Friday, November 4, 2011



Every big project starts as a simple idea. That of Danny Weil took form by way of a boat which he’s been sailing around the world – a lot of the time in the Pacific Ocean. One day, thanks to a friend, a radio ended up on board – and what many DXpeditioners of today don’t realize, is that in that very moment DXpeditioning in and of itself took a giant leap forward, reenforcing the effective bonds between the peoples of the earth inherent to the world of amateur radio.

The name of that boat was Yasme whose role has by no means gone unnoticed. Today, in the United States there is in fact a foundation with the same name, which looks to perpetuate this very same spirit. It does this in various ways, the most noted of which being the presenting of awards to those who, with their projects or initiatives, have demonstrated a spirit of excellence in the art of amateur radio. “Yasme” also offers the prospect of an “award” for QSOs with its representatives in special occasions, and actively supports radio projects in places where no amateur radio is present (or it’s poorly spread), projects which may have socially redeeming value.

Convinced that such activities should find greater resonance, even for the efforts of those who should desire the implementation of the aforementioned, we have spoken with Wayne Mills, N7NG, current president of the Foundation.

We know Yasme owes its name to Danny Weil’s boat. He was the one, together with Iris Colvin, who brought the DXpeditioning concept to a modern level in an era in which it wasn’t easy at all. Can you please give us more details about the Foundation’s birth?

Actually, I don’t know too many details about the formation of the Yasme Foundation. I believe it was started in part by Divk Spenceley, KV4AA. Actually, Dick was responsible for getting Danny interested in Ham Radio. Danny wanted to be the first British sailor to sail around the world alone. So, the trip offered an opportunity to activate many Pacific countries, if he could be convinced to carry a radio and put these places on the air. Danny is said to have had G7DW in the UK, but there is also some doubt if he was ever licensed at all. Dick wanted Danny to carry radio gear along on his trip and raised money to make this possible.

How many OMs nowadays actively support Yasme’s activities?

The Yasme Board of Directors are eight hams, as listed on the Web site: . We do not actively solicit funds, and we do not support DXpeditions.

Your foundation assigns Awards to hams distinguishing themselves for excellence. For 2011, they’ve gone, among others, to the developer of Winmor software, to the inventor of the Remote Radio Interface, as well as to the creator of the MTTY application. This leads me to two different questions. First, how do you judge the growth of our hobby in the coming years? Can you imagine a ham shack without a personal computer? Is that unthinkable?

There is no set of rules or even guidelines for make the Excellence awards. We use our own experience, and some (unsolicited) input from others to identify deserving people. We usually avoid honoring hams, who have made contributions through commercial activities.

In general terms, isn’t it hard to select individuals of “excellence” each year? And should this also tell us something about the current state of ham radio?

We have found that there are many hams who have made contributions. Our problem is how to draw the line. That is how many awards should we give?

Awards are also promoted by Yasme for contacts with its officials and operations staff. Could you tell us more about this?

This award began while Lloyd and Iris Colvin were traveling. It was their idea, to promote QSOs with them on each of their trips. Now, we travel less than in the past, so it is more difficult to qualify for the award. We have included DXpeditions which include one or more of our Board members.

Another important branch of your activity is the promotion of amateur radio in underdeveloped Countries. Earlier this year, Yasme assisted twenty-five future Ethiopian OMs in their license test fees. What contribution can ham radio offer to the development of these countries?

This is a difficult area. Many individuals and groups have found that only a certain class of societies can be helped by the introduction of ham radio. For the poorer countries, giving equipment to a group or club often results in the sale of the equipment in order to raise money to buy food! It is necessary to have a society that is ready for ham radio, and it is necessary to have someone – like Sid, ET3AA – on the ground to make sure that a project stays on track. For this reason, we usually reject requests to fund these programs except under very strict conditions.

How do you select and launch these kind of projects?

Ideas come from various sources, including our own Directors. We don’t normally do anything other than read proposals and make funding grants.

What are the main difficulties involved in taking up such challenges and turning such actions into reality?

The main difficulties are having a responsible person on site for an extended period. Some contesters began a program in Ghana many years ago, and it was effective for a long time, but when the principle, on-site sponsor left the country, the program fell apart. That was sad.

How would you judge Yasme’s relationship with international radio amateur support entities, like IARU or with national ones such as ARRL?

We don’t have any formal connections with IARU or ARRL, although we do have significant connections to various officials from these organizations. We have made grants to ARRL, but little to IARU at present.

Can you remind us of other initiatives other than the Ethiopian one?

We have considered programs in other areas. Some examples: We did fund the rebuilding of the ham radio station at the university in Bangkok. We also funded travel for beginning contesters to go to WRTC in Brazil in 2006. We have provided funding for various delegates to the WWYC (World Wide Young Contesters) meetings in Europe.

After reading all this, one will probably wonder, “How can I become a supporter of Yasme?”

As I have mentioned, we do not actively solicit funds, and we don’t directly support DXpeditioning activities. We don’t refuse contributions, of course. We do encourage input from interested ham radio operators concerning worthwhile projects

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