It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1917 March

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Solving QRM by fiat:

9 pm to 7 am is for "serious" work -- long distance traffic handling.

None of this small talk and conversation!

THE GREAT UNWRITTEN LAW

Why not observe, the unwritten law of amateur wireless all over the country, instead of in only certain parts of it. In many sections it has already come to be strictly followed, and the "big fellows" and the "little fellows" are able to live in harmony with each other. This law is written down in no book, and no District Radio Inspector will give it official recognition. But every one of the nine will quote it in settling quarrels between us. Here it is, and let every one learn it and observe it:—

AFTER 9:00 P. M. AND UNTIL 7:00 A. M., LOCAL TIME, THERE SHALL BE NO SMALL TALK, CONVERSATION, TESTING, NO OTHER UNNECESSARY INTERFERENCE WITH LONG DISTANCE TRAFFIC.

BEFORE 9:00 P. M. AND AFTER 7:00 A. M. LOCAL TIME, FREE FOR ALL SMALL TALK, CONVERSATION, TESTING, ETC. SHALL HAVE THE AIR TO ITSELF, AND LONG DISTANCE TRAFFIC WILL KEEP OUT.

Let us all encourage the observance of this primitive and simple regulation. It will do much to promote the interests of amateur wireless.

Efficiency and power loss are major problems. Antennas and grounds are not well understood, and components vary widely. Most Amateurs have little measuring equipment and certainly no finite element antenna modeling software!

TRANSMITTING EFFICIENCY

If the Government came along some fine afternoon and decided to find out what we amateurs averaged in the way of transmitting efficiency, what do you suppose would be the opinion of the investigating officer when he arrived at the final figure? It would be unfit to print, we will bet a regenerative receiver to a short circuited transformer. Efficiency means the ratio of the output to the input and it is usually expressed in per cent. We wonder if the average efficiency of one hundred representative amateur transmitting sets would be as high as 25%. The trouble is that we have to put together our own transmitting outfits, whereas, we go and buy the essentials of our receiving sets. Then again, the transmitting problem is an altogether more complex one to master.

Where does this lost 75% go? A certain amount goes in our transformer. Where the transformer is purchased of a good builder, and most of our transformers are, the efficiency is probably 95%, and the loss only a small one. What about the condenser? Losses here probably run to all kinds of figures because not only of the difficulty in getting a metallic coating on the glass properly, but also on account of the lack of understanding regarding the amount of condenser capacity that should be used. Next comes the oscillation transformer. Who knows where the average amateur oscillation transformer gets off on the question of efficiency? We have seen in different amateur stations every conceivable kind of an oscillation transformer. We have seen coupling as close as the construction would permit the two coils to come and we have seen coupling of the order of twelve inches. One thing we have not seen is any record of efficiency tests on oscillation transformers of the type we amateurs use. What about leads? Everybody says, make them short. Most of us have them long. What about ground contact? How much does the average amateur lose because of insufficient ground? From our observations and what eminent authority has told us in the pages of our QST, we should judge chat a tremendous loss occurred here.

We wonder if we amateurs are not sadly in need of some new type of transmitting apparatus which will make it easy for us to obtain a sharp wave and a low decrement and an over-all efficiency that is respectable. The new impulse excitation looks promising for our service. As far as known, no amateurs have gone into this idea. If some manufacturer would come along with something of this order or its equivalent, and which would give us good transmitting efficiency, he would be swamped with business, or we are very much mistaken. The limitations of 200 meters and one kilowatt input, are a handicap which makes our problem a different one from the usual commercial problem. It is our habit to howl about our 200 meter wave length, but it can be made to do good long distance work if the efficiency is what it should be. Keep this question before you, fellow amateurs, and manufacturers.

There are clouds on the horizon. Pacific cost operators were temporarily shut down. (Or shut up, as our editor says.)

WAR?

We wonder several times a day, what the effect upon amateur wireless would be if this country drifts into war. When the European war first broke out, a lot of us on the Pacific coast were compelled to shut up. Later on, we took this matter up with the Commissioner of Navigation on one of our visits to Washington, and the latter official was good enough to look into the matter. He found that after several months of closing down of the amateurs, the cause for the order had been removed, and the stations were permitted to reopen. If we were to have war at the present time on our own account, it is one of the serious questions with us as to whether or not we would be allowed to go on as we are now. Military necessity is one of those things which does not have to explain its actions. We certainly hope that we shall be successful in showing the authorities that we are sufficiently well organized to make it a military advantage to keep us going. We might be of quite a good deal of assistance in detecting un-neutral use of wireless. We would take a long chance that the vast majority of us would be strictly loyal to our country, and would observe the President's neutrality proclamation, which is still in force. With one thousand loyal amateurs listening in every night along our coasts, the chances of one or two unloyal operators would be pretty small. Without us, the Navy would lose these one thousand pairs of listening ears.

Finally, a report of good sending!

GOOD SENDING.

Mr. George C Cannon of New Rochelle, N. Y. writes: "Here is a little item for QST if you think it worth while. On the night of Jan. 7th, 1917, I heard Mr. J. O. Smith, 2LK, send either seventeen or eighteen messages south. These messages all went through, as far as I heard, without the receiving station breaking 2LK once. Mr. Smith held a speed of about seventeen or eighteen words a minute, clear steady work, at the end of each message he listened for "RK" and then went to the next. It was a perfect demonstration of consistent, fine sending, NOT fast, and altogther was the best piece of work I have heard, Navy, Commercial or Amateur, in a long time."

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