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Joe Introductions

Page history last edited by rich lauria 11 years, 11 months ago




engineer since 1949 "anything I could learn I would learn"

example: started as a draftsman. McMichael "how can I learn how to letter better?"

answer: what you need to do is purposely "distort" your letters!

Just a little bit of instruction was all Joe needed--there's something interesting about this. This speaks to our core idea and habit of "learning to learn"


Joe also recalls the different language deployed by different types of engineers. Talks about how engineers communicate between specializations--mechanical, structural, and chemical engineers.


Ham radio operator narrative: Attended my first amateur radio meeting in the Maplewood section of Malden, MA with my brother Leonard W1LSC (SK) in March 1938. I was eleven years old. I can still remember that day! Those in attendance were older than I and used terminology that I did not understand. This was such an interesting endeavor that I was determined right there and then to pursue it with all the vigor that I could muster. At the tender age of eleven, one must have a mentor and attempt to study as best as possible, with all the other school work I had to do.


Fortunately, one of my brother's friends, Robert G. Mugnai W1KLW (SK) took an interest in helping that little kid who was so interested in learning about amateur radio. Besides learning the theory and technical details...I was required to learn the Morse code. Without further ado, I studied the code characters and numbers by sight. Later, I learned that this was not the correct method. To properly hear and interpret the message...one has to hear and write...not see and write. After all, you hear what eminates from a radio, not see it !


The Morse code was formulated by Samuel Finley Breeze Morse (1791-1872), long, long ago. It was designed to be used on the telegraph lines and later for rapid transmission of messages, for radio. In time, it became an International language. To save time, each letter was carefully compared to the frequency of use in the English language. The most often used letter "E" became the shortest code symbol, that is a dot (dit). The often used letter "T" became the symbol dash (dah). The code is spoken by using 'dit' and 'dah' instead of dot and dash.


In a way, the code is similar to text messaging (TM) insofar as abbreviations are used instead of spelling out each word. For example there is a standard "Q" code, used in all countries that consist of a three letter abbreviation, the first letter start with Q. QTH means location. QTH ? means: "What is your location." It is entirely possible to transmit a message to a foreign ham, even if he doesn't know a word of English.


The similarities to TM ends there, because in order to understand a text message you would have to know the language in which it was sent. As far as message speed goes...the old morse code is faster than TM. What? Yes, it is faster. In order to prove this point I will refer you to an article in the January 2009 issue of QST magazine, pages 54 thru 58 authored by William E. Packard, Ph.D, NN9N. In part, he states: "Morse code, though very old, is still a resonably fast way to communicate for experienced operators. This was illustrated on a Jay Leno program in which two adult ham radio operators had a sending race with two young text messaging champs. At the word "GO!" each team began sending the same message at the same time but the code operators, seemingly effortlessly, won over the text message champs." The video clip can be viewed at: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2005/05/videomorse_cod.html. "A similar contest took place in Australia between a 93 year old retired telegrapher and a 13 year old girl using her text message phone. Again, the old technology beat the new and by a wide margin." reference:

"Old Tech Versus HIGH-tech," World, May 2005 p.11, www.worldmag/articles/10686.


I often hear the sad lament, 'They don't use the code anymore." I reply: " You are entirely correct. They don't, but I do." You cannot imagine how much fun it is to use low power (QRP) to contact stations around the world. Often, the wattage used is five (5) watts or less. It is truly amazing what records have been established. using low power although the legal limit is fifteen-hundred (1,500) watts on most bands.


Starting with the most elementary test, I advance from Novice, Technician, Tech Plus, General, Advanced and finally to Amateur Extra, the highest achievable. Armed with the knowledge learned , I took and passed the second class commercial radio license and then the General Radio Operators License (GROL). Details of this may be viewed on: QRZ.com. My FCC assigned radio call-sign is: W4CBJ.


NOTE: I tried downloading the referenced video but could not access it. By entering the search terms: Video, Jay Leno and Morse Code, I was able to locate it on YouTube: "Text Messaging vs. Morse Code" Again I was foiled because the message read "Sorry, this video no longer available." Someone, somewhere, must have saved it and I intend to find it.


BREAKING NEWS! Don N9OO (radiolabworks.com) advised me that the Jay Leno video site is :

http://youtube.com/watch?v=AhsSgcsTMd4 I checked it and it works! (3min9sec).


If you noticed, Jay Leno asked one of the ham operators: ""How old is the Morse code?" He replied: "170 years old."

At the end of the session, Jay states to the TM champ: "I'm sorry, you were beaten by 140 year old technology."






Our project for the next class is to compose an instruction manual. This instruction book can be written on any subject needing a 'how-to-do-it.' The first thing that comes to mind is a "How to Sucessfully use a Wiki." A sort of "Wiki's for Dummies." Of course, if you know how to do this, then you don't need one.

My problem is that being a 'newbie', there are several things I do not know how to do. For instance, I'm still trying to find the correct page for logging in. Then, can I use MS Word and upload it to the wiki? There are many more questions that I have.


In engineering, a problem is solved by using a simple method. It is called: "Identifying the Problem." Simply, it consists of three parts.

1. Identinfy the problem ( in one or more words.)

2. Define the scope of the problem (Limits.)

3. Define the results. (This may be accomplished at any time you make progress.)


Of course, you understand that these steps must be written down, beacause it is virtually impossible to remember details of this nature.

The trick is knowing where to begin. I imaging that securing answers to problems is a good start and later, composing an index. As a start, I think a good old fashioned method that still works, would be to use a loose-leaf notebook, the pages that can be rearranged. Old technology? You bet. I don't have a notebook computer and if a thought enters my mind...pencil and paper will do until I can document it.

I am looking for your comments to the following question:  

joe question 



a Technical Writing Collective


Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 1:28 pm on Feb 25, 2009

Your comments are welcome but please do not edit the wiki page. Thanks....Joe

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