News, Trends, And Short Takes
by D. Prabakaran
HCJB Partner Launches Shortwave Station In Central African Republic
Six years of planning and praying culminated
on March 1, as Integrated Community Development International (ICDI) in
Boali, Central African Republic, officially began broadcasting the gospel
via shortwave with help from HCJB Global Voice. The station, broadcasting
on 6030 kHz, airs eight hours daily with programming in French and three
African languages, Sango, Aka and Fulfuldé.
In other HCJB-related news, the Voice of the
Andes is conducting new DRM test transmissions to North America for the
next couple of weeks. The tests will begin on 15140 kHz from 1200 to 2400
each day and then move to 9820 kHz from 0000 to 0800 UTC.
Eleven former directors of the Voice of America have issued a joint statement calling on Congress to reverse a Bush administration plan to substantially reduce VOA’s English broadcasts as well as those in 15 other languages.
VOA, the largest publicly funded civilian
overseas broadcasting network in the United States, may go silent in many
areas of the world on radio later this year unless the Congress reverses
the action in hearings on the U.S. federal budget for the next fiscal
year, starting October 1. Among the planned cuts is the shutdown on radio
of VOA’s worldwide English service. The former VOA directors joining in
the appeal to reverse the cuts have served at various times during the
past half a century under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Capitol Hill And FCC Actions Affecting Communications
by Richard Fisher, KI6SN
Lawmakers Consider Antenna Bills In Three States
Arizona, Maryland, and Oklahoma legislators are considering amateur radio antenna bills that would put the essence of the limited federal pre-emption, known as PRB-1, into each state’s statutes, the American Radio Relay League has reported.
“The Arizona and Maryland bills go a step beyond most PRB-1 legislation. They not only would require that municipal land-use or zoning regulations ‘reasonably accommodate’ amateur radio communication per PRB-1, spelled out in the FCC’s amateur radio rules in §97.15(b), they would extend the same protections to homeowners in certain private communities where deed covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R) apply,” the League said.
According to the ARRL, the Arizona amateur antenna bill, House Bill 2595, calls for “reasonable heights and dimensions for accommodation of amateur radio station emergency service communications antennae and structures.”
In Maryland, essentially identical bills are
under consideration in both legislative chambers; they are House Bill 941
and Senate Bill 68, requiring local zoning authorities to comply with the
PRB-1 limited federal pre-emption calling on municipalities to “reasonably
accommodate amateur radio communication.” The bills “also would apply to
homeowners’ associations (HOAs) that have not already enacted antenna
restrictions by the time the bill becomes law, and HOAs could not impose
such restrictions after that date,” according to the ARRL.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—Where Aviation’s Past, Present, And Future Meet
By Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
And now, we embark once again on something completely different in our ongoing search for exciting military comms. Continuing with our military facilities profile, and since it’s time for the Dayton Hamvention, this month we’re going to pay a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Located just northeast of Dayton, Ohio, in the suburb of Fairborn, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the premiere facility for conception, development, and testing of weapons systems for military aviation.
The history of Wright-Patterson (or as it’s known locally, “Wright-Patt”) begins in 1917, when McCook Field was built just north of downtown Dayton. For 10 years, this facility was the home of the U.S. Army Air Service Materiel Division, as well as procurement and research activities. At the same time, Wilbur Wright Field was built on leased land near the villages of Fairfield and Osborn (which later merged to form Fairborn) at the site of today’s airfield for the training of pilots, armorers, and gunners. Constructed adjacent to Wilbur Wright Field was the Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot, a major supply facility.
After World War I, the requirements for Wilbur
Wright Field and the depot changed, and the facility transitioned to a
maintenance and repair base as well as major supply facility, in addition
to continuing the training of armorers. In 1919, Wilbur Wright Field, the
Armorer’s School, and the Fairfield Depot merged to form the Wilbur Wright
Air Service Depot. McCook Field continued to host the Materiel Division as
well as much advanced research activity. However, with short runways and
obstructed approaches, this facility was too small and too close to
downtown Dayton to continue as a safe, effective facility.
Army MARS Chief Sets
Army MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System)
was begun in 1925 to help supply the Army with enough trained people to
satisfy the need for wireless operators in the Regular Army, Army Reserve,
and National Guard. Since that time the Army has tasked the MARS
organization with many other missions. For instance, MARS was particularly
active in passing traffic into and out of Vietnam during that war.
Under new leadership, MARS is now changing in
many ways. At this time the major effort is in restructuring and
streamlining the basic structure of MARS and retraining the MARS
membership to be more in line with their Army counterparts in the Regular
Army, Reserves, and National Guard. An effort is also being made to make
the supported agencies and the military more knowledgeable about MARS and
its missions. NIMS (National Incident Management System) training is now
mandatory for all MARS members to meet the requirements of the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The number of hours required for MARS membership participation has also
been increased. MARS members, all volunteers, have been told to look for
other changes that may develop as restructuring continues.
Talk Back To Your Radio!
In the space of just more than two months, the Federal Communications Commission radically remade ham radio in the United States. On December 15, 2006, the HF Novice Morse code (CW) bands ceased to exist, and all Novices and Technicians with code credit (“Tech-Plus”) were given General class code privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters. Then, on February 23, 2007, the FCC removed the Morse code requirement for General and Extra class licenses, and at the same time extended “Tech-Plus” HF privileges—including voice and digital modes on a portion of 10 meters—to all Technician class hams.
Net result: As of February 23, all licensed
amateurs in the United States have at least some HF operating privileges—a
considerable amount for those who choose to learn and use Morse code—and
upgrading from Technician to General, which gives you voice, code, and
digital privileges on all HF.* requires only that you pass a 35-question
multiple choice written exam. One additional written exam is all that’s
needed to upgrade to Extra, earning all operating privileges on all ham
There are thousands of radio enthusiasts out
there who have considered getting their ham licenses, but have never
gotten around to actually doing it. Perhaps you’re one of them. Maybe the
code test has been holding you back. Maybe you want to talk to the world
and you’ve been told the VHF bands don’t let you do that (you’ve been told
wrong, by the way). If either of those reasons has been your excuse, then
your excuse is gone. Get a license manual; find a club offering classes;
find a test session, take your test and get your license. You can even try
it out first (see “Field Day—No Better Way To Get On The Air”)! Or if
you’re already a Technician, a few hours of studying are all you need to
upgrade to General or even Extra. The time is now.
Field Day—No Better Way
Whether You’re Operating From A Park, A Mountaintop, Or The Beach, There’s No Thrill Like Field Day. And Everyone’s Welcome!
by Chip Margelli, K7JA
The fourth weekend of June brings hams
throughout the Western Hemisphere together in one of the most popular
operating events of the year: the ARRL Field Day. Part competition, part
emergency exercise, and part social event, Field Day is the highlight of
the operating year in amateur radio. Here’s an introduction to this fun
and exciting weekend, one that you’ll surely want to put on your calendar
Field Day fundamentally is an exercise that demonstrates amateur radio’s unique capability to provide emergency communications in times of need. While a few operators conduct solo operations, the vast majority of Field Day efforts are by radio clubs or groups of hams wanting to have some fun away from the confines of their regular radio shack. For many, it’s a first opportunity to experience the thrill of making contacts across the country, and even overseas, using the HF bands.
Most groups operate from portable locations in
parks, on mountaintops, or at the beach, so Field Day is a great
opportunity to try out new antennas, experiment with portable power
sources (such as solar panels), and learn about the teamwork required to
put together a successful multi-station operation. Operating with many
transmitters in close proximity is a difficult challenge, and Field Day
gives us the opportunity to find out what needs to be fixed—before “The
Big One” hits!
This year, Field Day runs from 1800 UTC (2
p.m. EDT or 11 a.m. PDT) on Saturday, June 23, and lasts for 24 hours.
Setup begins 24 hours earlier, and Friday afternoon finds antennas being
built and raised, generators being tested and connected to all the
stations, and tents and trailers being positioned for the actual operating
event Saturday and Sunday.
Scanning Dayton, Ohio
by Ken Reiss
It’s time once again for Hamvention in Dayton, Ohio. Sure, it’s really a show for ham enthusiasts, but there’s an awful lot of scanner and shortwave listening going on there, too. There are new radios, antennas, vendors, and all sorts of forums to sit in on to relax and perhaps pick up a tip or two.
In honor of the event, we thought we’d offer a guide to scanning the Dayton area if you’re coming in so equipped. First of all, put 146.94 into your handheld transceiver or your scanner, as that’s the info channel for the Hamvention itself. Even if you can’t transmit, you’ll hear directions to the best parking and other info by listening to that frequency on your way in.
There’s just about every type of trunking system imaginable in the area, so it’s a great place to check out your trunktracker. There’s also some simplex VHF and UHF things to listen to, plus a lot of aero, between James M. Cox Dayton International and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (see the “Military Radio Monitoring” column elsewhere in this issue for frequencies to monitor for Wright-Patterson). Have a look at the frequencies presented here and program your scanner!
GLOBAL INFORMATION GUIDE
New U.S. Relay Station In
by Gerry L. Dexter
“Orzu” is a word we’re going to be seeing a lot in reference to shortwave in another year or two. The United States is going to build a new international relay station there (in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan). You can probably expect to hear all of the U.S. international broadcasters via that site at one time or another, including Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Afghanistan, and the Voice of America in its various guises. In the process, of course, keeping track of who’s who—and from where—will get even more complicated!
After a look at their most recent schedule it seems HCJB may be edging closer to going the relay route. While most of the broadcasts are still shown as originating from Quito (Pifo), there are a couple shown as Sackville (Canada) and one VT site in England, along with the usual number from Kununurra (HCJB-Australia).
Liberia has never been much of a player on shortwave, but that may change one of these days after word came that the Chinese are going to build an FM and shortwave service for the Liberian Broadcasting System. It’s in the early stage right now so I can’t tell you anything as to how large, powerful, or extensive this operation may be, or what else it may involve. But it wouldn’t be much of a big leap to expect CRI (China Radio International) to also make use of the site. LBC (Liberia Broadcasting Corporation) had a shortwave station years ago but it was more of a regional service, operating down on 90 meters. The only activity from Liberia at present is ELWA-4760 and Radio Veritas-5470, the latter not heard very often due to its schedule, which puts it off the air at 2300.
Among all the governments that say they can’t afford to keep an international service going, there is at least one private shortwave enterprise that seems to be growing like a dandelion in your front yard. CVC (Christian Vision) International is to open up “Radio for Africa from Africa,” based in Cape Town, South Africa. That, of course, may not be where the transmitters are placed. Their news release is unclear as to whether this will be an entirely new operation or just a schedule expansion of what already exists (The Voice-Africa, Zambia on 4965). We’ll see what happens.
ICOM’s IC-PCR2500 Triple-Duty Base/Mobile PC Scanner
by Gordon West, WB6NOA
What, me confused about a scanner? Not
usually, but I have to admit that when I started to open the ICOM
IC-PCR2500 scanner system, I found more than I had anticipated.
THE PROPAGATION CORNER
A World Of New Opportunities On The HF Bands
by Tomas Hood, NW7US
Last month, we began taking a tour of the new opportunities afforded to Technician class amateur radio operators by the FCC. Because of the ruling, effective on February 23, 2007, to eliminate Morse code testing for all levels of amateur radio licenses, and extending limited HF operating privileges to all Technicians, the shortwave spectrum is now open for many new radio hobbyists.
It’s an opportunity like never before. Not only can a hobbyist interested in radio communications join the amateur radio community on VHF and higher frequencies by taking the entry-level written exam, but a hobbyist can now enjoy operating on the shortwave allocations that have become available to all license-class holders.
The Technician class license has limitations on shortwave (let’s call shortwave HF, for high-frequency spectrum). True, in addition to all amateur radio operating privileges above 50 MHz, Technicians who never passed a Morse code test now have Morse code (CW) privileges on certain sub-bands of the 80-, 40-, and 15-meter amateur bands. Additionally, they have CW, radio teletype (RTTY), digital, and single-side band (SSB) privileges (but no FM mode privileges) on certain sub-bands of 10 meters. But, that’s it. The HF privileges all Technicians now have are equivalent to those that Novice licensees enjoy. This also means the 200-watt maximum power limit still applies, regardless of where you operate in the HF bands.
Because there’s no need to learn to send and receive Morse code in order to pass any of the amateur radio license exams, you don’t have to settle for the limits of the Technician class license privileges. After you take the Technician exam, you may take the General class exam, and then finally the Extra class exam. As you pass each exam, you will qualify for additional spectrum and modes on the various amateur HF bands. When you reach the level of Amateur Extra, you’ll have the entire amateur radio HF spectrum that’s available. And, with those additional privileges, Generals and Extras may use the full legal limit of over a 1000 watts of power on nearly all HF frequencies. Now, that is an opportunity!
Now that you have all of this opportunity, what are you going to do with it? What can you do on the HF frequencies of your license class? Last month we took an introductory look at propagation at various frequencies during this part of the solar cycle. And, we looked at what those same frequencies might look like during the peak years of the next solar cycle. This month, let’s look at conditions right now.
For Your Protection—The Emergency Alert System
by Bruce A. Conti
“This is a test. This is a test of the
Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.” Such test messages broadcast
on TV and radio should be familiar to most people, as should severe
weather warnings and Amber Alerts, yet technological advances have far
outpaced the system. Last year President Bush issued an executive order to
overhaul the Emergency Alert System, placing the Secretary of Homeland
Security in charge. But just what is the Emergency Alert System, how does
it work, and what needs to be done to get the system up to speed with
The Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) was established by the FCC in 1963 as a means through which the President could communicate with the public via radio and television in the event of a national emergency. It replaced the obsolete Control of Electromagnetic Radiation (CONELRAD) system that required all AM radio stations to broadcast only on 640 or 1240 kHz during an enemy attack so transmissions couldn’t be used for missile guidance. Furthermore, 47 C.F.R. Part 11 Section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934 granted through the EBS, “specific communications-related powers to the President in time of war or national emergency...to enable the President to exercise these powers quickly and efficiently.” The system also became a vital tool for local authorities and the National Weather Service (NWS) to warn individual communities of a specific threat to public safety.
The first major overhaul of the system was
announced in 1994, and phased in through 1998 under a new name, the
Emergency Alert System (EAS). The FCC cited aging analog equipment,
non-compatibility with cable TV, a lack of automation for unattended
broadcast operations, and an overall need to modernize the system to relay
critical information when “seconds may mean the difference between life
and death during sudden emergencies such as tornadoes, flash floods,
hazardous chemical spills, and nuclear accidents.”
THE WIRELESS CONNECTION
More Solutions For High Line Voltages
by Peter J. Bertini
Our January 2007 column highlighted the use of power resistors to reduce modern AC line voltages to levels suited for use with vintage receivers. We showed how a small wire-wound power resistor in series with the AC primary winding could dramatically lower operating temperature of a small Zenith power transformer. Other benefits included lowering filament voltages, which were found to be operating near maximum operating ratings at typical 125-VAC line voltages. I’ve tried similar modifications on a few other sets in the interim, and the results in all instances have been gratifying!
The dropping resistor approach has its advantage: it’s cheap enough to be included under chassis when the need arises. There are a few shortcomings, however. First, a power resistor will dissipate heat, and that adds to the problem we’re trying to correct. The second problem is that the resistor doesn’t provide regulation; the voltage drop will be proportional to the current drawn (the set’s wattage).
I mentioned that most early radios drew fairly
constant currents, and that the resistor provided some degree of turn-on
surge reduction—a good thing! However, the power resistor is a poor choice
for renovating larger vintage communications receivers or ham
transmitters! The current is too great and the regulation is too poor. A
better, but more involved and costly, approach is to use a small 6- or
12-VAC filament transformer to “buck” (lower) the AC voltage to a safer
I mentioned using a “bucking” transformer to lower the line voltage in passing, and reader Ted Cohen, N4XX, responded with these comments via email:
Superb column! I always enjoy your work. I’ve been a licensed radio amateur for 54 years and collect and restore Catalin radios, among others. In 1991, I restored a Crosley 555 tombstone radio. Running on a 130-VAC line voltage the transformer was so hot you couldn’t touch it! It was clear that the radio wouldn’t last long under those conditions, so I took the autotransformer route you mentioned, using an old filament transformer I had lying around. What a difference it made. I highly recommend that you introduce it to your readers as a weekend project.
“And The Award Goes To...”
by Kirk Kleinschmidt, NTØZ
Most employers, no matter how lowly, offer employee recognition awards and incentives of some sort. If you’re really lucky, by exceeding your sales quota you’ll receive free use of a shiny new company car (yes, a Ford Taurus “is” a car—and so is a pink Mary Kay Mobile!). If you land a new account you might receive an all-expenses-paid cruise to some exotic DXpedition location. And if you merely show up consistently, you’re bound to win “employee of the month” at least once before you die!
Although it’s not an employer per se, ham radio has plenty of recognition and achievement awards of its own. You have to do a little more than simply show up, but if you set your mind to systematically meeting the required benchmarks, ham radio’s plethora of awards and achievement certificates will amply reward your hard work and determination.
Better yet, you’ll undoubtedly learn something in qualifying for each new certificate, and you’ll open up new perspectives on our wonderfully diverse hobby. Don’t know a thing about working PSK31? After planning for and executing your strategy to work a ham in each state via that nifty digital mode, you’ll be a veritable expert—and you’ll have an achievement award on your shack’s wall to prove it! When you’ve mastered PSK, move on to 6 meters, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Described by Old Timers as “chasing paper” or “the great wallpaper chase,” the quest for ham radio operating awards and certificates (to pin on your shack walls, of course) captures the attention and efforts of almost every ham at one time or another. Some make it a lifelong journey. So, whether you’re after one specific award, or you’re aiming to cover every inch of wall space, the sheer number of awards available will keep you tuning the bands for quite some time.
A Warm-Weather Spruce-Up
For Your Antenna,
by Rich Arland, W3OSS
It’s rapidly becoming “antenna time” on the East Coast of the United States, where I live. But no matter where you may live, it’s still a good time to go out and find out what kind of damage winter storms did to your antenna farm. It’s also a good time to assess your antennas and possibly consider erecting new ones or rearranging existing antennas to improve reception and transmission.
In the fall of 2006 I took down my old
dependable 40-meter Extended Double Zepp (EDZ) that had been up for over
10 years. In its place I erected a Radio Works Carolina Windom. In the
past I’d used these off-center-fed dipoles with outstanding results. This
time it was no different. The 40-meter Carolina Windom performed very
well. Not as well as my 40-meter EDZ, but the performance was good,
nonetheless. Unfortunately, a couple of the neighbor’s kids decided that
the length of Kevlar rope didn’t belong in that particular section of the
tree, and cut it down. Needless to say the Carolina Windom no longer
performed well, and it was time I took a close look at a multi-band HF
antenna that would fit into the city lot on my property.
Okay, let’s return to the EDZ concept. The 40-meter EDZ was roughly 90 feet per leg for a total length of about 180 feet. In order to fit it into my lot I had to bend the last 15 or so feet of each dipole leg back upon itself. This didn’t tremendously alter the performance of the 40-meter EDZ and it kept things inside my property lines.
If a 40-meter EDZ would get me on 160 through
10 meters why wouldn’t a 20-meter EDZ allow me to operate on 80 to 10
meters? I quickly applied the proper formulas and ended up with a dipole
antenna that was 45 feet per leg, fed with 300-ohm twinlead via a balanced
line tuner. (Lacking a true balanced line tuner one could use a standard
coaxial tuner with a 4:1 current balun to match the 50-ohm unbalanced
output of the tuner to the 300-ohm twinlead.)
Monitoring The Atlanta
Skies—The Nation’s Busiest,
by Bill Hoefer
There have been debates around the country as to the busiest airports, towers, flight service stations, etc. I’ve been to numerous airports over the years from Bangor, Maine, to Key West, Florida, from Los Angeles International, to Seattle, Washington, from Chicago’s O’Hare to Denver International and Anchorage and Fairbanks Internationals in Alaska. I’ve even been to some smaller airports, like Albany, Georgia, Grand Island, Nebraska, and Toccoa, Georgia. I won’t even go into the airports in Europe I’ve been through.
Having said that, here’s a story I heard from DJ Charlie Tuna over the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in the 1970s while in West Berlin: A man was flying out of Montgomery, Alabama, and wanted to go direct to Denver. The lady at the Southern Airlines counter said he’d have to fly through Atlanta. The passenger said that was unacceptable. He then asked what would happen if he wanted to fly to New York. The Southern Airlines employee said he’d have to fly through Atlanta. What about Chicago? Through Atlanta. Denver? Through Atlanta. The passenger was getting irate. Washington? Atlanta. Phoenix? Atlanta!
The passenger finally yelled out, “What if I want to fly to hell?” The lady behind the counter calmly said, “I’m sorry, sir, but that’s a Delta flight.” (My apologies to Delta. I have numerous friends working for Delta, but that was the punch line of the joke at the time. Again, it was quoted by Charlie Tuna. Please no lawsuits.)
This brings me to the first part of my June article: Atlanta. A short time ago Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was simply named Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. Today ATL is the busiest in the United States, and one of the busiest on the planet. Atlanta has four parallel runways and pretty much is the airport of the southeastern United States. I’ll probably get letters from Miami (MIA) and Orlando (MCO) FL on this, however. Try these frequencies if you’re in the area: 127.9, 118.35, 126.9, and 127.25.
UTILITY COMMUNICATIONS DIGEST
How AIS Fits Into The Maritime Communications Picture
by John Kasupski, KC2HMZ
In last month’s issue of Pop’Comm (you did read last month’s issue, didn’t you?), this column discussed maritime HF communications, including a considerable amount of information on the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress Safety System) and how the various systems that are part of GMDSS interact.
However, that article did not tell the entire
story on maritime communications. There are also the VHF-FM Marine
Radiotelephone channels, which I did not discuss, primarily because these
frequencies are not part of the HF bands. Furthermore, there’s the AIS
(Automatic Identification System), and a couple of other systems used to
assist in maritime navigation, namely the GPS/DGPS (Global Positioning
The problem with trying to deal strictly with HF communications in a column like this one is that, like it or not, there are facets of maritime communications that fall outside the boundaries of the HF bands, and if you discuss maritime communications—as we did last month—you can expect to field questions regarding those systems you left out, even though they may not pertain to utility monitoring. I learned that this past month when reader Bob Schweikert, N4NMK, of Harrington, Delaware, sent us an e-mail inquiring about the AIS. Bob noted that he has been hearing the Delaware River and Bay Pilots Association telling merchant vessels, especially when entering port, that “we have you on both radar and the AIS.” Bob wanted more information on the AIS and asked if an article on it was feasible.
My initial response was that since the AIS
operates on VHF, it was beyond the scope of this column. As you may have
guessed by now, I’ve reconsidered; we started out talking about maritime
communications, and I feel that, if you’re going to tell a story, you may
as well tell the whole story, not just the parts you want to talk about.
The AIS is, after all, backwards compatible with the very same GMDSS we
talked about extensively last month. Beyond that, we know for a fact that
many of our regular readers are not only dedicated HF utility listeners,
but also at least dabble in other areas of the radio arts, including ham
radio, and scanning the VHF/UHF bands for aircraft, military, public
safety, and other communications in those frequency ranges.
Thailand—Emerging From Tragedy
by Edith Lennon, N2ZRW, Editor
Known as the Land of Smiles because of the hospitality of its people, Thailand is also infamous for the Golden Triangle, the storied crossroads of a lucrative opium trade at the border of Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Although favored with a timeless landscape of hazy mountains, dramatic karst formations, and sweeping stretches of beach, neither man nor nature has been very kind to the Kingdom of Thailand in recent years. The devastating tsunami of December 2004, a recent military coup, and a worsening Muslim separatist movement in the south have rocked the nation.
Sharing land borders with Myanmar, Cambodia,
Laos, and Malaysia and lapped by the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand, on
the map the country resembles the head of an elephant, a revered animal.
Its climate is tropical, with the southern isthmus always hot and humid,
the northeast dryer and cooler, and a southwest monsoon annually soaking
the population of nearly 65,000,000 from mid-May to September.
Thailand’s population is dominated by about 75 percent ethnic Thais. The largest group of non-Thai people is the Chinese; other ethnic groups include Malays in the south and Mon, Khmer, and hill tribes, who tend to remain insular. After the end of the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese refugees also settled in Thailand, mainly in the northeastern regions.
According to a 2000 census, 95 percent of
Thais are Theravada Buddhists, and saffron-robed monks are a familiar
sight on city streets as well as in the ornate temples. Muslims constitute
the second largest religious group in Thailand and live primarily in the
south where there is a growing—and increasingly violent—separatist
movement. Christians, mainly Catholics, and a small but influential
community of Sikhs and some Hindus add to the mix of cultures.
Not Much In Common...
by Bill Price, N3AVY
I have tried for a long time to combine my favorite hobbies. Radio, harmonica, target shooting, and pet rats—and I’ll warn you right now that the first letter I get even hinting that I shoot at my furry little friends will be dealt with swiftly and severely! I’ve thought about shooting at least one radio (and a couple hams, now that I think of it). I’ve even taken a rat, a gun, and a shortwave radio to a harmonica convention, but to be painfully honest, these hobbies of mine are about as “diametrically opposed” as hobbies can get.
I do use a laser to “boresight” some of my guns—oh, and let me digress for a moment to tell you about two young ladies with all the smarts of two valley girls—and no reference to hair color, because they happened not to be blondes. And, no, in the now infamous words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up:
I was in the sporting goods department of a nearby mega-lo-mart and I knew they sold laser boresighters (for the uninitiated, that’s for adjusting the sights on guns using a laser sticking out of the barrel), but I couldn’t find them. The two young ladies in question were drooling over the guy who worked behind the sporting goods counter. When they paused to wipe their chins, I asked him if he still had any of the laser boresighters, and the two of them looked at each other and one asked me, “You mean there are lasers that will find them for you in the woods?” It was all I could do to avoid mentioning the similarities and differences between “bore,” “boar,” and “boor.”
Anyway…I’m using my electrical skills (learned because of my love of radio) to design and (I hope) build an arcade-style shooting gallery. A few of you might remember these from carnival midways of long time ago, when you could plunk down a quarter for 10 shots at moving steel ducks and hope to win a big stuffed animal (which was nailed to the shelf). Those galleries were soon regulated out of existence, but they still provide some pleasant memories.