Most if not all Moonbouncers know that amateur EME is difficult. Accomplishing the "ultimate DX" challenges us to do
our very best in the areas of antenna gain and pattern, receiver noise temperature, transmitter power, station and
antenna control, and anything else we can think of that affects our ability to make QSOs off the moon. EME presents an
especially inviting set of challenges. We accept them for the same reasons that ambitious, energetic pioneers have
always willingly accepted difficult challenges.
Each of us makes different choices when optimizing our stations within constraints imposed by regulations, available
space, budgets, and our own skills and ingenuity. Some have the space for very large antennas and have learned to make
them work and control them. Others have mastered the skills necessary to construct big power amplifiers, while still
others have kept abreast of the latest developments in PHEMT technology and learned to design and build the very best
low noise preamps. A few even build their own radios, from the ground up.
Most of us have more skill in some of these areas than in others. In the best amateur tradition, we share our secrets,
learn from each other, and adapt and build on the successes of others -- all the while enjoying the good fellowship of
like-minded friends around the world with similar goals and aspirations.
Since the first amateur EME QSO some 44 years ago, our growing fraternity has made huge strides. We have kept up with
technology developments in nearly every relevant area, save one. The vast majority of Amateur Radio communication on
the EME path has been accomplished using a single modulation and coding scheme: on-off keying and International Morse
code. Should this particular choice, and this one alone, be off limits for further improvement?
A growing number of us have concluded that it cannot be good engineering practice to (for example) double the size of
our antennas while ignoring the much larger system gains available by switching to more efficient coding and modulation
methods. We had no professional background or skills in the relevant areas of communication engineering, information
theory, or GUI-interface computer programming; but we bought the books, studied hard, asked questions, learned from one
another, and embraced the new and highly effective tools developed by our friends. We found that we can reliably make
EME QSOs under poorer conditions, with smaller stations, and exchanging more information, than can be done with on-off
keying and Morse code. It's something to be proud of in the illustrious history of Amateur Radio. It is also a lot of
Long live CW! I love using it, in all venues from 160m and HF to VHF/microwave contests and EME -- whenever signals
are strong enough to make it usable. But please don't tell me again that if I choose to use a more efficient scheme
of coding and modulation to work stations I would not work otherwise, these QSOs do not "count" in your way of thinking.
Don't tell me that the achievements of the growing legion of new-breed EME pioneers are less important than than feats
accomplished using CW. These folks are helping to advance the state of the Amateur Radio art.