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DXers' Kindergarten - CQ LAB

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Greetings fellow BLANDXers! Welcome to another edition of DXer's Kindergarten! This is the column where those of you who don't know anything can get answers from those of use who everything. Like me. Actually, I don't know everything. I mean I don't know everything about everything. I might know anything about something and I probably know something about anything. But I do know everything about something. That's why I'm in charge of this column and you're not, OK?

First, novice DXer Wes McClusky writes, "I read that most experienced DXers tape their DX. I tried that, but it became very difficult to read my loggings through all the plastic tape. What am I doing wrong?" That's obvious, Wes! You're using a cheap inferior brand of tape, of course. Experienced DXers only use Scotch Brand Magic Tape. Gus Houtz of Round Rock, Texas writes, "What brand of spray starch do you recommend I use when ironing my pennants?" Gee, Gus, I've never gotten around to ironing mine. I have enough trouble just keeping them clean of bird doo-doo from Candy the DX Canary. Can anyone out there help Gus?

I usually like to stick to SWBC topics in this column, since that is what I am an expert in (as you can see from the above answer!). But, I received an interesting question this month about another aspect of the radio hobby - amateur radio - from Carl Jagger of Ideal, South Dakota. Carl hastily scribbled the following comments on an old cereal box top, "I have been thinking of getting a ham license, but I don't think I'm intellectually up to it. I mean, all of the hams I hear on the radio are stunning conversationalists. I just wouldn't know what to say with a microphone in front of me. What should I do?"

No problem, Carl. In case you haven't already noticed, people in the radio hobby are usually glassy-eyed nerds with minimal social skills. The more advanced one is in the technical aspects of the hobby, the more lacking in social skills one is. Hams, as you know, must take a license test, so only very technically-minded radio hobbyists - the ones most lacking in social skills - can become hams.

Until just a few years ago, the ham bands were an intellectual void. Hams would exchange call signs, then fumble looking for something else to say or for a way to end the QSO. Some would just repeat their calls over and over. Others would spend a half-hour or more stumbling over just a few syllables. It was pitiful.

All of that changed in 1986 when renowned radio author Harry Exeter published his best-selling book ever, CQ LAB. CQ LAB gives radio hams something to talk about after they have exchanged calls. It is divided into 15 chapters, each focusing on a topic popular to hams. Each chapter has dozens of numbered sentences that hams can use to simulate real conversation.

To give you an example of how well CQ LAB works, this morning I transcribed a three-way ham contact where all three hams were using CQ LAB. For clarity, I have omitted call signs and "over"s. As you read this, notice how these three hams actually simulate a real conversation in carrying out this QSO.

A: My arthritis is horrible today.
B: It's a very hot day here.
C: I'm using a Yagi antenna for 20 meters.
A: Would you like to hear about my kidney stones?
B: It's been snowing outside for three hours.
C: I'm using a dipole antenna for 40 meters.
A: God, are my he...hemmmm..or...hem-or-holds hurting today.
B: We're having a nice sunny day.
C: I need to replace my coax lead-in soon.
A: That's nothing! I have a six inch scar on my abdomen.
B: You may have nice weather there, but it's a very cold day here.
C: Maybe I should buy an audio filter. What do you think?
A: The XYL is going through menopause.
B: We've had pouring rain since last night.
C: I wouldn't touch anything solid-state. I'm a hollow-state man!
A: Excuse the groans, but my ulcer is really bothering me.
B: The temperature is very comfortable here. Just right for swimming.
C: I think I'll adjust my RF gain a little.
A: Next week I'm going to have a vasectomy. Would you like a picture?
B: I had to shovel 12 inches of snow out of my driveway this morning.
C: I love these new transistorized transceivers! They have so many gizmos!
A: I was in intensive care the last time that happened.
B: It looks like a good day to mow the lawn.
C: Gee, this radio hobby is really fun!

Obviously, this is much more interesting than what was heard on the ham bands just a few years ago before the publication of CQ LAB. So, get a copy of CQ LAB, and you'll be able to converse with the big boys, too!

That's it for this month!

So long from Elly the DX Elephant and I!

Jack "Mr William" Bradbury

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The above article appeared in the 1992 edition of BLANDX, the DX bulletin parody magazine. More information about BLANDX is available from Don Moore.

What were once vices are now good DXing habits. (BLANDX 1990)

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This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995
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