Yasme Foundation Helps Fund Ham Radio's Growth
Friday, October 20, 2017
Veteran DX'ers know the word YASME. But newer DX'ers might not know the story behind the word, nor how relevant it is in today's amateur radio. What is a Yasme, and why is it important?
The Yasme Foundation is a non-profit organization that has promoted amateur radio worldwide since 1959. The organization gets its name from the boat of Danny Weil, VP2VB. "Yasme" is a derivative of the Japanese word yasume, meaning "to make tranquil." Weil was one of the first hams to go on extended DXpeditions in the 1950s, sailing to badly-needed entities with hundreds of pounds of gear. In some cases, Weil was the first person to transmit amateur radio from some of these locations. The Yasme Foundation was originally created to help offset the cost of Weil's trips. When Weil stopped going on his trips in the early 1960s, the husband and wife team of Lloyd and Iris Colvin - W6KG and W6QL, respectively - started going on DXpeditions of their own, under the Yasme flag. The Colvins operated from nearly 200 DXCC entities over the next thirty years, keeping the name Yasme alive and important to the world of ham radio.
Yasme Foundation President Ward Silver, N0AX, notes that the mission of Yasme has changed along with the times. "Today, the Yasme Foundation makes modest grants in support of amateur radio-related projects around the world, in order to promote the development of amateur radio and amateur radio licensing." Deviating from the original mission, Yasme no longer makes grants or donations to DXpeditions. "There are lots of foundations and clubs to take care of those needs," Silver says. "Our vision is much larger in scope now."
Yasme does not seek donations. Funded through an endowment from the Colvin estate, the Yasme Foundation's grants are distributed through scholarships, gifts to outreach and education programs, and the Yasme Excellence Awards, which bestows a gift to individuals who have made significant contributions to amateur radio. In September, Yasme made a donation to the ARRL Ham-Aid program, in support of the amateur radio response efforts following deadly hurricanes in the US and Caribbean.
"We have a big focus on helping get younger operators into ham radio and active. That often involves helping to open up licensing, and we support the efforts of local and regional amateurs in doing so. We want to help create new DX operators and operation from underrepresented countries. For example, we've supported the efforts of Champ, E21EIC, and Joe, HS2JFW, as they worked with the government of Thailand; there are many more Thai HF operators on the air as a result of their work."
Silver said Yasme's efforts today are aimed at ensuring the long-term health and growth of amateur radio. "We want ham radio to have a future, so that's why we are so interested in helping the younger operators get going. We are getting younger ops to conferences and events like the Youngsters On The Air (YOTA) conferences. We hope they will "catch a fire" and take their enthusiasm for amateur radio back to their home countries and among their peers." Silver said it is critical that the younger operators they help support make ham radio what they want it to be. "That might not include some of the traditional types of operating and technology, like contesting and DX'ing, but innovation is what keeps ham radio vigorous. We want to encourage that innovation."
Some of that evolution has been visible for some time. "Personally, I'm quite supportive of the new digital modes that open up bands that seem closed to modes like SSB," Silver said. "FM was developed in order to overcome the amplitude-modulated static on shortwave bands. With noise floors rising and solar activity expected to be low-to-moderate over the next decade or longer, plus fewer opportunities for the bigger antenna systems we're used to at home stations, using technology to overcome those challenges is important."
For more information on Yasme and their outreach programs and grants, visit www.yasme.org.