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HandsOn Radio, Ward Silver N0AX

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Sadly, the HandsOn Radio column in QST is ending its fifteen year run. I will miss Ward Silver’s short learning articles very much. 

QST is the monthly periodical published by the American Radio Relay League. Except for a short break during WWI, ARRL has produced QST since 1915. I have been an ARRL member for most of my ham life, as witnessed by the many boxes of old QST magazines that I have retained. Although I have old issues in digital format, it’s still fun to thumb the pages looking for ideas.

Ward Silver is a ham, teacher and author. He has been involved with ARRL since 2000, mainly as the lead editor of its famous Handbook and Antenna Handbook. The HandsOn Radio column has been published in QST for 15 years. Many of the articles have also appeared in a series of HandsOn Radio Experiments books.

What I really liked about this column was its approach to teaching basic electronics in manageable two page chunks. For example, last January’s article was about Evaluating Filters. In half an hour, you could read and understand the basics of how to evaluate analog filter performance, including technical terms like ultimate rejection and insertion loss.

In addition to writing and teaching, Ward made some great presentations at amateur radio conferences. I particularly liked his recent Next Generation of Hams presentation. Take a look for yourself.

HandsOn Radio – Explaining Maxwell’s Equations

For radio folks, James Clerk Maxwell is the equivalent of Isaac Newton. Maxwell unified various scientific findings into an encompassing theory of electromagnetic radiation. These fields and waves became the foundation of radio, and still are.

In his final two columns, Ward Silver took a crack at explaining Maxwell’s equations. Most hams just take this stuff for granted. The math, vector calculus, is both advanced and intense. Ward did a pretty good job and advanced my understanding. Kudos for the effort. Most of us find our brains exploding when we think about Maxwell’s equations. In the end, we usually settle for an intuitive understanding of waves and fields like this one. On the other hand, if you want an intuitive understanding of Maxwell’s equations themselves, this video will do the trick.

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