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Old 06-12-2017, 9:43 AM
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Exclamation Amateur Radio Safety

In the Amateur Radio Forum, I've been reading many questions asked about Ham Radio Safety. Most have been posted in the corresponding threads like antenna in the antennas threads, etc.
I think that we need in this forum an Amateur Radio Safety thread as the first thread and have it stickied to keep all the threads about radio safety together.
Radio, antenna, antenna tower, cable safety and grounding is no laughing matter. While there is no prevention of a direct lightening strike, all thoughts, ideas and experiences with radio safety would, in my opinion, certainly help the newcomers and elmers, too. Lightening, radio frequency and high voltage should be included.
What is the consensus here? Should we ask to have this? A "one stop shop" here would at the very least inform new amateurs about safety, more so than what is seemingly lightly touched upon in the license testing.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:13 PM
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AB4BF, there is, Heavens knows, nothing wrong with Safety- but to devote an entire site to it? I don't think it would work. After all, how would you define this "Safety?"
.
I fear it would become very bland- or devolve into a bunch of 'safety experts' pontificating on such-as's like:
.
".....Don't drop that monkey wrench on your tower crew below- it can hurt someone really bad!" or "steak knives and power sockets; a formula for death"
.
Maybe a tad too histrionic...I'm sorry. I do think that anyone with a question can ask it and get an answer without having it placed in a special arena. Its how the question is asked that will determine how much attention it receives, and the depth and seriousness to which it is answer'd-
.

Well, thoughts on the subject were ask'd for... Smiles
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.......................CF
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Old 06-12-2017, 1:10 PM
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Someone more literate than me could post a topic titled, "The Necessity and Correct Procedure for Discharging Capacitors Before Servicing Equipment," I suppose...that might be helpful and save some folks a lesson that I am sure many of us learned the hard way.
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Old 06-12-2017, 9:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote-Frostbyte View Post
AB4BF, there is, Heavens knows, nothing wrong with Safety- but to devote an entire site to it? I don't think it would work. After all, how would you define this "Safety?"
.
I fear it would become very bland- or devolve into a bunch of 'safety experts' pontificating on such-as's like:
.
".....Don't drop that monkey wrench on your tower crew below- it can hurt someone really bad!" or "steak knives and power sockets; a formula for death"
.
Maybe a tad too histrionic...I'm sorry. I do think that anyone with a question can ask it and get an answer without having it placed in a special arena. Its how the question is asked that will determine how much attention it receives, and the depth and seriousness to which it is answer'd-
.

Well, thoughts on the subject were ask'd for... Smiles
.
.......................CF
We could go as far as telling hams not to use their HT while walking in traffic. CF, the common sense things should be a given. I've seen too many posts in the amateur section just on grounding an antenna. Many don't seem to realize that the ground is for static build up that precipitates lightning. Alleviate the static and the the lightning has less a probability of striking. Nothing, not anything will keep lightning from striking where it wants to strike but eliminate the immediate possibilities and work on the lesser will certainly help.
Even yourself has posted lightning anecdotes and to me they were very informative. I believe that information like that should be kept in one place convenient to the average ham who wants to know.
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Old 06-12-2017, 9:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ11DLN View Post
Someone more literate than me could post a topic titled, "The Necessity and Correct Procedure for Discharging Capacitors Before Servicing Equipment," I suppose...that might be helpful and save some folks a lesson that I am sure many of us learned the hard way.
Exactly. 600 Volts DC is down right painful when discharged into an errant finger. Maybe a You Tube video showing just what DC can do would be a reminder and deterrent to having a lax in judgement.
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Old 06-13-2017, 10:58 AM
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One of the things that happens is that similar questions keep getting asked. True, each on is unique from the perspective of the questioner, but they have a decided propensity to be repeated over and over......... Nothing wrong with that- things said here are extremely temporal.. said one moment and forgotten the next----forever filed away into cyber space. There doesn't seem to be any place- or reason- to have a repository for what was written. Each question is new and fresh. Cool.
.
Me?.. I don't mind re-addressing certain issues- I do it every day
For my entire working career I have been answering (or at least making the best appearance at doing so.. ) all sorts of technical questions to all sorts of people (including going before Congressional committees explaining how particle accelerators works and why they needed funding... try and explain *That* to *Them!* )
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My resorting to anecdotes is my way of casting a personnal light on these questions- for goodness knows, in the years I have been at this I have seen and done the spectrum.
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I hope that my humour comes thru the seriousness -- and that if, nothing else,- what I contributed to the Question resulted in a least a smile.. and, just maybe, an answer....
.
..........Cheers!
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.................................CF
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:05 PM
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There are already dozens of sites discussing proper grounding and lightning/static protection. I don't see much point in creating another.
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Old 06-13-2017, 8:53 PM
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Jon, its not only about lightning/static control but a whole heap of other radio safety parameters.

For instance, when you posted about dozens of other sites about grounding, you might have included links to some of the better aforementioned sites. This is mainly for the newbie, but I still learn new things every day.

By the way, thank you both for responding!
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Old 06-14-2017, 5:15 PM
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I agree, there are plenty of authoritative sources on RF safety. Opening up a forum on this site is just going to result in a bunch of opinions, and those won't do anyone much good.

The 35 question multiple choice amateur radio test does little to promote safety, so using other amateurs as a source of safety data is probably not a good idea.

Personally, and pessimistically, I prefer the "Darwin" approach. If someone isn't smart enough to do proper research and/or get proper training, then maybe they were not destined to be on this earth for very long anyway. As long as I've been on this site I've seen some pretty bad advice given, also a lot of really bad installs. As much as we all might like radioreference, it's not a good source of safety information. It might also open up the owners to some liability issues.
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Old 06-15-2017, 3:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmckenna View Post
I agree, there are plenty of authoritative sources on RF safety. Opening up a forum on this site is just going to result in a bunch of opinions, and those won't do anyone much good.

The 35 question multiple choice amateur radio test does little to promote safety, so using other amateurs as a source of safety data is probably not a good idea.

Personally, and pessimistically, I prefer the "Darwin" approach. If someone isn't smart enough to do proper research and/or get proper training, then maybe they were not destined to be on this earth for very long anyway. As long as I've been on this site I've seen some pretty bad advice given, also a lot of really bad installs. As much as we all might like radioreference, it's not a good source of safety information. It might also open up the owners to some liability issues.
I like the way you think!
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Old 06-15-2017, 12:44 PM
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As a disciple of Evolution, I laugh'd along with Mmckenna in his remarks about a Darwin-estic fate for the 'innocents' asking their technical questions. And although I am the Devil's own apostle when it comes to sarcasm, I'll take a more charitable view of these Questioners
.
I feel that what is post'd here should, first and foremost, be regarded as Entertainment. You have very little idea who (or what ) is on the other side of that keyboard. In my own case, I keep my identity guard'd.... having been grief'd by trolls in the past; I learned *That Lesson*. So when it comes down to me, its going to be that anyone who's follow'd my posts will have get an idea if I know of what I speak from what I write... does my answer/comment pass the "smell test?" Anyone here could be slinging a lot of BS.... does anyone care, for that matter.....?
.
So, just who is that cyber being offering you that advice?? Be chary, for although someone's advice was honestly given, it could be way off in 'left field.' Personally, I never take offense if questioned, .....so long as you aren't one of my engineers- a bad career move......(Just Kidding, Just Kidding!! )
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Next, be prepared to run what ever answer(s) you get thru extensive filtering. The responses should be view'd as starting points for one's own research.
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And I can't say that too strongly!
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Today we live in such an instant question/answer environment that everyone wants their question solved "Now!"-- without investing much effort in answering it themselves.....
Hey, I am not throwing mud here; I have evolved to think and act like that too. But instant answers are like some instant foods- they don't taste right.
.
Being able to come in here on-line and pose a question is fantastic.... I wish I had this resource years ago as a teenage ham. But even then, I knew enough when asking a question, to question the answer'r.
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I'd view these forums as a resource- part of your technical library- and use it appropriately.
.
.
.........................CF

Last edited by Coyote-Frostbyte; 06-15-2017 at 1:17 PM.. Reason: because it didn't read right............
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Old 06-15-2017, 6:37 PM
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Good advice. Good internet <—> brain filters are a useful tool to have. Sadly not everyone does. When they do, people can either get offended, or find humor. I prefer to find humor.

Like, if your radio runs 100 watts on 110 volts, just think how much better it'll work on 220! I have to stop myself and edit my posts when I get that attitude because I realize that someone might take it seriously.
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:22 AM
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This is something the FCC came out with earlier this month along the lines of the topic of this thread. Perhaps some will find it useful, if not interesting:

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Rele...C-345150A1.pdf
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Old 06-20-2017, 3:08 PM
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I think an effort to teach people how to properly use the many search tools that are available, site tools, Google, Duckduck, etc, would be a better investment.

Teaching people to fish safely rather than just giving them safe fish.
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Old 06-20-2017, 4:34 PM
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My favorite play on "teach a man to fish...." (smiling)
.
"....If you build a man a fire
........you will keep him warm for a day
.............But if you set a man on fire
....................He will be warm for the rest of his life."
.
Sorry, and no, I am not in a Wise A** mood. I was just reflecting on the impossible task of teaching common sense. Anything to do with electronics is just fraught with all sorts of dangerous little pits we can fall into. How do you address them all without devolving into some sort of Kindergarden?
.
"Be Chary in giving advice....
Wise men don't need it, and
Fool won't heed it"
.
..........another apology; for that cliche'.....
.
Perhaps Darwin is right- survival is to the clever, the aware. Even then, how do you impart total knowledge of 'safety' to someone if they don't ask for it first?..... There are textbooks, guidebooks, web sites, knowledgable experts galour, but unless a person exercises their own due diligence, all the resources in the world are not going to save them.
.
On the wall of one of our labs is this sign**
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"Put it down, Cowboy...
Your can't fix Stupid with that roll of Duck Tape"
.
And do you think I am speaking Holier-than thou?
As an graduate student doing my thesis I came in contact with a lot of nasty, high power'd, high voltage Killers.
One day, innocent little Lauri was nulling something High Voltage'd by listening to its tone over headphones, her hand inside the cabinet---
'
"Lauri !!, what the Hell ! are You Doing?!"
.
--------- Startled the snot out of me!
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"Take those 'phones off right now!"
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It was one of the site's engineers, with a horrified, ashen look on his face.
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"Don't you realize how dangerous that was?!--
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I had to pause a moment to think.. Well, I was only using one hand to adjust the circuit, I was standing on the "rubber mat." I was..... oh Geeez !... I was wearing "cans!"
I could have been fried... !!......... (now I was really upset...... ie: "good and scared ")
...and Me; an already Master's level EE-
You Stupid STUPID Lauri !
____________________________________________
.
So I ask, how do you teach something like that?.. "Don't wear headphones and adjust a transmitter?"
Maybe you can teach someone how to be safe all the time...Maybe
.
But that was almost my Darwin Moment.
.
.
...................................CF
.
________________________________________
** one guess who wrote that
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Old 06-20-2017, 6:46 PM
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If a ham hasn't read the ARRL Handbook, what happens to them is their own fault. Darwin does usually take care of the rest.
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Old 06-20-2017, 8:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote-Frostbyte View Post
I was just reflecting on the impossible task of teaching common sense.
If it's impossible to teach common sense, then how do people who don't have it acquire it? I don't think we humans are born with common sense. However, it's apparent that some folks have acquired more common sense along the way than others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote-Frostbyte View Post
How do you address them all without devolving into some sort of Kindergarden?
But, don't you think that some sort of electronics kindergarten is necessary? Seems like we have a number of new hams coming along who have never been exposed to electrical circuits until they start studying for their Technician test...and, then, it's only on paper or their computer screen and not real sources, conductors, and loads on the breadboard before them. Granted, not every ham is destined to be an electrical or electronics genius (me included). But, there's still some basic stuff that you need to know.

In another electronic Fantasy Island that I visit, a ham asked "why is the red wire to my radio getting hot?". Thankfully, there were some patient hams on that island who could explain to the guy why the power wire gets hot when you pull current through it. But, clearly, the guy who asked the question had only memorized the Ohm's Law questions before he took his license test. Was the guy lacking in common sense? In general terms, maybe not. The guy might be a wiz at carpentry or computer programming or driving a forklift, but he definitely seemed lacking in the common sense that comes with years of trying to draw too much current through too small of a wire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote-Frostbyte View Post
One day, innocent little Lauri was nulling something High Voltage'd by listening to its tone over headphones, her hand inside the cabinet---
One slip of the finger and we would have had a new meaning to "operator head-space", i.e. the empty space between head phones.
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Old 06-20-2017, 8:48 PM
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Oh, com501, I don't think it is as simple as reading a handbook -- that alone won't do it...
Perhaps a good start, but the voids between the lessons are abysmal. If it were Handbooks alone that would be cool... but to tell the truth, I don't have an answer to this-- does anyone else?
.
So, read what you can, follow the guidelines, ask (and question) the answers-- maybe 'knock on wood' from time to time (I personally try to keep on the good side of the Fae.... Tinkerbell is my protective fairy... )
.
Aside from that?............................................. ...................................

.
.........................CF
.
.
(If you want to look at a photo that makes me shutter a little, see my Profile-- and my innocent Alter Ego.... as she too wears a set of cans- while operating an open key HV spark transmitter.... did she reflect the future me? )
.
Oh, btw-- I never wear 'phones anymore....

Last edited by Coyote-Frostbyte; 06-20-2017 at 9:03 PM.. Reason: forgot something
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:47 PM
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I think it was a UK monthly magazine from a while back - maybe "Radio Constructor" - that had a column entitled "I learned about radio from that". Readers were invited to send in the memoirs of the "faux pas" they had made in the past and the consequences - some were hilarious but most had a lesson to be learnt.

I still have the watch somewhere without the glass - contact with the top cap of an 807 ( a real one, not the cold drinkable variety ) caused an involuntary muscle contraction from within the innards of a Marconi "Oceanspan" (might have been a "Globespan") modulator tray - minutes after turning off and isolating the power. The glass and hands sheared off flush with the face - fortunately all falling into the bottom of the cabinet. Consultation with the schematic ( after application of a large shot of best Jamaican anaesthetic ) showed that selecting "CW" from "AM" left a large capacitor fully charged to 600vDC and nowhere to go, even with the power off.

CF - I sent you a PM.

Ah, now I recall something....

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell
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