Mad Scientist philosophy

For me, amateur radio is primarily an opportunity to stay involved in analog and digital electronics, physics, compsci, astronomy, geography, and meteorology. I’m fascinated by the rich confluence of science and black magic and the myriad rabbit holes one might find oneself going down in pursuit of knowledge related to radio technology. Once in a while I actually get on the air and talk to people, but that’s more or less just to make sure the equipment is working and to keep my operating skills alive. I treasure my Extra Class ticket as a license to responsibly practice Mad Science, issued by a supra-national cooperative league of Mad Scientists that in their own way transcend national and local government, remaining valuable to humanity by providing emergency communications during times of environmental or political distress, free of charge. Ham radio is one of the original Sufficiently Advanced Open Source Everything technologies, and remains a model for the global resurgence in D.I.Y.-ism. The majority of humans who have gone into space are (and were) hams; I believe we hams will be at the bleeding edge of space colonization and perhaps a majority of the first true trans-humans will likewise be hams. Our first contact with extraterrestrial civilizations will almost certainly be made by hams. I think of my call sign as a universal disambiguator, my name in a higher dimension.


S9 18′ vertical atop 5/8-3V, 12.5′ R geodesic dome, which makes a surprisingly effective counterpoise. Homebrewed 80m and 40m NVIS dipoles; 2-30 MHz folded dipole; Diamond X300 for V/UHF. In progress: S9 43′ vertical perched atop 25′ art tower, using steel guy wires as ground planes.

Radios: Yaesu FT-1000 (DX / MARS,) Icom IC-7000 (mobile / experimental) and IC-718 (MARS Winmor RMS / ALE.)

Modes: SSB phone, CW (patience, please, I’m still s l o w ! ), RTTY, PSK31, MT63


Kenwood TM-D170 base/mobile with Diamond X300A antenna, running APRS and sandbagging on PAPA-7, (446.580 MHz) and most other repeaters visible from the Imperial Valley.


NWS Cooperative Observer Program, station Niland 4NE (since May 2009.) Data are still being manually fed to the NWS daily.

CWOP – station AT670 – Peet Bros Ultimeter 2100 via APRS (KI6RRX-1) – current conditionsstation website

Some advice to new hams

(If you’re into this but still don’t have your license, GET BUSY! THIS IS ***FUN***!! All you need to get rolling is the Technician Class, which basically only requires you to understand Ohm’s law and a few FCC regulations, and to not be a total dickweed. Then you can run out and buy a cheap & cheerful Wouxun HT with all the extras for around $200, and off you go into the future! Testing is inexpensive and your license, like your passport [you do have one of those, don’t you???] is valid for 10 years.)

“Listen, listen, listen!” Sound advice. I would say the same thing, only with 26x repetition!

Get into VHF/UHF (2m/70cm) first. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. That is, unless your uncle just handed over his entire vintage HF shack to you. HF is more complicated, less predictable, more expensive and just requires a lot of work that can be pretty overwhelming if you, like me, are all alone out in the boonies. VHF/UHF will get you connected to other hams immediately, and this is really the best entry point. I spent my first licensed year trolling the HF bands night after night without making one single QSO. Within an hour of getting my first >5W VHF/UHF rig, I was on a dozen frequencies, flapping my gums off.

As a beginner, *avoid* MFJ products. Sorry, MFJ, but someone *has* to say this. For the beginner, MFJ is not the style. Antenna kits with missing parts, mismatched threads on hardware, color codes gone awry…you get the picture. It’s like a family business with a genius doing the design and his retarded brother doing the manufacturing. For more experienced operators willing to hack and tinker and fuss and repair, seeking to save a dime or two, I think MFJ is just fine. Inside every MFJ product is a jewel of brilliance swimming in an ocean of Suck. Stick to superior, Suck-free brands like Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, Diamond, Comet, until you get comfortable. And then you can probably start home-brewing superior stuff anyway.


call sign at gmail dot com.