Foundations of Amateur Radio Everything you wanted to know about amateur radio but were afraid to ask! Foundations of Amateur Radio There are people who ask questions and there are people who answer them. Sometimes the people who answer even know what they're talking about, but sometimes they just repeat what they've been told without any form of critical thought. The reason I raise this is because when you're a new amateur with a shiny new license, you're like a little puppydog, going from tree to tree to have a sniff. Does this smell good, what about this, ooh, that's a nice smell, I wonder what it tastes like. Puppydog analogies aside, as a new amateur you're filled with questions and uncertainty. You don't know what you don't know, you don't know how much you don't know, your license is still wet, so even if you know something, it might not be true. Interestingly the more I look at this, the more I find that new amateurs, filled with questions are more likely to dig around in the fundamental understanding of things and learn something along the way. I've been around this community for a little while now. I obtained my license in 2010. I've learnt a lot of different things about this hobby, how it works, what the mechanisms, phenomenon, etiquette, physics and so-on make amateur radio work. Most of the time I'm learning about some or other new thing. Right now I'm learning about what a Vector Network Analyser is and how it works, so I can explain it to someone else. Foundations of Amateur Radio is about how stuff works, much like Joe Kaufman's book - What makes it go? Though I read it in Dutch when I was growing up - Hoe zit dat in elkaar? There's another series of books by David Macaulay that are my inspiration, The Way Things Work, Unbuilding, Underground and Motel of The Mysteries to name a few. It seems that my drive to ask questions is fundamental to my existence, my uncertainty doesn't scare me off, in fact the opposite is true, it gets me asking more questions, learning more things, gaining a deeper understanding and finding out more than I ever dreamt was possible. If you're a new amateur, I'd recommend that you attempt to keep your curiosity alive. When you're faced with a fact, question it, attempt to discover what is underlying the response. There are amateurs who think that to ask the question, Why is the length of a dipole calculated using some random constant? - is the equivalent of heresy, lack of skill, incompetence and the source of much derision, when it's clear that even a cursory search reveals that not only is the notion incomplete, it's wrong for most, if not all, examples. My perspective is a little different and I'll admit that for some it might be confronting. Why is it so?, What makes it go?, How come? and Why? are all questions to live by. You might conclude that a world where there are no certain answers is a scary place, but for my money the opposite is true. Just because you think it's simple and answerable, doesn't make it so. If you walk in with your eyes open asking questions, then you'll be much more prepared for an unexpected response. If you've just obtained your license and you're not sure about something, ask. You might not like or understand the answers, but that is just a recipe for more questions. Don't be deterred by those who provide certainty, the more certain they are of their answer, the more you should ask. Amateur Radio is about experimentation, it's a license to play, a license to explore, it's a license to investigate. For me Amateur Radio is encapsulated in a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know. I'm Onno VK6FLAB To listen to the podcast, visit the website: http://podcasts.vk6flab.com/. You can also use your podcast tool of choice and search for my callsign, VK6FLAB. Full instructions on how to listen are here: https://podcasts.vk6flab.com/about/help All podcast transcripts are collated and edited in an annual volume which you can find by searching for my callsign on your local Amazon store, or visit my author page: http://amazon.com/author/owh. Volume 7 is out now. Feel free to get in touch directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, follow on twitter: @VK6FLAB (http://twitter.com/vk6flab/) or check the website for more: http://vk6flab.com/ If you'd like to join a weekly net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at http://ftroop.vk6flab.com/, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link and 2m FM via various repeaters.