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It’s a late August morning at an undisclosed location along the Lake Erie shoreline. The sky is blue and clear- the air slightly crisp and there is no humidity. Perfect conditions for an experimental and somewhat illegal communications experiment. “Kenneth” (real name withheld to protect his identity) is taking a bit of a risk. His car is hard to miss: a large antennae area is bolted onto its roof rack and an array of thick, shielded cables jut out of his car door window leading to a dish antenna array that looks like a prop from a science fiction film. “Kenneth” is a HAM radio geek and his plan is to contact an American counterpart on the other side of Lake Erie. His counterpart has the same set-up, constructed of similar materials and equipment. A line of sight is established and some cell phone conversation takes place to let each other know when they are properly set up and ready to attempt contact.
I ask “Kenneth” what he is doing. His reply is not what I expected: “Trying to set up a personal communication system with my friend using only components that I’ve built”. It’s at this point that I get what’s going on. He is a modern day Marconi– and a bit of a rogue- taking great satisfaction in finding his own personal way of doing something that I take for granted every time I turn on my I-phone.