How to find answers to many technical questions
|Jul 26th 2011, 00:03|
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The most common technical question that the ARRL Lab staff is asked to answer usually starts with, "How do I find information about... (fill in a technical subect)?" In many cases, the member could have had an answer much sooner by doing a bit of on-line searching. It's easy to do, and learning how to use some of the excellent search tools available on the ARRL site and on the world-wide web in general will literally put a world of information at your fingertips.
The radio technology topics pages that ARRL staff has put on the Technology portion of the ARRL web site were created to provide information on a wide range of technical topics. The pages contain a brief overview of a particular topic, followed by links to ARRL and other downloadable articles about the subject and a list of other web pages with more information. Many of the pages also contain an FAQ section, where the ARRL Lab staff provide an answer to the common questions we receive on the subject.
You can search the ARRL web site using the search box located on the upper right of almost every page. This will provide a list of links on the ARRL web page that contain the word or words you typed into the box. The ARRL search capability uses a search engine and hardware designed by Google.
You can also search the world-wide web in general, using your favorite search engine. For example, if you wanted to search for Amateur Radio, you could first go to Google and in its search box, type the words Amateur Radio.
Although the Google search engine is designed to provide the most commonly used links first, that broad search resulted in over 12,000,000 results! If you are looking for more than general information about Amateur Radio, you may want to try a narrower search, perhaps Amateur Radio Contests or whatever subject interests you..
Searching can sometimes yield some interersting results. If you wanted information about RFI -- Radio Freqeuncy Interference, a google.com search will give you links to RFI-Request for Information, Radio France International and probably others. The pages you want are on the large list of results, but you'll have to go looking through a long list to get to them. There are also synonyms for RFI, such as EMI (electromagnetic interference), EMC (electromagnetic compatibility), etc. Try different variations on the search, until you find the ones that provide a good balance between too many results and too few. Try the following searches, to give you a feel for what you will find:
Radio Frequency Interference
RFI Amateur Radio
Telephone interference filter
TV interference filter chartreuse case
Another excellent resource is the ARRL on-line archive of past QST articles of articles 4 or more years old, available to ARRL members as part of their membership (newer articles are available on the ARRL Periodical CDs). The archive search engine looks at words in the title, author name or call and at keywords the ARRL Lab staff have entered for some of the articles. If you are looking for a particular article, try different ways and words to search the archive to see if you can find the one you want. Having almost 100 years of QST magazine at your fingertips is a great membership benefit!
The ARRL Lab staff is happy to answer technical questions for members, so if you run through a web search and don't find the answers you want, feel free to post your question on this forum. Another ARRL member or one of the ARRL Lab staff will probably be able to answer it. If you call the Lab staff at ARRL HQ, you will get whichever of the Lab staff is most available to answer the phone at the time, and he may not be the msot knowledgeable person we have on staff for the particular subject of the question.
Thanks for participating in the ARRL on-line forums.
Ed Hare, W1RFI
Technical forums moderator