For the love of god! It not rocket science its just Elmering

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Most of you know part of my job at Resonant Frequency: The Amateur Radio Podcast is to keep up with the current trends, innovations, and technology concerning Amateur radio.

So to do that I read websites, listen to podcast and keep up with the drivel coming out of the ARRL and the FCC.

Resonant Frequency has always been about the elmering. Teaching the newly licensed operators and getting the old codgers up to speed. That is our #1 priority. We work diligently to make sure the new guys and gals are not left behind by the OM’s that are unable to find the time to help them. Those who can’t seem to find the time or the inclination to help the new operators. We also try to help the seasoned radio operators that attempt to lead the way. Sometimes they can’t be bothered to do the simple research it takes to present the information to those that really need it.

So the thing that spurred this article. I was listening to one of the more popular podcasts concerning Amateur Radio this week and they were talking about Elmering. The hosts of this show are not known for doing research concerning the subjects they cover. They went on and on about no one knows the origin of the word ”Elmer” in the amateur radio community as a term for a mentor or teacher. Like the origin of “HAM” which which appears to be lost to history. It was probable that the term was originated by landline telegraph operators that referred to radio amateurs as “Ham Fisted” because of the way they operated CW on they’re straight keys.

They also had a similar story concerning “7,3”. Not “Seventy Threes”, not “Seven, Threes” or on the CB Band “Seventy, Thirds”. “7,3” was an unofficial prosign much like “AR”, “SK” and even later “CQ” on CW. The latter I believe was an invention of the wireless service. I would have to research that. We do have some history for that. BTW “Seven Threes” = 3333333.

Then they went on to proclaim that “Q” signals were appropriate for “Phone / Voice” Communications. What a joke. New comers to the Amateur Radio Service want to fit in. I get that. Trying to sound like commercial or public service radio operators is not the way. I know plenty of both and they can’t hold a candle to a properly trained Amateur Radio Operator. If we’re going to say “QTH, QRZ, QRM, QRN ” we might as well say be “10-20”. Instead of “Over”,“Go Ahead” or “Received” we might as well just use “10-04”

I had an argument recently with a gentleman that couldn’t understand why we needed to use ITU Phonetics instead of making up our own. When I told him “It was so everybody was on the same page. It made communications on noisy bands and between operators that didn’t speak a common language better able to understand each other” he acted like I was out of my mind. Go ask a Dxer that is trying to work that rare station on a noisy HF band.

So I have gone off on a tangent. Let’s try to dial it back in.

The people that are currently trying to Elmer the Amateur radio community aren’t really trying to Elmer the community other wise they would spend 30 seconds to look up the information they are presenting.

Here’s an experiment for you. Go to your favorite search engine. Type in “Elmer Amateur Radio” or something like that. Within the first page or two you will find something like this.

Origin of the term "Elmer"

The term "Elmer"--meaning someone who provides personal guidance and assistance to would-be hams--first appeared in QST in a March 1971 "How's DX" column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB). Newkirk called them "the unsung fathers of Amateur Radio." While he probably was not trying to coin a term at the time, here's how Newkirk introduced "Elmer" in his column and, as it turned out, to the rest of the Amateur Radio world:

"Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: 'Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.'"

Newkirk went on to say, "We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh."--Rick Lindquist, N1RL

As you can see, the term is not very old. Prior to the first use of Elmer as the one who guided and encouraged us, what were these folks called? We have received a lot of suggestions; teacher, mentor, tutor, guide, helper, sage? All are appropriate, but first and foremost they are called friend.'”

Now those guys that are about making money not Elmering the Amateur Radio Community. Just keep that in mind. These guys are the ones that ask questions on they’re show like “who was your Elmer? (singular)” Not “Who were your Elmers (Multiple)” I know I have a list of Elmers as long as my arm or longer.

So Hopefully this will give you a few things to thing about. I just wish I was a little bit better with the written work.

7,3 Richard KB5JBV

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About the Author

Richard KB5JBV has been an Amateur radio operator since 1988. He has held positions with the America Radio Relay League including but not limited to Assistant Section Manager, Official Observer, Official Relay Station, Official Emergency Station, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Resonant Frequency: The Amateur Radio Podcast was created to help get information on amateur radio out to the new ham and the ham that wants to find out more about different aspects of the hobby they are thinking about getting into. So sit back have a drink and enjoy.

Richard KB5JBV has been an Amateur radio operator since 1988. He held positions with the America Radio Relay League including but not limited to Assistant Section Manager, Official Observer, Official Relay Station, Official Emergency Station, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Kaufman County Texas, Volunteer Examiner and Technical Specialist in the North Texas section.

Richard has also served as RACES assistant radio officer for the city of Mesquite, Tx. and among numerous other duties Including club president for the HAM Association of Mesquite Texas.

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