The Amateur Amateur: Doughnuts Will Be Served
By Gary Hoffman, KB0H
Learn what a
box of doughnuts will buy.
November 24, 2005
At a recent
hamfest, I ran into an old friend. I'd first met Dave Crowley, N0HMI,
years ago when we both belonged to a local police scanner club.
Outside of hamfests, we rarely saw much of each other, so I was a
little surprised when he asked if I'd like to come to an
antenna-raising party the following weekend. I hedged a bit, not
really sure what my itinerary was, and asked Dave to send me a
reminder by e-mail.
Dave (left) and Brad and the pre-assembled mast and antenna.
I wasn't all that
sanguine about rushing off to Dave's the following Saturday. A lot of
tasks had been piling up, and weekends are about the only time I have
to take care of them. There is always too much to do and too little
time to do it. I figured I'd send Dave my regrets and spend the next
weekend trying to diminish my ever-growing heap of chores.
A short while
later I received a brief e-mail message from Dave, giving the date
and time of his antenna-raising party and his address. He also
mentioned one other thing: Doughnuts would be served.
thinking about the huge pile of jobs I had pending. None of them was
I might be able to take an hour or so to
help out Dave. He was, after all, an old friend. He had joined my VE
team when I'd asked him, so I definitely owed him a favor. Yeah, old
Dave was counting on me. I couldn't let him down.
For those of
you unfamiliar with antenna-raising parties here's the deal:
Antennas, while they look great in catalogs, tend to be nasty, unruly
things. They don't like to be handled. They poke and stick you and
rip your clothes, vital parts fall off of them, and their centers of
gravity are never
where you expect them to be. Erecting them
is a little like a cattle roundup. You need a gang of guys who are
willing to wrestle something from point A to point B against its
These events are
for a good reason, however, since they tend to
be part work and part social gathering. In my case it was mostly a
social occasion. I didn't actively avoid
the work. It's just
that most of it took place while I was chatting with some other
volunteer. Take Dick Skow, for example. Dick wasn't a ham and had a
lot of questions about antennas and Amateur Radio in general. It was
to explain it all to him, right? I couldn't help it if
Dave's antenna was moved from the garage to the yard while I wasn't
It was while looking up the ladder at Nick that I realized that I should
have worn a hard hat.
I don't want
to give you the impression that I didn't do any work at all. But Dave
is a very meticulous fellow and had planned and prepared everything
well in advance. Virtually all of the work required only two or three
people, with just one tense moment requiring the efforts of all seven
of us. That was when we hoisted the whole assemblage up and held it
steady with four guy wires. Cleon Yohe, AF0G, had the dubious honor
of working from inside the attic crawl space, while Nick Hisserich
ran up a ladder and drilled, bolted, and screwed everything in place.
The rest of us held guys and poles and just made sure the whole
affair didn't come tumbling down.
It was while I
was at the very bottom holding a pole steady that I noticed that
Nick's dad, Steve Hisserich, AG0G, had been smart enough to wear a
hard hat and eye protection. Gee, I should have thought of that I
mused, as Nick, directly above me, bashed away at something with a
nothing fell, and all the tasks after that were one-man jobs. Nick
did all of the ladder work, presumably because he was younger and
more agile than the rest of us. Frankly, I think that as a police
officer, Nick cringed at the notion of one of us more mature
guys going up the ladder and having a mishap. The paperwork would
have been endless.
Clockwise from top-left: Steve, Brad, Dave, Cleon (in the attic), Nick, and
digging around, looking for the top of the ground rod he'd installed
earlier. Since this was another one-man job, I took the opportunity
to chat with Brad Leonard, KB0BFD. Brad was another old acquaintance
from the police scanner club. We talked about the hamfest of the
previous weekend. Brad said that hamfests were an opportunity for
Amateur Radio operators to take their old junk and go chumming for
new stuff. I don't think I'd ever heard it stated more eloquently.
finished up its task, and we all retired for refreshments
and a tour of Dave's shack, or more precisely, shack-to-be. We all
chimed in with tips on what he should do next. Hams are never short
Dave thanked us
all for our efforts and we all went home, satisfied with a job well
done. I suspect that after we left Dave went outside and gazed fondly
at his newly erected antenna.
It's amazing what
you can get done for the price of a box of doughnuts.
Editor's note: ARRL member Gary Hoffman, KB0H, lives in Florissant,
Missouri. He's been a ham since 1995. Hoffman says his column's name
-- "The Amateur Amateur" -- suggests the explorations of a
rank amateur, not those of an experienced or knowledgeable ham. His
wife, Nancy, is N0NJ. Hoffman has a ham-related
Readers are invited to contact the author via e-mail,
© 2005 American Radio Relay League