PHFER Beacon Madness

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PHFER Beacon Madness
By Beaconman

A glimpse into the Pathology and Symptoms of this Disease

I am wondering into opulent waters and may wade in to far, and may get a bit wet. The Beaconman is a bit strange and slightly aloof from the average person you find on our streets in America. He is more than likely to have a higher then average IQ and is fed up with the corporate life in one fashion or another. He probably got his start into the world of radio via Shortwave Listening and therefore developed the ability to enjoy long moments of solitude. Most of the species obtained the Amateur Radio License back when the morse code was required. Though many are not high speed cw operators, they can handle the lower codes speeds of 12 wpm and below with relative ease.

After becoming somewhat bored with the appliance operators that are commonly found on the ham bands he finds he is spending more time listening to the shortwave spectrum outside the ham bands. He stumbles across those elusive PHFER (Pirate High Frequency Experimental Radio) beacons. Once he discovers they are out in remote areas, like deserts and on top of mountains and are solar powered, running only milliwatts of power, he becomes hooked. The days of getting on the Ham radio and having the same hum drum QSOs fade away. He now starts to work on his signal to noise ratio that his shortwave receiver copes with. This involves building and experimenting with different receiving antennas. The joy of radio is coming back with each new experience. He feels young once again. Sitting in front of his shortwave receiver right before and after sun rise he finally logs a new PHFER beacon and the young boy in him rises as the beacons signal begins to fade up out of the noise.

He enjoys hiking or fishing and begins to carry a small shortwave receiver with him. Since he is in more remote areas while involved in these out of door activities, the noise floor is quieter then at home. While sitting on a log beside the trout stream that he has been fishing he pulls out his small shortwave receiver and though he might not have caught a trout he hears that little PHFER fade up out of the noise and another fine moment of radio is logged in his mind. That good time feeling comes back again. It is the same one that he felt when he had his first CW QSO as a Novice ham radio operator when he was 10 years old.

The next step in the beaconman's disease becomes a sweet romance. He studies diagrams and decides to homebrew up a small shortwave beacon. He fires it up and with a little fiddling around, he gets it to work. His first beacon is a simple dasher that uses the famous 555 timer chip to key his one or two transistor beacon. Then one morning while drinking that first or second cup of coffee it hits him. While hiking or fishing he stumbled on to a place that would be a great location for a remote PHFER beacon. So he grabs up his back pack loaded with: some simple test equipment, a 5 watt solar panel, 7 amp-hr gel cell battery, portable shortwave receiver and his coveted homebrewed PHFER beacon and its dipole antenna.

He hikes into the remote area. His senses are live with the redolent smell of the pine trees lingering in the cool mountain air. He plants his beacon. After it is all secure and beeping away successfully, transmitting its RF up into the ionosphere he opens up his pack and eats lunch. The young boy is proud beyond words. The hike out of the area is long and tiring but he listens to his beacon as he walks along and the good time feeling just keeps pumping though his veins. He knows the addiction is complete now he is Beaconman and the romance has just begun, he is truly young again.

If you liked this essay then E-mail the author at: hiferbeacon at yahoo.com.

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