beige_alert: (Science)
[personal profile] beige_alert
I went to a ham radio swapfest on Saturday morning. It was a fine event, and I did buy a few items, of a sensible sort. Unlike my girlfriend who tends to end up buying kitchen appliances at ham swapfests, I got some radio stuff. I picked up a few adapters between SMA, BNC, and PL-259 connectors, and a little cheap magnet-mount antenna for car use. Lots of interesting stuff for sale. The really antique-y stuff isn't really the big thing I'm interested in, but it is fun to see some of it. Lots of people selling random-seeming vacuum tubes. A few old tube testing machines. I remember that back when I was a youngster, I saw tube testing machine in a store that was still in actual service, although by then it was a bit past the peak of people bringing in their tubes to test to try to fix their radios or TVs or whatever. I got to see and play with a few Vibroplex bugs, the mechanical Morse code keys that can send a string of dits with a mechanical vibrating thingie. My Morse is rusty as can be and learning to use one of those would be interesting, but it's a very cool mechanical device.

I did notice something about the people there. I've been lots of places, done lots of things, but whether it's a long track speed skating race, casual running, an organized marathon, a mass spectrometry conference, a show primarily oriented toward hunting and fishing, seminars in the biochemistry department, kayaking, trail running, gatherings of musicians, a room full of people soldering blinkies together at a con, or darn near anything else, the only place I can think of with a similar ratio of men to women is when I have to pee and pass the sign saying "men" and enter the room with all the urinals on the wall. On some rare occasions, even that room has a more equal balance.

Date: 2013-05-07 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randomdreams.livejournal.com
Piloting aircraft has a pretty skewed demographic as well.
On the opposite side of the fence, dressage -- training horses to ride unusual gaits and movements -- is pretty seriously skewed as well.

Our local electronics shop had a tube tester until the early '90's.

Date: 2013-05-08 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
In some sort of fairness, the AES Superfest, which is a bigger show with more going on, was mostly men but not to quite such an extent. Aviation is pretty skewed but on the other hand if you go to Oshkosh it might be less than 50% women but not a few percent. The ratio of active pilots is probably a lot more skewed than the ratio of people who show up at the show.

Also, see John Scalzi's notes from being at a largely female convention: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/05/06/back-from-the-rt-booklovers-convention/

Date: 2013-05-07 07:26 am (UTC)
hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (radio)
From: [personal profile] hrrunka
Somewhere out there on the Net recently I saw a video of someone making vacuum tubes. Needs some serious workshop kit.

I've found amateur astronomy to have a similar gender balance, but in my experience here it's not quite as extreme as you've found. Curiously, though, I've met more women with ham callsigns face-to-face than on-air.

...and I'm still struggling to become passably proficient with Morse...

Date: 2013-05-08 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beige-alert.livejournal.com
I've also been to a bigger ham show where there were at least enough women that it wasn't obvious that there were exactly two, and one of them on the job, working for a company selling stuff. Back when I first got my ham licence, in college, it was pretty much the thing to do for the more nerdy types, including women I knew. It wasn't quite so much the elderly men's club. And of course my girlfriend has way more ham radio stuff than I do.

Back in the day I had to demonstrate that I could receive 13 WPM for the higher class licence. I never did much morse, and was never all that good at it. I only used a plain straight key.

Date: 2013-05-08 06:25 am (UTC)
hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (morse)
From: [personal profile] hrrunka
I've been trying to learn morse in order to get a bit further with low power HF kit and SOTA. If Morse proficiency were still a requirement I probably wouldn't have a licence, though part of the difficulty is that because Morse is no longer required there's no longer much infrastructure to teach it effectively. There are various programs and websites, but they work no better than a "teach yourself guitar" program would...

Date: 2013-05-13 09:19 am (UTC)
hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (radio)
From: [personal profile] hrrunka
Here's a flip-side video to help redress the balance: http://youtu.be/rh5MvM1KlOg ;)

Date: 2013-05-17 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vaurien.livejournal.com
I hadn't realised you had become active with radio again. I'm peppering the states a bit at the moment on HF, so maybe...

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