dr. Arroway, opens with the heroine operating a ham radio transceiver as a child, using the callsign W9GFO. She later becomes a researcher working in SETI.

The Sweet Hereafter (Alliance, 1997) starring Ian Holm, features a scene where a man is sitting at a table, holding a pair of communication headphones up to one ear. On the wall is a plastic QSL card holder full of cards.

In the mystery-science fiction film, Frequency (New Line Cinema, 2000), John Sullivan (played by Jim Caviezel), and his father Frank Sullivan (Dennis Quaid) use ham radio to communicate; due to unusual aurora borealis activity John is able to communicate via ham radio with his father 30 years in the past.

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A scene from the 2000 film, Frequency

So far, we’ve looked primarily at movies, but ham radio also been referenced several times in television and short film as well. One of the more-subtle references appears in the Disney cartoon, Donald’s Better Self, (Walt Disney, 1938), where Donald Duck is pursued by both angel and devil versions of himself. In one scene, the devil duck calls CQ from a mailbox as he passes by.

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Donald’s not-so-better self gets his attention by calling CQ from inside a mailbox

In the popular TV show, ALF (1986-1990), an Alien Life Form crash lands at the Los Angeles home of Willie Tanner, who is a ham.

In an episode of the Munsters (1964-1966), Grandpa Munster, uses an army surplus BC-654 field radio as a ham station.

In an episode of The Loretta Young Show (1953-1961), a young couple are snowed in at a ski chalet when a boy with pneumonia shows up at their door. Rita (played by Loretta Young), uses a ham station at the chalet to summon medical assistance.

In a double episode of The Waltons (1971-1981), Jim-Bob uses ham radio to help two young guests speak to their mother in England.

In an episode of The Jetsons (Hanna-Barbera 1962-1963), George’s son, Elroy, uses an interstellar version of ham radio to chase DX.

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Henry, Fr. Mulcahy, and Klinger, in M*A*S*H*

In an episode of M*A*S*H (Fox, 1972-1983), called “Springtime”, Henry uses ham radio so Father Mulcahy can marry Klinger to his girl back in the USA. The other “ham” that gets in the middle of the QSO with her recipes is Mary Kay Place.

Similarly, in an episode of McHale’s Navy, one of McHale’s crew members finds out about the birth of his baby back home via a phone patch from a Stateside ham radio operator.

On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno that aired May 13th, 2005, they held a showdown between Morse code ops Chip K7JA of Yaesu USA and Ken K6CTW and “the fastest text messagers in the country” to see who could transmit the message “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance” faster. The Morse code operators won by completing the message first.

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Mike Baxter is on the air from his ham shack in a 2013 episode of Last Man Standing

The main character of Last Man Standing (Fox, 2011-Current), Mike Baxter, (played by Tim Allen), is a ham radio operator, and ham radio is figured into many episodes – one of the most memorable is a scene where Mike retreats to his basement ham shack during Thanksgiving dinner to talk on the radio while his family squabbles upstairs.

Club member, Brad Brown KC1JMH, let us know recently that, in addition to the character, the show’s executive producer is a real licensed ham and he and several other crew members are on the air every Tuesday night at 23:45 UTC (6:45p EST) as “KA6LMS”. They often work 20 meters, and post where they are on dxsummit.fi. They also post the station log on Facebook and send out cards. This coming Tuesday, they plan on being active on D-STAR REF 012A during the same time slot.

Amateur Radio has also been prominently featured in print. One book that I remember distinctly was a Hardy Boys mystery called “The Short-Wave Mystery” (Grosset & Dunlap, 1945). The events that set the plot into action are when the Hardy Boys hear a mysterious call for help on their shortwave radio set: “Help — Hudson”. This happens while their father, Fenton Hardy, is investigating nation-wide thefts of radio equipment by a group of criminals called “The Hudson Gang”.

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The original book cover to “The Short Wave Mystery”

Ham radio is also featured in an Archie Comic, Archie’s Ham Radio Adventure (1997), and in at least two Dilbert cartoons. In one of them, Dilbert’s date hints that Dilbert’s sex appeal would be increased if he got his ham radio license. In another, one of Dilbert’s team members says that she got her ham radio license in a workshop held by Dogbert.

Looking back, a lot of these rekindled old memories. At the time I first encountered many of them, I had no idea what amateur radio was really like, and remarkably, many offer an accurate portrayal. This was by no means a complete list, nor was it meant to be, but hopefully you’ve had as much fun revisiting them as I did.