By WBØRUR, on the scene
SPARK GAP, Nevada – A misunderstanding resulted in extra work – but a great presentation – by a rural Comanche County ham radio operator.
Justin Nightingale is the public information officer for the “Bluff-dwellers Amateur Radio Klub” (BARK) of Spark Gap, Nevada. During the club’s October meeting, President George Loganmiller asked Nightingale to prepare a “dog and pony” show demonstrating ham radio for an upcoming Noon Hour Kiwanis Club meeting.
Unaware that the phrase “dog and pony show” means an “interesting and detailed public relations presentation,” Nightingale set forth to train his family dog to use a single sideband transceiver and make a QSO.
“Mr. Buttons was skittish at first and unable to use the PTT switch since his “dew claw” had gotten caught in that barbed wire fence and was still healing. Using a foot switch was also impossible, as the dog wasn’t able to depress the foot pedal,” says the ham radio operator turned dog trainer. “But we kept at it. Things progressed better when he operated VOX.”
Nightingale says after several days of training and several pounds of raw hamburger, the dog got on the air, making a total of 36 contacts with 12 states and 4 countries.
“His operating practices were really bad,” says Nightingale, who remained control operator of all transmissions. “He stepped on other operators’ transmissions, un-keyed the microphone only to immediately key up and start talking again, failed to ID frequently enough, tried to work simplex when he should have been split frequency and talked about topics which are usually off-limits on HF.”
“Due to the inherent limitations of the dog brain and the challenge of time and space relationships, ‘Mr. Buttons’ also had trouble figuring out UTC and calculating the offset hours for our mountain time zone.”
“Probably the most difficult thing we had to overcome was his incessant and repeated 5×9 signal reports,” says Nightingale. “I tried to explain to him that not EVERYONE could be 5×9, but he didn’t seem to comprehend. You know, he gave me that funny cocked head / ears perked up look.”
In the end, the Kiwanis Club warmly received Nightingale and Mr. Buttons. However, the group says they were very disappointed that a pony wasn’t also involved.
The canine communicator now operates primarily CW on the low end of 20 meters and is said to be thinking seriously about moon-bounce operations.
photo credit: Robert Scoble via photopin cc