the facts of life. for the new guys                     Written with  SE Idaho NEW Hams in mind                         
and some  ideas for old guys that don't own a Money Tree .


This page is here for one purpose, to enlighten you , not to run you off. 
We want you new hams to attend our meetings,  we want your ideas, your input,  and your friendship.
Please think about attending our meetings.

This page is written by KØIP and reviewed by other PARC hams.   Many guys say I am too hard on the new guys, COULD BE , not really ?
If you need help with your new hobby, 99% of the old hams are willing to help you. HOWEVER  BE advised 'not all hams are created equal'.  
many may not have the answers you need.  Hopefully they will send you to someone that has the answers.
Also YOUTUBE,  yes there are thousands of YouTube Video makers,  many, in fact most don't have any idea what they are talking about.
so, be careful what you watch,
Now New hams:
I dare you to read and watch all links on this page. 
I dare you to join one of the clubs in Pocatello,   PARC  (Pocatello Amateur Radio Club) or PV-ARES.   

You probably will need to attend more than one club meeting to feel your part of a group, so start coming to meetings, 
Start mingling with the guys at the meeting ,  start learning about Ham Radio. We really want you to be part of our club. We want it to be your club.
However,  IF YOU DON'T SHOW UP,   THEN  OUR QUEST IS OVER.   We can't help if we don't know you want help..

Watch the 4th video  below,  overcoming Frustration,  He discusses the same things,   you probably won't be 100% accepted
into the group on your first visit .

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now here is a  list of things that seem to be on my pet peeve list !..
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WHY IS 2 meters DEAD ??

This question seems to be ask by lots of you new guys,  the answer is simple,   NO ONE LEAVES THEIR RADIOS ON !
Remember,   if your radio is OFF, the band is dead  !    In the olden days for 2 meter, somewhere  about 20 to 40 years ago,  all the
local guys left their "base" radios ON all the time,  maybe even at night,   if you were upside down in a ditch,  someone
would probably be listening to the repeater to help you   ( life before cell phones)  
and for sure if you wanted  a QSO in the daylight hours someone would be willing to chat..
NOW remember everyone left their radios ON.         
Most of those old guys are now dead. its up to you "new guys" to fill the gap.  
Solution:   turn your radios on, monitor the local repeater, if someone calls answer answer them , leave your radios on.

Think about this,  if everyone's radio is OFF,  and you decide to  turn yours on and call CQ ,  guess what,  no one will hear you  Their all switched off !.
the likelihood of two of you switching your radio on at the exact same time is fairly low.     


TURN YOUR RADIOS ON AND LEAVE THEM ON 

-------------------------------------------------------

Heres four pages you should  look at. 

New Ham - what do I do now  (ask dave #12)  a must watch Video
       I think this video just about sums it up,  join a club, join the ARRL,  get on HF radio,  life on two meters is limited.

New Hams - GET AN Elmer - Join a club

New Hams - How to fit in with the grumpy old guys
       and why their grumpy, how to make that first 2 meter contact, and what to do with your old CB radios,   and more

New Hams -  Overcoming 'new ham' Frustration  (ask dave #43) 
 

 


Repeaters: and programming your 2 meter radio.

It seems like most new hams get on 2 meters,  this is OK and you can do many things using only 2 meter FM. However,
its only one very small segment of ham radio.

anyway,

you've got a license but your lost in a world of confusing terms and strange sounding do-dads? nothing makes any sense .
and programming that new HT makes even less sense ??

probably the best thing to do is come to our meeting, get an ELMER,  he can help* you.

Try  Watching these three videos , they might give you some insight about  programmed your HT.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmOfkdhJL1U&t=323s  part one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrRLBPhwaus               part two

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1PtDM3lI3Q              part three           Repeater list for Pocatello,     Repeater list for Idaho              

*one thing that needs mentioning,  just because I've been a ham for 50+ years, doesn't mean I can figure out how to program your  Chinese radio.
IF you need a computer and software to program your radio,  I think you probably have the WRONG RADIO, 
you need to be able to change frequencies and program  it via the front panel buttons, on the fly, any time, any place, night or day, with or without AC power .


Things to watch and listen to on the internet, youtube, etc

There's so many different people making all sorts of Ham Radio videos,  much of it is TOTAL  BS, be careful who's giving the advice. 
its Jan 2020 just watched the Ham Nation,  OK, too much computer junk,  but a bunch of nice folks trying to be inclusive ..

Dave and K7AGE/Ham Nation   seem to have SOME of  their facts in order, 

ASK-  DAVE  videos see this      Watch the ones you think pertain to you ,   or watch them all,   they will broaden your horizons

The same goes for K7AGE videos on youtube.com  
since episodes don't appear to come up in any order, scan for ones that might interest you.
This guy did one on installing  Power Poles connectors,  it was great..
Power Poles : I highly recommend using them on all your radios. PARC stocks these in our "company store" ask at a meeting

Now between you and me,  K7AGE has joined with the "Ham Nation" video group,
I find Ham Nation a bit long,  but it you've got an hour or so, check them out,   the cover lots of ham activities,  and lots of HAM topics,
you can see there is lots to ham radio beyond your  HT and two meters.
AUDIO ONLY Podcasts , this is great stuff, the ARRL's   "The Doctors IN",     Link to index of  audio podcasts 
personally , I even find that half of  this info is confusing, and overly complicated,  and somewhat slanted to political correctness ....
but like life, there is several ways to accomplish the same problems...
but these pod casts are  way better that about 95% of the Bull Sh.. on youtube.


YOUTUBE !!   LOOOOOOK  OOOOOUT 
Now remember, there are LOTS of fools making Videos
,    if you stumble on a video with a guys driving down the freeway giving you advice ,
you can assume he's a NUT
, and there's plenty of mixed NUTS to go around  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These guys,  see picture ,  mostly mixed nuts,   they like to see their faces on youtube !!!
especially the two  guy's  with the hats, (top and bottom middle) they love to talk, they know a bit, but mostly BS,  the guy In the middle,  has hundreds of videos,
most are stupid !!     I understand that YouTube actually pays some video makers ?? so make more videos equals a bigger pay check ?????  and for heck sakes
try to avoid the guy on the right, he never has a hat,   mostly full of BS,  sometimes seen at the PARC meetings, sometimes seen contesting with a can of beer in his hand  .  be careful !!!  
        
It's time to tell it like it is, and I hate to be tooo blunt,  but   if your learning  about HR on youtube,  you are being lead down the primrose path
YOUTUBE   phooey,   come to a club
 


CLUBS

Watching that first video listed above, (ask dave #12)  and reading those links,   it looks like the old guys are stuck in a rut
Joining a Local CLUB and the ARRL.  By joining ARRL, you get  QST magazine which  is one of the best ways to learn things, 
unlike Playboy magazine, where everyone just 'read the articles' and didn't look at the pictures, looking at the pictures in QST and reading the
advertising can add to your knowledge base.  and if you happen to read an article thats even better, ,
                                                                                                                                                           ARRL membership/renewal Link
FYI, when you join a club, you need to attend the meetings !

In Pocatello there are two amateur radio groups 
One being the page your on now, the Pocatello Amateur Radio Club (PARC Home Page),  and

The Portneuf Valley Amateur Radio Emergency Services group  PV ARES

PARC is a general interest club, and PV ARES is mostly interested in emergency communications and parade, race, local event communications. 
If Emergency preparedness is why you got a Amateur License you should investigate them.
 
However if you got a license to explore all the aspects of HAM radio like DXing,  weak signal vhf , contests, building projects,  Just learning new things. 
Then PARC is for you,    Think about this,  Join both groups,  get the best of both worlds.

If you don't live in Pocatello see this   Other Ham Clubs in our area                   


Handy Talky (HT) buyers guide:  This is my advice to you as an Elmer:
DONT spend a small fortune on a two meter radio, however, I DON'T recommend
those really cheap Chinese radios,  they are hard (almost impossible) to program without a computer
I DO recommend a single band 2 meter radio, that has a BNC antenna connector, like mentioned in those videos, 
forgot all the "bells and whistles" . most of that "stuff"  IS USELESS. 
Your a beginner,  buy a simple radio, who knows 6 months from now you might not even be interested in 2 meters anymore.

There's got to be some FM only ,  plain Jane,  FM HT for say less than $100.  Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, Alinco pick one.
simple and cheap,  not Chinese, with a BNC antenna  jack if possible. 
 forget D-Star or Fusion, GPS, APRS , etc etc ,
The radio manufactures what to sell you the most expensive thing they can grind out
TOOO many options,  TOOO much memory, TOOO much BS.    simple is better.
See this  link about how much memory is too much   Ozzy Osburne   it might be a joke but its mostly true.

There are a few D-Star, Fusion, DMR repeaters popping up here and there in  Idaho,  Now let me say , it seems that Twin Falls has joined the digital radio world,  
I still feel wasting money on 4 different types of 2 meter radios is a waste of time and money !! see just below.
THE REAL FACT IS:
There's almost NO activity on the any type of repeaters,   DEAD AIR, so be warned. , see above "why is two meters dead"

heres a few  examples of simple HT radios(as of 2017) ,  alinco DJ-100T  DJ-500T  Kenwood TH-K20A,  Yaesu FT65R,  and ICOM  V80 sport, 
which is the best in my opinion, it has a BNC, and a AA battery pack, which means you can run it on Standard AA batteries in an emergency.  

this also means for daily use you will need to buy some rechargeable batteries and the correct charger for your batteries,   I still use NiCad's in my HT.  


Speaking of FM,, as discussed above, the three digital audio modes  DMR - Dstar -  Fusion are all INCOMPATIBLE with each other. The
people that spend a ton of money putting up these specialized repeaters will tell you how great the audio is,  Hi Def audio, 
Quadraphonic (remember, the absolute "end all" to your stereo system in the 70's)  Now dead and gone.   Anyway they will tell you how great it is,
and how you can't live without it !  What they are doing  in fact is,  SEGMENTING  2 meter voice into 4 groups, all incompatible with each other. 
Answer, Buy 4 kinds of radios,   ???  NOT,          at least for a starter, stick with what's now called "analog  FM" ,,   its not HiFi, but it works good !
some of these digital systems are all linked  to other similar repeaters systems around the world, Just a push a button,  VIA the internet. Wow press a button and talk
to London or India, Thailand, Australia..  and it works, but does Internet linked communications really provide anything of lasting enjoyment.? thats for you to decide.
 
 


Technicians ON TEN meters   , GREAT IDEA, however this being written in 2020 the hard truth is ?? 
you had better set down for this, because its not what you want to hear.
its going to be a lonely world,  more lonely than 2 meter FM.
am I lying , some might say I full of Bull,   BUT the sunspot cycle down in the BOTTOMS, 
NO sun spots equals  NO propagation on the higher HF bands,   Not to say skip won't happen some times, 
Sporadic E skip is the main driving force of 6 meter skip..  That same Sporadic E makes for some great contacts on 10 meters..
The Question is , What Day, What hour, maybe What year  ???
you better keep the radio on all the time, those openings will be far and few in-between.

Whats the answer, a general or extra license,   giving you more HF privileges

 


Outside antennas,  
OK  you want to be heard, then you need an outside antenna,  for 2 meters a cheap J-Pole or 1/4 wave ground plane will do the trick,  but its got to be outside your house, connected
with good coax, Like RG8U or RG213 type coax ( see coax below) . The Higher you can mount the antenna the better ,  up on your roof somewhere.   if you ever need to talk
simplex, (what  a novel idea, simplex)  your rubber duck isn't going to work very well.   There is a host of other vertical outside antennas for 2 meters, most are somewhat
expensive  considering what your getting,  however,  they are factory antennas that  tend to last forever.

HF antennas for the beginner,  A  DIPOLE   or a  ONE Band Vertical.  You don't have to invest a fortune on an antenna,  prices on new Trapped Verticals
are ridicules. As are multi band Store Bought dipoles,  MAKE YOUR OWN ANTENNA  it will be almost free...  and you don't need a PhD to install them. 
Which Band,  Well ???? (as of 2020) 10, 12, 15 meter  bands are almost USELESS for the next 4 or 5 years,  No SunSpots.  So  my 2 cents worth
is either 20 or 40 meters. maybe 80 meters. These bands show lots of life,  dipoles are really easy to build and the club can help you get one up if you need or want the help. 
See the Q&A button for measurements.  resonant dipole
Vertical Antenna, a 20 meter Vertical  antenna is only 16 feet tall,  if you can mount it on your roof you will only need a few radials, four is more than enough..
On the ground you need lots of radials,  not impossible,  but a bit more work.     40 Meters is 32 feet tall,  harder to put on your roof, but not impossible.
 

If you check 'the Doctors IN' topics,  ( see above)   they have discussed all sorts of antennas ,  the Plusses and minuses of all different types  .... Dipoles are the way to go, simple and they work,


COAX, don't drink the LMR-400   coolaid   ( you can join the crew at JimJones-coolaid.com)
Look guys,  for years and years  RG-8U was the standard for coax,  Now in the 2020's  it seems RG-8u has lost it favor,  now the band wagon buzz is LMR-400
this 'STUFF' is great,  BUT, it costs a fortune and the shipping will kill you.  Lots of older hams have old RG-8  or RG-213  (same stuff) laying around in the garage, they will probably sell
it to you cheap,,  and there's no shipping..    Yes there is a BIT of a difference in various  coax types,   but not much. 
Does Coax go bad ???,  I've been a ham for 55+ years and have never seen, unless its got a big cut
in the rubber covering,  again I've never seen bad coax.  Really I don't think old age hurts it ,,   
NOW,  for 2m/70cm , where you need a length more thats maybe 20 feet or more  between your radio and the antenna,  I do recommend RG-8 , ETC ETC type coax
(check the PARC forsale page)   LMR-400 is great too,  but not necessary,  .5 db really doesn't mater,
NOW for HF,   if your making a dipole for say 20 meters down (  20, 40, 80, 160,) and your running 100 watts,  RG-58 or RG-8 Mini is going to work good, 
If your antenna is 200 feet out in the 'south 40' ,,  you probably  want RG-8 size coax.
If your running a 1000+ watts RG-8  is necessary,    ALL this about coax is way complicated subject ,   I suggest you get an Elmer , and tap his brain !!!!!!!

also Cable TV Coax,  RG-6 and RG-59 , this is 75 ohm coax , and in fact will work OK in most instances , BUT it's generally not copper, and the steel is impossible to solder to,
making it hard to use,   .....  use it  if you want,  but for my bet get some ""used""   copper coax.. 


HI FI AUDIO.  on HF .    (fools are easily separated from their money)
HIFI I ask WHY.    There are several manufactures that sell audio enhancement devices,  my question why ?  
ANSWER:   if you make it,  some fool will eventually buy it, and tell you how great it is. 

if you tune around 14.188mHz  and listen, eventually you will hear a bunch of these HIFI audio guys all discussing how great they all sound,  
now ,  tune slightly off their signal a bit and hear the strange artifact, kind of a "wow wow" sound.  Its terrible.

Generally  their bandwidth is wider than a normal SSB signal, all the extra "base" might sound a bit better, but its totally stupid.

SO  just don’t get sucked into the stupidity.   Just say NO.


MICROPHONES (oh.... did I say fools are easily separated from their money)
 YOU Ask ,  Do I need a special microphone  ??   answer  NO

The microphone supplied with your radio was made for your radio. 

if you really want to improve your operating position, buy a fairly good HEADSET, like Heil or Radio Sport, 
you’ll need a foot switch too.   DON’T buy the Heil  foot switch,  a total rip off.  Too thick , too hard to press down, TOO expensive... 
EBAY footswitch, see what pops up. buy something FLAT to get your foot on.  I use a foot switch made for a old Dictaphone machine.

I almost always use headphones,  I can hear better,  the boom mike is attached, I don’t need to lean up to the desk to talk, 
I can use my hands to do my electronic logging, 

I also say PHOOEY to that Rush Limbaugh golden microphone suspended with springs on a boom device,   PHOOEY 
Heil sells a lot of this "stuff" , its not worth what it costs,,  

What not to do:  spend a king ransom on a microphone.

Lets see, some manufactures, especially Yaesu, make WAY EXPENSIVE microphones.    
The top Yaesu  mike, the “M-1 special addition”  priced at $690, WHAT,  CRAZY  (do you have money to burn ??
Heil sells a lot of mikes and booms and other “stuff” that only extracts money from your pocket. and really  doesn't improve your signal !

So what did I ask,    do you really think you need a FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR microphone ???   NO
Those dollars are WAY better spend that on an Antenna,  or a headset....   The mike supplied with your radio should work just fine,
. I'm a real fan of Headsets and foot switches.

A note about HEADSETS:  Heil isn't cheap, but good, and Radio Sport seems way too expensive .  I actually use a
strange looking Telex headset. I'm not even sure where I got it,  I had  to add a one  transistor amplifier so it would work with my Icom radio.
and yes, its not the totally comfortable leather coated expensive headset,   however I get great audio reports .  years ago a friend of mine bought
a cheap headset advertised in QST,, from Warren Gregoire LLC in California,  I gave him a ration of BS about those cheap things,  but I
operated for a few hours in a contest from his shack, and actually think those cheap things were OK,   good audio, not too tough on the ears..
they cost $59 dollars now see www.superheadsets.com.   There are also a lot of people using cheap Computer headsets,  if I ever
find a good article about this I will put info here.
computer headsets do work quite well.   I guess what I'm saying , you don't have to spend a fortune on headsets either. so shop around


LOGGING your contacts
OK guys,  way back in the olden' days,   not so many years ago, it was an FCC rule that every transmission  
should be logged,  yes every transmission,  if you called CQ, you logged it, even if no one answered you.    seems extreme  doesn't it  ,
lucky we don't need to do that any more, however, keeping a log is important,   (ok OK !!   not so important for 2 meter FM)..
Some day , you might decide to get some "wall paper"  , like the ARRL's
Worked All States WAS award. without a log it "ain't" going to happen !!   
Ok it isn't going to happen.   Paper logs are OK, BUT, not really , 
hey its the 21 Century and we have computers,   FYI your shack computer doesn't need to be a I 7 processor with 16g's of memory, and a 10 trillion gig hard drive.
I use XP on an older machine, it runs all the software I need and  really works well in my shack. 
There are many  logging programs for not too much money,  I use N3FJP, his product is relatively inexpensive , for me it does the job I want. 
Some software is just TOOOOO complex, If your spending $100+  its probably "bloat ware".
I don't need a wall covered with 32 inch monitors to keep track of the "gray line"..   
as with many things,  most of the time   "simple is better" !!

LOG ALL YOUR HF Contacts  as well as your Weak Signal VHF contacts,  is there a VUCC in your future ??  
it's NOT going to happen without a LOG.. 
Log on your computer and then use LoTW,  for awards,   you might want to have some QSL cards on hand too....  
Log even if you have NO intention of getting a VUCC or WAS ,  WHY ?,  because the other guy REALLY needed IDAHO on 6 METERS, 
and you were that important contact,,  he's depending on you to CONFIRM  that "hard to get contact" ..  and it, (LoTW)  costs nothing

Heres a screen shot of what I have uploaded to LoTW,  to decode this, I have uploaded 52,595 QSO's   and have CONFIRMED (QSL) 19,377
Confirmed means  both my log and the other fellows log Match ,  time , date, call sign,  ETC.. 
just to make sure we all understand,  Logbook of The World  (LoTW)  is NOT a logging program, its a database for awards.


QSL CARDS
Yes,  a time tested way to confirm a contact,  IF YOUR active on HF,  you need some printed QSL card, 
If your working DX the cards will arrive at the incoming  BURO for your call district..  
PARC gets cards all the time via the BURO...

Get a few QSL cards printed, or print your own,  100 should be more than enough to start. 

     sign up for LoTW   the ARRL electronic awards database.   Don't get fooled by eQSL and
     QRZ's Logbook or similar internet sites. ARRL and CQ magazine awards are where it's at.

    QSL cards should be 'post card' size  5 by 3 1/2 inches,  card stock.
     The prefer card has all the info on one side, but it's not necessary.  Pictures are always nice, but not necessary either

    Learn about SASE's ,,  check out your incoming QSL buro,  you need to have envelopes at the buro.
    http://www.arrl.org/incoming-qsl-service    will have contact info.

    To use the outgoing buro, you must be an ARRL member.

 


Don' t hide in your closet:
Something I think is important, is being able to Email hams and have other hams be able to contact me, is important  
 QRZ.comIt's a defacto STANDARD in call sign lookups

Now don't send them any money
The guy's probably a multi millionaire, without your help.  QRZ is a great ham asset  for  finding contact info .

 There is absolutely NO reason to send him (qrz.com) money.  I've used the site for years, (free)   there is a limited amount of lookups you
can do every 24 hours,  like a 100,  why/when  would I want to look up more ??? 

That being said its a great web.  Now what do I think is stupid, several years ago , the owner made it mandatory to LOG IN,   to get access to most of the info about stations,
I don't like it, BUT,  I have never suspected him of misusing my  email address...  SO   get signed up, then you can manage your page and see all the info about other folks.
you can  post  a picture of yourself, PLEASE not  your radio,  I know what a Yaesu looks like !!  SO.. How about you and your radio ??
I don't know what you look like !!   OK then post  some kind of BIO about yourself,   and your EMAIL info.  maybe your phone number,  

Remember ITS FREE       


 


Be ready for an emergency,  if you want, join in with the ""emergency guys"",  like PV-ARES,
you'll probably get some good training, and some new friends on the radio..
BUT when the ""big one"" hits,  HF long haul communications is probably going to save the day when "" all else fails ""   AT least for health and welfare traffic.

what exactly is the  " big one" ?? floods, tornados, earthquakes, a 2 meter HT's is great for "parade duty" or bicycle race, maybe at the  local shelter
during a snow storm. However, when the lines are down for hundreds of miles you need HF, or maybe  a satellite phone
You  might need to communicate with guys with HT's around town, so have a two meter base radio & outside antenna, and emergency power   like a Generator !! ,
it doesn't take much power   to run  a  the modern HF/2 meter station. 
Question: how are you going to power your radio, that HT battery won't last forever,  have backup power for your radios, 
BE READY, get savvy enough to repair / troubleshoot problems with antennas , cables, learn how your equipment works, ,  etc  IF you don't you may be part of the emergency ??

A note about outside antennas,   if you are really going to be able to help in an emergency,  where you might be operating from HOME of out of your CAR,  you need
more than a rubber duck antenna,    for mobile, if you just cant bring yourself to mount an NMO antenna ( as in drill a hole in your car) get a magnetic  mount  stick it on the top of your roof.
you might want to invest in a regular 30 to 60 watt mobile radio,  the antenna and a better radio will improve you chance of being  helpful in an emergency.  
DON"T RELY ON REPEATERS,   they fail too.  and they might fail when you need them
WHAT about you home ,,    get an outside antenna , on your roof,  a  J-pole will work,  want something tried and true,  look at the cushcraft Ringo Ranger antennas,
these small antennas can be  mounted on a piece of PVC pipe,   just slid it  down into one of your plumbing vents on your roof..
use some good coax,,   200 feet of RG8X is NOT optimal     RG-8 RG-213, LMR400  size stuff is much better,
IF YOUR     RELYING ON ONE RADIO , YOUR  CHINESE HT AND ITS RUBBER DUCK, YOU ARE NOT READY FOR  AN EMERGENCY.


WHO PAYS FOR REPEATERS.
it isn't the federal government or the city,   its the hams that own the repeater.  most repeaters are operated by clubs,  there are a few
repeaters that  individuals have on the air  and the owners foot the bill.
It costs money to keep these radios on the air. This year alone,  PARC  had to replace 10 year old batteries at  Scout Mt.  and the lighting protector on the
solar panels failed,   just getting there take a toll on 4 wheel vehicles,   again,  WHO pays  ????    Club members do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you use repeaters , any repeater,  you should join the club that supports those repeaters,   you dues  keep these radio systems running.
Pick a club, and join,  even if you never attend a meeting, join. However,   Be advised,  most clubs want you to attend meetings (PLEASE) , 

your dues help with repeater expenses.
 


OK you guys, want to express your ideas, 

do you have any ideas, think I'm too harsh,  or want to tell me to drop dead, get a life,  etc etc,  drink more beer , etc  ,  email john.wilson.k0ip((at))gmail.com

so far , not once, has anyone sent me anything,   I'm waiting,  I don't tweet, I don't text,  email is king ,,  send me something , hate mail is OK,  I have a delete button  ,,, HI HI   ?????????????????

Now what Have I forgot ?????????