Power Over Signal Strength
A self professed rant by our own Rob McMillan VE6XMB
Over the years, the price of a linear amplifier has come down to the point where many can now afford one. I pose the question; do we need that much power?
With the FLL (Full Legal Limit) being in many countries 1500 Watts, (more than many commercial radio stations), are we making a problem for ourselves that can only get bigger as the power goes up.
As the power increases and more people have the FLL, we have to shout louder to be heard. My point, in a restaurant when we keep our voices down to talk to the people at our table all at our table can here without straining ears. When a noisy table comes in and starts to raise their voices, soon you have to raise the voices at your table to be able hear. Soon there is so much noise that you have to shout to be able to hear the person next to you. Not only does this add even more to the level of noise, but it detracts from the enjoyment of the meal. Soon you start ordering in and eating at home.
The same thing is happening on all of our Amateur bands. No matter what we do or think there will always be the money rich egotistical lid that has to run at least FLL no matter what the band conditions, I am not talking about him (I am a firm believer in Karma, sooner or later that amp will blow up in his face) no, I am talking about the use of amplifiers solely because you have an amplifier. We only need (and that is relative) to use an amplifier when conditions are poor and we have to get a message through.
Which matters more, readability or signal strength? If you are R5 what does the “S” meter reading matter. Another name for the “S” meter should perhaps be the “ego” meter. An example today:
10meters no QRN or QRM readability of 5, Signal Strength 0.
The “ego LID” on the other end was running at least 1500 Watts and boasting he was S9+60db, why!!!
It is a licensing requirement that we run only the minimum power required for communication. I don’t remember seeing anywhere in the regulations that it was a requirement to be able to make toast at the receiving end of your signal.
All too often it is thought that “might is right” I say to the Linear LID, that every empire that the world has ever seen has eventually fallen. Be careful, very careful, in many palaces the practice of Ham Radio has been made very difficult because some Lawyer toting, frustrated nit picking yahoo has taken exception to a Ham antenna, and forced it into oblivion.
Let’s keep Ham Radio friendly, it is not a competition of egos, the one with the greatest “S” meter reading does not win. Courtesy is not a thing of the past, it may be suffering from RF burns but it is out there, it is just running lower power than the “Ego LID”. Come join that majority and turn down the power. You don’t have to shout to be heard.
Rob McMillan, VE6XMB, Raymond Alberta Canada.
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