Of ferrite cores & fairies

If we start with the intriguing proposition that there is potentially *some kind* of underlying waveform nature to reality (without getting too “quantum”), exploring RF can become a bit spooky. Which for me makes some of the more dry “sciencey” parts of it more compelling.

Take question on Hamstudy.org, which is part of the Canadian Basic Qualification:

“What devices would you install to reduce or eliminate interference to home entertainment systems?”
Answer: Coils on ferrite cores.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/noiseblankers/sets/72157645760848164/

Here’s what looks like a decent sciencey explanation of that by a ham.

Basically, they suppress high frequency noise / interference somehow or other. One day I’d like to know everything about radio, but for now I’ll settle for Wikipedia, since my goal here isn’t to hamsplain but to hamsplore. A lot of people know the answers, but fewer still maybe know the “right questions.” (Trust me that’s “really profound.”)

And for me, the right question, right now, is: is there some practical link which we could draw between the scientific action we know ferrite core has against HF interference and some of the folklore surrounding iron and “alternative entities” (AE) and it’s effects on them? I mean, maybe there’s not, but it seems like a hella weird coincidence…
Again, I’m not a fancy folklorist, but I know how to search on Wikipedia:
“Cold iron” is historically believed to repel, contain, or harm ghosts, fairies, witches, and other malevolent supernatural creatures.
There’s an argument there that “cold iron” has never felt the heat of a forge nor been shaped by human hands. Something something.
“Surrounding a cemetery with an iron fence was thought to contain the souls of the dead.”
But like, let’s posit for a minute that fairies, ghosts — uh, maybe to a certain extent “witches” (though, this is getting complex) — are operating on / tuned to “other frequencies” which maybe let’s say ‘normal humans’ perceptual systems can’t completely demodulate. In other words, there are societally ‘normal’ bands of perception which we more or less can agree are “actual reality” and then there are like sidebands or whatever of reality… If you could tweak the receiver / tune the antenna (eg. perceptual system) / dial in the frequency, perhaps you’d be able to extract different intelligence out of let’s say, uh, paranormal meta-signals (without going too “meta”).

So like, iron could suppress those outsider paranormal frequencies, to prevent them from interfering with human perception. Are ghosts EMI?

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_interference

Anyone who’s stared at a static-y TV or listened to the hiss of AM radio will recognize that there is something spooky out there in the noise.

I guess one way to tentatively try to “test” this idea that AEs are impacted by iron would be to (1) find a ghost or fairy or whatever, (2) find some iron, and make observations based on the proximity of the two and the effects over time.

Easier said than done, I guess.

I’ll leave you with one parting shot: one elf shot, that is.

Elfshot or elf-shot is a medical condition described in Anglo-Saxon medical texts, notably Wið færstice, and believed to be caused by invisible elves shooting invisible arrows at a person or animal, causing sudden shooting pains localised to a particular area of the body.

Makes you wonder — if you think about it:

“(A). RF energy can heat body tissue and cause burns. It is important to use proper precautions against excessive exposure to high amounts of RF energy.” (hamstudy.org)

Just sayin’: “Invisible arrows” sound a little like RF radiation, no?

Which Radio Should I Buy?

“Which radio should I buy” – this is oft cited as the #1 question for every new ham.

I don’t know what is right for you, but I ended up with a Baofeng F8HP which seems “just fine”. I can connect to the local repeater groups here in Seattle. I just needed a special (but fairly inexpensive) cable to connect the radio to my computer so I could program in all the local repeaters using CHIRP. Doing it by hand is apparently quite tedious and I haven’t even ever bothered trying. Now I can just press a ‘scan’ button on my radio and it will loop through all the local repeaters and stop whenever it finds someone talking.

I also picked up a Nagoya antenna (common knowledge seems to be that the “rubber ducky” antenna that comes with your radio should just be thrown away). I can’t bring my self to throw it in the garbage; the object is still an infused mystical conduit, so I’ve kept it in a drawer at home in case I can find a use for it in the future conjuring.

With this basic setup, I have been able to use the repeaters to listen and converse with people as far away as Everett in the North, Enumclaw in the South, and all over the Olympic Peninsula in the West. Note: this is mostly theoretical because I have barely worked up the nerve to talk on the air. Let’s just say: it’s a work in process.

I think it will be easier once I convince all my friends to ditch social media and to get their ham licenses.


That being said, I’m wanting to explore what might be next for me in my adventures with Amateur Radio. There’s a whole world (and other worlds) out there. I found a form online that examines your interests within the hobby to determine what specific equipment you might want to look into purchasing. Here’s a list of what I came up with on my own personal interests. What are you interested in? Let me know in the comments. I’ll let you know what I hear back from the people evaluating this form.



Communicate with international friends on Earth.
Communicate with the International Space Station.
Communicate through satellites.
Communicate with the Black Knight Satellite
Order a pizza.
Communicate with other objects in space.
Communicate with extraterrestrials.
Communicate with ultraterrestrials.
Utilize radio frequencies to locate water. (dowsing)
Utilize radio frequencies to operate a lawn computer.
Slow Scan Television.
Using a makey-makey and an RTL-SDR to play RF like a piano.
Convince 1000 new hams to get off of Facebook and into the ham shack.


Bogus questions in Canadian Basic Qualification Exam

I’m really frustrated by this type of question in the Canadian amateur radio Basic Qualification exam:

The correct answer, regarding third party traffic is D: that the countries have authorized such communications.

Choice B to me seems more logical, because there must be a place or register where those countries have given their consent or authorization. If it’s not registered with the ITU, where or how do countries give their authorization? To whom? More practically: how does an amateur radio operator look this up, since other questions in the bank deal with this as well?

I’m going it alone with my test study, so am bookmarking this as something to look into in more detail on my own later.


The above is even more confusing in light of this question:

So what you’re telling me is that countries register with the ITU when they object to ham traffic overall, but when they consent to third party traffic it’s just an “authorization” given out non-specifically, not to the ITU? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps I will have to write to the ITU for clarification.


Again, how am I supposed to determine this?