eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years

from Len Anderson, AF6AY on December 6, 2009
View comments about this article!

Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years

A comprehensive examination of USA amateur radio demographics requires a reference as to the numbers of the various classes of license. There is only one true reference, the public FCC database. Other sources of statistics are all derived from this. Two such sites used here are Hamdata and ARRL. ARRL statistics show only those licensee numbers within their 10-year effective period. Hamdata shows all licensees including their 2-year Grace period plus a number of other data as to new licensees, expirations, and class changes.

For purposes of examination of trends, six dates were chosen at 6- month intervals, the 18th of May and 18th of November, for years of 2007, 2008, 2009. The choice of date was arbitrary, picked to begin 3 months after the cessation of license examination code test requirements.* New license classes of Technician-Plus, Novice, and Advanced would not be granted after USA amateur radio Restructuring. Those three are lumped as one group under the acronym TPNA.

The expected influx of new license applicants did not happen right away after the morse code test was eliminated from license testing on 23 February 2007. Looking at two specific dates, just before 23 Feb 07 and roughly 10 days later:

                       22 February 2007          4 March 2007
                       ----------------          ------------
   Technician              311,851                 311,115
   General                 142,031                 142,951
   Amateur Extra           111,464                 111,559
   TPNA                    145,886                 145,438
   Total Individual        711,232                 711,063

Majority of number changes seem to be due more to license class changes made possible by new regulations that eliminated the code test. This is not proven but justified by the decrease in Technician class numbers as well as the TPNA group and a step-increase in General class numbers.

Longer-term class numbers can be examined by the tabulation following. Each month column is taken from the 18th day of that month.

                 May 07   Nov 07   May 08   Nov 08   May 09   Nov 09
                 -------  -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
Technician       305,982  309,338  316,662  323,478  336,713  343,256
General          151,409  155,099  155,791  156,223  157,082  158,082
Amateur Extra    113,383  115,200  117,103  118.665  120,205  121,417
TPNA             141,049  133,372  122,696  114,660  100,123   93,595
Total Individual 711,823  713,009  712,252  713,026  714,123  716,350

What is interesting from the above is that total individual licensees change by +4,527 or 0.64% over three years. Technician class changed by +37,274 or 12.18%. Amateur Extra increased by +8,034 or 7.09% and General class was last with +6,673 or 4.41% increase. Attrition in the TPNA group seems normal considering that no renewals have been available for years.

A psychologically-sensitive area is Expirations. License expirations may be due to death, disablement, or simply from disinterest in continuing to keep a license renewed. So far, this author has found that only Hamdata displays Expirations as well as New licensees, Class Changes, plus miscellaneous data such as Administrative changes (mailing address changed, name changed, etc.). New licensee numbers are a bellwether datum to indicate interest in joining amateur radio. The following is a tabulation from Hamdata on New, Expired, Class- Changes on the Prior 6-month period at the 18th of each month:

             May 07   Nov 07   May 08   Nov 08   May 09   Nov 09
             ------   ------   ------   ------   ------   ------
New          14,383   12,180   15,027   12,833   15,027   14,279
Expired      14,954   10,828   15,607   11,907   15,607   11,983
Class Change 18,510   11,877   11,248    8,977   13,448    7,157

Two things on that tabulation. First, the number of Expirations is nearly that of New licensees. Most of the New group are granted Technician class licenses. A general trend seems to be that New licensees are beginning to overtake Expirations but that may be premature. Second, the Class Change numbers took an upward turn right after cessation of the code test, changes available through new regulations. However, the number of Class Changes have dropped off in the three-year period. That may be due to a lessening of amateur radio attractiveness to the general public. A general trend appears to be that the desire to upgrade is slowly decreasing.

Radio amateurs in their Grace period may be approximated by subtracting ARRL numbers (10-year term only) from Hamdata numbers. From the ARRL statistics for the 18th of each month:

              May 08   Nov 07   May 08   Nov 08   May 09   Nov 09
              -------  -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
Technician    287,679  298,385  301,917  310,276  325,181  332,554
General       139,545  142,559  143,189  144,314  147,172  150,259
Amateur Extra 110,310  111,789  113,627  115.231  117,170  118,967
TPNA          117,872  108,797   99,013   92,009   80,822   78,471
Total         655,406  655,530  657,746  661,830  670,345  680,251

Doing the arithmetic yields the following including percentage (in brackets) in their Grace period:

              May 08   Nov 07   May 08   Nov 08   May 09   Nov 09
              -------  -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
Technician     18,303   16,953   14,745   13,152   11,297   10,702
              [5.98%]  [5.48%]  [4.66%]  [4.07%]  [3.36%]  [3.12%]
General        10,864   12,540   12,602   11,909    9,910    7,777
              [7.18%]  [8.09%]  [8.09%]  [7.62%]  [6.31%]  [4.92%]
Amateur Extra  3,073     3,411    3,476    3,434    3,035    2,458
              [2.71%]  [2.96%]  [2.97%]  [2.89%]  [2.52%]  [2.02%]

As expected, the Amateur Extra, the "hard core" amateur, has the lowest Grace period numbers. Surprisingly, Technician class is next lowest but General class has the highest percentage within their 2- year Grace period. General class has existed the longest in USA amateur radio history.

According to Hamdata, the peak of ALL USA amateur license grants happened on 2 July 2003 with a total of 737,938. Total amateur license grants have been less than that following that date of 6 years ago. To get some visibility into which class has risen the most in a bit more than 5 years, compare the following Hamdata figures on two dates. Percentage in parentheses denotes total per class relative to the total INDIVIDUAL license grants. New, Expired, Class Changes occurred in the 6-month period prior to the column date:

                    9 May 2004         18 November 2009      Change
                 -----------------     -----------------    -------
Technician      284,105   (39.1%)     343,256   (47.9%)    +59,151
General         146,223   (20.1%)     158,036   (22.1%)    +11,813
Amateur Extra   107,595   (14.8%)     121,417   (17.0%)    +13,822
TPNA            188,920   (26.0%)      93,595   (13.1%)    -95,365
Total Individual      726,843               716,304         -10,589

New Licensees 9,723 14,279 Expirations 9,786 11,983 Class Changes 6,581 7,157

A rather obvious trend seems to be that Technician class is growing the fastest of the three and those Technicians seem to be STAYING in that class. Note that Class Changes have slowed down is evident in the preceding tabulation as well as that above. Another trend is that total individual license grants are probably slowly decreasing, due to expirations if not from lack of general interest in amateur radio.

An odd bit of miscellany is that Club licenses were 9,008 on 9 May 2004 but jumped to 11,066 by 18 November 2009. Club license grants aren't counted in most of these numbers involving INDIVIDUAL licenses.

As the TPNA group runs its course to zero, the Technician class licensees will become the majority in the USA. They are within 3% of achieving that majority NOW. Other than Technician license numbers constantly growing, plus the spurt in Club licenses, there isn't much else changing in the last five years of USA amateur radio licensing; total numbers just aren't keeping up with a continuing USA population increase.

73, Len AF6AY

* PDF files of statistics website screenshots on the dates indicated herein are available from the author via private e-mail attachment; private e- mail requests for this ZIP file (~360KB) may be made to AF6AY@aol.com. These screenshots were done by Printing HTML screens via Acrobat 8. In some cases the HTML screens contain background colors and advertisements which did not transfer to PDF. In all cases the statistics numbers transferred correctly.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by NN4RH on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>> A rather obvious trend seems to be that Technician class is growing the fastest of the three and those Technicians seem to be STAYING in that class. <<

I think (opinion, not statistics) that about a third of those would be the EmComm Whackers that get tech licenses so they can use ham radio in their jobs. They don't progress to an HF license because all they care about is Saving The World with minimal investment in the hobby.

Another third are the CBers who get their Techs so they can use their modded CBs on 10 & 12 meters but don't want to invest anything else in the hobby. They're just sitting around and waiting for the sunspots to come back so they can shoot skip on their "extree channels" and in the meantime are still on CB Hamsexy.com.

The rest are just the usual ones who once they get their license have no interste in ever getting on the air. Those will all go away in about 7 to 10 years. In the meantime they spend their days on Hamsexy or EHam under anonymous logins.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N4CQR on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Sometimes I am surprised there is any growth at all in amateur radio.

Craig
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by G3LBS on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
People don't want hierarchies in their hobby they have enough of it in their jobs
Buffalo Gil W2/G3LBS
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by WA9PIE on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I would love to see these stats by age group. Obviously, in order to sustain the hobby, we need an influx of young people with new ideas.

Mike, WA9PIE
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by N8RGQ on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This is another Article spun to make a good thing into a bad one ! We have made it back to 2004 levals of hams ! The fact is we are growing again and the auther doesn't like it that the changes have worked !

73,
Terry
N8RGQ
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WY3X on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>Attrition in the TPNA group seems normal considering
>that no renewals have been available for years.

Not true. I renewed my Advanced class license, and look forward to renewing it for many more years. The FCC is not "sunsetting" these licenses. You may renew them as long as they continue to make it available. They would probably "grandfather" Advanced class licensees to Extra Class to do away with it, and they've repeatedly said they won't do this.

73, -KR4WM
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K3AN on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
According to census figures I found, the U.S. population grew about 1% each year from 2000 to 2008. Ham population grew just 0.64 percent in two and a half years. Not an alarming trend, but not a healthy one either.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N5TGL on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"I think (opinion, not statistics) that about a third of those would be the EmComm Whackers that get tech licenses so they can use ham radio in their jobs. They don't progress to an HF license because all they care about is Saving The World with minimal investment in the hobby. "

That's the EXACT same conclusion I came to.

Pity, as they are missing out on a lot of fun stuff in HF.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WX7G on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Where are the graphs? I want to see graphs.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by K6LO on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
[NN4RH Wrote] ..."I think (opinion, not statistics) that about a third of those would be the EmComm Whackers that get tech licenses so they can use ham radio in their jobs. They don't progress to an HF license because all they care about is Saving The World with minimal investment in the hobby. " ...[end]

---------
I am sorry to say that is my conclusion too. I am an engineer in the public safety radio industry, and work very closely with federal, state, and local agencies.

The EmComm people have little to no interest in amateur radio. The license is simply a tool to use equipment, often owned by a city or county, not the "ham". It is turn-key process for them. Take a one day license class, pass a simple test, use equipment. Much like taking any other certification class.

This is not cynicism speaking. These are not lazy or stupid people. They simply do not have an interest in the hobby.

73 - Luke
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by WB4M on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Pity, as they are missing out on a lot of fun stuff in HF."

Not really. They are busy promoting WinLink, so non-hams can use ham frequencies for email. WinLinkers also want to save the world, pass all kinds of dire traffic during emergencies.
 
Tech Plus, Advanced and Novice licenses  
by N2EY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KR4WM writes: "I renewed my Advanced class license, and look forward to renewing it for many more years. The FCC is not "sunsetting" these licenses."

When the FCC stopped issuing new Advanced and Novice licnes back in April 2000, there were about 50,000 Novices and 100,000 Advanceds. Today there are about 17,000 Novices and 60,000 Advanceds. (these numbers are for current unexpired licenses held by individuals, and do not include expired licenses in the grace period)

KR4WM: "You may renew them as long as they continue to make it available."

Modify and get a vanity call, too.

This isn't the first time the Advanced was closed to new issues. At the end of 1952, the FCC closed Advanced to new issues, intending that it would disappear by attrition. 15 years later, in 1967, Advanced was reopened to new issues as part of the first wave of changes that came to be known as "incentive licensing".

KR4WM: "They would probably "grandfather" Advanced class licensees to Extra Class to do away with it, and they've repeatedly said they won't do this."

Yep, FCC has turned down all sorts of no-test free-upgrade proposals. Their response is always the same: 'just pass the tests'. I think one reason is that it would cost them all sorts of admin work.

Technician Plus is a different story. That license class was created about 1993 because hams wanted a differentiation between Techs who had HF priviliges and Techs who didn't.

In April 2000, FCC not only stopped issuing new Tech Pluses, but also started renewing all Tech Pluses as Techs, leaving it up to the licensee to retain documents proving they had HF privileges. That became a moot point in 2007, of course.

The auto-renewal of Tech Pluses as Tech means that in a few months the Tech Plus license will simply disappear. It's also one reason the Technician license numbers have grown so much in the past decade.

Back in April 2000, there were about 125,000 Tech Pluses. Today there are less than 400. In another 4 months or so there will be none at all.

Since 1951, the only other FCC-issued license class to disappear was the old Conditional, which went away in the mid-1970s. FCC did it the same way - all Conditionals were renewed as General. It only took 5 years because the license term was 5 years back then.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Novice 1967
Technician and Advanced 1968
Extra 1970 - present
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WB0OEW on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I posted a plot of the licenses at http://www.clearskyinstitute.com/ham/stats/index.html .
 
Graphs  
by N2EY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To WB0OEW:

Thanks! The graph makes it easy to see the trends.

For example, it's easy to see that the number of Generals and Extras has climbed pretty steadily for more than a decade, while the number of Technician/Tech Pluses has pretty much stayed the same.

Would it be possible for you to show the number of Advanceds and Novices? Maybe as dashed lines?

One minor point: The FCC didn't drop any license classes in 2000, they just closed them to new issues.

73 es tnx agn de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K4ZN on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I observe that the opinion that people interested in ECOM are inflating the TECH class appears to be an offering of anecdotal observation, and to this point is not documented from a statistically significant population sample. This does not mean that it is not so. It simply means that there is no SCIENTIFIC data to support the anecdotal observation.

If it is indeed the case that there is a significant growth of TECH for this reason, then, even though they may not be hobbyists in the traditional hobbyist sense - and may not have an interest in the radio art; nevertheless, it is hard to imagine a better demographic to target for the growth of the hobby.

Even people who do not presently have a passion for the hobby of ham radio - someday they will retire, or the kids will leave home - or they will make more money later in life and can then afford the 'dream station'. How many hams are at some point QRT and then later become active again?

Licenses held is one thing. People on the air regularly is another. Ham radio activity is truly a difficult thing to measure. No station runs all bands, all modes, 24-7-365. What is participation? Holding a license? Being on the air twice a day, once a day, once a week, once a month, one contest a year?

Kudos to Len AF6AY for presenting the tabular form of the data. It is food for thought.
 
2003 was due to a bubble  
by KASSY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I talked with an ARRL staffer a few years ago at a hamfest and she told me an interesting thing...well, observation? ARRL's conjecture?

In 1993 the no-code tech license came into being. A major push between ARRL and emcomm support agencies encouraged people to get licensed, and there was a HUGE influx of hams at that time. But these people were not interested in ham radio, they were interested in emergency preparedness.

For most people, communications is not high on the list for emergency preparedness. So these new hams, in the emergency preparedness classes, learned that their first focus was on developing a sustainable water and food supply, and learning how to stay properly sheltered. They started putting time into that instead of ham radio.

And, they learned quickly that ARES/RACES have stultifylingly complicated hierachies, pseudo-government, that nobody in their right mind would want to be part of - although power mongers love them. So, we lost almost the entire "generation" of new hams that came into the hobby in 1993 - their licenses expired in 2003.

Therefore, the key learning from 2003 is not that, for some reason, there was a peak in 2003, but finally, an artificial bubble had passed, and we returned to a more normal condition.

Bringing people into the hobby under the guise of emergency preparedness is always temporary. As soon as the world, overall, feels less tense, the people who got into it for "emergency preparedness" lose interest.

BTW, ham radio is getting younger. Another chance encounter I had at a hamfest was with a Quality Engineer - these people are the world's best at understanding what statistics and population studies show.

He said that while the average age of ham radio has increased from 59 to 61 since the mid-70s, the average age of America has increased by 8 years. So, ham radio is younger, comparitively.

I noticed at the last few hamfests I attended, that there were way more young people than I have ever seen at ham functions. They don't go to clubs, though - their generation communicates on Twitter and by texting, not at in-person meetings. Clubs may well be dying, but not because ham radio is dying. It's just that the youth are not so interested in clubs.

Gotta watch what I say here, some people would call me young. I do clubs and I do Twitter, so I'm a tweenie, I suppose....

- k
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N8RGQ wrote on December 6, 2009:

"This is another Article spun to make a good thing into a bad one !"

Not at all. It is merely a dispassionate look at some statistics, data that is publicly available to anyone who bothers to access it.
.............
"The fact is we are growing again and the auther doesn't like it that the changes have worked !"

Wrong. The "auther" [sic] is myself and my single license grant in the amateur radio service is PART of the data presented. My license grant was achieved by passing all three test elements on a Sunday afternoon (25 February 2007) at "Old Firehouse 77" on Glenoaks Boulevard in Sun Valley, CA. I was age 74 when those test elements were passed. :-)

That was my ONLY amateur radio license obtained anywhere on this planet. It should also be noted that I've held a First-Class Commercial Radiotelephone license since passing those four test elements in one sitting at an FCC Field Office in Chicago, Illinois, during a weekday in March, 1956. Later, that "First Phone" became a General Radiotelephone License and, eventually, was made lifetime, no renewals required. I've been involved in radio communications professionally since age 19, a mere 58 years. :-)

As to "growth" in license numbers, an objective look requires removal of rose-tinted glasses and dropping the "we are always the best and biggest" pep-rally attitude and look at reality. If there IS a "growth" then its percentages are down in normal statistical noise. The best filter to achieve a high reality-to-noise ratio is through OBJECTIVITY. In HF terms, USA amateur radio licensing "growth" is down there barely touching "S1."

As a so-called "new" person in radio, I didn't get into amateur radio thinking it would be a loser. But, I'm PART of a new group now and hoped that conditions in amateur radio would have changed after my amateur license was granted. I see little change, therefore the study to see if a cause could be determined just from easily-obtainable statistics.

Over the long term, the continued existance of USA amateur radio requires enough CITIZEN interest to justify its existance to the federal government. Your amateur radio license grant is nothing more than a federal permission to radiate RF energy under terms of regulations codified in law. It does not give you, me, or any other license grantee anything more, not even any fancy royal titles. That license does not endow you, me, or anyone with superior moral virtue or righteousness. Licensing is just a regulatory agency tool to maintain order in the EM spectrum, to mitigate interference.

From a cursory glance at content of e-ham articles by respondents, the majority seem to be those who have been licensed in the amateur radio service for a large number of years, certainly more than my not-quite-3-years. On the other hand, the number of respondents to articles is a tiny fraction of total USA licensees and those are generally too enthusiastic over their hobby activities to take serious objective looks at the state of this radio service now. Further, long-timers tend to view today's unlicensed (in amateur radio) citizens as having the same interest and enthusiasm as they did long ago when they were young. There isn't any objective evidence of such similarity in sameness in today's unlicensed citizens. Today's unlicensed citizens have much more available to them for hobbies and recreation than existed ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.

SOME growth is necessary in the amateur radio serivce, if only to keep up with the (continuing) population increase. Right now I don't see much of that with my objectivity filter switched in.

One sign of decline is the market in amateur radio goods. Witness the folding of two of the four USA periodicals specializing in amateur radio within two decades. Both were independents (Ham Radio and 73) whose major income and profit came from advertisers. Another is the decline of reseller outlets in major urban areas...and expansion of consumer electronics outlets at a much greater pace in the last two decades. While numerical data is more difficult to gather about such areas, there is enough to observe individually by anyone...with objectivity filters.

AF6AY (who has never upgraded his USA amateur radio license :-)
 
Trends, bubbles etc.  
by N2EY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K4ZN writes: "Licenses held is one thing. People on the air regularly is another. Ham radio activity is truly a difficult thing to measure. No station runs all bands, all modes, 24-7-365. What is participation? Holding a license? Being on the air twice a day, once a day, once a week, once a month, one contest a year?"

Good point.

Which is better: A million US hams, 90% of whom have no station and no interest, or 500,000 hams, 90% of whom have stations on the air once a week or more?

KASSY writes: "In 1993 the no-code tech license came into being."

Actually, that happened in 1991. Feb 14, 1991, to be exact.

That's a minor detail, though; the main point you're making is valid in that if someone was licensed in the early 1990s to do emcomm and lost interest over time, they'd still be in the numbers for 10 or 12 years (depending on whether you count grace-period licenses or not).

Here's another factor: Cell phones. Early models were big, expensive and had limited coverage. From the beginning of the repeater era, a significant number of new hams got licenses to use VHF/UHF repeaters and their autopatches. When cell phones became inexpensive, small, and common, a lot of those folks drifted away. And a source of numerous new hams disappeared.

KASSY: "BTW, ham radio is getting younger. Another chance encounter I had at a hamfest was with a Quality Engineer - these people are the world's best at understanding what statistics and population studies show.

He said that while the average age of ham radio has increased from 59 to 61 since the mid-70s, the average age of America has increased by 8 years. So, ham radio is younger, comparitively."

I have to question the "average age of hams" numbers often cited. How are such numbers determined? The FCC database doesn't have birthdate data for all US hams. Voluntary surveys are notoriously unscientific. Observing who goes to hamfests, club meetings, etc., isn't reliable either. And is that average a mean, a median, or something else?

You're absolutely right, though, that the median age of Americans is climbing and has been for many years. US census data proves it. For example, from the 1990 census to the 2000 census, the median age of US residents in the census rose from 34 years to 39 years - in just one decade. It's easy to understand why: Americans are living longer, having fewer kids, and having them later in life.

KASSY: "Clubs may well be dying, but not because ham radio is dying. It's just that the youth are not so interested in clubs."

It may not be a matter of interest as much as having the time available in big controlled blocks. A person can go online, text, tweet, etc. whenever they have a few minutes free and have access to a device. Club meetings usually happen on weekday nights and require an investment of a couple hours.

Good points all.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by QRZDXR2 on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the static data. It appears you spent a lot of time working on it so its understandable and the bottom line is... not much going anywhere.


I AM SURPRISED THAT SOMEONE HAS NOT SUED THE FEDERAL GOV (FCC) FOR DISCRIMINATION AND BIAS. They are still holding CLASS LICENSES.. which discriminates against the minority who can't seem to get a GENERAL OR EXTRA license. THUS THEY SHOULD ELIMINATE ALL CLASSES OF LICENSES TODAY AND JUST CONSOLIDATE IT INTO/ MAKE IT ONE CLASS..

By their own rules and regulations for discrimination they are not in compliance.

All the other countries have .. but the ARRL pushed for this incentive licensing stuff so they could make more money.. MAYBE THE ARRL SHOULD BE SUED THEN TOO FOR DISCRIMINATION... Hello ACLU... new target in sight...

One could start with the US band plan...(now that CW is not required) and work up to licensing for early retirement and get some of that money they (ARRL) made... hmmmmm
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI2IA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
While these statistics might be useful for some such as those involved or considering becoming involved in sales of amateur radio equipment or publications as one example of many, for most of us the statistics are little more than entertainment or curiousities.

Shortly you will forget most of these "interesting statistics."

Don't, however, forget this:

AMATEUR RADIO IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT FOR YOURSELF.

All the complaints, all the stupid comments tossed aside, YOU are amateur radio. It is all in your hands. Make the most of it.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by QRZDXR2 on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
One could think that the real reasion that CW was done away with ... due to discrimination as a requirement to gain the higher class lice. Hmmm so why now not do away with the lic structure under the same requirements??
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by N3OX on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Some other reasons to get a Tech license and never upgrade:

Race communication for things like Solar Car competitions.

Playing around with edge of space/weather balloons/rockets, etc.

Radio control airplanes.

Legal tinkering with long range high power high speed network links just for the heck of it.

The first couple probably provide a very steady influx of college age hams who are studying engineering. I knew of a fair number of people at my Alma Mater who got ham licenses for the Solar Car competition.

I looked a few up and I'm surprised that a fair number of them renewed. That's good news. But the spot checks didn't yield any upgrades.

There's a lot of stuff you can do with a Tech license if you're an electronics hobbyist without a lot of interest in "things ham radio" but with a lot of interest in things like long range telemetry.

There's a big hobbyist electronics community these days and a tech license could be a real boon to them in terms of controlling their robots or whatever. HF wouldn't be much use.

The Tech license actually gives you VAST privileges. I'm sure there are plenty of people who get it just for EMCOMM or who get it and get bored because 2m FM has little to offer, but the fact of the matter is being licensed by the FCC to use a wide variety of types of communication at high power levels on a large swath of the VHF/UHF/microwave spectrum is a rather valuable thing for people interested in certain things that aren't really about being interested in RADIO itself.

73
Dan
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by N0AH on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
We have three Hams in my house now. Myself, and I have been an Extra since 1996, my YL, KD0ISN, who is a new Technician and has no serious interest in upgrading, and my 9 year old daughter Anna, W0ANT, who is working on her General for expaned HF.

We are all in the hobby because we really enjoy contesting, DX'ing, and the fun of it all.

I was not a big fan of the no-code General, Extra, etc.......but I know of a lot of friends who have really excelled who were not able to get into HF amateur radio due to code. I promote "Know Code" vs "No Code" but I think the hobby has benefited.

That said, glad I am not the only one who wonders what 10M is turning into.........I think 1/2 the trouble does not even have a license on that band-

Thanks for the great report- BTW, per a call I placed into the ARRL last year for research, you can not get age breakdowns as the FCC license form no longer tracks this- That is crazy- seems like really critical information.

73 Paul N0AH
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WA8MEA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I honestly believe we are seeing a new generation of youth becoming involved in ham radio. I do hear a lot more of them on the air lately.

No, they are NOT all playing games. Here's why: Mom & Dad are playing video games and talking on the cell phone. Anything Mom & Dad do just isn't cool! So let's not play video games and talk on the cell phone.

Grandpa (and sometimes Grandma) play with their ham radios. Grandpa and Grandma are cool people. So I want to learn about what they are doing.

It was Bill Cosby who said; "The reason why grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is because they share a common enemy."

I learned more from my grandparents simply because, thinking as a typical teenager, my parents knew nothing.

It was my grandpa's floor model shortwave radio that started the ball rolling for me.

73, Bill - WA8MEA
http://HamRadioFun.com
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by G0GQK on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I suppose the figures you extrapolated show that the amateur radio fraternity is in the dolrums like everything else, and is probably slowly sliding back.
The same applies in Britain, we are also sliding back.

The figures showing how many people there are in possession of a radio amateur license means nothing, there are lots of old chaps listed in the UK who haven't operated for years and probably never will again !

The incentive which will get things moving is now low in the sky, and producing a sunspot perhaps once every six weeks. There wouldn't be so many car drivers in the US if gasolino was $10 a litre would there ?

As for the suggestion there needs to be an infux of young people with new ideas. Ha ! What new ideas ?
The most popular wire antenna which every ham knows about, those who go to a hamfest and buys one, is a G5RV.

This was designed in 1946! In England! Not long after the defeat of Japan !

G0GQK
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by W1ITT on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Numbers are entertaining, but they don't speak to the quality of Amateurs. FCC Part 97.1, on the basis and purpose of the service includes the following:

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

I seriously doubt that those who have their ham station hanging from their belt, or those who buy HF dipoles in plastic bags will contribute much. Many of the new lads seem to be uninterested in further education once a ticket is in hand, and I'm not sure that many of them will ever be any asset to the electronics or communications industries. Sooner or later, some Washington lawyer will look at "Basis and Purpose", then look at the Amateur Service and decide we are not fulfilling our obligation, then decide that someone else should be profiting from some or all of "our" spectrum. I only hope that I will be breakfasting with Mssrs Kennely and Heaviside before they catch up with us.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by G3LBS on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The recruitment should improve and the quality of recruits increase if the entrance training were experimental.
W2/G3LBS
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by W5HTW on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with those who say that a very large percentage of new Technician class licensees are EMCOM types who have no other plans in the hobby. I do think, and I do hope, that trend is dying, so we can get back to real hams with a real interest in amateur radio, but it has not died yet.

As confirmation, two people I know from non-ham context have just expressed an interest in learning more about amateur radio. Both of them see it as a type of emergency communications, but for personal use, such as "if I have an emergency I can get help." Both also think of it in the normal sense of EMCOM, though they don't even know that abbreviation. One of them definitely thinks of it in a free cell phone context. That view of amateur radio faded in the late 1990s.

Undoubtedly there are a few new Techs who want to experiment with radio. But it's pretty clear they are in the minority.

That means as this EMCOM "fad" (and I think it is exactly that, as was the FRS ham fad and the cell phone ham fad) fades away, many of these Techs will lock the radio in the bureau drawer and totally forget about it. That is what happened to the "you can keep in touch with family" FRS hams and the "free cell phone" hams. The radios have been junked, sold, or parked in a closet.

And EMCOM definitely will die. As rapidly as it has expanded, public safety radio has expanded even more, with more capabilities making EMCOM unnecessary at best, and unwanated at worst. I think it is on the downhill swing now, with the new clarification by both the FCC and the ARRL. Thousands of 'heros' will become discouraged, and those radios too will go into a desk drawer, to be taken out and thrown away a few years from now.

Ed
 
Are You Smarter Than A Third Grader?  
by N2EY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Discrimination you say? One class of license?

OK, let's take all the stuff currently required for the Tech, General and Extra and roll it into a single 120 question test. Anybody who wants a US amateur license just has to pass that test, and they get full privileges.

That's what you meant by one class of license, right?

Some fun facts:

- the CEPT folks only recognize the Advanced and Extra class licenses for full reciprocity. They changed the policy recently.

- the Extra has been earned by bright elementary-school children. IIRC, the current youngest Extra was 7 years old when the licensed was earned - and that was before 2007. Going back into the 1990s, the old 20-wpm-code/5-written-exams Extra was earned by an 8 year old in the third grade.

Way back in 1948, when the exams required sending and receiving code, drawing diagrams, writing essays and all the rest, and the exams were conducted by FCC Examiners, a 9 year old earned the Class B license - equivalent to the General.

Now I'll grant that those young people who earned their licenses before their ages reached double digits were pretty bright. And they came from ham radio families that facilitated their learning and helped them get started. But they weren't child prodigies, just smart and hard-working.

Can anyone *really* say the tests are or were "discriminatory" when bright young elementary school children could pass all of them?


73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Worth Repeating  
by N2EY on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA wrote:

"AMATEUR RADIO IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT FOR YOURSELF."

That really sums it all up. Thank you.

I think one of the greatest things about Amateur Radio is that we have so many choices. All sorts of bands, modes, kinds of operating, kinds of equipment, kinds of QSOs, etc. Home, mobile, portable, DX, local, etc. All it takes is an easy-to-get license, some hardware, some know-how - and the right attitude.

Most of all the right attitude.

73 es TNX de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI4HO on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Was licensed in 1995 as KE4WAF, was active for a couple years, due to a work relate injury, raising a family, dealing with doctors, lawyers, etc, I was inactive for about 4.5 years. Once the state of Fl decided to retire me. had this little light bulb, or LED came on, and I got VERY active in this wonderful hobby. So active in fact that I upgraded, yes I did take the 5 wpm code test, it was then that I found that I was tone deaf, very tone deaf. Despite that one drawback I managed to pass the code test the written test, and then 3 months after getting my general, I took and passed my amateur extra. Maybe some who got licensed in the 90's did so just to say they did or for the EMMCOMM aspect of the hobby, most of em have either let their license lapse or renew even though they are not active. Who knows why, but even though they may only be a Tech now, who knows they may in 10, 20 years from now when they are secure in their careers or retired and the kids are out of the house, they might sit down and upgrade twice in one day.

It took me a long time to get where I did, fortunately through family and friends I have been able to stay as active as I can be under my circumstances. Just give them time and hopefully one day some will come around and join the fun, if not then it wasn't meant to be.


73 de Mark
W3LZK
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
G0GQK posted on December 6, 2009:

"As for the suggestion there needs to be an infux of young people with new ideas. Ha ! What new ideas ?
The most popular wire antenna which every ham knows about, those who go to a hamfest and buys one, is a G5RV. This was designed in 1946! In England! Not long after the defeat of Japan !"

I might add that the MOST-used/manufactured antenna has been the Yagi-Uda parasitic beam invented IN Japan during the 1930s. :-) It was the basis for millions of 1950s "TV antennas" right after WWII.

Actually, the UK has done some fine innovation in radio and electronics, witness "Technical Topics" in Radio Communications (member magazine of the RSGB). Peter Martinez has been doing great stuff there since the mid-1970s, first trying out the Gingell polyphase network (Mike Gingell also being a Brit) for phasing SSB modulation/demodulation, then working on AMTOR and then innovating PSK-31 and getting a lot of Europeans to test it on-air before the USA published anything on it.

The single-microcontroller Digital Frequency Display and frequency counter was devised in the UK. By a NON-amateur there. Search "Weeder" for the first published source code (forgot the given name, my apologies).

The Wadley Loop was a right fine innovation for HF receivers without needing a fancy PLL or DDS for first Local Oscillator crystal control. It might be better known as "Barlow-Wadley" since its introduction in a receiver produced in South Africa. It was good enough that Drake used it over here and Radio Shack had it in their top-of-the-line SWL BC receivers.

The first detailed plan of communications satellites was published in Wireless World some time in 1946 by the late Arthur C. Clarke. Geosynchronous orbits were known and published before WWII but Clarke put DETAIL in how it could work along with antenna footprints on the surface.

Americans may have invented the transistor, then the Integrated Circuit (which revolutionized the entire world's electronics) but such new-fangled things weren't loved by the American amateurs even two decades after their inventions. Yes, we also invented the hand-carried scientific calculator but hams don't like them...calculators work with NUMBERS and some USA hams need GRAPHS! [Texas Instruments has graphing claculators now] :-)

The Phase-Locked Loop was invented in France in 1932. Took a while until solid-state matured enough to make it practical. 'Radio' itself was publicly demonstrated in Italy and Russia in 1896, only 113 years ago. England had one of the greatest semaphore systems anywhere until those upstarts Morse and Vail got folks interested in the WIRED telegraph system (it could work in the fog no problem).

Otherwise, I agree with you but only in stating that USA radio amateurs haven't invented all that much for amateur radio purposes...they are still "pounding brass" and promoting it as the "best" way to communicate in their four-decade tenures as mighty gurus of the ionosphere. :-)

73, Len AF6AY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI2IA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Most posters on this thread think that the FCC license is a sacred cow. It is not. If for some reason (and do hope this does not occur) the FCC were to suspend all licenses or do away with amateur radio, the endeavor would still go on. Some folks like myself would still build and put up antennas (mostly for recieve purposes at such a time), and would still build and tinker with probably low power transmitters and receivers and transceivers.

The reason is that many of us are fascinated by the principles of radio communication. This is our real driving force, not the pecking order of the license.

In addition, let me say a few words of appreciation for those who have an inner calling for amateur emcomm. For the most part, these good spirited folks have a genuine interest in and see a real practical need for citizen participation in emergency communication. May God bless them for their calling. Just as the citizen soldier stands ready to answer the call of arms to defend his family, his community, his state, his nation, so also the citizen emcomm volunteer stands ready to serve these same purposes should a disaster provoke the need to be there, and they practice hard for it on their own time, mostly with their own gear, and at their own expense. It is dead wrong to try to put them down. They belong as much as the ret of us.

So these two driving forces behind amateur radio and beyond amateur radio create the real hams. Strive to be either the one kind or the other, or both, and then you will have achieved the ulitimate award of amateur radio which transcends even the amateur extra class mere license. The license can never replace the real ham. - Ray Mullin, AI2IA
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K5TED on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
When's the last time any of you advanced the art of radio?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K5TED on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I failed to note that the sole obvious contribution of the EU hams is the advent of sending semi-nude girlie images over SSTV.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WB2WIK on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This is like reading actuarial tables.

Assuming it's all 100% correct (I haven't validated that, but what the heck), the point is??
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by EX_AA5JG on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA9PIE wrote: "Obviously, in order to sustain the hobby, we need an influx of young people with new ideas."

WRONG! That is not obvious either. In order to sustain the hobby, we just need to replace each person who dies or lets their license expire with another licensed individual. The age of the replacement doesn't matter. I don't know where we get this "We must only get young people licensed"
obsession.

Look at the average age for an AARP member. They seem to stay in business.

73s John AA5JG
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WB0RXL on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Ray.
I agree with your comment. One time when I was working with HCJB Radio (HC1QH) we received a listener letter from a scientist at JPL. He observed that during his work day he was able to communicate incredible distances with some pretty sophisticated equipment. But when he went home he was equally as thrilled to turn on his rig and chat with fellow hams around the world. There is just something about electronics in general and ham radio in particuliar that got into my blood when I was just six years old and has stayed with me ever since.
John
WB0RXL
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by QRZDXR2 on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Can anyone *really* say the tests are or were "discriminatory" when bright young elementary school children could pass all of them?

Ya then why did they have to do away with the CW test? I understand that the FCC was facing a handicap issue that was going to sink their ship if they didn't change. The ARRL also got involved and to fend off the legal hassel from the disabilities group... they elected to delete it (CW requirement) .. and dummy down the question pool to accomidate these....people.

Thus why stop at the CW testing. Why not just have one class of lic.. Ham. let the other go. If you want to play. got it... if you want to Ecomm.. got it... no one is better or honored more than the other.

You then can make it what YOU want it to be and no one can say..."Well I'm better because I have a higher license than you do... which some find offensive and thus the wars on the radio when the others go off and use frequencies that are reserved for them. Thats discrimination and bias when the government sets aside priviliged resources that others can't use until they comply with standards that maybe they can't understand... handicap or not its discrimination that was set up by the ARRL and approved by the FCC.

It should be removed like they did with the band plan, cw and other issues. After all why should someone get special treatment... preferential treatment... from the same government that we all pay our taxes to??

So by going back and looking as to why things changed... I think you can see that it WAS determined to be discrimination of people who couldn't comprehend CW or other issues... thus.. only one license.. HAM. is what I am saying.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI2IA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KC5NY throws down the gauntlet - "When's the last time any of you advanced the art of radio?"

KC5NY, let not your heart be troubled. Every single time a real ham goes on the air, he advances the art of radio.

Furthermore, no kind of radio communication in the world, no matter how sophisticated can compare to the jewel of amateur radio. In a sense we work with the crumbs from the master's plate, and yet " when all else fails ......" Is that not a wonderful advancement in the art of radio? How many lives saved past, present, and future? How many disaster victims comforted? How many military loved ones consoled? How many genuine advances in radio and related fields inspired? How many engineers educations advanced by amateur radio? How many disabled persons given purpose and meaning and pleasure and knowledge and fellowship by amateur radio?

No, KC5NY, let not your heart be troubled. If you keep within you the right attitude, you are a member of one of the greatest fellowships in the world and one of most effective contributors to the advancement of radio ever known - amateur radio!

Never doubt it, not for one moment. - Ray Mullin, AI2IA
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI2IA on December 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A "ham" is not defind by class of license, or mode of communication, or years of operation.

There are hams who never had a license, because they didn't feel they needed one. In fact you don't need one.

To be a ham you must rise above the petty squabbles, the tired old snobbery, the bad attitudes, the gloom and doom, the name calling, and all the rest of it. You have to focus on what was and should always be your attraction to radio communication. This is what makes you a ham, and what you do with that spark of inspiration is what keeps you a ham.

Forget all the petty stuff. Be greater than you seem! Ray Mullin, AI2IA
 
Are You Smarter Than A Third Grader?  
by N2EY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Ya then why did they have to do away with the CW test?"

Because some folks asked them to. Squeaky wheel and all that.

Consider that the treaty changed in 2003 but it took FCC more than 3-1/2 years to change the rules. They could have done it in a day but they dragged their feet. Think about why.

"I understand that the FCC was facing a handicap issue that was going to sink their ship if they didn't change."

What handicap issue? From whom?

"The ARRL also got involved and to fend off the legal hassel from the disabilities group... they elected to delete it (CW requirement) .. and dummy down the question pool to accomidate these....people."

The ARRL proposal was that the code test would be retained for Extra, not completely removed. FCC said no.

The question pools were not "dumbed down", they were combined.

And I ask again: How can anyone say the tests are "discriminatory" when bright kids who aren't even 10 years old have passed all of them?

"Why not just have one class of lic.. Ham. let the other go."

Just put all the stuff in all 3 question pools in one 120 question test.

"no one is better or honored more than the other."

"Thats discrimination and bias when the government sets aside priviliged resources that others can't use until they comply with standards that maybe they can't understand... handicap or not its discrimination that was set up by the ARRL and approved by the FCC."

Nope.

The reason for having multiple license classes is to make it easier to get full privileges, not harder. If there were only one class of license, it would have to include everything in all three license tests, and all newcomers would have to pass it in one go. With three levels, a newcomer can start out at any level, depending on how many tests they can pass.

It would be discriminatory only if there were requirements that had nothing to do with amateur radio. For example, if a prospective ham had to be at least 14 years old before being allowed to take the tests or be issued a license, *that* would be discrimination.

"It should be removed like they did with the band plan, cw and other issues."

??They didn't remove the band plan.

"After all why should someone get special treatment... preferential treatment... from the same government that we all pay our taxes to??"

Because they proved themselves qualified. And the privileges are available to all who can pass the tests.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio...  
by AB0RE on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
In my neck of the woods (SW MN) it'd appear ~3/4 of new licenses are obtained for em-com purposes. Of those new licenses, ~1/4 eventually get bitten by the ham radio bug and will upgrade their license for HF priviledges and/or will pick up the mic just for the enjoyment of talking on the radio.

Who cares? We'll take new hams however we can get them. It's up to us seasoned hams to show the newbie "emcom" hams what they're missing.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio...  
by AB4D on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"This is like reading actuarial tables.

Assuming it's all 100% correct (I haven't validated that, but what the heck), the point is??"

Lenny felt a need to get up on his soap box again. SSDD
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by W6ZPC on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am a fairly new ham, thanks to the removal of the code requirement. I obtained my technician class license in the fall of 2007 and then passed the general class test in October 2008. I am now studying for my extra class. My dad was a ham and so I have always had an interest in ham radio. He passed away in 2006 and I have taken his original call sign, the one I heard him use countless hours from a very early age since he was licensed in 1947 before I was born. I had tried several times to learn the code but due to pressure from other activities, school, work etc., never was able to devote the time to learn it. I am definitely not anti-code though and would like to eventually work CW. I am very grateful to the lifting of the requirement though, because it opened the door to me. I am active daily on two meters and listen to HF daily. I generally work HF on the weekends when I have more time to devote to it, but my Icom 718 is always on around 3878 or 7180 kHz every evening. I have joined the two local ham clubs in my county and am also a member of the ARRL. As far as getting people interested in ham radio and retaining new hams, I would encourage all of us to be visible and talk it up. I am by profession a news broadcaster at the local radio station here in Ste. Genevieve and I try to get the local hams on my interview show at least once a year, usually just ahead of field day (in fact I was doing that before I became a ham). I also manage the local cable access tv channel and have had the hams on my programs there. I think as long as we have a core group of active hams who are visible in the community and seen as a positive part of a our community we will be okay.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by VE7IG on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Re NN4RH ----
Where were they then? I recently put up a new 4 element yagi on 12m. There was a month or so of activity on 12 due to some sunspots in November and plenty of "skip". There was hardly any phone activity during this time, mainly DX stations but a lot of CW activity, but what US phone activity I did hear was typically amateur and not CB. I didn't hear ANY CB type activity at all.

73 Reg, VE7IG
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio...  
by EX_AA5JG on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Who cares? We'll take new hams however we can get them."

I care! What is the use of getting a new licensee, if they really aren't a ham-don't care about communicating or getting on the air? Why is the number of licensees we have so important? Just give everyone a license along with their social security number if license numbers are so important.

73s John AA5JG
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by KF4HR on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Since (as the saying goes) there's strength in numbers. This is especially important considering the ever increasing demand for the commercial uses of the RF spectrum.

It seems to me a more important point is the comparison of the amateur population trend, to the US population trend.

Given the current trends, it seems our amateur population may turn into an insignificant percentage (comparied to the overall US population) sooner or later. Not good!
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio...  
by WA7NCL on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
What is it about these articles that generates a troll fest.

By all means kick everybody out of the hobby you don't like.

I sure hope the 3 of you left enjoy talking with each other.

There's room for everybody. There's strength in numbers. As time goes on things change, try to make it better, and get over it.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio...  
by AB0RE on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"I care! What is the use of getting a new licensee, if they really aren't a ham-don't care about communicating or getting on the air? ..."

And what's the use of people having old licenses that aren't used anymore? I'd suspect there are more old timers that have given up on ham radio than there are new emcom types who only use their licenses for weather spotting and ARES drills. If you feel so passionately about people who aren't using their licenses perhaps you should petition the FCC to have the license term changed from 10 years to 1 year.

The bottom line is the hams who don't use their licenses passed the same test the rest of us did, and paid the same VE fee, so they're entitled to their license. Instead of being judgmental and getting all bent out of shape about inactive hams not using their license how we'd like, perhaps we should focus more on elmering them and sponsoring other activities that bring the fun back to ham radio. Every inactive ham out there has huge potential to add to the hobby, so I'm not going to squabble about their logic for originally getting their license.
 
RE: Are You Smarter Than A Third Grader?  
by QRZDXR2 on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
by N2EY on December 7, 2009
"Ya then why did they have to do away with the CW test?"


You best go check the ADA group. They were the ones that have handicapped people who, along with most of the others that JUST COULDN'T SEEM TO LEARN CW.. for a host of reasions... filed against the Federal Government in hopes of making some bucks. (notice how many ADA people now are sue'n stores and all. Its a new hobby in their minds.. easy money)

Again you prove my point about someone smart vs the ADA person. It makes no difference to them if they can't sign their name correctly. If they can't get the necessary license then its dis-crima-nation and thus not politically correct.

What test? Asking one what frequency he can operate on is a test akin to asking one if they put the right shoe in the left foot...like duhhhh Show me 50 questions out of the pool that actually has any technical issues. Third Graders .. if they can read they can pass the test and not know a thing about electronics or radio. (The proof is some of the idiots on the ham bands that ask dummy questions yet have EXTRA class licenses. One only has to look at the sidebar on eham too... ask one what a volt is and you will get the deer caught in the headlight look or ... volt who??? )

However, when a new EXTRA class license ham reach'es into a HF lin amp and zapps himself to death and the surv's sue the manufacture because it is a leathal voltage without saftey protection... one has to wonder if it doesn't help the gene pool out by elimination ... Hi voltage ..what's that!!! oh and all them warning stickers just don't apply to 'em after all they are EXTRA hams... dead... but it looks impressive on the grave marker where it says.. he was a Extra Class ham... Too bad he smoked... smile
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by N0AH on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
VE7IG.......no CB but you heard skip? You mean't DX, right? (just kidding)
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by KB6QXM on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
As in all stats, the numbers can be spun one way or another to show bias.

As I crunch a lot of data in my job, what I did not see is stats such as the following:

The amount of "new Extra Class licensees" versus the renewal of the Pre-code elimination Extra class licensees.

The amount of Advanced class licensees. Are the numbers stable. They cannot increase, we know, but at what rate are they falling as far as license renewals.

I have just renewed my advanced class license and will do that till the day I become a SK. The FCC would insult me if they "grandfathered" my advanced class license into an Extra Class license.

The FCC and the ARRL has already done enough to dilute this great hobby, I truly hope that they do not try to completely eliminate the Advanced class licenses.

If any Advanced class licensees are reading this, you all know that the theory test for Advanced was large and significant.

I am really upset that the FCC and the ARRL took away the challenge of 20 WPM. If they wanted to give away spectrum to people that did not to take the time or have the disipline to be proficent at 20 WPM, then give them another license class, not just give people a license will unlimited privledges for little work.

Not that many years ago people were impressed that you were a ham radio operator. The license requirements now are nothing more than a formality making one a glorified CB radio operator.

Yes, CW is an obsolete technology. I get that. It was also tradition from the very beginning of the hobby.

Then tell me what is the justification of lowering the technical standards of the test? Some new extra class licensees do not know how to do anything, including soldering on a connector onto a piece of coax. This is a good thing?????

At least teach these new hams safety. RF and electrical safety so they do not hardm themselves or others. Case in point was that family that died putting an antenna up recently.

Why spend all of this money on equipment/time when the behaviour of these people are terrible because of the lowered standards?

Just food for thought. These stats paint a picture based on bias of the author. If you want to see the BIG picture, there is a lot more number crunching that needs to happen.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by AE5JU on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Is learning Morse Code the only thing that defines "a real ham"? If so, we are in big trouble.

I cannot count the number of hams that have told me, "In my heyday I could do 25 wpm, but I haven't done CW in years. I probably can't do 10 wpm now." Why not? If it is not important to you now, why should it be to me?

There are plenty of modes to go around. And different ones interest different people for reasons all their own.

For example, I have a great interest in PSK31 and other digital modes that take very little power, yet can QSO at great distances. I don't care about contests (but I don't complain about contesters), but I really enjoy a 20 minute QSO with a ham thousands of miles away. I get a kick out of having to look at a map to find a ham's QTH, perhaps some little island I didn't even know existed. Or a town in Spain I have not heard of.

But I have no interest in SSTV, RTTY, or CW. Does that make me not "a real ham"?

And I'm one of those guys that passed all of the tests in one test session. Do you really think I just memorized the answers? I did, to a few questions. The electronic theory and safety, no, I didn't have to memorize a bit of that. I had to memorize a baud rate (and why does that matter?) and how tall an antenna can be without getting the FAA's panties in a wad (200', but hey, I can understand this), and a few things like that. But most of it I knew before starting into ham radio.

And yes, I know how to solder PL-259's to coax. I've been soldering, let's see, carry the 2... 50 years. I think I have that part of the hobby down pretty well. I had subscriptions to Popular Electronics and Electronics Illustrated as a kid, and built a number of projects from those pages, as well as Knight and Heathkits.

But that some would decide whether I'm "a real ham" based on whether or not I can send code at 20 wpm? I would imagine that since I can listen to a piece of music once or twice, then write every note played by each instrument, I am pretty sure I have the ability to learn Morse, too. But I'm really not interested.

I won't apologize. And I won't have others telling me whether I am "a real ham" or not based on their criteria, not mine.

Paul
AE5JU
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N8QBY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio is a hobby, no different than fishing, hunting, camping, etc,(minus the pocket protector). Let's lighten up.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by AE5JU on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Exactly!

I'm trying to have fun here!

;-)

Paul - AE5JU
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by NN4RH on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
by VE7IG on December 7, 2009
Where were they then?

28.400


They'll spread out once we get sustained propagation on 10 meters, and assuming they'll eventually figure out there's more than one "channel" on the ham bands.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K4ZN posted on December 6, 2009:

"I observe that the opinion that people interested in ECOM are inflating the TECH class appears to be an offering of anecdotal observation, and to this point is not documented from a statistically significant population sample. This does not mean that it is not so. It simply means that there is no SCIENTIFIC data to support the anecdotal observation."

That has been a long-standing problem in USA amateur radio...but the "Rise of the Tech" numbers had different reasons of anecdotal evidence all along the short time between the continuing increase in numbers of the Technician class from 1991 to 2009. Nearly all of those anecdotal 'reasons' were depreciatory of the Technicans (see "shack on a belt" descriptors still in use).
..............
K4ZN: "If it is indeed the case that there is a significant growth of TECH for this reason, then, even though they may not be hobbyists in the traditional hobbyist sense - and may not have an interest in the radio art; nevertheless, it is hard to imagine a better demographic to target for the growth of the hobby."

The only available data is in the FCC Database. The reason I prefer Hamdata figures is that they present much more information on license history over the long term, have the least self-serving attitudes in presentations. For example, ARRL statistics (barest minimum of data without any history, short-term or long-term). At one time the ARRL refused to give a straight answer on the number of members it has...to fully-paid-up members. They did finally include it on their 2008 Annual Report.
..............
K4ZN: "Even people who do not presently have a passion for the hobby of ham radio - someday they will retire, or the kids will leave home - or they will make more money later in life and can then afford the 'dream station'. How many hams are at some point QRT and then later become active again?"

That is impossible to accurately quantify. It must be interpreted, just as I "interpreted" the number in each class who are in their Grace Period by the difference between ALL licensees in a class and ARRL data which counts only those in their 10-year license term. I would consider it fairly close to the "real thing."
............
K4ZN: "Licenses held is one thing. People on the air regularly is another. Ham radio activity is truly a difficult thing to measure. No station runs all bands, all modes, 24-7-365. What is participation? Holding a license? Being on the air twice a day, once a day, once a week, once a month, one contest a year?"

There will be endless OPINIONS on all of those. Everyone has the ONLY "true" reason and others not going along with those reasons "have a BAD attitude." It is like nailing jelly to a tree. :-)
.............
K4ZN: "Kudos to Len AF6AY for presenting the tabular form of the data. It is food for thought."

Thank you. It was meant to be just food for thought...but many claim I'm "not eating right." :-)

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by N2EY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM writes: "the numbers can be spun one way or another to show bias."

Of course. What is not shown can be more revealing than what is shown.

For example, simply lumping all Tech Plus, Novice and Advanceds together hides what is actually happening to those classes.

For another example, a prime cause of the growth of the Technician class since April 2000 is the automatic renewal of Tech Pluses as Techs. No other license class is growing because FCC is renewing one license class as another.

KB6QXM: "The amount of Advanced class licensees. Are the numbers stable. They cannot increase, we know, but at what rate are they falling as far as license renewals."

Here's a snapshot of how the numbers have changed since May of 2000:

Number of current, unexpired licenses held by individuals:

May 14, 2000

Novice: 49,329
Technician: 205,394
Technician Plus: 128,860
Combined Tech/Tech+: 334,254 (49.53%)
General: 112,677
Advanced: 99,782
Extra: 78,750

Total 674,792


December 6, 2009

Novice: 17,155
Technician: 333,321
Technician Plus: 341
Combined Tech/Tech+: 333,662 (48.96%)
General: 150,645
Advanced: 60,850
Extra: 119,160

Total 681,472

Here's another way to look at it.

Suppose we consider the numbers of May 14, 2000 as the baseline, and figure out the current numbers as a percentage of that baseline. 100% means exactly the same, 200% means double, 50% means half, etc.

We get the following growth/decline stats (current numbers as a percentage of May 14 2000 numbers)

Novice: 34.78%
Technician: 162.28%
Technician Plus: 0.26%
Combined Tech/Tech+: 99.82%
General: 133.67%
Advanced: 60.98%
Extra: 151.31%

Total: 100.99%

Note that the combined number of Techs and Tech Pluses has actually declined slightly. About 2 out of 3 Novices have upgraded or left, while almost 2 out of 3 Advanceds still hold that license.

KB6QXM: "I have just renewed my advanced class license and will do that till the day I become a SK. The FCC would insult me if they "grandfathered" my advanced class license into an Extra Class license."

Why?

KB6QXM: "The FCC and the ARRL has already done enough to dilute this great hobby, I truly hope that they do not try to completely eliminate the Advanced class licenses."

What has the ARRL done to dilute it? Back in 1998, ARRL proposed keeping the Advanced open, but FCC refused.

KB6QXM: "If any Advanced class licensees are reading this, you all know that the theory test for Advanced was large and significant."

I passed the Advanced back in 1968 at the age of 14, in the summer between 8th and 9th grades. I wasn't even in high school yet. That was back before CSCEs, VECs, published question pools, Bash books, etc.

No big deal.

KB6QXM: "I am really upset that the FCC and the ARRL took away the challenge of 20 WPM."

The ARRL didn't do that - FCC did. Remember that in 1990 they effectively eliminated the 13 and 20 wpm code tests by creating medical waivers.

And the challenge is still there. The ARRL Code Proficiency program goes from 10 to 40 wpm in 5 wpm increments.

KB6QXM: "Not that many years ago people were impressed that you were a ham radio operator. The license requirements now are nothing more than a formality making one a glorified CB radio operator."

Consider that maybe FCC is trying to clean up CB that way.

KB6QXM: "Yes, CW is an obsolete technology."

No it isn't! Not in Amateur Radio, anyway.

KB6QXM: "Why spend all of this money on equipment/time when the behaviour of these people are terrible because of the lowered standards?"

I don't know that the behaviour of "these people" is terrible. Most hams I encounter are very well behaved, on and off the air. The bad apples stick out because most hams, old and new, are nice people who at least try to be good ops.

KB6QXM: "If you want to see the BIG picture, there is a lot more number crunching that needs to happen."

And even then, the numbers won't say much. For example, they won't say anything about how many hams are active on the air at some level, and how many are simply old entries in the database. They won't say anything about how much the licensees know, nor how well they behave.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Request to AK5K  
by K6LHA on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Bill, please send your PDF backup requests again. Mail robot ate my reply, sorry.

Len AF6AY
 
Real Hams?  
by N2EY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
AE5JU asks: "Is learning Morse Code the only thing that defines "a real ham"?"

No.

AE5JU: "I cannot count the number of hams that have told me, "In my heyday I could do 25 wpm, but I haven't done CW in years. I probably can't do 10 wpm now." Why not?"

People get rusty at things.

Here's another data point: I can do at least 25 wpm solid right now, sending and receiving. Probably more like 35-40 on a good day. I can also pass the current exams for any class of US amateur license, as well as the ones used for the past 50 years at least.

AE5JU: "There are plenty of modes to go around. And different ones interest different people for reasons all their own."

Of course.

AE5JU: "But I have no interest in SSTV, RTTY, or CW. Does that make me not "a real ham"?"

Not at all.

AE5JU: "And I'm one of those guys that passed all of the tests in one test session. Do you really think I just memorized the answers? I did, to a few questions. The electronic theory and safety, no, I didn't have to memorize a bit of that. I had to memorize a baud rate (and why does that matter?) and how tall an antenna can be without getting the FAA's panties in a wad (200', but hey, I can understand this), and a few things like that. But most of it I knew before starting into ham radio."

The point is that *some* folks simply memorize/word associate the actual test Q&A without understanding it, and manage to get licensed anyway.

It's been that way for more than 25 years. Blame FCC, who changed the rules, not the hams or the ARRL.

AE5JU: "But that some would decide whether I'm "a real ham" based on whether or not I can send code at 20 wpm?"

Sending is relatively easy. Receiving is another matter.

AE5JU: "I won't apologize."

Nor will I.

AE5JU: "And I won't have others telling me whether I am "a real ham" or not based on their criteria, not mine."

I think you've got it backwards.

I think a lot of things really are determined by how others see a person.

For example, if a person went around saying that they're an "expert" on amateur radio antennas, would you agree just because the person described themselves that way?

Or would you look at what they'd accomplished in the area of amateur radio antennas, and how others described them, and judge for yourself?

IOW, real experts don't go around telling people they're experts - because they don't have to.

In similar fashion, real hams don't go around telling people they're "Real Hams" - because they don't have to.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by K0RGR on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I can say that most of those who seek ham tickets in this part of Minnesota are doing so in order to be able to participate in SKYWARN, ARES, and other types of public service work. I teach the local classes, so I know.

A percentage of those do get interested in radio and advance to General or get more involved in the hobby aspects of it. We do have quite a few locals who only operate 2 meter FM and/or APRS, so those folks do, indeed, exist.

I've been trying hard to make a serious point lately, both with prospective newbies and existing hams. If your goal is to be around for disasters/public service, you need to "do" the hobby. Only by using your ham gear will you be capable of helping when needed.

I hope we're recruiting enough newbies to replace the existing hams. I think the numbers demonstrate that. We see a significant increase in the upper level licensees. Those are the people who really keep the hobby alive.

Another big factor is that we're (hopefully) coming out of the deepest, and perhaps the longest sunspot minima in centuries. Historically, these sunpsot minima have been hard on ham radio growth. It's much easier to sell the hobby when people can see you working the world with an 8 foot whip antenna and low power.

I think over time, we need to redefine expectations for new hams. Our newbies should understand that most of their contacts will be in North America, and that you can achieve that with minimal gear and antennas. Instead, we have too many that come into the hobby expecting to have daily contacts with India, running 5 watts to a G5RV on the back fence. Far, far too many of the requests for help I see start off "...I live in a hole where no outside antennas are allowed ... I have no money... but I want to work the world on HF...".

We need to strongly encourage our newbies to use their CW privileges. I would like to see more of them try CW using computers if they just don't think they can do it by ear. There's nothing to prevent Techs from doing this, and it's something we need to 'push'.

I also think we need to return to the past to find part of our future. One of the things that made ham radio popular in the late 50's and early 60's was the availability of the Novice license, which granted nighttime CW privileges. In the 1930's, Class B licensees had priveleges simlar to what Techs have today, with one big difference. They had night time voice capability on 160 meters. I think our newbies need nighttime voice privileges on HF, too. 160 meters is not the best place, but it would be better than what they have now.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by N6EY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WOFT.
 
"Strength in numbers" can be used against you, too  
by KASSY on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I remember when grand-dad was with NTIA. One of the most-often cited reasons why "it's OK to take frequencies away from ham radio" was that despite increasing numbers of licensees, frequency usage was down, not up. The NTIA does, regularly, monitor frequency usage!

It can work against us to have more licensees that do not get on the air. "They" are watching!

- k
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by K7ESU on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"I have just renewed my advanced class license and will do that till the day I become a SK. The FCC would insult me if they "grandfathered" my advanced class license into an Extra Class license.

The FCC and the ARRL has already done enough to dilute this great hobby, I truly hope that they do not try to completely eliminate the Advanced class licenses.

If any Advanced class licensees are reading this, you all know that the theory test for Advanced was large and significant. "

My thoughts exactly!
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by K0BG on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I knew there was a reason I didn't read this until today.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM posted beligerantly on 7 Dec 09:

"As in all stats, the numbers can be spun one way or another to show bias. As I crunch a lot of data in my job, what I did not see is stats such as the following:

"The amount of "new Extra Class licensees" versus the renewal of the Pre-code elimination Extra class licensees."

I did not have that data via daily downloads from two websites prior to February 2007. From my file content I've got roughly 2000 downloads to pick from. I'm NOT in the "statistics business" but statistical data has been common to my electronic design work for four decades. I can only present data based on available data resources.

If you really needed statistical data presented on "pre-code-elimination" renewals, I would have started my data collection about 7 to 8 years earlier since the renewal time is after 10 years. From your beligerance I think you only "want" that for your own biased outlook. <shrug>
..........
KB6QXM: "The amount of Advanced class licensees. Are the numbers stable. They cannot increase, we know, but at what rate are they falling as far as license renewals."

You can find that some of that by looking at www.hamdata.com. They daily post the number of licensees in each class for a week ago, a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, two years ago.
The ARRL statistics page shows only the current date, no past history, and then counts only those licensees within their 10-year term. Which is "more biased?" :-)
...........
KB6QXM: "I am really upset that the FCC and the ARRL took away the challenge of 20 WPM. If they wanted to give away spectrum to people that did not to take the time or have the disipline to be proficent at 20 WPM, then give them another license class, not just give people a license will unlimited privledges for little work."

"Little work?" Let's not go off the map about "biased" stuff here. On 25 February 2007 I took (and passed) ALL test elements in front of a four-member ARRL VEC examination team. All four team members separately checked my answer sheets. I got NO special favors. Not even being 74 at the time.

YOU are running around with pre-built BIAS on the supposition that ALL new license applicants are
dummies and have NO experience. I began HF communications in the US Army on February 1953 and was
in that assignment three years. Given that station ADA had three-dozen-plus high-power transmitters and ran 24/7 with four shifts of operating teams and relaying 220 thousand messages a month average in 1955 for the Far East Command Headquarters then in Tokyo. NONE of the radio circuits used on-off keying CW codes. That was a beginning for me 56 years ago. NO "license"
required and NO special Army classes (my MOS was Microwave Radio...equipment that would not be on-site until last half of 1954). We learned "on the job." None of us "failed" or were transferred out. We were in "the BIG Business" of HF radio communications. No commsats then, no special modes or fancy radios for HF. In civilian life as an electronics engineer I've been able to "work" frequencies from VLF on up to 25 GHz. Oh, and I did have an 11m CB rig, two in fact, plus an FCC license for them. In 1959. NO test required for those licenses. Since I don't CARE to play old-time telegrapher I must be some kind of "dummy," right? Cubed if I had an evil CB, right?

Well, you say *I* have "bias" with the implication you have "no bias?" Harfff!! :-)
................
KB6QXM: "Not that many years ago people were impressed that you were a ham radio operator. The license requirements now are nothing more than a formality making one a glorified CB radio operator."

Gosh, If I felt I needed to "impress" other people, I would have gotten one of those "very impressive" amateur radio licenses earlier...maybe even a Ham Radio BADGE in its wallet! As it was all I got was a Commercial (First Class) radio operator license in March, 1956 (all 4 elements passed in one sitting in a Chicago FCC Field Office)...without prior experience in broadcasting, military or civilian. Gollee, I must be SO deficient and BIASED!

Unlike so many inhabiting e-ham forums, I have NO NEED to "IMPRESS" people. I got an amateur license for my own personal benefit. I don't have any certificates covering my operating room walls...too many bookshelves in the way.
...........
KB6QXN: "Yes, CW is an obsolete technology. I get that. It was also tradition from the very beginning of the hobby."

"Tradition" also means using crystal set "receivers" and damped-oscillation "spark" transmitters, plus (get this one) "Picking your own call sign without government approval!" before 1912. "Spark" is forbidden in the USA. FCC regulates USA civil radio. That leaves only crystal set receivers. Can you get a DXCC using only a crystal set as a receiver?
...........
KB6QXN: "Then tell me what is the justification of lowering the technical standards of the test?"

Please redirect your ranting on non-statistical things to the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Question Pool Committee at their website. The VEC QPC originates ALL the questions and answers for amateur radio license testing in the USA.
...........
KB6QXN: "Some new extra class licensees do not know how to do anything, including soldering on a connector onto a piece of coax. This is a good thing?????"

Sigh...if you have a dispute on any particular amateur's "fitness" to hold an amateur radio license grant, just contact the FCC and make your case. You could shotgun both the Enforcement Bureau and Wireless Bureau to DEMAND ACTION! Yes! DEMAND ACTION! NOW!

Me, I learned how to connect "UHF" connectors back in 1952 with solder. I don't think the "crimp" style connector was on the market then but I could be wrong. Not long after I learned how to DESIGN circuits that worked, laid out PCBs, did the required environmental testing, did work-related computer programming, wrote drafts for instruction manuals, did customer site field engineering tasks, went through design reviews, was hands-on in everything including soldering from point-to-point wiring through thick- and thin-film to SMT. Oh, and I once "worked" a station ON the moon briefly. Not an amateur station, though, it was put there by some astronauts for NASA.
............
KB6QXN: "At least teach these new hams safety."

In my 3-year Army assignment at station ADA, out of four teams comprising about 50 total, there was only ONE injury and that one was not fatal. During a QSY of a BC-340 10 KW power amplifier, one operator on another team dropped a tool inside the open PA door, caught his fatique sleeve on a tuning dial gear and his bare left forearm touched a bias supply line of roughly 350 VDC. Bias supply was NOT in the door interlock chain. He didn't have a "license" to operate. Neither did I or anyone else. All we got were "on-the-job-reminders" without formal classes.

Oh, and one day, during an unannounced fire drill, Executive Officer in Charge 1st Lt. Riewerts slipped while carrying a fire extinguisher. It went off and messed up the shine on his dress shoes. Terrible thing! :-)
...............
KB6QXN: "Why spend all of this money on equipment/time when the behaviour of these people are terrible because of the lowered standards?"

By golly, NOTHING seems to satisfy you, does it? :-)
...............
KB6QXN: "Just food for thought."

Haven't you had enough indigestion for one day?
...............
KB6QXN: "These stats paint a picture based on bias of the author."

'Picture?' 'Painting?' Yes, I've been a professional (paid) illustrator. Thank you for the mention. [gave it up in favor of electronics engineering...more creative]

Would you like to commission a portrait painting? I'm open but the rate isn't anywhere near amateur economy class. However, I've got 2 cents for you for a new amateur radio statistics set:

Show us How It Is Done and "without bias." Show Us How It Is Done! :-)

Byeeeee...

AF6AY (Amateur Extra since day one and totally inexperienced in the biased eyes of some others)
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by KF4HR on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Post-rebuttals that provide a come-back line for each individual posted sentence or comment? Childish. Surely there are better things to do?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by KC8FRJ on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I like you Len! I have not seen the likes of your type since my mentor. You two would get along great! Must be a Defense industry thing....

Ralph, Len is probably retired and he is well traveled. While I understand your statement, Len has the time to defend his position. This makes his reaction less childish than those who provoked him. As long as the point counter point stays logical, it seems appropriate to me.

KFR2174->WN8MNI->KC8FRJ
Tech+ who just took General for no real reason... Just because someone said I should. :-)

Sort of the point isn't it. I have been able to upgrade for years now, but why? Honestly, many HAM's seem needlessly intimidating and Myopic, I don't need the hassle. I enjoyed the old "can do" and "what if" attitude of yesterday. The QRP crowd certainly has the correct attitude, but I am not much with Code, and most of the QRP guys love it.

I'll just keep tinkering around,

Best Regards to all!
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by G3LBS on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Imagine some kid with a burning interest in short-wave radio going to a club meeting after a hard day being assessed at school, and hearing old buffers talking about incentive licensing. Soon there will be more assessment than learning in the schools and in the ham clubs.
I recommend the motto 'Discimus faciendo' to ham radio. Can you recommend one? Or is Latin a dead language like incentive licensing?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by KG6WLS on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov Reply
by KF4HR on December 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Post-rebuttals that provide a come-back line for each individual posted sentence or comment? Childish. Surely there are better things to do?



Yeah, like getting on the radio.
 
Incentive Licensing, Latin, and Trends  
by N2EY on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
G3LBS writes: "Imagine some kid with a burning interest in short-wave radio going to a club
meeting after a hard day being assessed at school, and hearing old buffers
talking about incentive licensing."

Back about 1966, I *was* that kid. (Still am, when it comes to the burning interest in short-wave radio).

And while I can't speak for all kids everywhere, I still remember what it was about Radio, and Amateur Radio, that got and kept my interest.

I was 11 or 12 back then. When you're that age, anybody over about 25 is an old buffer.

I'd been directed to the local ham radio club by Sam, K3RTR, whose antenna had caught my eye. I'd read everything I could lay my hands on about radio, particularly amateur radio, had built foxhole sets and a 2 tube regenerative, and was learning the code. (I didn't know it was supposed to be "hard", so I just learned it by listening to hams using it on the 80 meter band).

But I needed a volunteer examiner (no caps back then) for the Novice exam, and the club was the way to find one, because for some reason K3RTR wasn't into doing that. Navy MARS was his thing; I learned a lot about RTTY from Sam.

Back in the mid-1960s, all US hams with a General, Conditional, Advanced or Extra had full operating privileges. Because of rapid growth in numbers during the 1950s and 1960s, many if not most US hams back then thought it had always been that way. In reality, that situation had only existed since February 1953; before then, using 'phone on the HF ham bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz required an Advanced or Extra.

It made little sense to me that there were four different license classes that all had the same privileges. Even stranger was the fact that the Advanced was still carried on the books as a separate license class even though no new ones had been issued by FCC since the end of 1952. But that's how it was, and what mattered to me was getting on the air, then working my way from Novice to General and finally to Extra.

I discovered that starting about 1963, there were proposals to change back to a system which would give different privileges to the different classes. The proposals came from various groups and individuals, with thousands of comments pro-and-con, and FCC was mulling over the changes.

The "old buffers" seemed to me to be of three kinds.

Some were up in arms, all upset that they'd have to take more exams to keep their privileges. There were dire predictions that the changes would kill ham radio, that used equipment values would plummet and new equipment would disappear, that the bands would be empty, and much more. They said the Advanced exam would be incredibly technical and difficult, and that the Extra tests required about the same skills as a Navy Radioman First Class and an EE degree. (Back then, less than 2% of US hams were Extras).

Some had a wait-and-see attitude.

And some were eager to take on the challenge and get whatever license was needed to do what they wanted to do in ham radio.

I became one of that last group.

The FCC finally decided on the changes, which became known as "incentive licensing."

They came in three stages. First, the old Advanced was reopened to new issues and the Novice license term was doubled to two years. As a result, I got one of the first two-year Novices issued, in the fall of 1967.

Then in 1968 and again in 1969, parts of a four HF bands were restricted to Extra-only, or Advanced-and-Extra only. Those parts of thosee bands became less crowded, while the rest of those bands became more crowded.

Disaster, right? End of ham radio, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, some very strange things happened...

First, the number of US hams, which had stopped growing in the early 1960s, began to grow again. And the growth continued for years and years, even though the test requirements had been raised far beyond what they'd been. Imagine - they made the licenses harder to get, and got more hams.

Second, more and more US hams studied for the Advanced and Extra exams - and passed them. More than a few were young folks like me, who didn't realize how hard the tests supposedly were, and simply went and did what was required, code and written.

In my case, the Advanced was an accident. I was at the FCC office for the General, and after passing, The Examiner suggested I try the Advanced. There was no way a 14 year old amateur would say no to The Man From FCC, so I tried it and passed. When the required two-years-experience for the Extra was done, I showed up at the FCC office again and earned that license. Nothing to it, really, after building rigs from surplus and old TVs for a couple years, and handling traffic, ragchewing and contesting on 80 and 40 CW. I had no formal training in radio, electronics or electricity back then and my Elmers were books rather than people. But a motivated kid will do what needs to be done.

I suspect that more than a few old buffers, then and now, don't like the fact that younger and to them less-worthy people just went ahead and did things like earning licenses and getting on the air, while they hemmed, hawed and complained. One old buffer, who wouldn't even get an amateur license until 2007, disliked the idea of young people being hams so much that, about a decade ago, he proposed a minimum-age limit of 14 years for any class of US amateur license.

G3LBS: "Soon there will be more assessment than learning in the schools and in the ham clubs."

Well, I don't know about ham clubs but I know a little about schools. And the schools I know are all about learning, with assessment tacked on because it's required.

G3LBS: "I recommend the motto 'Discimus faciendo' to ham radio."

I like it! And yes, I know what it means.

G3LBS: "Can you recommend one?"

'Ne permitas bastardi te carborundum'

is one.

But Latin really is a dead language.

Here are some more:

'If you believe, you can achieve'

'If it happens, it must be possible'

'A helping hand is most often at the end of your arm'

But most of all, I agree with AI2IA, who summed it all up the best:

"Amateur radio is what you make it for yourself"


73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by K9ZF on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
some folks have WAY too much time on their hands.....


73
Dan
--
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269 Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
<http://www.qsl.net/n9rla> List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
 
RE: Phrases in Latin  
by K6LHA on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
G3LBS wrote on December 7, 2009:

"Imagine some kid with a burning interest in short-wave radio going to a club meeting after a hard day being assessed at school, and hearing old buffers talking about incentive licensing. Soon there will be more assessment than learning in the schools and in the ham clubs. I recommend the motto 'Discimus faciendo' to ham radio. Can you recommend one? Or is Latin a dead language like incentive licensing?"

I would recommend the Latin phrase "Primus inter pares."*

That translates to "first among equals" and describes some of the attitudes displayed in forums and newsgroups. No matter what the subject, each respondent is MORE than "equal" to everyone else. If they are talking about their childhood they were always "smarter, more innovative, more adventurous, more skilled" than any other kid. If they managed to reach adulthood and get amateur radio licenses, they are always "smarter, more knowledgeable, more intelligent, more accomplished, better than everyone" because they SAY so. :-)

* "Primus Inter Pares" was used by RCA Corporation Aviation Systems Division in the 1970s to advertise their civil aviation comm-nav radios and airborne radar sets. Some marketing person at RCA thought the phrase appropriate but the market objected and the phrase was quietly dropped. The technical quality of Civil Aviation's products had already been proven prior to an "outsider" within thinking it needed Latin to sex it up in advertising. <shrug>

AF6AY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by KE5WDI on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am assuming the ORZ... what ever you call yourself is not an amateur radio operator, but just someone that has found his way on to eham to downgrade anyone and everyone that will read his divel....

I could sit back without comment until your statements about people with disabilities and their needing to have thinks "dumbed down for them". It just so happens that I know quite a few people with disabilities that could probably send code around your butt with both hands tied behind their back. I think it is very insulting that there is no one from eham reading your crap and putting a stop to it.

Danny Loyd
KE5WDI

P.S. Yes I am proud enough of my call sign and name to sign my posts on this site everytime I write something.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by W7ETA on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"When's the last time any of you advanced the art of radio?"

I've been considering buying a table saw to build some DIY full range stereo speakers. If I go that route, I can build better looking enclosures for my home made CW transmitter, regen receiver and power supplies. they would certainly be more artful.

Bob
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by WS4E on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I have only been a ham for just over 1 year (+ one month).

I got my Tech, then my General, and then my Extra.

I know lots of people think getting Extra is easy now that there is no code, but frankly if I would not have had a study partner who had a degree in electronics engineering, I don't know if I made it. But lots of study plus having him explain some things better to me (inductance I am looking at you), made it possible.

They say the Extra is pretty much equivalent to a associates degree in electronics, and I believe it.

I am sure you could maybe memorize enough to pass but I wanted to know the stuff backwards and forwards, and in fact only missed a couple of questions on the whole test.

Being an Extra was very important to me, because unlike many first time Ham's my entire goal was to get on HF.

In fact I have been practicing code since summer, with my goal to participate in Straight Key Night this year. My goal was do CW in 1 year but thats close enough. I can read at about 20wpm, but I am trying to build some fist skills to use a straight key at something close to 15wpm.


So, I guess I went from being a 'NO-code Extra' to being a 'KNOW-code' Extra.

I still believe that there are many of us out there that still want to LEARN and USE CW, I don't see anything to worry about CW going away. I also don't see the no-code Extra as a bad thing either.


**LOOK EVERYONE** a new CW user?! Imagine that!
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by QRZDXR2 on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KE5WDI on December 8, 2009
I could sit back without comment until your statements reading your crap and putting a stop to it.

Danny Loyd
KE5WDI

Gee Loyd... I didn't know people down in 5sneyland knew how to read. I find it funny that you all keep coming up with enuendoes that you profess to know what is wrong with others. Must be in the water down their as the rest of us sit back and LOLLL at your assumptions when its clear you know nothing about who or what you talk about.

When you ASSUME you know it all and that one is better than the other.. well as someone else said.. you people from 5 land only know where that stain on your dipers comes from... and the rest is just troll'n for hate and discontent.

As to my abilites in CW... I think I average around 40-45 wpm in morse and faster using american.. as we have been doing it now for just a few years more than any KE5 has been around. Really screws your computer up too when we change the weights around... and most of your 5sneyland buds down their get burned out just shortly after 25 wpm. Was doing CW while you were sitting in front of you TV set watching bugs bunny and knawing on your fudgebar... well maybe that wasn't a fudge bar...LOLLLL

Arn't these the same handicapped people who belong to the ADA? The same whiners who for the sheer fun of it go around looking for people to sue when they don't get their way? We have seen a lot of them get "in your face" when they need a extra bux. Some do it just to "get in your face" as they are frustrated troll's)

As to your enuendo abou the ARRL... When they go to the the FCC and say..."WE REPRESENT ALL HAMS"... and this is what we want... so the FCC does .. and then when something hits the fan... the first thing the ARRL says is... "WELL THE FCC DID IT"... go figure. they are quick to join which ever side is winning (or can make them money) ...and popular... be it politically correct or not from what we have seen.

Well Danny boy.. you have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and happy New Year... if you can... and try not to spread so much hate and discontent ...the south lost the war... get over it... grin LOLLLLL
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by QRZDXR2 on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WS4E on December 8, 2009
I have only been a ham for just over 1 year (+ one month).

I got my Tech, then my General, and then my Extra.

I know lots of people think getting Extra is easy now that there is no code, but frankly if I would not have had a study partner who had a degree in electronics engineering, I don't know if I made it. But lots of study plus having him explain some things better to me (inductance I am looking at you), made it possible.

I am sure you could maybe memorize enough to pass but I wanted to know the stuff backwards and forwards, and in fact only missed a couple of questions on the whole test.

In fact I have been practicing code since summer, with my goal to participate in Straight Key Night I can read at about 20wpm, build some fist skills to use a straight key at something close to 15wpm.


So, I guess I went from being a 'NO-code Extra' to being a 'KNOW-code' Extra.

I still believe that there are many of us out there that still want to LEARN and USE CW
--------------------------------------------------

SE... ya doing it the right way.. too bad that their arn't any ham clubs around to help you through the trials and work. (but you seeked out and found your mentor) That was what ham clubs used to do instead of all this EOC only training junk.

Nothing wrong with 15 wpm.. its a nice speed to QSO on ... and we will be looking for your call sign on SKN...
congrats.
CW is more than just code... its a way of thinking.. like learning to speek a new language. It takes time and determination... (the determination is where most fail today.. as they want things given to 'em and not WORK for it like you did)


We hope others follow your lead and become a KNOW-Radio ham instead of it being a sandbox for diper leakers and dump'ers that if the directions were not written on the mic... press here to talk... no one would hear 'em...which might be a good thing...from what we have heard... I am sure some of the 5sneylanders are still contemplateing months later what the PUSH ON (on/off) means... LOLL
 
Anonymous coward policies  
by K6LHA on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KE5WDI wrote on December 8, 2009:

"I am assuming the ORZ... what ever you call yourself is not an amateur radio operator, but just someone that has found his way on to eham to downgrade anyone and everyone that will read his divel...."

We don't know that because e-ham policy on participants allows just anyone to get in. That's unfortunate for the REAL amateur community. But it is their policy and we are all stuck with the kind of frustrated, bitter-bile-filled vomit from an anonymous coward that badly needs some psychologic therapy.
...........
KE5WDI: "I could sit back without comment until your statements about people with disabilities and their needing to have thinks "dumbed down for them". It just so happens that I know quite a few people with disabilities that could probably send code around your butt with both hands tied behind their back. I think it is very insulting that there is no one from eham reading your crap and putting a stop to it."

E-ham's policy is their policy but I question it even if they are anxious to fill up space and get lots of "comments" on articles regardless of their content so as to appear "popular."

On "policy" I can understand an objection and complete blocking-out from participation even on the basis of using an alliteration to a swear word. I've been blocked out for using the phonetic alphabet substitute for two words. Okay, I toughed it out, complained to e-ham management, eventually re-instated. I didn't apologize for that. I've been a citizen for a long time and am a voluntary enlistee in the US Army during a wartime (the active phase of the Korean War). No one on e-ham article forums is required to put their life on the line as was required in the USA military. What I cannot understand under any circumstances is this absolute "freedom" for anyone else to do what can be described as a total HATE CRIME comment as this "QRZ..." anonymous coward did such as (quoting):

QRZ...: "We hope others follow your lead and become a KNOW-Radio ham instead of it being a sandbox for diper leakers and dump'ers that if the directions were not written on the mic... press here to talk... no one would hear 'em...which might be a good thing...from what we have heard... I am sure some of the 5sneylanders are still contemplateing months later what the PUSH ON (on/off) means... LOLL"

That was just a sample of the "atitudinal BILE" vomited by this creature...freely, without any censorship efforts. Done ANONYMOUSLY to avoid any identification and possible physical harm to this warped nonsense in a HOBBY activity. Yes, people, we MUST PROTECT their "rights" to spout hatred and vitriol. Why? Is that "the radio amateur way?!? Yes...it is bad, bad, bad to use even an alliteration to a swear word, but it is perfectly "okay" to vent TOTAL HATE and DENIGRATION against one activity interest group!? Yes, I guess it is.

Until e-ham management takes a good look at its own policy, I will not bother considering subscribing as I once (perhaps naively) did.
.............
As to the original subject of "trends in license classes," I can say that this palpable BIGOTRY of OLD-style "ham radio must-do" still exists AFTER regulations have legally changed. I have stored textual references to that, visible in NPRM comments and replies to comments on every matter of USA amateur radio regulations since Restructuring was up for comment. There isn't any "trend," it is merely vomiting of more hate against newcomers who don't do what the old-timers say we MUST do.

For over a half century I've heard countless DEMANDS by some that I must "follow tradition" or somehow "honor it" by doing certain things...like using morse code. Now, I'm 77 and a military veteran. When I was a young male, it was TRADITIONAL to go volunteer for military service for one's country during a wartime. That started before the American Revolutionary War but seems to have ebbed and slowed down with the Vietnam War. But..."patriotism" for old amateur radio "traditions" is regarded by a few vocal yokels as MORE IMPORTANT than defending one's country? Of course it is to minds that have never seen harm...but are bent. They are "off the map" if they think that hobby activity "patriotism" is somehow more important than national patriotism.

On the other hand, these traditionalist super-patriots may be simply USING amateur radio to puff themselves up in importance, importance in the alleged sense of yesterday. Some of those try to CONTROL others...by insults, intimidation, denigration in order to do as THEY say. They remind me of little, tiny dictators trying to RULE by any means possible. The ability to Rule can be an aphrodesiac to some, an addictive one, so much so that they don't realize they are doing it. Those that HIDE their identity are just a few neurons away from the Terrorist who Hides, then attacks. They want to be invisible so that they can strike again, satisfying their hatred and frustration. Their amateur radio knowledge is that of the PAST, their references being plentiful material published in the PAST. When faced with a future, they have little to go on. The future is an UNKNOWN, scary in its uncertainty, especially when they don't know how to handle it. The EASY way is to stay with OLD things that the invisible cowards claim to "know." That is EASY. No effort. A "security blanket" for their warped souls.

I have seen evidence that there ARE long-timers who are liberal enough to let newcomers find out for themselves without coercion. They are few to judge by quantity in forums. No demands to "do as *I* say" from them. USA amateur radio is a voluntary activity with plenty of OPTIONS available within allocations. There is NO regulatory demand that licensees MUST use any particular mode/modulation over any other allocated mode/modulation. Just stay within frequency boundaries, follow regulations, and play nice. But, the super-patriotic traditionalist DEMANDS that we do as they command. When we don't, these traditionalists get angry and spiteful. All of this "brotherhood of hams" is a lot of hypocritical BS concerning them. They only want all to OBEY the traditionalist super-patriot. Such obeyance is not brotherhood. It is not traditionalist. It is FAR from patriotic. It is just dictatorship from overgrown schoolyard bullies.

If we have so many OPTIONS in our current USA amateur radio regulations, WHY is there so much outcry about using only "CW?" WHY are we to be subjected to the filthy bile from an anonymous coward hiding behind a pseudonym? WHY can't we just pick and choose what WE like to use or try?

Can we actually choose something for ourselves without the traditionalist super-patriot ham's permission? I'm beginning to doubt it.
.............
KE5WDI: "P.S. Yes I am proud enough of my call sign and name to sign my posts on this site everytime I write something."

Darn straight! [sorry, I couldn't write 'damn straight' for fear of being locked-out again] I've never tried to hide my identity on any computer-modem communications venue. I have the courage of my convictions as well as my own identity, have had that well before being licensed in the amateur radio service. I don't have any respect for those that want to HIDE behind pseudonyms.

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Anonymous coward policies  
by QRZDXR2 on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Anonymous coward policies
by AF6AY on December 8, 2009
-------------------------------------------
Dang... sorry I went to sleep reading your tripe n trolling that went on... and on... and on and on... with not much to say one might add.

I'll have to keep mine short so the server disk doesn't overflow after you left your super long desertation/ novel. (it amazes me that some people can talk for hours... and still not say what a normal person can in 1 min) Have you thought about running for ARRL political office. You would be great.. only problem is most don't know (or care) what you go on... and on talking about... that is so far off subject that they can go take a nap, a shower, have lunch, do their taxes and come back never missing a thought... as you contenue to ramble on...and on...

(Man your electric edison bill for the radio must be akin to the national debt if you transmitt that long.. good thing they invented transistors and FETs or the transmitting tube industry would be showing a stockmarket booming increase and your back yard littered with old worn out finals) Only one other person you have to overcome to be No 1. and that was WA6GVG.. now that was a guy who could flatten finals nightly. But, not to worry.. he died. I think his wife shot him (7 times with a 6 shooter). Something about sleep depervation..or stress..or something like that... LOLLLLLLL

would appreciate it... if you could go back and give us a exec summary of what you were trying to say... see them guys down in 5sneyland... are still stuck on SEE DICK AND JANE readers.. and your posting probably now takes the darwin award for longest verbage with no real revelations or much constructive to say... are you and Al Gore buds? grin...

Thanks.. and we would appreciate it if you could do it in 10 words or less. (again for the benifit of them 5sneylanders' )

Awww...You know how us old guys are. If its not stimulating... we get bored and fall asleep...heck I logged at least 3 or 4 hours on your ramblings and ravings... LOLLL

Yep what ham radio turned into these days...novelties.

Any wonder why CW is growning in popularity...

I see that vibroplex was sold to a new guy... Mitch must have given up the manufacture and sales of them. Sorry to see but look forward to having the tradition contenue with the newbie.

oh well be careful who you call a coward... one might take that as being offensive and you get ban again for innuendoes.

Merry Christmas all.. (and that includes you too AF6AY)

C U on SKN CW. and may the DX be good. (sri e not hr u on Leonard af6ay, best go to HRO n buy a key and do like the other guy did.).... .. --... ...-- ... --.- .-. --.. -.. .-. ..--- .-.-.-
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by KB9MNM on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My 2 cents worth:
When I got my Tech in '96, I was proud to hold the class of Ham Radio Operator. I still am proud to this day as a Tech. My plans to upgrade to General are there, but time,work, cost of equipment and family life tend to overshadow this dream. I will eventually upgrade and enjoy the HF bands. One day.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by AD7VH on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"When's the last time any of you advanced the art of radio?" KC5NYJ:

Actually, quite a few of us on eham have done many things to advance the art of radio, so I don't know where you get off. I have been doing quite a bit of work to improve mobile operations on 160m and 75m, so that is something to advance radio.

I was very against dropping the code, but what is done, is done... To bitch about it is not going to change anything. I managed to pass the 5wpm code test after only studying it for a little over 2 weeks, with a moderate hearing loss (coupled with tinnitus), and working 50 hours a week. I am not able to copy code very well anymore because of the ringing in my ears, but I am sure that I could still pass a 5wpm code test without a problem!

The other thing that is a crock: these people that hold the Advanced class, but yet won't upgrade. I was not going to let my pride get in the way of getting the Extra class. I didn't care what would have been required to get it... I was going to get it. They dropped the code, fine; They dumb-downed the test, whatever. I could give a crap less. I know that I possess more knowledge than was required to pass the test, that is all that matters!

73, John, AD7VH, east central Nevada
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by AD7VH on December 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"When's the last time any of you advanced the art of radio?" KC5NYJ:

Actually, quite a few of us on eham have done many things to advance the art of radio, so I don't know where you get off. I have been doing quite a bit of work to improve mobile operations on 160m and 75m, so that is something to advance radio.

I was very against dropping the code, but what is done, is done... To bitch about it is not going to change anything. I managed to pass the 5wpm code test after only studying it for a little over 2 weeks, with a moderate hearing loss (coupled with tinnitus), and working 50 hours a week. I am not able to copy code very well anymore because of the ringing in my ears, but I am sure that I could still pass a 5wpm code test without a problem!

The other thing that is a crock: these people that hold the Advanced class, but yet won't upgrade. I was not going to let my pride get in the way of getting the Extra class. I didn't care what would have been required to get it... I was going to get it. They dropped the code, fine; They dumb-downed the test, whatever. I could give a crap less. I know that I possess more knowledge than was required to pass the test, that is all that matters!

73, John, AD7VH, east central Nevada
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by G3LBS on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I know an American guy who passed all the exams in one day but can't join two pieces of wire together. He boasts about his achievement and suffers form xenophobia. Maybe he will try to join two wires and thereby electrocute himself.
Of course we in England had to be more careful because we have the superior 250 volts. This means we can have thinner more flexible cables on all our appliances, particularly soldering irons, 3 kW heaters in our shacks and almost zero-insertion plugs in our sockets. American household sockets are disgusting. On the flip side twice as many people are electrocuted in England. However our Queen and Camilla protect us, like Kings Bush and Obama.
Get a life guys ham radio is (a) a hobby, (b) life itself, not a way of life. It is almost as good as sex. It is not an electronic ambulance.
Buffalo Gil W2/G3LBS
 
Logic, Bias, Anonymity  
by N2EY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A few thoughts:

Bias in a posting can be subtle or obvious. Leaving out a relevant fact is one way. Another way is to state an opinion - or a wish - as if it is a fact.

Errors in logic are all over the place too. The most common IMHO are the "ad hominem" error and its mirror image, the "appeal to authority" error. Both are the attempt to use the identity of the speaker to replace a careful examination of the reasoning and facts. When you see someone giving their resume as a reason why you should accept their statements, rather than backing those statements up with sound logic and verifiable facts, you're probably seeing one or both of those errors in action. That's because a person who really has a sound argument doesn't need to use them.

The louder someone declares that they are "unbiased" and/or "objective", the more likely it is that they're not.

Which brings us to anonymity. Of course some folks are anonymous because it's easier to troll that way. But being anonymous, by itself, doesn't make someone a troll nor change the truth of what they say. Their statements still have to be judged by the same rules of logic and factual evidence as any other.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Various Things  
by N2EY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To W7ETA: If you have the room and the money, consider a good radial-arm saw. I always preferred one to a table saw. Helped build a couple of folded horns with one.

To WS4E: Good on ya! I hope to work you in SKN. What bands do you work?

Don't know if you do Field Day, but CW ops are often needed. At the local FD operation, a couple of us who run the CW station routinely deliver more points than the rest of the operation combined, even when the ratio is 1 CW station to three or four 'phone and data stations.

To AD7VH: I think if a person is satisfied with their license, they shouldn't be pressured to upgrade. They're the ones missing out on having full privileges!

As for dropping the code test and other changes, yes, it doesn't change a thing to gripe about it. But all discussions are not griping; it's important to know what actually happened, and why. And to see how things have really changed or stayed the same.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N8QBY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To many long-winded posts.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by W8JII on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Here is statistic for you all. 18 times over several months Len has made us aware that, quote---"On 25 February 2007 I took (and passed) ALL test elements in front of a four-member ARRL VEC examination team. All four team members separately checked my answer sheets. I got NO special favors. Not even being 74 at the time". Congratulations Len. Now give it a rest
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by G3LBS on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N8QBY on December 9, 2009 said Mail this to a friend!
To many long-winded posts.

N8QBY is that why you spell 'Too' as 'To'?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by AC9HE on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Of all the hobbies that I have ever enjoyed, this one has the most opinionated, snobbish, argumentative, bassackwards people than all of them put together.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by G3LBS on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Even counting marriage?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by WS4E on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>Of all the hobbies that I have ever enjoyed, this one
>has the most opinionated, snobbish, argumentative,
>bassackwards people than all of them put together.


Nah, computer technology forums are even worse.

I guess you have never felt the wrath of the Mac-vs-PC arguments or the Unix-vs-VMS ones for us old timers. :)

At least in ham circles there are a few polite people around in-between the noise.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N8QBY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To G3LBS: What does my use of the word, "To" have to do with my commenting on how long some posts are. The word to is used as a function word, and can be used many different ways, as can the word, "too". You shouldn't try and school someone else, when you don't have control of your own faculties.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by KB6QXM on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KC6HCJ wrote: Of all the hobbies that I have ever enjoyed, this one has the most opinionated, snobbish, argumentative, bassackwards people than all of them put together.

I know this may be before your entrance into the hobby, but before the FCC/ARRL started messing around with the license requirements and folding to pressure to these disabilities groups, there was not this 2-sided back and forth as we see now.

In the earlier days before the need to always be Politically Correct, either you took passed the license requirements or you just did not get a license. That was it. The PC police to make sure everyone is included as we do not want to offend anyone lowered the standards so low that my labrador retreivers could pass the tests.

There is something about NOT pleasing everyone. When I was testing for my black belt in VERY traditional Japanese karate, did they lower the standards for me because I was having difficulty. NO!!! Either you met the requirements passed down by tradition or you just did not wear the belt. PERIOD!!

In college when I was getting my degree, did my professors say Oh I see that you are having difficulty, so forget this requirement. Either you passed, changed your degree program, or you repeated the course. Educational standards based on tradition.

The same should go for Ham radio. Yes Yes, I know it is hobby, but when you dilute something by lowering standard, you loose all the way around.

In reference to the Ham that made a comment about the pride of not upgrading to Extra from Advanced class because of pride, you simply do not understand.

Do I want to be in a class of license where the requirements were known or do I want to be lumped into a group with some people that actually had to do a lot of hard work to get their extra class license and also people that had to do very little. NO!!

I would rather stand with the few proud then the masses due to some Arrl/FCC idea of political correctness. No thank you.

Feel free to flame me. Do you notice that I am not hiding behind some secretive account, no I am posting with my FCC generated license.

I know that I will never change what happened. Political Correctness and liberal minded individuals are taking over this and many other countries.

I am not a conservative, but I would say a moderate with a slight tilt to the right.

Enjoy the hobby for what it is and what it has turned into. If not, find another hobby. I know I have many hobbies.

73
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N8QBY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Darn, I forgot to put a question mark after my first line in my last post. I am sure I lost points with Gilly. :o)
 
Pride, Standards and Political Correctness  
by N2EY on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM writes: "before the FCC/ARRL started messing around with the license requirements and folding to pressure to these disabilities groups, there was not this 2-sided back and forth as we see now."

Can you point me to objective evidence that the FCC was under pressure from disabilities groups?

I ask this because the slow erosion of license test standards goes back 30+ years. And because the code waivers came from a request to George Bush I by a now-dead King who was a ham.

KB6QXM: "In the earlier days before the need to always be Politically Correct, either you took passed the license requirements or you just did not get a license. That was it."

It's exactly the same now! The requirements are different, that's all.

KB6QXM: "The PC police to make sure everyone is included as we do not want to offend anyone lowered the standards so low that my labrador retreivers could pass the tests."

We went to VE testing back in the early 1980s. When that happened, the written exam question pools became public domain.

It would be really interesting to get the question pool from, say, 1984 and compare it to today's. I wonder how different they would be?

KB6QXM: "There is something about NOT pleasing everyone. When I was testing for my black belt in VERY traditional Japanese karate, did they lower the standards for me because I was having difficulty. NO!!! Either you met the requirements passed down by tradition or you just did not wear the belt. PERIOD!!"

We could get a lot more people to run the marathon if the distance was reduced from the traditional 26 miles 385 yards.

KB6QXM: "Educational standards based on tradition."

Why should educational standards be based on tradition? Shouldn't they be based on what the student needs to know today?

For example, in high school I was *required* to take two years of Latin. I'd have been much better off if they'd let me take typing, or more science courses, or Basic computing. Latin was a dead language even then.

KB6QXM: "The same should go for Ham radio. Yes Yes, I know it is hobby, but when you dilute something by lowering standard, you loose all the way around."

It's not about tradition; it's about knowing what needs to be known. Since we have more modes, more technologies and more bands today, it seems logical that the requirements should be more comprehensive, not less.

btw, nowhere in Part 97 does the word "hobby" appear. Not even once. Even today, the FCC will not accept the excuse that "it's a hobby".

KB6QXM: "Do I want to be in a class of license where the requirements were known or do I want to be lumped into a group with some people that actually had to do a lot of hard work to get their extra class license and also people that had to do very little. NO!!"

That's fine as far as it goes. But is your sense of pride and self-worth as a radio amateur really all that connected to the tests you took years ago to get the license?

And as far as "liberals" vs. "conservatives", consider this:

The high standards set by the changes known as "incentive licensing" took place under the JFK/LBJ administrations.

The change to the VE system and published question pools took place under the Reagan administration.

The nocodetest Technician and code waivers came about under the first Bush administration.

The restructuring of 2000 took place under the Clinton administration

The end of code testing took place under the second Bush administration.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by N4JTE on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Can we put a fork in this?
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM wrote on 9 Dec 09:

"KC6HCJ wrote: Of all the hobbies that I have ever enjoyed, this one has the most opinionated, snobbish, argumentative, bassackwards people than all of them put together."

KB6QXM: "I know this may be before your entrance into the hobby, but before the FCC/ARRL started messing around with the license requirements and folding to pressure to these disabilities groups, there was not this 2-sided back and forth as we see now."

I strongly disagree with this based on publicly-available documents that anyone can view on the FCC website, namely the Comments and Replies to Comments on all the NPRMs, 18 (!) Petitions that eventually led to the December 2006 Notice that code testing would be eliminated from USA amateur radio license examinations. That is a 9 year span of time. What is MISSING from them are all the "disabilities groups" that allegedly "pressured" the FCC into changing things. The creation of the no-code-test Technician class license happened in 1990, in force in 1991. The FCC does not have all those NPRM documents on-line yet but copies of the 1990 Notice have been obtained and circulated.

The alleged "pressure" came from INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS who were seeking to modernize regulations. It was a LEGAL process and allowed ALL citizens to participate...if they really CARED about it. Percentage wise, FEW licensees did. It was "too much trouble" for so many to actually investigate the situations...they just wanted to play with their radios and leave the "enforcement" and legalities to the ARRL. Fermentation seems to be a good preservative since the sour grapes of so many old-timers over a decade is still poured out on forum participants.
................
KB6QXM: "In the earlier days before the need to always be Politically Correct, either you took passed the license requirements or you just did not get a license. That was it."

Incorrect. That requirement was in the LAW and put there by the FCC, not by any "politically correct" groups or individuals. What was a failure on that statement was that, to be granted an amateur radio license, an applicant had to meet the lawful requirements AT THE TIME. Those requirements have been changing. Witness three major recent milestones: Incentive Licensing; Restructuring; Elimination of code testing entire. ALL of those major changes were achieved by democratic process with the FCC hearing all sides. That included the ARRL and its legal firm on retainer arguing for what can be defined as the ONLY "politically correct" organization. The ARRL once had a formidable influence on the FCC but that has continued to wane over the last few decades.
.................
KB6QXN: "The PC police to make sure everyone is included as we do not want to offend anyone lowered the standards so low that my labrador retreivers could pass the tests."

If you had a DOG that could read, you would be better off making money as its agent in show business. :-)

Since privatization of ALL radio operator license testing, commercial or amateur, the NCVEC Question Pool Committee has authored all the test questions and answers. The NCVEC QPC is composed of licensed amateurs. Contact them with your venting about alleged super-simplicity of written testing. If you are still not satisfied, write a PETITION and present it to the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. [there were no less than 18 Petitions up for comment between onset of Restructuring and before the NPRM on eliminating morse code testing]
...............
KB6QXN: "There is something about NOT pleasing everyone. When I was testing for my black belt in"

Operation of a radio transmitter is FAR from any human-to-human physical contact sport.

KB6QXN: "In college when I was getting my degree, did my professors say Oh I see that you are"

Since the creation of the FCC in 1934 by the Communications Act of that year, even with a few amendments that came after, the FCC is *NOT* chartered by LAW as an academic institution. Neither has its three predecessor agencies been so chartered.
...............
KB6QXN: "The same should go for Ham radio. Yes Yes, I know it is hobby, but when you dilute something by lowering standard, you loose all the way around."

When you attempt "analogies" that cannot apply you are either going bananas or have a poor grasp on the USA legislative and democratic-principled processes. We are a nation of laws. LAW can be changed. It is not fixed in stone, protected by armor plate from any possible future change.

"Lowering standards?" Standards are not so inviolate that all those existing when YOU were FIRST LICENSED IN AMATEUR RADIO are to be kept forever. If you still think that, then you are exhibiting selfish, very self-centered viewpoints. Laws CAN be changed. The USA has a process by which to do such changes. That CHANGE happened that you did not agree with is NOT the "fault" of the Law. It falls back on selfish individuals who will never acknowledge "losing."
..................
KB6QXN: "I know that I will never change what happened. Political Correctness and liberal minded individuals are taking over this and many other countries."

I detect your irritation that all will not look to YOU for "correctness" in everything. Sigh.
..................
KB6QXN: "Enjoy the hobby for what it is and what it has turned into. If not, find another hobby. I know I have many hobbies."

Good luck in your many other hobbies. I'm sure you can win every single karate contest with your attitude, always come out on top with your superior abilities. Do we stand in awe of you or just go "awwwww....?"
 
RE: Pride, Standards and Political Correctness  
by K6LHA on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY tried to put a political spin on this 9 Dec 09:
--------
"And as far as "liberals" vs. "conservatives", consider this:

The high standards set by the changes known as "incentive licensing" took place under the JFK/LBJ administrations.

The change to the VE system and published question pools took place under the Reagan administration.

The nocodetest Technician and code waivers came about under the first Bush administration.

The restructuring of 2000 took place under the Clinton administration

The end of code testing took place under the second Bush administration."
---------
The FCC is an INDEPENDENT USA government agency. Neither John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, William J. Clinton, Ronald Reagan, James E. Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, nor George W. Bush had amateur radio licenses...nor were they "controlling" any aspect of the FCC. The FCC operates under LAWS of Congress passed by the Senate and the House.

Trying vainly to "blame" a political party with controlling or even influencing Comments made to the FCC by individual citizens...on things that passed or did not pass YOUR personal desires is ludicrous. It is almost as laughable as the folks who try to sluff off decisions made by the FCC as "pre-ordained" by some influence group.

The INFLUENCE GROUP that bore weight on the FCC decisions on Notices of Proposed Rule Making were INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS making their case. If you, as a single commenter on one NPRM could NOT make a convincing change, the only "blame" to make is by pointing to and identifying yourself. It is clear that your political orientation is to the Democratic party. That has NO real bearing on the matter that affected the change or not-change of trends in USA amateur radio license classes over the last three years.

If you really, really looked at the final Notice of decisions on matters before the FCC, you would find all of the respondents to NPRMs listed. If you really, really read all of the Comments and Replies to Comments on any NPRM, it would be rare indeed to find any overt political party influences by commenters.

The FCC decides on NPRMs of ALL civil radio services in the USA. It isn't just about amateur radio. Amateur radio is one of the SMALLER radio services in the USA. It is "politically" the smallest since it directly affects a minority citizen demographic. "Mass Media" (formerly known as Broadcasting) is perhaps the largest because there is direct effect to any citizen or household that has a broadcast receiver, audio or video.

As to your comment about "slow eorsion of standards" in USA amateur radio, it demonstrates that YOU consider yourself far better than any government agency in knowledge, law, and many other things. There is ONE federal agency to regulate ALL civil radio in the USA. There are NO "supreme leaders" of any radio service except for some delusional types who think THEY are far more knowledgeable than any government agency.

The FCC has been in existance for 75 years, chartered by the Communications Act of 1934. It has tested and approved methods of CHANGING regulatory laws and all decisions on change are published in the Federal Register. In some cases, decisions have come before Congress and some were reversed, but those were minor in the overall view. Those who cannot accept CHANGE in law and resist such CHANGES can be defined as low-level anarchists, even small-time dictators who see only themselves as some kind of "role-model" and/or "standard bearer." Those who fancy themselves "better" than the law can expect to be up against others who think selfishly about being the "boss of all" and only one of you will (think) you "won." Neither one won anything except disfavor of all of us who accepted change. We outnumber you. Think about that.

AF6AY
 
RE: Pride, Standards and Political Correctness  
by W7ETA on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
As always, great prose Len--easy to follow datum presentation.

"total numbers just aren't keeping up with a continuing USA population increase,"

On face value, that isn't surprising. We can assume people dying had better ability and desire to become hams, vrs people just born. If one could look at a sampling of ability and desire in new borns, to talk with others, my speculation would be borne out.

Come to think of it, new borns might programed to cry if they have to learning CW?

Best from Tucson
Bob
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by N2EY on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N4JTE asks: "Can we put a fork in this?"

Why?

It's just a discussion about the number of US amateur radio licenses and the distribution through the various classes. Yes, three years is a very short timeline.

Here's a quick summary:

The number of Novices has dropped
The number of Technicians has increased
The number of Technician Pluses has dropped, and will soon reach zero - in part because FCC renews them as Technicians
The number of Generals has increased
The number of Advanceds has dropped
The number of Extras has increased
The total number of US hams has increased, but not as much as the US population.

Of course none of that really answers the hard questions such as "how active are those hams" and "what's the long term outlook"?

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Short Version of a Long Story  
by N2EY on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I became a radio amateur in the 1960s. The situation then had a lot of parallels with today.

From the end of WW2 until the early 1960s, US amateur radio numbers had grown steadily, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population. Lots of new hams, lots of ham equipment manufacturers, lots of young people getting licenses. Some say it was a Golden Age.

But in the early 1960s the growth in US amateur license numbers stopped dead. Some years the total held steady, some years it dropped, some years it climbed a tiny bit. Overall it stayed the same, even as the US population kept growing.

Some said ham radio was too old-fashioned; who wanted HF, Morse Code and tube radios in the solid-state microwave-relay computerized Space Age?

Some said the rising price and complexity of the new SSB equipment shut out too many people.

Some said it was the lack of sunspots, the rise of CB, the many alternatives in electronics.

Some said it was the threat of "incentive licensing" and the license requirements.

Some said it was the young people. They had the counterculture, antiwar protesting, rock-and-roll, drugs, free love, and much more. Some said ham radio was way too square to be accepted by hip young folks who were in a much different groove. Bummer!

Some equipment manufacturers disappeared from the amateur radio market. Others reduced their lines, or kept selling modified versions of their old stuff. Imported Japanese stuff began crowding American ham gear off the shelves.

Woe and dismay! Ham radio was doomed! The numbers proved it, we couldn't even keep up with the baby boom! When the old codgers died off, that would be the end - 1980 at the latest!

Now it's 40+ years later. Amateur radio is still here. There are more hams, more things to do in ham radio, more bands/modes/technologies to choose from.

And we still have the doomsayers.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by N3QE on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
> The same should go for Ham radio. Yes Yes, I know it
> is hobby, but when you dilute something by lowering
> standard, you loose all the way around.

What standards have been lowered? I got my Novice ticket at age 10 and my Advanced at age 13. Back when you got your ticket by testing at an FCC field office, and the tests were all about tube radios and dipoles and the CW and phone band edges.

College, a career, a family got in the way of me doing much ham radio after that but my school and jobs were technical and I did learn the new technologies if not use them on the air in ham radio.

Finally, I get back on the air again (CW - it had always been my true love) just a few years ago and decide to upgrade to Extra. I open the study book and all I can say is:

WOW.

I mean, back when I was a kid, I did manage to figure out how to bias tube amplifiers, look at trapezoid patterns on scopes to adjust modulation, describe how to use VR tubes to do delayed CW keying, knew how to adjust phasing rigs for SSB etc. It was hard, I know I really was scraping bottom on getting a passing score on my Advanced test back then, but I did manage 70% or whatever the passing score was.

But to be honest I was stunned with all the new modes and rules and accompanying regulations I had to know for the new 21st century Extra test. Space operation? Amateur TV? All those new digital modes? (Back when I was a kid, it was Baudot RTTY or nothing! The FCC had not yet approved ASCII...)

Technically, I had kept up with many but not all of the advances in technology, and I didn't have a huge problem with that side of the test. But rule-wise, wow, almost everything was new to me.

Am I proud of what I learned as a kid about building and adjusting tube rigs? Yeah, sure. But it sure would turn off any new kids wanting to get into the hobby for us to force them to learn it just because we did. There's plenty of new stuff for them to learn instead (and for you and me to catch up on).

And I still work exclusively CW.

Tim.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by AC9HE on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I try not to post on this forum because it tends to draw flamers.........to the moth. I stand by my statement that I made in an earlier post, although when people are quoting me they are not posting my call correctly, oh well......details.

I read some of the immediate replies to my post and they only supported my statement with the exception of one that did more than support it.

I find it particularly interesting when someone post a reply to a topic by intentionally boasting about their accomplishments like, when I was a brain surgeon you had to open the skull with your teeth, did the medical school let me forgo this test because I had wooden teeth..........no I chomped until I was through it. These are the people that post their reply with their five paragraph responses stuff with self boasting and then go back five times through out the day to re read their own post re assuring theirselves that they are the grand person they believe themselves to be.

Now back to the initial post in this thread and some of the comments. I have my license, it is a tech license and for now that is what I "need" to utilize the equipment that I have. I would like to get my general and my extra some day down the road but for now this is the extent that I intend to endulge myself into this hobby. I find it somewhat taken back when people want to "brand" those of us that are still very busy with employment, children and other ventures in our lives and although we enjoy the hobby, we do so at the level in which we choose. I use my equipment maybe three four times a week and enjoy doing so very much. I have other hobbies as well and do not emerse myself into them any more than I desire or that my economic level will allow. I would imagine that there are other "tech" operators that read these post that belittle those of us that "choose" to enjoy the hobby at this level.

The other day I was driving down the interstate and pulled into a rest area. There were several tractor trailers there. When I went into the vending machine area I talked to several drivers and never once did they tell me because I didn't have a CDL, that I didn't deserve to drive on the highway. You see I don't have a CDL because at this time in my life I do not intend to drive a tractor trailer nor do I own one. If at some point I decide to drive one I will obtain a CDL. Does it mean that I do not have the inteligence to obtain a CDL? I would think not as I have held a CDL in the past.

Does anyone understand the reference here. I use the equipment that a tech license gives me the privilage to use. I do not have, not do I at this time own HF equipment so do not need a General or Extra license. Do I have the knowledge to obtain them?I have taken the test on line dozens of times and passed them. Will I rush out and get one so I can talk on the same equipment that I talk on already............ No more so then I will rush out and get a CDL so I can drive my sedan down the interstate.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by W5ESE on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
> total numbers just aren't keeping up with
> a continuing USA population increase

Baloney.

Over the long term, Amateur Radio licenses have
very much kept up with the increase in the
country's population.

When I was first licensed (1976), amateur
radio operators represented between 0.13-0.17%
of the population.

Today, we comprise over 0.2% of the US
population.

Year_Population_# Hams_Hams as % of US Population
1913 97225000 2000 0.002%
1914 99111000 5000 0.005%
1916 101961000 6000 0.006%
1921 108538000 10809 0.010%
1922 110049000 14179 0.013%
1930 123202624 19000 0.015%
1940 132164569 56000 0.042%
1950 151325798 87000 0.057%
1960 179323175 230000 0.128%
1970 203211926 263918 0.130%
1980 226545805 393353 0.174%
1990 248709873 502677 0.202%
1997 267783607 678733 0.253%
2000 281421906 682240 0.242%
2005 296410404 662600 0.224%
2006 299291772 657814 0.220%

73
Scott W5ESE
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by N2EY on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5ESE: One more data point:

The current US population is about 306 million.

The number of current unexpired US amateur licenses held by individuals is 681,637.

Works out to 0.223%

Next year is the census. Will be interesting to see what the numbers are then.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Standards, Policies and Politics  
by N2EY on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N3QE: When folks talk about "lowering of standards", they have a bunch of different things in mind.

Sure, there's the code testing reduction and elimination. But that's not all that changed.

In the old days we didn't have access to the actual Q&A. No CSCEs either; you had to pass all tests for a given license on the first try at the same session. 30 day wait to retest, you couldn't just pay another fee and get another go. Exam sessions were held on weekday mornings in FCC offices, which meant a half-day or more off work or waiting for a school holiday that wasn't a Federal holiday. The test fee was as high as $9, which when you adjust for inflation is about $50 in today's money - pass or fail.

Yes, there are lots of rules/regs questions in the modern tests. Yet the size and number of tests is smaller, so those rules/regs questions tend to push out the technical questions. IMHO, the tests today tend to cover a lot of subjects, but not in much depth. The old tests covered fewer subjects in a lot more detail. Which is better is a matter of opinion.

What it all meant in practice was that the typical ham would learn the things that might be on the test backwards, forwards and upside down to be sure of a pass on the first go. Take Ohm's Law: Since we didn't know what form the Ohm's Law questions would take, it made sense to be absolutely sure of being able to solve any kind of Ohm's Law problem. But when you know exactly what the questions will be, it makes sense to focus on being able to solve those problems only.

The changes don't mean everyone today just memorizes the Q&A and doesn't learn anything in the process. Far from it! But it does mean that the test method is very different - and that's a change in standards.

There are "Technician In A Day" courses offered now which promise to take someone from no license to passing the Tech in one day of class. And their success rate is very high! Would anyone have offered even a "Novice In A Day" class back-when?

Consider that recently the CEPT folks decided that only Advanceds and Extras qualified for a full CEPT reciprocal license, after years and years of accepting the US General license as well.

Nobody is saying that hams today should have to pass the exact same tests as those given 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. But at the same time, it seems rather odd when an Extra doesn't know how to make a simple wire dipole.

Boil it all down to this: Which would you consider easier to pass:

An exam where you knew the general subjects that would be tested

or

An exam where you knew the general subjects that would be tested AND could see every one of the actual Q&A that could be on the test ahead of time?

None of those test-method changes came about because the ARRL, ADA or large numbers of hams or would-be hams asked for them. They were the result of cost-saving moves by FCC, driven by the budget-cuts and policies of various administrations. Running test sessions at FCC field offices cost a lot more tax dollars than having almost all of the work done by unpaid Volunteer Examiners.

The FCC is a joint commission, which means it answers to both the Executive and the Legislative branches. And while the White House and the Congress might not get involved in the actual regs too much, they set the general policies, pick the commissioners and determine the funding. Look at all the support Bush II gave to BPL for just one example. Look at how we got medical code-test waivers back in 1990 for another.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by KB6QXM on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
One more datapoint:

Of the 306 Million people in the US, it is estimated that over 12 million of those are illegally here.

So do we lower the number to 294 Million? That would skew the percentage a bit! Many are not citizens, but visitors on work visas.

Can these people obtain ham radio licenses???

Hopefully the 2010 census will list the illegal population, so we can get more accurate calculations.
 
Standards, Policies and Politics = Stagnant  
by K4RAF on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Since the tests have removed the technical aspects & replaced them with archaic rules, the hobby has become a control battleground.

One person mentioned "high power, high speed links". Well I know several hams who operate on ham bands like 900MHz, 2.4, 3.4 & 5GHz with OFDM for broadband internet. You'll never see a callsign on any of it. They just design links & point-multi-point systems with off the shelf parts to operate under Part 15.

No amps, just good antennas & good radios. Are they hurting anyone? Not likely. They are actually serving folks who depend on them. Note to hams: IF you need a power amp or heliax on 802.11(x) OFDM, don't even turn it on. You don't have clue.

The inability to adopt to progressive communications methods & truly serve the community has stunted the growth of a once great technical hobby. EMCOMM wannabes should be guerrilla wi-fi guys. Drop it in, hook it up, power it up, connect up, walk away... Video, VoIP, SMS, etc... Nice scenario that happened in New Orleans during Katrina. They weren't hams, but they SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

The quest for control, endless "You can't do that..." & total lack of technical embrace has caused one result: Stagnation...

Feel free to write but it is obvious truth, from where I sit. I have been licensed long enough to see it...

Raf
wifidx@gmail
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by N2EY on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM:

12 MILLION! Wow!!

However, if they're here on work visas, they're not here illegally.

Citizenship used to be a license requirement, but not any more, so legal resident aliens can get licenses. But I doubt many illegals would give their personal info to a Federal agency!

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by K6LHA on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KC9HGJ posted on 10 Dec 09:

"I find it particularly interesting when someone post a reply to a topic by intentionally boasting about their accomplishments like, when I was a brain surgeon you had to open the skull with your teeth, did the medical school let me forgo this test because I had wooden teeth..........no I chomped until I was through it. These are the people that post their reply with their five paragraph responses stuff with self boasting and then go back five times through out the day to re read their own post re assuring theirselves that they are the grand person they believe themselves to be."

I've encounterd the very same attitudes for a helf century. Kinda reminds me of the amusing saying, "When I was young we whittled our own ICs out of wood!" :-)
................
KC9HGJ: "Now back to the initial post in this thread and some of the comments. I have my license, it is a tech license and for now that is what I "need" to utilize the equipment that I have. I would like to get my general and my extra some day down the road but for now this is the extent that I intend to endulge myself into this hobby. I find it somewhat taken back when people want to "brand" those of us that are still very busy with employment, children and other ventures in our lives and although we enjoy the hobby, we do so at the level in which we choose. I use my equipment maybe three four times a week and enjoy doing so very much. I have other hobbies as well and do not emerse myself into them any more than I desire or that my economic level will allow. I would imagine that there are other "tech" operators that read these post that belittle those of us that "choose" to enjoy the hobby at this level."

I will support your personal decision to do as you see fit, not what others or so-called representative membership organizations say you should.
................
KC9HGJ: "The other day I was driving down the interstate and pulled into a rest area. There were several tractor trailers there. When I went into the vending machine area I talked to several drivers and never once did they tell me because I didn't have a CDL, that I didn't deserve to drive on the highway. You see I don't have a CDL because at this time in my life I do not intend to drive a tractor trailer nor do I own one. If at some point I decide to drive one I will obtain a CDL. Does it mean that I do not have the inteligence to obtain a CDL? I would think not as I have held a CDL in the past."

Hear ya! Good on you for writing that.

What some of those ultra-conservative "critics" are really saying is that all should worship them for their self-described glorious achievements, at how intrinsically good they imagine they are, whatever is the "achievement." Amateur radio is a HOBBY, a non-professional avocational activity involving radio, even if the Regulations do not describe it exactly that way de jure. It is DE FACTO a hobby. Hobbies are for personal enjoyment. NO ONE should DICTATE "what is fun or what is not fun." Neither should the government DICTATE what is fun. All the USA government dictates is some technical regulations to mitigate radio service interference.

"NO!" cry the petty tyrants hiding behind long tenure in amateurism. "All must do AS WE SAY! [only THEY 'know what is good for amateur radio] BS. Mental perversion combined with personal delusions of grandeur.
...............
KC9HGJ: "Does anyone understand the reference here. I use the equipment that a tech license gives me the privilage to use."

Good on you again! I totally agree with you on that. I say again that amateur radio is a HOBBY, an vocational activity involving radio, regulations needed only because of the nature of EM propagation and necessity to mitigate interference to other radio services. Fanatics within the hobby don't understand that, amateur radio has become a raison d'etre, their "reason for being." They have this terrible 'need' to be 'better than others' and
don't hesitate to attempt beating on those who just want to enjoy the hobby independently, personally, the way WE want to enjoy it.

In the USA the FCC gives us great freedom in personal OPTION of choice in choosing what we want to do in amateur radio. WE are not lesser or greater for doing separate, individual things within it.

Contrary to amateur radio folklore, ANY radio operator license is simply a permission to operate on certain frequencies under certain conditions as defined by our only civil radio regulating agency. Neither the FCC (created in 1934) nor any of its predecessor agencies were chartered to be academic institutions with licenses representing 'degrees' of academic achievement. Each license is merely a PERMISSION, a privilege to radiate RF under certain conditions as codified in law.

In a rough analogy, it is like the Cartage Driver License, a permission to carry cargo for hire and engage in legal business of such cartage, but being required to obey the very same roadway laws as all other drivers of any vehicle type. The ONLY advantage a "30 ton tractor and box" is physical mass that can overrun small vehicles in defiance of the law. In another way the petty little amateur tyrant tries to BULL their way with 'upgraded' licenses and once, long ago, being tested in the now-outdated requirement of knowing manual radiotelegraphy. That is just bullying on their part, a self-glorification of theirs which is NOT an enjoyment dictated for all.
.............
KC9HGJ: "I do not have, not do I at this time own HF equipment so do not need a General or Extra license."

I got an Amateur Extra class license just because I could. It was a personal advantage to emit RF just about anywhere allocated on the EM spectrum. After over 50 years involved in radio communications and three federal commercial radio licenses later, I figured I had enough experience and knowledge to pass some amateur tests. I also had the funds to purchase an entire station new. That was done for MY convenience, not to "prove" myself to anyone. Ah, but that opened another two cans of worms of pure resentment to certain others.

According to certain others "I have to begin as a teen-ager and slowly work my way up the proficiency ladder and go through all the class levels to justify my ability to others in the amateur community." Barf-city BS. The only "proof" needed is to pass the FCC-mandated examinations whose questions (and answers) were authored by the NCVEC Question Pool Committee (themselves required to hold USA amateur radio licenses). That VEC QPC was the ONLY "community." :-)

Time-travel has not yet been invented. I cannot go back to my teen years and receive the requisite League brainwashing. My teen years occurred during a time of World War with the entire USA involved. It wasn't some schoolbook history notation. It was LIFE unfolding for all of us then.

Just WHY in #### name must we "progress slowly, step-by-step through all the classes of license?" Amateur radio is a HOBBY. It isn't a Union or Guild. It sure as #### isn't professional by federal definition. WE, all of us are allowed to enter or progress as far as WE care to. I've been a PROFESSIONAL in electronics and radio, that is earning MONEY for my work services. A few Others expressed great resentment at that. So much so, that one several times objected to my purchasing an Icom IC-746Pro. Not so much for the brand or kind, but for the "Pro" suffix on Icom's model ID. :-)

That was Icom's ID number, not mine. But, horrors and shame on me that I did not 'design and build my own!' Yes, I could have. I spent a working career doing things like that. I could have technically duplicated the entirety of functions and features of an Icom or Kenwood or Yaesu with time. I figured if I started now and continued non-stop all by myself that I might be done in 10 or 12 years. I'm 77 now, so I should wait until I'm near 90 to "make my first QSO?" :-) :-) :-)

Well, my first 'solo' radio contact, NON-amateur, was done in 1952 while in the US Army. I'm sure that sticklers for EXACTNESS will scream "that isn't a QSO!" It was a radio contact nonetheless. Q-codes were devised by professional radiomen, not amateurs. Amateurs picked up the use so that they could pretend to be "professional." Roger that. :-) In all the history or radio communications the ACTUAL invention/innovations of advancing any state of the radio art by amateurs were done before 1940. I don't care what the ARRL writes, I've got many other sources of historical information on electronics which are not out trying to get membership monies flowing into a suburb of Hartford Connectibutt.
................
This posting and reply isn't about "Trends" but I won't apologize for it. So many have commented on UNverified 'trends' that are more half-truths, folklore, repetitions of what others claim. I say that anyone who enjoys whatever activity they are in are very free to ENJOY it. I also say that anyone who wants to DICTATE what anyone else "should" enjoy is one sick puppy and treated with momentary compassion for their mental illnesses. <shrug>

73, Len AF6AY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by AI2IA on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Commenting on eHam.net is like spitting into the wind.
 
RE: Pride, Standards and Political Correctness  
by K6LHA on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W7ETA posted on 10 Dec 09:

"As always, great prose Len--easy to follow datum presentation."

[AF6AY] "total numbers just aren't keeping up with a continuing USA population increase,"

W7ETA: "On face value, that isn't surprising. We can assume people dying had better ability and desire to become hams, vrs people just born. If one could look at a sampling of ability and desire in new borns, to talk with others, my speculation would be borne out."

Thanks for the nice words, Bob.

Unfortunately, some folks think it is "baloney" (W5ESE) and "prove" their point with UNverified data on USA population going back to a century ago. :-)

I specifically targeted just three years and only three years to see if there was an impact from the elimination of all morse code testing for any USA amateur radio license. That it was only THREE years was stated in the title. Some folks are too caught up in their own personal vision (or mythology) of USA amateur radio to enable them to study a situation dispassionately.
..............
W7ETA: "Come to think of it, new borns might programed to cry if they have to learning CW?"

:-)

Heh heh, I can't tell you how many times I've been called a "newborn" in ham radio, a "know-nothing" or even outright "stupid/ignorant" (N2EY and K8MN in public in a newsgroup when I didn't ask THEIR "permission to take a test)" :-)

Usually I just shrug my shoulders when encountering such self-centered individuals on forums and newsgroups, etc. When encountering such on amateur bands I've simply turned off. Since I BEGAN on HF over a half century ago in the Big Business of radio communications (not broadcasting), without any need to know or learn "CW" I am just indifferent to it. I have no Love for "CW." I have no Hate for it, either. Indifference is not "hate."

I picked my study chronological period because: (1) I had third-party data from two independent sources; (2) Cessation of USA amateur radio code testing can be considered an epochal point in USA amateur radio history; (3) Some acquaintences suggested six-month periods as suitable enough for a venue having limited space. Note: I have the tools and ability to make "graphs" but saw no justification for a small amount of data by those who would argue against any format if the data did not meet their preconceived notions.

Before and after that fateful date of 23 Feb 07, CW-LOVERS have insisted that "nothing can be seen for a 'short time' period." They would stretch it all out for years, a time sufficiently long enough for it all to dim in history and thus become a NON-subject. I classify that as just plain denial by those who can't bear to see their mode (at which they claim expertise) no longer "loved" or an attempt to make themselves better than others, indeed 'superior' because they met standards of long ago.

Newborns CRY because it is a natural act, calling for a need for sustenance, a need for security, a need for physical comfort. Lots of adults "cry" and cuss and say nasty to others when evidence is presented that doesn't fit their personal idea/experience/brainwashed notions of what amateur radio "should be." <shrug> It is not my job to coddle them and praise them gratuitously. :-)

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Standards, Policies and Politics  
by K6LHA on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY, man of all authority, wrote on December 10, 2009:

"N3QE: When folks talk about "lowering of standards", they have a bunch of different things in mind."

N2EY: "Sure, there's the code testing reduction and elimination. But that's not all that changed. In the old days we didn't have access to the actual Q&A. No CSCEs either; you had to pass all tests for a given license on the first try at the same session. 30 day wait to retest, you couldn't just pay another fee and get another go. Exam sessions were held on weekday mornings in FCC offices, which meant a half-day or more off work or waiting for a school holiday that wasn't a Federal holiday. The test fee was as high as $9, which when you adjust for inflation is about $50 in today's money - pass or fail."

By golly, things were really TOUGH for you youngsters, right? :-)

Code testing for USA amateur radio licensing stopped in early 2007. Code testing for Commercial Radiotelegraphy operators continues...but before COLEMs, not VECs. Just think, you could go commercial and actually earn money as a radiotelegraphy operator on the Great Lakes. You would be a natural with your superb code key skills.

Oh, and well before the Dick Bash books, there were the "Q&A" series of books on just about every trade that had license testing, commercial radio and amateur radio included. Hardbound in 1956. I tried to get one in my home town back in February of that year but they weren't available. When I went for my Radiotelephone Operator license in March of 1956 I just memorized all the rules from a borrowed copy (fit into a half-inch loose leaf). I didn't have any thought of re-taking any test in Chicago at an FCC Field Office. Gollee, if there was some regulation or something on re-taking a
test, I would have failed to remember it. Tsk, tsk, I didn't have to retake anything. Oh, yes, one other thing, I didn't interrupt my school classes since I was 23 and newly released from active duty with the US Army. <shrug>

I can't say what the test fee was at the FCC because I didn't bother remembering it. I had earned the fantastic "salary" of $146 per month with overseas pay as an E-5 while obliging the USA with my "life if necessary." But, you loved to mock that in public much later. You never served. <shrug> I do recall that the 90-mile train fare to Chicago and back cost more than the test fee.
.................
N2EY: "Yes, there are lots of rules/regs questions in the modern tests. Yet the size and number of tests is smaller, so those rules/regs questions tend to push out the technical questions. IMHO, the tests today tend to cover a lot of subjects, but not in much depth. The old tests covered fewer subjects in a lot more detail. Which is better is a matter of opinion."

Gosh and golly, it sure sounds as though THE HAM TEST was a real toughie long ago. I don't know since I never bothered to take one until 2007. I've heard differently but then both you and K8MN have publicly agreed that I was "too stupid to pass a ham test." Of course that was before I asked for your permission to take one. Undaunted, I just took it and passed all three test elements in one afternoon, no retakes. :-)
...............
N2EY: "What it all meant in practice was that the typical ham would learn the things that might be on the test backwards, forwards and upside down to be sure of a pass on the first go. Take Ohm's Law: Since we didn't know what form the Ohm's Law questions would take, it made sense to be absolutely sure of being able to solve any kind of Ohm's Law problem. But when you know exactly what the questions will be, it makes sense to focus on being able to solve those problems only."

Wow! A simple algebraic expression (Ohm's Law of Resistance) is 'rocket science?!?" E = I * R? Sonovagun!

Well, since you later would ace all three courses in The Calculus in collitch, yeah... :-)
................
N2EY: "The changes don't mean everyone today just memorizes the Q&A and doesn't learn anything in the process. Far from it! But it does mean that the test method is very different - and that's a change in standards."

I still have the one-inch thick looseleaf notebook filled with verbatim questions and answers of all three test elements applicable to an amateur radio license examination for February 2007. I can't find my sheet of the exact numbers of the Question Pool questions but, for all 120 questions of 3 total tests there were about 13 times the required minimum. The Amateur Extra Question Pool had about 16 times the required minimum or about 430 for Extra alone. I could re-count all the allowed questions in the Question Pool but it would be a wasted effort here, right? :-)

I showed a local stage actor acquaintence my QPC notebook a few years ago and asked him if he could
memorize it. Stage actors need to memorize just about every line in a play, all characters plus positions and lots of other little notes in the script. The only comment I got was "ya gotta be kidding!?" Then he showed me the size of the script he was then rehearsing. It wasn't even a quarter inch thick and typed double-spaced.

For 120 questions and 13 times that in the total Pool there would be 1560 questions with 6240 answers. The 120 test questions (and 480 answers) would be (or should be) selected randomly out of those 6240 total items. Since many answers are "distractors" (almost-correct answers written so as to appear as correct), ALL questions AND answers need to be "memorized." But, I guess all you long-time amateurs have SUPERHUMAN powers thus you have evolved into superbeings or something. It must be the fantastic state of the radio art that long-timers get doing all that morse code stuff?
............
N2EY: "There are "Technician In A Day" courses offered now which promise to take someone from no license to passing the Tech in one day of class. And their success rate is very high! Would anyone have offered even a "Novice In A Day" class back-when?"

WHY? New Novice licenses haven't been granted since 2000. This morning (10 Dec 09) the number of Technician class licensees totalled 344,184 (Hamdata) and 333,410 (ARRL within 10-year term). Novice class was 20,564 (Hamdata) and 17,147 (ARRL). Novice class required passing a code test, Technician class did not after 1990. Remember, no new Novice licenses have been granted since the year 2000.

You keep saying that Technician Pluses are "automatically renewed" as Technician since no new
Technician plus licenses have been granted since the year 2000. Ah, new Technician Plus licensees BEFORE the year 2000. You've never explained why the no-code-test Technician class got so large BEFORE 'restructuring' came into effect. Numbers of the two just don't add up to your "theory." [don't let that stop you, accurate data verification hasn't stopped you yet]
.............
N2EY: "Nobody is saying that hams today should have to pass the exact same tests as those given 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. But at the same time, it seems rather odd when an Extra doesn't know how to make a simple wire dipole."

Weird comment, Jimmy. Morse code testing has been required for amateur radio ever since the first USA radio regulatory agency existed (created in 1912). Now, I seem to recall one James Miccolis as being ADAMANT about absolutely KEEPING the morse code test right on through November 2006, then saying its elimination would be the "worst thing that can happen" [to USA amateur radio] by January 2007 (repeated at least twice since in ham forums). The FCC published a Notice that code test would be eliminated in December 2006, exact effective date to be published in the Federal Register. Gee, how quickly they forget... :-)

Oh, and length of a dipole? 468/frequency in MHz is the length in Imperial measure. I knew that in junior high school back in 1947, well before being licensed to drive.
..............
N2EY: "Boil it all down to this: Which would you consider easier to pass:"

I'd rather pass my annual medical exam and its blood test (I study very hard for my blood test). So far I've been lucky with nothing much out of the ordinary.

I'd also want to pass my written California driver exam which I am now supposed to take every 5 years or so now. I've passed all of those...without "waivers."

Ya see, I passed all the required tests for Amateur Extra in the USA and will never have to worry about taking another amateur test in my life. Just keep on renewing and it is mine for life. Even if I get a Vanity callsign modification. That applies to ALL who renew within the required time period. Imagine, the mighty state of the art of radio KNOWN by all licensees even after more than three decades since they've taken their last test. :-)
................
N2EY: "None of those test-method changes came about because the ARRL, ADA or large numbers of hams or would-be hams asked for them. They were the result of cost-saving moves by FCC, driven by the budget-cuts and policies of various administrations. Running test sessions at FCC field offices cost a lot more tax dollars than having almost all of the work done by unpaid Volunteer Examiners."

Ahhh, having been assigned to station ADA in the military for 3 years, it was never involved then in amateur activities and certainly was not operated in any amateur fashion. Station ADA is still operating today in Hawaii as the callsign of the Headquarters of the US Army Pacific.

Are YOU a VE, Jimmy? You've stated in public HERE that you were examined for your first USA amateur radio test by a Volunteer Examiner in 1969 and that same amateur was also your first QSO contact. Can we detect some "favoritsm" in there, perhaps "kindness" to a teener? Hmmm? Could we detect some same "kindness" about the VEs who passed a couple of six-year-olds back in 1998 or so (cute picture was in the ARRL Letter). Are they still licensed? It is about 11 years later now. They must be in their grace period if they haven't renewed.
..............
N2EY: "The FCC is a joint commission, which means it answers to both the Executive and the Legislative branches. And while the White House and the Congress might not get involved in the actual regs too much, they set the general policies, pick the commissioners and determine the funding."

Sorry, the FCC is an INDEPENDENT federal agency, James. Please check out your civics organizations and don't "invent" new structures. It had about a $7.5 BILLION annual budget in 2005. Congress passed the laws that chartered the FCC (Communications Act of 1934) and amended it (Telecommunications Act of 1996) and that's about it for "outside influence." While you are at it, don't forget that BPL was endorsed by an FCC Chairman (two Chairmen ago) by Colin Powell's son under the George W. Bush's Presidency. Oh, you said that, didn't you, except you called George Walker Bush as "Bush II." Note: If he was a "II" then he would have been named George Herbert Walker Bush II. On all those "waivers" that troubles you so, WHO out there in amateur land got code-test waivers? You have talked SO much about that but never revealed WHO got one. Since you are this mighty "insider" into government you just haven't fleshed out your mythology of "right v. wrong." 1990 was also the year the Technician class (having no code test) NPRM was released. Technician class (of modern times) was made law in 1991. Are you confusing things or what?

I think you've been working too hard as a "radio manufacturer" running the "Southgate Radio" company since the early 1970s. Relax, try to get your mind clear. Try watching TV, like re-runs of "Sanford and Son."

Bye,

AF6AY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by KE7RYM on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I have been licensed for about two years, upgraded to General, and will upgrade to AE next year. The clubs in this area don't want new members, or at least they act that way. Despite this, I am getting on the air next year, finances permitting. I'm interested in vlf, HF, weak signal digital (all bands), and think that the ARRL prints the band charts upside down. Dangle the carrots of the nearly vacant microwave bands in front of amateurs so we can start staking legitimate claim to furthering knowledge in those areas when the next WARC rolls around and (fill in the blank) Telecomm wants the whole EHF band for real-time vehicle telemetry or similar, and hams can point to reasons for keeping those bands.
 
RE: Standards, Policies and Politics  
by W8JII on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Len says it again----that's 19, "I just took it and passed all three test elements in one afternoon, no retakes. :-) ". I'll say it again Len. You're brilliant.
 
Against The Wind  
by N2EY on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA writes "Commenting on eHam.net is like spitting into the wind."

It can seem like that sometimes. But to paraphrase what you wrote about amateur radio, "Eham is What You Make Of It For Yourself".

The key factor is to ignore the trolls. They're easy to spot.

A classic troll-move on eham is to post something that seems plausible but is inaccurate, misleading or just plain untrue. Those who know the facts then correct the mistake, the troll responds with more inaccuracies, arguments and insults, and the cycle continues. Usually the bait is subtle but obvious to those who know the facts.

What keeps the cycle going is that the troll doesn't care about the truth at all. What the troll wants is attention, and the opportunity to anger others and insult them. The responders DO care about the truth, and keep trying to set the record straight and concentrate on the facts, which simply keeps the game going.

The troll will use all the usual tools of logical fallacy to keep the responses coming. Common ones are the Appeal to Authority, Presuming the Conclusion, Opinion as Fact, Ad Hominem, Argument from Verbosity, misquoting, and various semantic games, but there are many others.

The solution in all cases is to simply ignore the trolls completely and not take the bait.

You can tell when a troll is getting desperate when the inaccuracies turn to flat out lies that are easily disproved and the insults become personal and obvious.

A classic case of troll-desperation is when a troll falsely claims that someone else said or did a certain thing. No proof is given, just the false claim.

The person accused will usually respond with some variation of "Prove it!" knowing that the troll cannot prove an event that never happened. The troll will just ignore the response in one way or another and go on to other ways of keeping the game going. Remember, the troll doesn't care about the truth at all, only about the attention. The "Prove it!" response is attention, which is exactly what the troll wants.

The only way to win is not to play. Then eham becomes a pleasure. I've learned a lot here from non-trolls (such as yourself) by concentrating on the signal and ignoring the noise.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by KB1SF on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent analysis, Len!

However, there's one thing missing from all the data that you gents are bantering about that I believe will eventually prove to be our undoing.

It’s that NOWHERE in the public FCC database does it state the AGE of our current licensees!

It is also important to remember that, because our licenses are all on a 10 year renewal cycle, the demographics you all are citing were only completely accurate in 1999. Who knows how many more of us have died, or have, for whatever reason, chosen to leave the hobby altogether since then?

My own (admittedly, purely anecdotal) evidence that we are on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers stems from my active work as an accredited examiner in both the USA and Canada. For the last several years, I have been able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of "under twenty somethings" I've administered examinations to for our Service. I'm also getting the same feelings expressed by a number of other examiners with whom I regularly have contact.

Indeed, most of my candidates for a "new" license in our Service have been what I call "retreads". These are folks who may have always wanted to get their ham licenses but, for whatever reason, were unable to obtain one until now. And, not surprisingly, when asked, the vast majority of these folks say they were kept out of our Service by our collective, ongoing obsession with Morse testing.

Another large group of people I test held a ham ticket at one time long ago, but life (in the form of job, family or income) prevented them from actively pursuing the hobby until now. In the interim, they simply let whatever license they may have held lapse.

In both cases most of the folks I'm administering tests to these days are now well into their mid to late 50s. Some are even well into their 60s or 70s. And the VAST majority of them are now retirees. As I have said, there is rarely an "under twenty something" in the lot.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm more than happy to have these folks (back) in the fold. And I welcome then all with open arms. But my own personal experiences are increasingly showing that we simply are NOT attracting enough YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service these days to replace us ever-aging curmudgeons when we (and most of our predominantly older newcomers) are dead and gone.

The bottom line here is that, while our numbers may LOOK like we have "stopped the decline" and are now a robust and growing Service again, the (not-so-hidden) reality is that the (non-club) number of licensees in our Service in the United States still peaked in 2003. And, as Len has so eloquently noted, there has been a slow, but very measurable decline in our overall license numbers ever since then.

My hunch is that this fact, when combined with (as yet unreported) declines in our ranks from death or lack of interest that are being masked by our ten-year license renewal cycle, our numbers are now poised to start dropping at an ever more increasing rate. And they will begin dropping like a rock in the out years as our ever increasing "silent key" rate overtakes and then eventually outpaces our "youthful newcomer" rate.

Oh...and there's one more thing...

As others have pointed out, I, too, find it absolutely fascinating that, just using the numbers shown above, almost 350,000 in our ranks hold nothing more than a Technician license, while only 120,000 or so have "advanced" all the way to Extra Class.

Or, to put it another way, Technicians now make up a whopping 40 percent...nearly half....of the non-club whole, while Extra Class operators make up only about 17 percent of the total.

Those who were around in the late 1960s may recall that part of the ARRL's grand "sales job" behind the FCC's so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense back then was to create built-in (largely ego-based) regulatory incentives for ALL of us to feel the strong urge to educate ourselves and "upgrade" all the way to Extra Class.

It simply hasn't happened.

It would now seem that almost HALF of those in our current ranks have told the FCC to "take a hike" with their stupid "incentive" nonsense. Indeed, for whatever reason, today's Technicians have very clearly shown...by their overwhelming numbers...that they simply aren't interested in "upgrading" AT ALL!

In any other "educational" endeavor, a 17 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure. Everywhere else, that is, but with the FCC's myopic attempt to turn Amateur Radio into the "No Budding RF Engineer Left Behind" Radio Service.

It would all be comic if it wasn't so sad.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by G3LBS on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Precisely put - supporting the basic fact that all hams are equal, and that motivation is the key to expanding the hobby. That motivation can only come from experimentation at the pre-license stage.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by AC9HE on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
IT...........is ..........a..........hobby.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by AC9HE on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
If you think that it is more than that........you need to re medicate.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by N2EY on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF: "It is also important to remember that, because our licenses are all on a 10 year renewal cycle, the demographics you all are citing were only completely accurate in 1999."

They weren't completely accurate in 1999 either, for the same reasons.

KB1SF: "Who knows how many more of us have died, or have, for whatever reason, chosen to leave the hobby altogether since then?"

Nobody knows and it doesn't matter because the same was true in 1999.


KB1SF: "while our numbers may LOOK like we have "stopped the decline" and are now a robust and growing Service again, the (not-so-hidden) reality is that the (non-club) number of licensees in our Service in the United States still peaked in 2003......there has been a slow, but very measurable decline in our overall license numbers ever since then."

Not really. In fact, not at all.

What happened is this:

from 2000 to 2003 the numbers went up
from 2003 to 2007 the numbers went down
from 2007 to now the numbers went up.

They haven't gone up as fast or as far as we might like but they ARE rising. Graph the numbers from the AH0A site and you'll see. (Graphs are excellent good for showing trends).

KB1SF: "I..find it absolutely fascinating that...almost 350,000 in our ranks hold nothing more than a Technician license, while only 120,000 or so have "advanced" all the way to Extra Class.

Or, to put it another way, Technicians now make up a whopping 40 percent...nearly half....of the non-club whole, while Extra Class operators make up only about 17 percent of the total."

You're not telling the whole story, Keith. Nor an accurate one.

You're leaving out the most important info, which tells a very different story.

Here are the numbers of current, unexpired licenses held by individuals on May 14, 2000, just after the restructuring:

Novice: 49,329
Technician: 205,394
Technician Plus: 128,860
General: 112,677 (16.70%)
Advanced: 99,782
Extra: 78,750 (11.67%)

Total 674,792

Note that the total number of Technicians and Tech Pluses combined is 334,254, which is 49.53% of the total. Add in the Novices and you get 383,583, which means that back then 56.84% of US hams held "nothing more than a Tech Plus license".

Now look at the numbers for yesterday:

Novice: 17,145
Technician: 333,530
Technician Plus: 320
General: 150,734 (22.11%)
Advanced: 60,850
Extra: 119,228 (17.49%)

Total 681,807

Note that the total number of Technicians and Tech Pluses combined is 333,850, which is 48.96% of the total - and LOWER than it was in 2000!. Add in the Novices and you get 350,995, which means that today then 51.48% of US hams "hold nothing more than a Tech Plus license". Again, LOWER than in 2000.

Meanwhile the number and percentage of hams with Generals and Extras has grown in both absolute and percentage numbers.

Another poster did an offsite graph which showed all this very clearly.

KB1SF: "It would now seem that almost HALF of those in our current ranks have told the FCC to "take a hike" with their stupid "incentive" nonsense. Indeed, for whatever reason, today's Technicians have very clearly shown...by their overwhelming numbers...that they simply aren't interested in "upgrading" AT ALL!"

Really?

Then why are the number and percentage of US hams with a Tech Plus, Tech or Novice license dropping, while the number and percentage of hams with a General, Advanced or Extra license growing?

It seems the numbers tell a very different story.

Also, if someone is only interested in VHF and above, why should they upgrade? Tech gives them all operating privileges above 30 MHz, which is more than 97% of the spectrum allowed to US hams, and all modes. If a ham doesn't want to do HF/MF ham radio, isn't interested in being a VE and doesn't want a 1x2 vanity call, why bother with any other license class?

KB1SF: "In any other "educational" endeavor, a 17 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure."

How many people with bachelor's or associate's degrees go on to a master's degree?

How many with a master's go on to a doctorate?

Are those degrees "a dismal failure" because so many people don't go after them?

I think not.

I was a ham back in the 1960s and I remember all the prophecies of doom about incentive licensing. How it would be the end of ham radio by 1980 at the latest - back when there were maybe 250,000 US amateurs.

Didn't turn out that way.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by K6LHA on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF wrote on December 11, 2009:

"Excellent analysis, Len! However, there's one thing missing from all the data that you gents are bantering about that I believe will eventually prove to be our undoing. It’s that NOWHERE in the public FCC database does it state the AGE of our current licensees!"

Thank you, Keith, but that age data is out of our control. FCC records of amateur radio licensees don't have (or no longer have) data on age, or gender, and certainly not race. But, look through several current or past amateur radio publications in the USA and anyone can see that those licensees in photos are overwhelmingly of WHITE MALES. Yes, there are females, yes, there are youngsters (and a sprinkling of teen-agers) and some who are not caucasoid. No statistics or polls are necessary to see that. I'm not going to speculate on HOW all that came about.

As an example, one of my test proctors (VE) of the ARRL VEC team was black, the team leader was asian. Which one was who? One can infer that the team leader was of asian ancestry just from HIS surname, but one cannot infer anything from the other three. I was not acquainted with any of them before that test time but I observed them as much as they observed me. ALL had the appearance of being male, ALL appeared to be "over 40 in age."
.................
KB1SF: "It is also important to remember that, because our licenses are all on a 10 year renewal cycle, the demographics you all are citing were only completely accurate in 1999. Who knows how many more of us have died, or have, for whatever reason, chosen to leave the hobby altogether since then?"

I disagree somewhat there. I did not do anywhere close to a "demographic picture" in my article for the simple reason that there wasn't enough data to support anything close to a full demographic workup.

The Hamdata website daily presentations DO show EXPIRATIONS of USA amateur radio licensees. That is the only thing available to their daily database downloads. There is no data on the WHY of expirations. There is NO requirement that the FCC be supplied with death notices of licensees. Amateur radio service in the USA is essentially a hobby activity, not working in conjunction with the Social Security people as an example.

ARRL statistics and at least one other statistics site do NOT show expirations. That is their choice. I would infer that the ARRL "sins by omission" because showing license expireation numbers is/has the appearance of a decided negative interest. Note also that the ARRL does NOT show or indicate those license classes who are IN the 2-year grace period, ONLY those in their 10-year license term. Note the continuing entreaty by the ARRL to join them...they require many members to insure a profit for their efforts and pay all the paid staff, keep their power supplied, etc. Those numbers of members are used by ARRL ad salespeople to attract paying advertisers which further enhances their monetary income. As a matter of fact, any individual member CANNOT get any figure on ARRL membership numbers except once a year in their Annual Reports. One has to be a potential advertising buyer, identity questioned if not a recognized amateur radio product maker/seller to get current numbers of members. In other words, ARRL members cannot get FULL information on their own 'national representative.' Members get ONLY what membership headquarters decides.

In Hamdata's case, they have stored past copies of FCC database downloads and derive some information by what I call "secondary sorting." (not an I.T. erm) "Primary sorting" consists of searching through the identified data fields in a database download to separate classes and to cross-check all licensee names against the previous day's download to see if they are still within the 12-year total term. "Secondary sorting" would be to compare the current database contents against those of a week prior, a month prior, two months prior, three months, six months, finally a
year prior. That requires much more archival storage at Hamdata and a more complex sorting program.

ARRL statistics do not show evidence of any such "secondary sorting." I don't know the details of
www.qrz.com sorting methods; QR-zed is a private business selling CDs of callsigns just as Hamdata is except that QR-zed has some 'discussion' forums and 'news' (generally obtained from other sources).

As an example, using Hamdata public information, 30 days ago from today (11 Dec 09) there were 2,676 new licensees and 2,401 "no longer licensed" (a much more polite term than 'expiration'). 90 days ago there were 7,377 new licensees and 6,196 "no longer licensed." Etc., etc., etc. Heh, heh, heh, now that I've posted that someone will try to "callenge me" by demanding to know if some of those new licensees aren't really former licensees who have "come back." [I have a good
idea who the challenger(s) is/are but I don't want to spoil their attempt at misdirection...;-) ]
...............
KB1SF: "My own (admittedly, purely anecdotal) evidence that we are on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers stems from my active work as an accredited examiner in both the USA and Canada. For the last several years, I have been able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of "under twenty somethings" I've administered examinations to for our Service. I'm also getting the same feelings expressed by a number of other examiners with whom I regularly have contact."

I'm glad you identified your own evidence as "anecdotal." The general form of commentary on e-ham and other venues is that whatever numbers they pull out of hat are all PURE and done all by themselves, therefore should not be questioned by anyone! :-)

In general I do not personally see the "need" to get "younger people" so interested, especially teeners. Yes, I've read the scripts about all who were introduced to 'radio' as teeners and instantly fell in love and made it their "life work." <shrug> Some bitterly resent ANY negativism expressed towards teener newcomers and a very few take it as a "personal insult!" The state of the art of electronics (which includes the subset of 'radio') has been constantly evolving and advancing for the last 100 years (and change). With the advent of the PRACTICAL transistor and then the integrated circuit the state of the art would change rapidly, usually less than half of one
generation.

Conditioned thinking (aka 'brainwashing') seems to work best on teeners. That's about the only reason I can see for getting teeners into amateur radio. That way the older generations can have someone upon which to imprint them with their own need to be parental and "show them the proper way" and all that stuff. When one gets older, say into twenty-something ages, most have acquired a great variety of input into social mores, activities, sciences, trades, etc., etc., etc. They've also gotten a better feeling about themselves and their capabilities and start questioning some of the 'older' folks who seem to have quaint ideas (to the 'younger' folk). "Middle aged" folks tend to resent (sometimes bitterly) any unenthusiastic responses after they have told 'younger' folk "I know what is good for you and you'd better listen!" :-)
...............
KB1SF: "Now, don't get me wrong. I'm more than happy to have these folks (back) in the fold. And I welcome then all with open arms. But my own personal periences are increasingly showing that we simply are NOT attracting enough YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service these days to replace us ever-aging curmudgeons when we (and most of our predominantly older newcomers) are dead and gone."

I hear you and probably agree. That is not in my experience nor how I got involved with getting a license in the amateur radio service. I did not follow the 'accepted' script of the majority. :-)

Worse yet, I don't have the "proper attitude" such as genuflecting before the stated 'superiority' of 'older' hams (most of whom are younger than myself, heh heh). That is wry amusement to me. :-)
............
KB1SF: "The bottom line here is that, while our numbers may LOOK like we have "stopped the decline"
and are now a robust and growing Service again, the (not-so-hidden) reality is that the (non-club) number of licensees in our Service in the United States still peaked in 2003. And, as Len has so eloquently noted, there has been a slow, but very measurable decline in our overall license numbers ever since then."

Lots of folks have objected strenuously against ANY "decline" in USA amateur radio and I expect
they will continue. Most of their views are very PERSONAL and their opinions seem set in stone so
that they are not violated by 'outsiders.' Still, very few of them will take any action on their own to turn it around. It takes some personal courage to present something dispassionately in public. One can be reviled for presenting truth, facts that don't fit others preconceived notions, even personal fantasies. Medical doctors get that a lot from patients who are diagnosed with bad diseases (from anecdotal input of two MDs).

I'm reminded of a song from the old musical "South Pacific." A lyric goes "...younger than springtime am I..." So many are clinging desperately to the long-ago time of their own youth and refuse to advance to the present time. Oh, they may have the bling of ready-builts of today with lots of bells and whistles but so many still think that Ohm's Law of Resistance is still some kind of "rocket science." <shrug>

Heh, heh, back in the early 1960s I was tasked to measure a DIELECTRIC antenna made for a USN missle. It mounted very close to the tail and was exposed to the missle's rocket exhaust. Its physical measurements did NOT fit the pre-WWII dipole simple formula. Neither does a Discone (very broadband) or a Log-Periodic (another broadband antenna), dimensions and descriptions published back in 1957. No, in amateur radio one MUST use a WIRE dipole and stay on HF where all the "experts" are. The "experts" have already told me so. Long ago. :-)
...............
KB1SF: "As others have pointed out, I, too, find it absolutely fascinating that, just using the numbers shown above, almost 350,000 in our ranks hold nothing more than a Technician license, while only 120,000 or so have "advanced" all the way to Extra Class."

I will disagree on negativism of "NOTHING more than a Technician license." That's not the way to get those "nothing more than" license holders to advance. They will likely stay at 48% (not just 40%) of all classes until they had enough with all bossy old "experts." Some have found their niche and are content with it. Let them enjoy it.
...............
KB1SF: "In any other "educational" endeavor, a 17 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure. Everywhere else, that is, but with the FCC's myopic attempt to turn Amateur Radio into the "No Budding RF Engineer Left Behind" Radio Service."

Well, having spent a half century in electronics engineering, I can't remember even up to 17% of all of my co-workers being amateur radio licensees or going for one or even having one in their past. It wasn't any advantage to us involved in pushing the envelope of performance in electronics. Certainly NOT to regress in skills to modes and modulations that existed before WWII. I got an Amateur Extra class license "out of the box" (as the disparaging soubriquet goes) because it was relatively easy for me to do so. Sure, I didn't get 100% correct on 120 questions total but then I don't expect to use amateur radio in Outer Space...so I scored about 95%. :-) I got it to do nothing more than play around on HF and low-VHF for my own amusement. "Bad attitude" I know but I had no illusions of "saving the world from alien invaders with morse code secrecy" as depicted in the (bad) SF film "Independence Day." :-)

I've never seen any evidence of "No budding RF engineer left behind." When I began in HF radio the
state of the art in radio communications was going UP in frequency from HF. It had already happened in WWII but few hams (experienced or inexperienced) knew enough to be comfortable with it...as evidenced by the amateur radio publications' contents of ancient times. Funny thing is, the vast majority of my work colleagues ALREADY found electronics fascinating enough to WORK at it, to advance the REAL state of the art. WE did it, not amateur dabblers, contrary to what the ARRL tries to make everyone believe.
..................
Good discussing things with you, Keith. Thank you. Stay warm and have happy holidays.

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Tech Plus, Advanced and Novice licenses  
by KC8RWR on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY Said ->Yep, FCC has turned down all sorts of
no-test free-upgrade proposals. Their response is
always the same: 'just pass the tests'. I think one
reason is that it would cost them all sorts of admin
work.

What? That's all sorts of admin work? If it's any harder than typing "UPDATE `hams` SET `class` = 'Extra' WHERE `class` = 'Advanced';" then they are doing something wrong. I'd think it would be more work to process all those test results. Not that I care, I don't have an Advanced class license anyway.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by KC8RWR on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF: "In any other "educational" endeavor, a 17 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure."

I'll never forget the speech the president of the university I graduated from made at the freshman orientation when I first started. He told us to look to the person on our left and then to our right. Then he told us that 2 out of 3 students that begin college don't graduate. He told us that if we think we are going to make it then those other 2 people must not. Of course statistics don't actually work that way and the fact that I graduated says nothing about those other 2 but it certainly left a lasting impression.

That makes a 33% success rate, it's still larger than your 17% example but then like N2EY pointed out, that's just a bachelor's. I'm sure you could count on one hand the number of people in that room who made it all the way to doctorate.
 
No-Test Upgrades  
by N2EY on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KC8RWR:

You have to remember that FCC is part of The Government, so it's probably not nearly as simple as you imagine. For example, there are probably all kinds of safeguards to prevent simply upgrading a license class, let alone doing it for all Advanceds.

Amateur radio licenses are part of a bigger database that includes all FCC licenses so it's even more involved.

There's also the question of whether FCC would have to send out all new license documents.

As for processing the tests, FCC doesn't do most of that; the VEs do. For free.

The number of Advanceds has dropped from about 100,000 in 2000 to about 60,000 now. That's about 4,000 a year, and not all of them upgraded.

But perhaps the biggest reason FCC has turned down no-test upgrades is that FCC thinks they would set a bad precedent.

Is the Extra test REALLY that difficult?

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by KB1SF on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, N2EY wrote: "Note that the total number of Technicians and Tech Pluses combined is 333,850, which is 48.96% of the total - and LOWER than it was in 2000!. Add in the Novices and you get 350,995, which means that today then 51.48% of US hams "hold nothing more than a Tech Plus license". Again, LOWER than in 2000."

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

Maybe the percentage of Techs to other licenses is a bit lower today than it was in 2000 by a few percentage points, Jim.

But, the fact remains that Techs STILL make up nearly half the total. And that fact indicates that our Technician license has increasingly become our "destination license". To me, that fact alone provides irrefutable proof (as if we still need any) that "incentive licensing" has, indeed, been a dismal failure.

I've also been told (by someone who has actually seen the numbers) that the ARRL, too, has been very quietly doing some of their own "scientific" sampling as of late along these lines and their "scientific" sampling data tends to track pretty closely with my "anecdotal" data.

Indeed, their survey data very clearly shows a disturbing downward trend in our numbers that, unless things quickly turn around and we begin attracting a much larger percentage of YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service, our overall demographics are poised to start "tanking" in the out years.

But, again, their scientific surveys are simply confirming what should be becoming blatantly obvious to anyone in our Service in the United States who still holds a license and who has eyes to see and ears to hear.

Indeed, all one REALLY has to do these days is to simply look around the room at the advancing age (in the form of graying (or balding!) heads and expanding waistlines) of the bulk of participants at various amateur radio-related gatherings to see these very clear demographic trends.

By any measure, we ARE, as a group, getting ever older. What's more, these days, our once active bands (even during sunspot minimums) are increasingly less crowded. Save for the occasional contest weekend or 75 meter net, overall, our bands are becoming ever more quiet as compared to just a few years ago.

I often wonder how many others have called "CQ" with no results just before a contest into a seemingly "dead" HF band, only to have that band very quickly come alive with DX contesters once the contest begins. Then, once the contest is over, again calling "CQ" seems to garner the same dismal results as before. This tells me that our bands are absolutely wide open most of the time. It's just that there are fewer and fewer people actively OPERATING these days as compared with just a few years ago.

Moreover, our once active VHF and UHF repeaters, too, are falling increasingly silent…if they are even still on the air. Nowadays, the bulk of repeater activity occurs during commuter "drive time". The rest of the day, usually all one hears…sometimes for hours at a stretch and up and down the band…are repeater IDs.

Hamfests, too, are feeling the pinch. Even the "granddaddy" hamfest of them all in the USA… Dayton…is attracting less and less participation these days. Someone who has actually seen the final numbers recently told me that this year's Dayton participation was well under 19,000. Any way you cut it, that's an ABYSMAL showing for a so-called "world class" extravaganza that, in years past, has routinely attracted upwards of 35,000 participants.

What's more, other, once very popular hamfests (like the Miami hamfest) have now gone the way of the dinosaur from lack of participation. Countless other smaller 'fests have long since evaporated as well.

Now, granted, each of these trends and observations, when viewed in isolation, probably wouldn't be cause for alarm.

But when they are viewed collectively, I believe they paint an (admittedly still anecdotal) picture that our hobby is now, quite literally, dying a very slow, painful death. And, as I have noted in previous posts, we really have nobody but ourselves to blame for it.

For over 40 years now, we have been obsessively maintaining an absolutely ARCANE licensing and regulatory system for our Service in the United States that's been based largely on ego-stroking bandwidth "exclusivity". And, sadly, all we REALLY have to show for that nearly 40 plus years of regulated snobbery is an ever-shrinking brain pool of younger talent.

Or, to put it another way, it now appears we've been very successfully (and very happily) "eating" an ever-larger portion of our "young" along the way for all those years. And, predictably, our Service is now paying a very high price for keeping all that ARRL-inspired, FCC-imposed regulatory malfeasance (in the form of arcane Morse tests and increasingly irrelevant "achievement tests") firmly in place LONG after it had outlived any regulatory purpose. This, of course assumes that all that ego-stroking nonsense had any "regulatory purpose" to start with!

The truth is that, in most other US federal agencies, such operationally baseless approaches to federal certification have now LONG since been discarded. That's because numerous successful class action lawsuits as well as GAO and other findings lodged against those other federal agencies have all determined that such operationally baseless approaches to federal licensing are "systemically discriminatory". Those findings, in turn, have made such certification approaches illegal under a whole plethora of 1990s-era US federal equal access laws.

Unfortunately, I predict that our ongoing, collective obsession with keeping all that (now blatantly illegal) 1950s era, ego-stroking, "achievement-based" nonsense firmly in place in the licensing and regulatory systems for OUR Service LONG after it served any regulatory purpose may also very well prove to be our undoing.

Indeed, it is now becoming ever more apparent that our ARRL and FCC very clearly sowed the seeds of our eventual demise when they rammed all that achievement-based licensing nonsense down our collective throats many years ago. And, to my way of thinking, KEEPING all that systemically discriminatory nonsense firmly in place well into the 21st Century remains nothing short of criminal.

The GOOD news is that our highly vocal cadre of "incentive licensing dinosaurs" still desperately clinging to that dying dream are now becoming silent keys in ever-increasing numbers.

Unfortunately, the BAD news is that there are fewer and fewer forward thinking youngsters now taking their place in our ranks. My hunch is that this could very well be because our vocal cadre of "dinosaurs" have been so very successful in systematically driving youthful newcomers away with their fanatic insistence that such newcomers can never hope to be "real hams" unless and until, for example, they've taken and passed a stupid Morse test.

And then we have the nerve to wonder why potential youthful newcomers to our hobby are now "voting with their feet" in ever increasing numbers!

The bottom line here, Jim, is that ANY way you cut these numbers, to me, they all add up to a very clear recipe for our Service's continued slide into sociological and technological irrelevance.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by KB1SF on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, N2EY wrote: "Is the Extra test REALLY that difficult?"

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

It's not the "difficulty" of the Extra Class exam that is at issue here, Jim.

Rather, it's whether or not the exam for the Extra Class license (or indeed, the need for the license itself) is RELEVANT to the added operational privileges it grants. That is, does that license (and the exam one takes to obtain it) fulfill a specific, "regulatory purpose"?

In other forums I've continually asked YOU to explain what the fundamental OPERATIONAL differences are between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee an and Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States. So far, I have yet to get a straight answer…or ANY answer for that matter.

Could it be that (gasp!) there ARE none?

Indeed, ONE of the federal laws that applies to the federal regulatory and licensing system for our Service is the "Persons with Disabilities Act of 1990"…the so-called ADA. Specifically, Section 202 of that law titled "Discrimination" reads as follows:

"Subject to the provisions of this title, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of A PUBLIC ENTITY (emphasis mine), or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity."

And, because it is an arm of the federal government (and supported by your and my federal tax dollars) it would seem to me that the FCC certainly qualifies as a "public entity" under the terms of this Act.

However, the ADA is not the only federal statute that deals with such issues. Another federal statute is the "Rehabilitation Act". And, as I read it, among other things, it also specifically prohibits Federal Executive Agencies (such as the FCC) from excluding persons with disabilities from obtaining the benefits of federal programs as a result of their disability.

Specifically, Section 504(a) of the Rehabilitation Act (which relates to nondiscrimination Under Federal Grants and Programs) reads in part as follows:

"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance OR UNDER ANY PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY CONDUCTED BY ANY EXECUTIVE AGENCY…"(emphasis mine)

The law goes on to say that, "The head of each such agency shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the amendments to this section made by the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978".

It seems to me that, just using the provisions of one or the other of these Acts, a good class action lawyer could make a very strong case that our whole FCC incentive licensing system unfairly "excludes participation in…denies the benefits of…or subjects disabled persons to discrimination under" the FEDERALLY administered licensing system for the Amateur Radio Service in the United States.

That’s because our licensing system withholds full participation in our Service (i.e. an Extra Class license) based on applicants passing ever-more-irrelevant written examinations that are not only internally duplicative (as I will show below), but also go WELL BEYOND what the international ITU guidelines suggest should be the MINIMUM qualifications for full participation in our Amateur Service.

The term we educators use to describe such tests is "invalid" because such tests measure skills and abilities that bear little or no relationship to what candidates actually need to know in order to successfully perform in their new roles. When constructing such tests, one must always ask the question: "Does the test actually measure what it is supposed to measure?"

What's more, when such tests require a knowledge of predominantly "nice to know" rather than "need to know" information, then, according to a whole host of equal access legislation in the USA (like those I've cited above), such tests become what's called "systemically discriminatory". That's because, taken together, they create a SYSTEM that makes a license grant contingent on applicants successfully answering questions that have little or no DIRECT relationship to the privileges they grant.

Let me cite an example that may help to illustrate my point.

Under current US federal law, when hiring a person to stack boxes in a government warehouse, you can no longer legally make that person's hiring decision based on them successfully completing an examination over how boxes are MADE. The job they are applying for is to STACK the boxes, NOT to make them. And while a knowledge of how boxes are made is certainly "nice to know", it is NOT an essential element in the job they are being hired for.

Therefore, they cannot (legally) be required to know such information.

Likewise, forcing applicants for an Extra Class License to correctly answer a question like: "What is the direction of an ascending pass for an amateur satellite?" is an absolutely invalid and illegal question under current US law.

That's because satellite operation is NOT an operational privilege granted exclusively to Extra Class license holders. And it is certainly NOT a requirement in order to be qualified to operate in the last few KHz of our HF bands now reserved for Extra Class operators. In fact, ANYONE with a valid Amateur License in the United States (including Technicians!) can operate via our fleet of amateur satellites.

Likewise, asking an Extra Class applicant the question "How many times per second is a new frame transmitted in a fast-scan television system?" is also an illegal question because, once again, Amateur television operation is NOT an exclusive operational privilege granted solely to Extra Class operators.

As with satellite operation, ANYONE with a valid Amateur Radio License in the USA (including Technicians) can legally operate an Amateur television transmitter. That question is, therefore both invalid AND illegal under US equal access law because it creates an unnecessary barrier to applicants. Indeed, the knowledges and skills required to correctly answer that particular question have absolutely NOTHING to do with the knowledge and skills needed to safely and courteously exercise the uniquely exclusive privileges an Extra Class License grants.

Note that the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the questions (or the test) is not the issue here, Jim. Rather, it's the RELEVANCE of the questions asked to the SPECIFIC privileges a particular class of license grants that is important in determining the legal validity of our tests.

And, sadly, BOTH the General AND Extra Class exam pools are now CHOCK FULL of these equally "nice to know" questions that often bear absolutely NO direct relationship to the added privileges granted. True, such questions discuss Amateur operation in general. But, under today's federal equal-access laws, that's simply no longer good enough.

Frankly, BOTH of the questions I've shown above belong in the TECHNICIAN question pool, NOT in the one for Extra Class. And making correctly answering such misplaced questions contingent on the grant of an Extra Class license becomes systemically discriminatory because it perpetuates a SYSTEM of discrimination by forcing ALL applicants (not just the disabled) to demonstrate knowledge and skills that are either irrelevant, or are not required for the exclusive privileges associated with the class and type of license being sought.

THE FCC'S DILEMMA

The bottom line here is that, unlike in the 1950s (when the FCC first hatched their "incentive licensing" foolishness at the behest of the ARRL), in the United States today, you can no longer legally test people for a government license if you cannot somehow DIRECTLY RELATE the skills and knowledges being examined to a SPECIFIC operational or safety need the new license will grant.

Unfortunately, the problem the FCC now faces for our Service is NOT just a matter of changing questions or making them "more" or "less" comprehensive. The problem lies in the fact that, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the FCC (at the ARRL's urging) decided that the ONLY privileges that would be withheld from lower class licensees in our system would be access to "exclusive" frequencies and call signs.

THAT prior management decision in turn, means that the FCC's thoroughly entrenched licensing system for our Service is now illegal. That's because, under these new federal equal access laws, our system arbitrarily withholds access to those so-called "exclusive" privileges based on tests and questions that have absolutely NOTHING directly to do with the (predominantly frequency-based) privileges those tests grant.

In short, today's FCC is now caught between a legal "rock and a hard place".

Clearly, a 50 question test based on a 600-page license manual over highly technical (but yet still largely irrelevant) information to successfully determine if an applicant for an Extra Class license can safely and courteously operate in the last few KHz of our HF bands is overkill. Beyond knowing where the new lower-end frequency boundaries are, that skill set should have ALREADY been tested on the General Class exam.

Likewise, it DOES NOT take a 50 question exam over largely unrelated technical material to insure Extra Class applicants can successfully fill out an application for a so-called "exclusive" call sign.

Yet, as I've said, under our arcane FCC "incentive licensing" farce, those are the ONLY TWO added operational privileges an Extra Class license grants to those who successfully complete such irrelevant tests.

And, as I've also shown by citing just TWO questions from the current Extra Class exam pool, there remains a glaring (and I say blatantly illegal) disconnect between the content and the comprehensiveness of the questions on our exams (particularly those for an Extra Class license) and the (meager) additional (predominantly frequency-access-based) privileges they grant.

Sadly, for FAR too many crusty curmudgeons in our ranks, it has now become an inconvenient truth that new US federal equal access laws like the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act now require that EVERYONE be given an equal opportunity for full, "barrier free" access to public services and resources like the Amateur Radio Service. Clearly, such laws are now threatening to break up their horrifically entrenched, government protected, members only "Country Club".

Now, certainly, complying with these new laws does NOT mean there should no longer be any licensing or control of that access to our Service. To the contrary, the ITU rules very clearly state that applicants who wish to operate in our Service are to be both tested AND licensed.

But, what this DOES mean is that, in order to be in full compliance with US equal access law, federal agencies like the FCC can no longer arbitrarily place regulatory barriers in front of people seeking full and complete access to federally administered programs like Amateur Radio without just cause. That also means that the content and comprehensiveness of our exams need to be DIRECTLY tied to some very specific operational needs.

Right now (and as I have very clearly shown with just two questions from the exam pool for the Extra Class license) they clearly aren't. Quite frankly, I seriously doubt whether the Question Pool Committee could even come up with 50 UNIQUE questions that relate SPECIFICALLY to the meager additional operational privileges our Extra Class license now grants.

It is also important to remember that no person needs to specifically prove they've been discriminated against in order for a federal agency to be found guilty of systemic discrimination under these laws. All that's necessary is that it can be reasonably shown in a court of law that a SYSTEM of such discrimination exists in that federal agency (in this case the FCC's licensing requirements for our Service) just as I have clearly and unequivocally done in the paragraphs above.

I've always found it sad that, everywhere else in the world, governments have left it up to we Hams to decide which operating mode goes where on our bands. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the organization that governs all radio services internationally, has set out broad (VERY broad) frequency allocations for our Service...usually consisting of only an upper and lower band limit and a specified bandwidth for the emissions to be conducted therein.

It is only in the United States that those broad limits have been further restricted by license class and operating mode in our Part 97. And that is because the FCC, back in the 1950s and 60s, decided to base differences in our license classes (and the incentive for us to upgrade) on ego-stroking "exclusivity" (i.e access to so-called "exclusive" operating frequencies and modes) rather than on specific operational considerations such as limits on power output, constructing transmitters "from scratch", operating a repeater or club station, or giving exams.

And, as I have also said, simply "stroking egos" no longer cuts it as a valid (spelled: "legal") reason for a US Government agency to grant full privileges to one class of licensees in our Service while arbitrarily and capriciously withholding them from another.

Indeed, such differentiation can no longer be legally based on applicants being forced to correctly answer exam questions that are either duplicative, irrelevant and/or unrelated to the SPECIFIC additional operating privileges such new licenses will grant.

CANADA'S SYSTEM

By contrast, and unlike the "ego-based" tests proscribed for applicants to our Service in the USA, the Canadian license system for our Service ties the successful completion of THEIR advanced test to specific operational needs. In exchange for successfully passing it, Canadian hams are given just a very small number of very specific additional privileges that are far more commensurate with the technical material examined. These include being able to build transmitters "from scratch", run a KW of power (vice 250 Watts), be the licensee of a club or repeater station, and give exams.

Clearly, the latter pursuits involve a great deal more potential risk of physical harm to either one's self or to others (running high power) if you don't know what you are doing, or are activities with much greater probabilities of causing harmful interference to others on the Ham bands or other services (building transmitters from scratch or running a club station or a repeater). ALL of those activities absolutely require a modicum of additional technical knowledge to perform safely and without interfering with other operators or other Services.

And, because the Canadian test criteria are largely based on such clearly delineated operational and safety needs (rather than on simply granting Extra Class operators "exclusive" access to artificially walled-off frequency spectrum that General Class operators ALREADY have demonstrated they are qualified to operate in) they are far less prone to charges of systemic discrimination than the US testing structure.

What's more, in Canada, those Amateurs with a Basic With Honours Certificate (granted by scoring 80 percent on a 100-question exam) can operate ANYWHERE within the upper and lower limits of ALL of our internationally allocated Amateur Bands. The only frequency restrictions such Basic Certificate holders have are by emission BANDWIDTH, NOT by license class or operating mode. And, usually, for HF, that bandwidth limit is set at 6 KHz (except for 30 Meters where it is set at 1 KHz).

Or, to put it another way, the only operational restrictions place on Basic Certificate holders in Canada is that short "laundry list" of limitations I've outlined above which are reserved exclusively for Advanced Certificate holders. And their Advanced Exam covers ONLY that material that is DIRECTLY related to the specific additional privileges their Advanced Certificate grants.

What's more, Canada (like most other countries in the world) leaves it up to its Hams to decide for themselves "what goes where" on our bands. And their exam structures are usually based solely on safety and operational considerations rather than on needlessly (and illegally) "stroking egos".

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by WA4KCN on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I was a ham back in the 1960s and I remember all the prophecies of doom about incentive licensing. How it would be the end of ham radio by 1980 at the latest - back when there were maybe 250,000 US amateurs.

Didn't turn out that way.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Jim your analysis on the subject is excellent. Congratualtions on setting the record straight and correcting the record of the ham radio pundit illusionaries including but not limited to ham radio lawyers, graphless ham radio statisticians, and ham radio revisionist historians.

On the matter of youngsters joining ham radio, it is excuse me rather dimwitted to believe this could happen in great numbers. In other words to hang your hat on the idea young people becoming licensed radio amateurs in the coming years should result in the total growth of ham radio operators is well a stupid belief. Young folk are not likely to populate any hobby of primary interest to middle and old age folks. Let us suppose a high priced expert marketing concern is hired to develope and implement a marketing strategy for amateur radio with the specific intent of growing the amateur radio base. The marketing firm's charge is to grow the base to a specific goal and to do so with the resources given. After completing market research what age group would they choose to target. Suppose the ARRL hires such a firm hoping more licensees mean more members and the conclusion from the marketing concern is the members hard earned money should go toward an advertising campaign directed and focused on the young. Applying nothing more than the rule of reason we know the conclusion would be to target older age groups. IN other words the opportunity to recruit new ham operators is with older folk. Heck the fellow that wrote this article is an older gentleman who wisely took advantage of the new codeless license. So for anyone who says amateur radio cannot attract older folk especially with the easier testing requirements just look at the the fellow who wrote the trends article. He is an excellent example of the great new opportunity for older and middle aged folks to come into the hobby. Now having established the idea of young folk driving amateur radio growth as dimwitted, it is time to examine the more plausible proposition that middle aged and older folk new to the hobby can sustain or even grow amateur radio in the future. One way to answer this question is to bench mark other orgainzations who are in fact growing by targeting older people. There are some really good examples that give credence to the belief older people can sustain and even lead to the growth of an organization.

I hope ham radio can attract some youngsters but lets wise up on the idea of targeting young folk to save ham radio.

73 Russ
WA4KCN
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by K6LHA on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF wrote later on 11 Dec 09:

"Jim, N2EY wrote: "Is the Extra test REALLY that difficult?""

"It's not the "difficulty" of the Extra Class exam that is at issue here, Jim. Rather, it's whether or not the exam for the Extra Class license (or indeed, the need for the license itself) is RELEVANT to the added operational privileges it grants. That is, does that license (and the exam one takes to obtain it) fulfill a specific, "regulatory purpose"?"

Trying to put on my most objective observation on this (good) question, I would say NO. Not in a regulatory sense. Very definitely YES in the ego-stroking sense.

Looking back over history of USA amateur radio regulations, the fact that there are only three license classes granted New in the last 8 1/2 years (give or take) is beside the point. The USA could very easily have just TWO for HF access. But that would raise a terrible Hue and Cry from the very established 'oldsters' who would defend to the end their "right" to hold certain cheished Title, Rank, Privilege, etc. It was bitter enough during the Comment phase on the 'Reconstruction' NPRM, and I can see it would be as great, perhaps even more bitter now.

The SIX different classes in the USA amateur radio service were slowly grown from the so-called Incentive Plan long ago established. I was not directly involved in that but watched it happen, heard all the bitter recriminatory comments and took no part on either side. The number of classes grew from that until the USA "led" other countries with the most classes. That isn't real leadership, just (as you say) a lot of ego-stroking of then-oldtimers. A lop-sided compromise.

As a professional in radio-electronics, I'm acquainted with MANY different radio services, have HAD to be familiar with certain services' regulations when work needs arose. Amateur radio was not one of those radio services. Other radio services are more USE-specific in the USA. In fact and by definition, USA amateur radio is NON-professional. By all its definitions the de jure regulatory language indicates it is a HOBBY. That is exactly what it is de facto. USA amateur radio is NOT a union, not a guild, just a group of hobbyists involved in radio that requires licensing and interference mitigation due to the physical nature of EM wave propagation. USA amateur radio is NOT any sort of "vital need" for homeland security, defense of the nation, or as a backup of civilian communications infrastructure. That many ALLEGE it is "vital" is due to their own curious self-promotional, self-grandiosing attitudes.

Case in point on Hobby activities. A couple of decades ago, model hobby folks lobbied for and got a specific band at VHF for 100 channels of frequencies for radio control of model aircraft, boats, lots of remote-controlled devices such as in special effects companies in the entertainment industry. The AMA was a gathering point for this lobbying. Not a medical association, this AMA is the Academy of Model Aeronautics, headquartered in Ohio. That AMA has more paying members than the ARRL. <shrug>

NOBODY in the AMA or its membership thinks their hobby is advancing the state of the aeronautics art. It is basically for a HOBBY activity. So, they were able to persuade the FCC to allocate a band around 72 MHz just for model radio-control activities. The amateur radio organizations get all caught up in their presumptuous and fairly false notion that amateur radio is responsible for all advances, evolutions, etc., etc., etc. Except for Star-D (innovated in Japan) and PSK-31 (innovated in the UK, tested on-air in Europe) there isn't anything new in amateur radio modes/modulations since the end of WWII. Voice SSB isn't new; SSB was used in the 1930s commercially. Voice FM isn't new; that was used prior to WWII. Radiotelegraphy wasn't new...it existed in wired form a half century before the first public demonstrations in 1896. Neither is TTY, having progressed from wired to frequency-multiplexed AFSK to commercial-format AFSK on SSB. "Slow-scan TV?" The Bell System had in PicturePhone (didn't get enough subscribers). Facsimile? That was in use commercially prior to WWII. "Fast-scan TV?" TV broadcasts by RCA were done commercially at thhe 1939 World's Fair were done commercially, earlier by older standards trying out commercial broadcasts. Advancing in frequency to microwaves? Sorry, the military was doing it behond X-Band (12 GHz) by the end of WWII. Really, the only mode/modulation that is 'new' is that which is new to individuals because they have no previous experience in it or are ignorant of it. I could add a considerable number of things but I will only infuriate the "amateur-firsters."
................
KB1SF: "In other forums I've continually asked YOU to explain what the fundamental OPERATIONAL differences are between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee an and Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States. So far, I have yet to get a straight answer…or ANY answer for that matter."

Good luck on that, Keith. :-) Expect lots of misdirection into other areas if a reply does ensue.
................
KB1SF: "Could it be that (gasp!) there ARE none?"

Oh, there ARE reasons. Extras want their own private playground in the spectrum, free from riff-raff. They think they are 'entitled' (enobled?) or something. :-)
.................
.................
KB1SF: "As with satellite operation, ANYONE with a valid Amateur Radio License in the USA (including Technicians) can legally operate an Amateur television transmitter."

To go further, since there are NO - repeat NO - age barriers, a cute little 6-year-old can LEGALLY operate a full-gallon transceiver and "accidentally" cause interference to others or to other radio services. Somehow this lack-of-age AND responsibility got in the way of Common Sense. Any parent who isn't a moron will KNOW that wee children have NOT acquired sufficient knowledge and responsibility to act "correct" all on their own.
.................
KB1SF: "That question is, therefore both invalid AND illegal under US equal access law because it creates an unnecessary barrier to applicants. Indeed, the knowledges and skills required to correctly answer that particular question have absolutely NOTHING to do with the knowledge and skills needed to safely and courteously exercise the uniquely exclusive privileges an Extra Class License grants."

At this point, I elect to do a cop-out. "I've got mine." I answered correctly for my test, so there, nyah, nyah. :-) [my license is good for my whole lifetime as long as I renww]
................
KB1SF: "Note that the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the questions (or the test) is not the issue here, Jim. Rather, it's the RELEVANCE of the questions asked to the SPECIFIC privileges a particular class of license grants that is important in determining the legal validity of our tests."

I hear ya. But, the average USA ham will simply shrug it off and have the ARRL or VEC QPC "know what is best for ham radio." The average USA ham just wants to play with his radios.
.......................
"THE FCC'S DILEMMA

"The bottom line here is that, unlike in the 1950s (when the FCC first hatched their "incentive licensing" foolishness at the behest of the ARRL), in the United States today, you can no longer legally test people for a government license if you cannot somehow DIRECTLY RELATE the skills and knowledges being examined to a SPECIFIC operational or safety need the new license will grant."

"Unfortunately, the problem the FCC now faces for our Service is NOT just a matter of changing questions or making them "more" or "less" comprehensive. The problem lies in the fact that, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the FCC (at the ARRL's urging) decided that the ONLY privileges that would be withheld from lower class licensees in our system would be access to "exclusive" frequencies and call signs."

"THAT prior management decision in turn, means that the FCC's thoroughly entrenched licensing system for our Service is now illegal. That's because, under these new federal equal access laws, our system arbitrarily withholds access to those so-called "exclusive" privileges based on tests and questions that have absolutely NOTHING directly to do with the (predominantly frequency-based) privileges those tests grant."

"In short, today's FCC is now caught between a legal "rock and a hard place"."

I can understand that progression. But, there was one little crack in that: Privatization and its aftermath. In between the Notice of Restructuring coming and actual begainning in law, the FCC put ALL the questions/answers authorship into the NCVEC QPC's lap. The FCC gave up regulations of specific-area question quantities. It wasn't noticed much and had little comment in forums, but it would set a slightly different tone in required knowledge of written tests.
.......................
KB1SF: "And, as I have also said, simply "stroking egos" no longer cuts it as a valid (spelled: "legal") reason for a US Government agency to grant full privileges to one class of licensees in our Service while arbitrarily and capriciously withholding them from another."

Well, as Jimmy Miccolis liked to say before "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." He likes his ego stroked often. :-)

The Hue and Cry would be fierce for all those extra egos out there. They've become addicted to Rank, Status, Privilege, and Perquisite they can get. While you have some good (apparently legal) reasons, those would be pushed aside by all the extras NEEDING to keep their beloved Rank, Status, Privilege, etc., etc., etc.
.......................
KB1SF: "CANADA'S SYSTEM"

Good stuff to know about a neighbor country. Not being that conversant with Industry Canada's regulations I will take what you wrote at face value. It certainly seems logical. Thank you.

Down here in the USA I can almost hear the angry shouts of "NIMBY" starting up...or "it ain't the Ammurrican way!" :-)

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: No-Test Upgrades  
by K6LHA on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote on December 11, 2009:

"Is the Extra test REALLY that difficult?"

Tsk, tsk, you haven't faced a FORMAL test on that in, what, three decades?

I took my extra test not quite three years ago. I'm still familiar with that material...even though I have serious doubts about EVER doing ham radio in space. :-) :-) :-)

Sorry, I won't accept just the on-line practice tests. A FORMAL test would have your whole ham 'career' riding on it. No kindly proctor with which to have your first ham QSO. Let's make it tough and put the test location in an unfamiliar place, a bit noisy, filled with strangers. Go ahead, make our day...
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by N2EY on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF writes: "Maybe the percentage of Techs to other licenses is a bit lower today than it was in 2000 by a few percentage points"

No maybe about it. The numbers prove that the number and percentage of US hams with a Novice, Tech or Tech Plus license has dropped since 2000, while the number and percentage of US hams with one of the other classes has increased.

KB1SF: " "incentive licensing" has, indeed, been a dismal failure."

Not at all.

1) If a person is satisfied with the license they have, they usually won't upgrade?

2) Inactive hams usually don't upgrade

3) There is no deadline for upgrading; a ham can take as long as s/he wants

4) FCC has been renewing all Tech Pluses as Techs since 2000. So it makes sense to combine the numbers of those licenses, since to FCC they are the same class. If you do that, and look at the numbers since 2000, here's what you find:

- The fastest-growing license class is Extra
- The second-fastest-growing license class is General
- The combined Tech/Tech Plus license class has actually declined.

KB1SF: "unless things quickly turn around and we begin attracting a much larger percentage of YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service, our overall demographics are poised to start "tanking" in the out years."

Not really. All that matters for growth is that we keep attracting more people than we lose. As someone else pointed out, AARP doesn't accept anyone under the age of 50, and their membership numbers are up up up!

KB1SF: "all one REALLY has to do these days is to simply look around the room at the advancing age of the bulk of participants at various amateur radio-related gatherings to see these very clear demographic trends."

But are those gatherings a scientific sample? A ham who has a job, family, home, etc., may not be able to attend them, or may prefer to spend his/her time other ways.

KB1SF: "we ARE, as a group, getting ever older."

You can't prove that scientifically because we don't have accurate age data on all US amateurs. And even if it's true, so what? The US population as a whole is getting older. Compare the median age of Americans in the 1990 and 2000 Census for proof. The results of the 2010 Census will show the trend continuing.

"our bands are becoming ever more quiet as compared to just a few years ago."

Maybe. But if that's true, there are lots of possible reasons. Antenna restrictions alone are a big one.

KB1SF: "how many others have called "CQ" with no results just before a contest into a seemingly "dead" HF band, only to have that band very quickly come alive with DX contesters once the contest begins. Then, once the contest is over, again calling "CQ" seems to garner the same dismal results as before. This tells me that our bands are absolutely wide open most of the time. It's just that there are fewer and fewer people actively OPERATING these days as compared with just a few years ago."

But there are plenty during the contest, aren't there?

KB1SF: "our once active VHF and UHF repeaters, too, are falling increasingly silent"

Could it be that people are talking on their cell phones instead of on the repeater?

KB1SF: "this year's Dayton participation was well under 19,000. Any way you cut it, that's an ABYSMAL showing for a so-called "world class" extravaganza that, in years past, has routinely attracted upwards of 35,000 participants."

Why is that "absymal"?

The cost of hamfest attendance has risen sharply in the past decade or so. Not just the entry fee but the cost of travel, lodging, food, etc. Plus the time, which has to be in a continuous block.

Hamfests used to be a major source of new info and bargains. The internet, ebay, and the rising cost of attendance have changed all that.

KB1SF: "the BAD news is that there are fewer and fewer forward thinking youngsters now taking their place in our ranks."

You don't know that scientifically. You're just presuming your conclusion.

What was the age-of-hams distribution like 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago? Can you show us real data? I think not.

Here's an observation: When I was in high school, (class of 1972) we had no more than half a dozen licensed hams in a student body of several thousand. This was in a middle-class suburb with few if any antenna restrictions, back when used, homebrew and surplus equipment was very common.

KB1SF: "our vocal cadre of "dinosaurs" have been so very successful in systematically driving youthful newcomers"

Dinosaurs? I remember a 60-something non-ham who asked the FCC to require a minimum age of 14 years for any class of US amateur license. Is that what you mean?

KB1SF: "And then we have the nerve to wonder why potential youthful newcomers to our hobby are now "voting with their feet" in ever increasing numbers!"

I think the real problem is that people young and old don't even know amateur radio exists.

There's also the problem that many of those who do have a very distorted image of it.

And the problems of antenna restrictions, time restrictions, space and money restrictions, etc.

Just look at how many articles, posts and such right here on eham are devoted to hams in no-antennas situations trying to get on the air.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by N2EY on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF: "It's not the "difficulty" of the Extra Class exam that is at issue here"

It's the perceived difficulty.

A ham who passes Tech can try the General at the same session without paying another VE fee. Same for Extra. So why don't all hams testing at VE sessions try all the exams they can? All it takes is a few minutes' time.

Why don't more hams go all the way to Extra?

The answer is often that they perceive the test to be too difficult for them to pass.

Of course for some folks, the perceived difficulty is the challenge. But those aren't the folks we're talking about.

A man I admire greatly said: "If you believe, you can achieve". He's right.

KB1SF: "Subject to the provisions of this title, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of A PUBLIC ENTITY (emphasis mine), or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity."

So you're saying that there are lots of folks who can't pass the Extra because they're disabled? Even though that same Extra has been passed by children in elementary school whose ages haven't even reached double digits?

Seems kinda far fetched to me.

KB1SF: "our licensing system withholds full participation in our Service...based on applicants passing...written examinations that are not only internally duplicative (as I will show below), but also go WELL BEYOND what the international ITU guidelines suggest should be the MINIMUM qualifications for full participation in our Amateur Service."

Yet CEPT only recognizes the Advanced and Extra as meeting the minimum requirements for full CEPT reciprocal licensing.

KB1SF: "when hiring a person to stack boxes in a government warehouse, you can no longer legally make that person's hiring decision based on them successfully completing an examination over how boxes are MADE."

That's because 1) it's a job 2) the job doesn't involve making boxes.

But if the job did indeed involve making boxes, an exam on how boxes are made would be OK.

Amateur radio isn't a job.

KB1SF: "Likewise, forcing applicants for an Extra Class License to correctly answer a question like: "What is the direction of an ascending pass for an amateur satellite?" is an absolutely invalid and illegal question under current US law."

No it isn't.

1) That question - or any question - isn't a must-know decider of who gets an Extra and who doesn't.

2) The general knowledge of amateur satellite operation is relevant to amateur licensing.

KB1SF: "That's because satellite operation is NOT an operational privilege granted exclusively to Extra Class license holders."

By that argument, the question belongs in the Technician question pool. Is that what you want?

KB1SF: "ANYONE with a valid Amateur License in the United States (including Technicians!) can operate via our fleet of amateur satellites."

How about Novices?

KB1SF: "Note that the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the questions (or the test) is not the issue here"

Yes, it is. Because if the tests were perceived to be easy, you wouldn't be making these claims.

Perceived difficulty is what it's all about.

KB1SF: " BOTH of the questions I've shown above belong in the TECHNICIAN question pool, NOT in the one for Extra Class."

So I was right - you want to expand the Technician question pool to include many if not most of the questions now in the General and Extra pools.

Using that logic, we could probably go through the General and Extra question pools and move many if not most of their questions to the Technician pool.

For example, since Techs have full privileges above 30 MHz, and can use any authorized mode, we can take any and all questions dealing with operation above 30 MHz and move them to the Tech question pool.

And since Generals have full power and full mode privileges below 30 MHz, we can move all HF questions to the General pool.

That will make the Tech question pool enormous, the General pool will probably be larger, and the Extra pool will be very small. The perceived difficulty of the Extra will then decrease, but the perceived difficulty of the Tech will probably increase.

Is that what you really want? Is that a good idea?

KB1SF: "The bottom line here is that, unlike in the 1950s (when the FCC first hatched their "incentive licensing" foolishness at the behest of the ARRL),"

If you can't even get the history right, what's the point of continuing? Incentive licensing started in the 1960s, and was driven by many factors, not just ARRL.

Let's cut to the chase.

We currently have a license system that will eventually become three license classes through attrition if no changes are made. Tech Plus will disappear in a few months as the last Tech Pluses are renewed as Tech or expire. Novice and Advanced will take longer but will ultimately disappear if nothing is done.

What, *specifically*, would you have FCC do?

Move large numbers of General and Extra questions to the Technician pool?

Increase the number of questions on the Technician exam?

Give Generals and Advanceds full privileges?

Have disability waivers for the written tests?

Put all the questions in one pool and have just one class of license with a 120 question test?

Bring back Morse Code testing as an option, scoring the results way Canada does?

Eliminate subbands-by-mode? Subbands-by-license class?

Allow data modes in the 'phone subbands?

Show us *exactly* how it should be. Describe your ideal license system in detail, including how existing hams would be affected.

Then let's see how the amateur community reacts, starting right here on eham.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Young People and Ham Radio  
by N2EY on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA4KCN writes: "your analysis on the subject is excellent"

Thanks for the kind words.

WA4KCN: "On the matter of youngsters joining ham radio, it is excuse me rather dimwitted to believe this could happen in great numbers...Young folk are not likely to populate any hobby of primary interest to middle and old age folks."

I don't know if that's really true. In fact, I have to disagree, I think the real issues are very different from what is usually discussed in these forums.

Here's what I think is really going on:

1) Lack of effective publicity. How often do you see Amateur Radio portrayed in the movies, on TV, etc.? Even more telling, how often do you see it portrayed accurately, and as something that's being done today, not decades ago?

If people don't know that Amateur Radio exists, they won't become hams. If people who might be interested have a very distorted view of what we're about, they won't become hams either.

A big part of effective publicity is having a description that's easy to remember and which sums up the main points. That's why I like the phrase "Amateur Radio is radio for its own sake".

2) Antenna restrictions. More and more of the housing in the USA is antenna-restricted. This has a direct impact on publicity, because those areas tend to have few hams, and the hams who do live there are in stealth mode. Back in the day, a lot of folks knew about ham radio because they saw the antennas and wondered what they were all about.

The antenna is the second-most important part of the station (besides the operator!) but more and more it's the most compromised. How many prospective and new hams have simply walked away because of antenna restrictions?

3) Perceived complexity and high cost of a station. Look at old ham radio magazines and books, and you'll see article after article that seemed to leap off the page and say "BUILD THIS RADIO!" There were lots of simple designs for receivers, transmitters, antennas and accessories that could get you started, and lead to more-complex stuff. Of course most of that stuff was HF- and Morse-Code-centric, which we've been told is bad. Yet it worked to bring in large numbers of new hams. Showing a complex transceiver costing hundreds of dollars as the entry-level isn't going to have the same draw.

I do agree with you this much about attracting young people: If we portray Amateur Radio as something done only by older people, they won't be attracted as much as if we portray it as being something for everyone. And if we specifically target an age group, they'll figure out we're doing it, and it will be just another ad to ignore.

IOW, what we need to do is not to target any particular age group, but to simply get the word out.

---

One of the things I clearly remember about the amateur radio books and magazines when I became a ham was that they didn't exclude anyone. They were inclusive, not exclusive. They didn't talk down to young people, but instead challenged them to meet the standards.

This was and still is one of the great things about Morse Code, and which served as a draw for young people rather than a barrier. When using Morse Code, nobody knows your age, gender, ethnicity, etc., unless you tell them. Nor can they tell what equipment you're using. The CW op is judged on the air by skill, courtesy, technique and signal quality, not by brand of rig, age, income level, etc. That whiz-bang traffic handler or contester you just worked might just be in middle school!

I strongly suspect that's why some folks are so against Morse Code - *because* it breaks down so many barriers, and skill in it can't be faked. Yet it is those features which will attract many young people.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
A Data Point About Young People  
by N2EY on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF writes: "My hunch is that this could very well be because our vocal cadre of "dinosaurs" have been so very successful in systematically driving youthful newcomers away with their fanatic insistence that such newcomers can never hope to be "real hams" unless and until, for example, they've taken and passed a stupid Morse test."

Here's some data that refutes that idea.

Back in 1996, the ARRL had an outfit called Readex do a "scientific survey" of a selected sample of amateurs on their views of license structure and test requirements.

And when the results were published, it turned out that the age group with the *strongest* support for Morse Code testing were the *youngest* amateurs!

How about that?

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by KB1SF on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, N2EY asked (among a flurry of other questions): "Then let's see how the amateur community reacts, starting right here on e-ham".

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

Obviously, I've once again stirred up a ton of controversy here, seeing as I am once again being vilified by many of the same highly vocal individuals for holding such "blasphemous" views on the arcane, 1950s-era licensing and regulatory system that has now become firmly entrenched in our Service.

Indeed, as Machiavelli said back in 1532, "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

When I look at the horrific inaction by our FCC on these issues, I really have to wonder whether they are simply waiting for all of us to die and our Service to whither away so they won't have to deal with us anymore. It is painfully obvious that, much like the CB Radio Service, we have since become little more than a "pimple on the rear end of progress" in the grand scheme of things.

I also well realize that, just like it took a federal lawsuit filed by the ARRL to get the FCC to comply with the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act over BPL, nothing is going to fundamentally change in our systemically discriminatory FCC regulatory and licensing structure unless and until someone (or some organization) with deep enough pockets actually files a similar federal lawsuit against the FCC and/or initiates a Congressional inquiry into the matter.

This means that, contrary to your call to "see how the amateur community reacts", this issue absolutely WON'T be decided based on what you, I, or other hams "want". To the contrary, this issue WILL ultimately be decided based on whether or not the regulatory and examination systems for our Service are eventually found to be in legal compliance with the rest of the US Federal Code by an external government agency or a court of law.

Indeed, lots of people "wanted" to keep racially segregated schools, drinking fountains, bathrooms and hotels firmly in place in our country back in the 1960s. But a rising tide of disgust for such blatantly discriminatory practices in the form of sweeping civil rights legislation eventually trumped all those "wants". Today, those changes have since become an accepted part of the society we live in as more and more of the racist bigots who reacted with violent opposition to such change are now dying off in ever increasing numbers.

As the noted physicist, Max Planck once said, "An important… innovation rarely makes its way by rapidly winning over and converting its opponents; it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the new idea from the beginning."

Indeed, our highly vocal (mostly older) generation of rabid obstructionists to such long-needed change to our licensing and regulatory system are also now aging and dying in ever-increasing numbers.

But, even so, our licensing system remains chockablock full of "unnecessary regulatory barriers" (to use the FCC's own words when they dropped all forms of Morse testing) to full access to our Service (an Extra Class license). By any measure, those clearly excessive licensing requirements remain WAY out of proportion to any operational or regulatory need when compared to the ITU's minimalist licensing guidelines for our Service as well as the strict, equal access legal requirements now levied on federal agencies contained in a whole plethora of 1990s-era federal laws.

So, as I see it, the only question now remaining is what, if anything, our FCC is going to do about this issue…and when they are ultimately going to be forced into doing it.

And while I certainly can't afford to bring such a lawsuit against the FCC myself, I can sure as hell pester my Congresspersons about it. Indeed, I (and a number of others) are already doing so. But only time will tell if we will eventually be successful in that regard

In the meantime, I'm going to leave you gents to your ongoing "kabuki dances" on the subject.

For, I also well realize that all of the indignant questions and outrage being directed at me for daring to even mention this issue are simply more abortive attempts to change the subject and discredit the messenger so as to avoid serious discussion on what has now become a VERY inconvenient truth.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N9ZAS on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
And then of course there are those of us who are quite content with our current privledges and are NOT influenced by the masses to upgrade to general or above,simply to listen to a much higher noise floor and put up with inconsiderate ops.
I LIKE vhf/uhf and 900mhz. so WHY spoil that by upgrading to general or advanced to which I would NEVER use the privledges? Contesting seems to be the primary activity on hf besides the occasional op. talking about his "bodily functions"! IF I wanted to hear that,I would have bought a cb!
I DO like the international sw bands for useful overseas news coverage. Small unobtrusive antennas,Versatile in nature and efficient with low power are also a perk.
So you see,just because we prefer to maintain tech. level licenses doesn't mean we don't appreciate the hobby.
It simply means we are happy where we are and see no reason for a useless upgrade to a useless license!
As far as I'm concerned hf is becoming obsolete.
n9zas
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by N2EY on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF writes: "I've once again stirred up a ton of controversy here, seeing as I am once again being vilified by many of the same highly vocal individuals for holding such "blasphemous" views on the arcane, 1950s-era licensing and regulatory system that has now become firmly entrenched in our Service."

Who is "vilifying" you, Keith? Certainly not I.

KB1SF: "than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

But you're not taking the lead, Keith. You're not proposing a replacement system. You're not saying in any detail how the US amateur license system should be.

KB1SF: "this issue absolutely WON'T be decided based on what you, I, or other hams "want". To the contrary, this issue WILL ultimately be decided based on whether or not the regulatory and examination systems for our Service are eventually found to be in legal compliance with the rest of the US Federal Code by an external government agency or a court of law."

Only is somebody thinks the issue is worth pursuing.

KB1SF: "lots of people "wanted" to keep racially segregated schools, drinking fountains, bathrooms and hotels firmly in place in our country back in the 1960s."

But more people didn't want those things. Those people ultimately won out because they proposed a different system, and pushed for it.

But the analogy isn't valid. When segregation was in place, there was nothing a person of the "wrong color" could do to gain access to the facilities reserved for "white" people. No matter what their accomplishments or qualifications, they were excluded. There was no TEST they could pass that would gain them access.

But in today's US amateur radio, all anyone without a criminal record has to do is to pass the required tests to get a license. Those tests are objective (no judgement calls on the part of the VEs), public info (Q&A published for more than 25 years, available FREE for the download) and so basic that elementary school children have passed all of them. How they could be "discriminatory" to anyone really qualified to be a radio amateur is not clear.

KB1SF: "For, I also well realize that all of the indignant questions and outrage being directed at me for daring to even mention this issue are simply more abortive attempts to change the subject and discredit the messenger so as to avoid serious discussion on what has now become a VERY inconvenient truth."

In other words, you refuse to answer relevant questions, refuse to give details, and refuse to actually discuss the issue.

OK, fine.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Young People and Ham Radio  
by K6LHA on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote on 11 Dec 09"

"KB1SF writes: "Maybe the percentage of Techs to other licenses is a bit lower today than it was in 2000 by a few percentage points""

N2EY: "No maybe about it. The numbers prove that the number and percentage of US hams with a Novice, Tech or Tech Plus license has dropped since 2000, while the number and percentage of US hams with one of the other classes has increased."

WRONG, Jimmy. Golly for someone who has bragged so much about having a graduate degree, you've failed simple arithmetic!

The no-code-test Technician class has been STEADILY *INCREASING* since 1991. As of this morning, 12 Dec 09: Hamdata has their total license number as 344,323 out of 716,639 individual licensees or 48.05 percent; ARRL has their (10-year-term-only) license numbers at 333,544 out of 681,765 or 48.92 percent. Note the difference in percentages due to the lesser number of Technician class NOT in their grace period.

Since ARRL does NOT show past numbers, one has to rely on Hamdata numbers of 2 years ago. Those put the Technician class at 310,286 out of 711,936 or 43.58 percent of individual licesees. The difference between December 12, 2009 and December 12, 2007 represents a GROWTH of 37,037 Technician class licensees. You will, of course, attempt rationalization of that by saying "the FCC renews Technician Plus as Technician" with the implication that Technician class has so very little actual growth. Considering that Technician-plus can either drop out entirely or "renew" into another class (with appropriate test element passing), your rationalization doesn't have validity.

Note: Constantly bringing up 'Restructuring' ordered in 1999 and effective in 2000 doesn't have much bearing on the subject. That happened 10 to 9 years ago, time enough for a newborn to reach about 3rd grade in public school.
...................
N2EY: "FCC has been renewing all Tech Pluses as Techs since 2000. So it makes sense to combine the numbers of those licenses, since to FCC they are the same class. If you do that, and look at the numbers since 2000, here's what you find:

NO, Jimmy. If the FCC considered them the "same class" then they would change their database fields and ULS records. As it is, all FCC records available to the public show Technician and Technician-Plus as SEPARATE license classes. Even the ARRL considers them separate classes on their biased tabulations. What more do you need besides non-endorsement from the mighty ARRL?
...................
"- The fastest-growing license class is Extra

- The second-fastest-growing license class is General

- The combined Tech/Tech Plus license class has actually declined."

Jimmy, you must post some independent third-party information to PROVE your wishful-thinking contention. You haven't done so.
...................
KB1SF: "unless things quickly turn around and we begin attracting a much larger percentage of YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service, our overall demographics are poised to start "tanking" in the out years."

N2EY: "Not really. All that matters for growth is that we keep attracting more people than we lose. As someone else pointed out, AARP doesn't accept anyone under the age of 50, and their membership numbers are up up up!"

Jimmy, the "AARP" is NOT involved in amateur radio. It is the American Association of Retired People. You could be a member with or without a code test examination since you are (claimed) over 50.

As to "growth" in the number of USA amateur radio licensees, I'll refer to the Hamdata tallies for 12 December 2009: As of 12 MONTHS AGO there were 30,702 new licensees and 26,833 expirations. That is an overall increase of 3,869 but only 0.054 percent compared to the total of 716,639 individual licensees. The "growth" is HALF A PERCENT in one year's time.

I thought that my beginning tabulation would have shown that this "growth" has picked up towards the end of the three year period. I'm sorry you can't see that. [not that you care to observe, anyway...you seem stuck on the effective year of Restructuring of a decade ago].
...................
N2EY: "You can't prove that scientifically because we don't have accurate age data on all US amateurs. And even if it's true, so what? The US population as a whole is getting older. Compare the median age of Americans in the 1990 and 2000 Census for proof. The results of the 2010 Census will show the trend continuing."

Jimmy, hardly ANY of your conjectures you've presented here do NOT have any third-party proof. All we see are YOUR wishful-thinking ideas.
...............
N2EY: "You don't know that scientifically. You're just presuming your conclusion."

Jimmy, Jimmy...we can express OPINIONS which is what Keith did. Now, nowhere in YOUR "mighty" rebuttal was there ANY "scientific proof" presented from any third-party source. Present some and you might have some validity.
................
N2EY: "Dinosaurs? I remember a 60-something non-ham who asked the FCC to require a minimum age of 14 years for any class of US amateur license. Is that what you mean?"

Oh, you petty spiteful baby! You are STILL hurt by the Reply to Comments on NPRM 98-153 I made to Michael Deignan. I authored that and the FCC posted it on their collection of comments on that docket on 13 January, 1999. It is 14 pages of text in PDF form on the FCC website. It is still there, anyone can view it. If anyone wants to "re-argue" a TEN-YEAR-OLD document that NO LONGER applies, good luck, I'm not going to bother.

Oh, and I still have the copy of the ARRL Letter showing those two adorable SIX-YEAR-OLDS who were
headlined in 1998 as "The Youngest Hams." That was a footnote on my Reply to Comments. In retrospect, I should have made it a full attachment.

What I was unaware of at the end of 1998 was that one James Miccolis had gotten his FIRST amateur license class at age 13. His SPITE at that perceived "insult" has followed me around different forums ever since. Now this alleged "dinosaur" (me) got "extra out of the box" since then, married a second time, has been an ARRL voting member for two years and has gone on with life. Little Jimmy is still smarting and bringing up that one "age" matter TEN YEARS LATER. He should GROW UP!

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

On the "age" thing, to follow Keith's interesting points in regard to LAW as a basis for test questions, the FCC has absolutely NO regulations requiring parental or guardianship oversight of licensed youngsters while operating RF emitters. NONE. It is possible for some otherwise-adorable CHILD to be a legal control operator, all alone, and literally PLAY with an amateur radio without any full knowledge of RESPONSIBILITY of operation. CHILDREN do not all have some intrinsic "responsibility" guidelines automatically...not even if they hold all sorts of written test certificates from a federal agency. That responsibility must be LEARNED and UNDERSTOOD and it is the job of PARENTS to begin teaching them that, reinforced by other adults as much as possible.

I'm not going to bring up six-year-olds' marvelous ability to read and UNDERSTAND written test questions! Apparently those adorable children of a decade ago were intelligent and knowledgeable beyound their years (which is what most parents say of their own children). School teachers know otherwise but they are professionals in teaching and the "test" in question was about amateurism. If it is concerning a test about amateur radio, amateur radio will overrule logical thinking according to childish fanatics in ham radio. That is, to me, illogical idiocy.

Len, AF6AY
 
RE: Young People and Ham Radio  
by K6LHA on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY claimed on 12 Dec 09:

"1) Lack of effective publicity. How often do you see Amateur Radio portrayed in the movies, on TV, etc.? Even more telling, how often do you see it portrayed accurately, and as something that's being done today, not decades ago?"

On the night of 11 December 2009, the hit TV show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" had a scene where four CSI off-duty officers were stranded at a closed diner. Out of range of any cell phones they tried to call in to LVPD using a "ham radio set" they found in a back room of the closed diner. It malfunctioned (with usual Hollywood smoke effects) a few seconds after being turned on. So much for "emergency communications via a ham radio." :-)

One of the off-duty CSI officers found some clip leads in another room, climbed up a telephone pole, connected a modern telephone handset to a telephone J-box, was able to contact LVPD. Note: the telephone infrastructure is "supposed" to fail in emergencies and only ham radio will continue to work according to some long-time licensed radio amateurs. :-)

Questions on the plot would be "Why wasn't a discarded CB radio in the other room?" There are millions more CB transceivers than there are ham radio sets. The location of the closed diner was out in the boonies of Nevada, just barely in the jurisdiction of the Las Vegas Police Department.

This NEW CBS airing was LAST NIGHT. Is everybody so busy, busy playing with their ham radios that they don't enjoy some "other" recreation? Must be... :-)
.................
N2EY: "If people don't know that Amateur Radio exists, they won't become hams. If people who might be interested have a very distorted view of what we're about, they won't become hams either."

So, Jimmy, what have YOU done? You've been a radio ham for four decades. You must have been a member of the ARRL for most of that time, displaying an encyclopedic depth of "knowledge" about everything published in Newington.

The ARRL is ALMOST the oldest radio-interest membership organization. It was incorporated some five years AFTER the very first, and still-existing, Radio Club of America. The Radio Club of America was incorporated in 1909...but got out of the amateur-interest-specialty area a few decades after incorporation. Seems there was a WHOLE LOT MORE interest in commercial, government, military radio back in the 'twenties.' But I digress into areas where you have no interest, only in ham radio.

The ARRL is "supposed" to be "our national representative." They say that every chance they can. But ARE they? I don't think so...by the membership numbers, by their lack of effective leadership in forming legislation "for" amateur radio, by their LACK OF EFFECTIVE PUBLICITY to the general public. Oh, they trumpet that the ARRL has "lots of material" but somehow all those things get LOST on the way to the Mass Media outlets.

My wife and I live in a LARGE urban area of the USA (Los Angeles). We subscribe to two major metropolitan daily newspapers. We watch TV news, listen to radio news, but not overly so. We are "aware and informed" as they saying goes. My wife is indifferent to amateur radio but she would notice if there are any news items or publicity about that because I am a licensed amateur radio operator. Wonder of wonders in this 'modern age,' we actually DISCUSS things freely, even during and after going together in high school (both Class of 1951). WE have seen more news about model radio control lately than any amateur radio events over the last 3 to 4 years.

WHERE are the 'fabulous' videos the ARRL was supposed to have made available 'to the public?' Does the ARRL expect that 'the public' all watch TV in between 1 AM and 5 AM locally?!? In looking back through TV listings on Time-Warner cable, I can't find any 'ham radio PR spots' listed in those "oh-dark-thirty" times. Our cable TV has well over 100 channels (plus FM BC and independent music of all genres) and some of the channels are in foreign languages. Perhaps those ARRL videos are translated into one of those channels and we can't 'read' them? Must be it, yeah...:-)
...............
N2EY: "A big part of effective publicity is having a description that's easy to remember and which sums up the main points."

Jimmy, despite your apparent claims on Marketing Expertise, the FIRST THING and MOST IMPORTANT THING is TO BE VISIBLE, TO BE AUDIBLE. It does no good whatsoever to be INVISIBLE and then natter and gromish about "how good we are and what we have" in ARRL Letter after ARRL Letter. All those CLAIMS have long since dropped into the random noise floor with all the QRN.
................
N2EY: "More and more of the housing in the USA is antenna-restricted. This has a direct impact on publicity, because those areas tend to have few hams, and the hams who do live there are in stealth mode. Back in the day, a lot of folks knew about ham radio because they saw the antennas and wondered what they were all about."

Lets see, considering you are really talking about YOURSELF, not the "amateur community." I've lived in my residence since May 1963 and NEVER had any "restrictions" on antennas of any kind. The ONLY possible "restriction" is from the FAA mandating that I have warning lights on any tower over 200 feet (we live a bit over a mile from Bob Hope Airport, airport begun before WWII as "Lockheed Air Terminal"). Would I have a TWO HUNDRED FOOT TOWER at my residence? NO. Not because my wife wouldn't like it, *I* wouldn't like it. It is our RESIDENCE. Oh, and I have TWO antennas up and they are NOT "stealth mode." The all-purpose Discone is clearly visible from the street. Anyone walking around to the side (to our front door) can see the dark green fiberglass-covered vertical in the back yard.

I have a good relationship with my thirty-something across-the-street neighbor and his wife. He kids me a bit about my "listening to Mars" antenna and I kid him back about his drum playing. We RESPECT each others' property and its visual appearance and to the neighborhood.
.................
N2EY: "Perceived complexity and high cost of a station."

Oh, oh, here we go with implied socialism again. So, WE can't have something expensive because YOU don't have anything expensive?!? Sorry, Jimmie, I'm not going to spend the rest of my life diving in dumpsters to build frankenboxes a la pre-1970 style so that I can be some kind of "real ham."
.................
N2EY: "Look at old ham radio magazines and books, and you'll see article after article that seemed to leap off the page and say "BUILD THIS RADIO!"

There were pop-up books published that early?!? :-)
.................
N2EY: "There were lots of simple designs for receivers, transmitters, antennas and accessories that could get you started, and lead to more-complex stuff. Of course most of that stuff was HF- and Morse-Code-centric, which we've been told is bad."

Oh, oh...Jimmy's SACRED COW got stabbed! Tsk, tsk, Jimmy, all I've said is that "morse-code-centricsm" is restrictive in the face of WHAT IS AVAILABLE NOW, totally OPTIONAL to use...when it comes to LICENSE TESTING. It is unfortuate (but only for you) that you were on the LOSING side of the code-test-elimination NPRM, but in a contentious "game" (political) with only two sides, only ONE side will "win." Try to be more gracious on accepting losing status. That's a nice boy...
.................
N2EY: ",,. Showing a complex transceiver costing hundreds of dollars as the entry-level isn't going to have the same draw."

No? You better inform the auto makers of that. Young people with new driver's licenses are always looking at EXPEN$IVE cars, mentally wanting one. A few buy them and do NOT smash them up, manage to pay for it even on long-term loans. On the other side of the demographic spectrum, some of us older people WHO HAVE WORKED ALL OUR LIVES have managed to accumulate some monies to actually (gasp!) BUY CASH a lot of things they couldn't get when younger. You RESENT that. TS. Either WORK to get more money but don't try that "everyone-equal-socialsm" rationale again. It just shows your jealousy.
................
N2EY: "This was and still is one of the great things about Morse Code, and which served as a draw for young people rather than a barrier. When using Morse Code, nobody knows your age, gender, ethnicity, etc., unless you tell them. Nor can they tell what equipment you're using. The CW op is judged on the air by skill, courtesy, technique and signal quality, not by brand of rig, age, income level, etc. That whiz-bang traffic handler or contester you just worked might just be in middle school!"

To put it in other words, you can be INVISIBLE using "CW." Like on the Internet, you can ASSUME ANOTHER IDENTITY, someone "superior" to others, a wise-appearing guru who has "done everything, been everything." :-)

Heck, you can even do the transgender thing with "CW." Who is going to know? :-)

Jimmie, quit trying to revive this morse code test argument AGAIN. The USA amateur radio regulations ELIMINATED code testing three years ago. Accept it in some semblance of good grace, or revert to being angry, irritated, resentful, jealous of those who have money, disappointed about losing one of your cherished Brag Tape things. Or, you can continue with your (apparent) mid-life crisis and become a bitter old man who will require the undertaker to crowbar out the morse key from cold, dead fingers.

There IS an alternative: Invent a TIME MACHINE, go back to that real radio-pioneering time of CW-uber-alles that happened before your present life began. Bye, bye...
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes  
by K6LHA on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB1SF wrote on December 12, 2009:

"Jim, N2EY asked (among a flurry of other questions): "Then let's see how the amateur community reacts, starting right here on e-ham"."

Keith, in the decade I've encountered Little Jimmy in amateur radio forums, I've never noted him to actually DISCUSS some valid issues. When pinned to the wall on a contentious subject, he will invariably MISDIRECT into some other area. He is so primed to his inner self that he cannot see that this "amateur community" is FAR BIGGER and so numerous that only a tiny, tiny fraction can fit into e-ham. That's not a bad mark against e-ham, that is realistic since about 700,000 licensees just couldn't fit into this website, let alone a single forum.

Little Jimmy is a superb product of ARRL brainwashing. His claimed 'reasoning' is straight out of the Church of St. Hiram prayer book. The League is his shepherd. In one way I would say he is desiring to be a 'fedayin,' a "death commando" in favor of that olde-tyme religion of Hamme. He has never served his country in either a military or civilian role, isn't (and probably hasn't) run for any ARRL position, yet he ORATES as if he is an Evangelist of that Olde-Tyme Religion. He will Never Forgive the slightest imaginary bruise to his ego yet will, at the drop of a participle, insult what he considers "lesser beings." Serious mental dichotomy at work there.
.................
KB1SF: "Obviously, I've once again stirred up a ton of controversy here, seeing as I am once again being vilified by many of the same highly vocal individuals for holding such "blasphemous" views on the arcane, 1950s-era licensing and regulatory system that has now become firmly entrenched in our Service."

Well, yes and no, in my opinion. What I think would be more appropriate is to work up a separate ARTICLE on that subject. I don't think the e-ham overseers would approve it but I'm an optimist most of the time. On further reflection, I think it would be worth the trouble. Done here on e-ham it would attract most of the entrenched retirees who won't accept anything that threatens their Rank, Status, Privilege, etc., etc., (mostly negatives on Their self-esteem). <shrug>

My little study was done to satisfy my own curiosity on USA amateur radio changes, to see if there was any perceptible change. I didn't see much indication. In my view the total elimination of code testing just came too late. There are SO many OTHER pastimes, new ones, much more technologically- challenging ones available to ALL in the last decade within the USA. I will give the ARRL-lover hardliners credit for HOLDING BACK progress so long that the code test elimination was just doomed to not be very much of a change to entice newcomers.

Looking back on my political efforts to attempt influencing a federal agency into changing certain regulations, I began in earnest too late, yet kept at it...without that "badge of courage" that some consider a mighty amateur radio license. :-) I had been too long the professional in radio-electronics, busy pushing the performance envelope here and there, and thus considered a "beginner," a "newby," and "too stupid/ignorant" to pass any three test element amateur radio test. Gotta love some of those comments. :-) I had great amusement at getting the reaction of all those mighty Extrss who thought I was just a dumb nobody and "could never do it." As an undaunted idealist, I just went ahead and did it without asking anyone's permission. :-)

Keith, I've reread some of your observations and reasons and consider them - objectively - to have merit. I tossed in an old subject of mine as a possible addition...but only because Little Jimmy brought it up lately (a kind of 10th "anniversary?" :-). Seriously, I've been involved in trying to change a small set of USA amateur regulations for a decade now, achieved what I set out to do, then decided to get one of those mighty amateur radio licenses for myself, doing that at age 74. I'm tired of these others trying to hold back the dawn of progress, to keep the amateur radio service the same as when they first began in it. I'm still an idealist, still open for a Good Cause to fight, but life is limited and I would like to enjoy more of it. Getting into local politics here there's a lot to do there, too, issues that directly affect us in this region. Otherwise, I'd join you as a volunteer for another Good Cause.
..................
KB1SF: "This means that, contrary to your call to "see how the amateur community reacts", this issue absolutely WON'T be decided based on what you, I, or other hams "want". To the contrary, this issue WILL ultimately be decided based on whether or not the regulatory and examination systems for our Service are eventually found to be in legal compliance with the rest of the US Federal Code by an external government agency or a court of law."

Little Jimmy has - by observation - lived in an imaginary world for a long time. I don't think he undertands the terrible expense of waging any large legal war on an established government agency. The ARRL can't help because they are still entrenched in the USA amateur radio of yesteryear and they've already spent a bundle on this BPL thing. Of course they NEEDED to do that in order to "protect" their core membership, a probable minority within a provable minority membership organization. Possible aid must come from Congress forcing the issue...but they must do so without the uncertainty (to their future jobs) of upcoming congressional re-elections.
................
KB1SF: "In the meantime, I'm going to leave you gents to your ongoing "kabuki dances" on the subject."

Har! Appreciation from one who has attended both Kabuki and Noh plays in Japan. :-)

Noh may be the more stylized than Kabuki. Noh players wear full face masks instead of makeup. I would (internally) classify the stay-with-the-past-curmudgeons as Noh players, masks provided by a familiar organization. When, as a group, they would be asked if they would accept CHANGE, they would chorus, "NOh, NOh, NOh!!!" :-) :-) :-)

Bad word-play aside, Keith, you and your family have a GOOD Holiday time!

73, Len AF6AY
 
Why Upgrade?  
by N2EY on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N9ZAS writes: "I LIKE vhf/uhf and 900mhz. so WHY spoil that by upgrading to general or advanced to which I would NEVER use the privledges?"

The only reasons I can imagine are:

1) To be a VE
2) To get a 1x2 or 2x1 callsign

I bet there are a lot of folks who feel the same way.

Also, if someday you somehow develop an interest in the bands below 50 MHz, the license to do so will still be there, requiring only that you take the tests for it.

N9ZAS: "Contesting seems to be the primary activity on hf besides the occasional op. talking about his "bodily functions"!"

There's a lot more to HF amateur radio than that. But to find much of it, you have to use modes other than voice.

But that's besides the point of whether *you* are interested or not.

N9ZAS: "So you see,just because we prefer to maintain tech. level licenses doesn't mean we don't appreciate the hobby.
It simply means we are happy where we are and see no reason for a useless upgrade to a useless license!"

I would say "unused" rather than "useless" but the idea is basically the same. Why get a CDL if you're only going to drive cars and light trucks?

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by KC9GLC on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Wow... all the talk and banter of lic. classes.
I got into amateur radio for ECOM reasons at first. then a friend of mine invited me to our local field day and introduced me to HF.I was hooked from that point on. as i was working on upgrading to general(already passed written portion) the fcc dropped the code requirements. I still use and work cw but since i didnt have to take that portion of the test does that make me any less than any of you who did take it.
Instead of berating the ham community for not advancing to higher classes, get them involved and interested. If it wasnt for my friend i still would not have advanced.

Its not that most of the Tech have no interst in going higher, they have no one to educate them. So enough with the berating and start educating.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by K4YZ on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
(1) Was there a point to be made here, or simply self-grandizing pontification for the mere pleasure of seeing one's name "published".

(2) For the most part, it was a knock off of the works of AH0A and other authors.

(3) Nothing unexpected was revealed. The Code test went away, "upgrades" briefly surged as was predicted, and then things went back to "status quo".

(4) The rantings of a numerically few but incessantly vocal "No Code" sect that insisted that the demise of Morse Code testing would result in throngs of "new blood" in the Amateur ranks were proven to be the fertilizer that they were all along.

Steve, K4YZ
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K4YZ on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
As a so-called "new" person in radio, I didn't get into amateur radio thinking it would be a loser. But, I'm PART of a new group now and hoped that conditions in amateur radio would have changed after my amateur license was granted. I see little change, therefore the study to see if a cause could be determined just from easily-obtainable statistics.


Seeing change occur requires that one actually get involved in making the change occur.

You and I both know that you've been one of Amateur Radio's loudest critics, Mr. Anderson, but you're also not exactly a "contibuting member".

Steve, K4YZ
 
RE: 2003 was due to a bubble  
by K4YZ on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
In 1993 the no-code tech license came into being.


Actually, it was Valentine's Day, 1991

73

Steve, K4YZ
 
RE: Young People and Ham Radio  
by K4YZ on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY: "You don't know that scientifically. You're just presuming your conclusion."

Jimmy, Jimmy...we can express OPINIONS which is what Keith did. Now, nowhere in YOUR "mighty" rebuttal was there ANY "scientific proof" presented from any third-party source. Present some and you might have some validity.
................
N2EY: "Dinosaurs? I remember a 60-something non-ham who asked the FCC to require a minimum age of 14 years for any class of US amateur license. Is that what you mean?"

Oh, you petty spiteful baby! You are STILL hurt by the Reply to Comments on NPRM 98-153 I made to Michael Deignan. I authored that and the FCC posted it on their collection of comments on that docket on 13 January, 1999. It is 14 pages of text in PDF form on the FCC website. It is still there, anyone can view it. If anyone wants to "re-argue" a TEN-YEAR-OLD document that NO LONGER applies, good luck, I'm not going to bother.



I see you're still into using diminutives and condescending speech in order to mitigate being proven wrong, Len.

Some things never change, eh?

Steve, K4YZ
 
Just The Facts  
by N2EY on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K4YZ wrote: "The Code test went away, "upgrades" briefly surged as was predicted, and then things went back to "status quo"."

Hello Steve,

It's a little more complicated than that - but not much more.

It all boils down to this:

From 2000 to 2003, the number of US hams went up

From 2003 to 2007, the number of US hams went down

From 2007 to the present, the number of US hams went up.

It's not yet back to the 2003 peak but it's getting there. Couple thousand to go.

Over the same time periods, the number of Techs, Generals and Extras went up, and the number of Novices, Tech Pluses and Advanceds went down. Which was expected, since the FCC stopped issuing new Tech Pluses, Novices and Advanceds in April 2000. Also, since that date, any Tech Plus submitted for renewal or vanity call has been reassigned to Technician by FCC, so their numbers were guaranteed to drop fast. As of now we're down to less than 350 Tech Pluses due to the class change at renewal.

As you said - no surprises there!

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Amateur Radio License Statistics of 1988  
by K6LHA on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
There have been a few 'challenges' on "old data" of amateur radio statistics. For those I offer the following correspondence copy that dates back to PRE-Internet days. Note that the Internet did not go public until 1991, therefore it was saved by someone unidentified from one of the commercial services (such as Compuserve). I do not recognize the format of this text message since I was not on any of those commercial services in 1990 so I cannot ascertain if it IS factually one of those.

On checking various amateur radio sites this Sunday morning, both N0LOX and WT9T are listed as being current licensees. As with the "state of the art" in national/international computer-modem communications, nearly all formatting is TEXT using common fixed fonts such as 'Courier.'

Proportional spacing fonts had yet to be standardized and few computer users had GUI Operating Systems in 1990. At the time the FCC had just started the amateur radio license database public dissemination but in shorter form such as grouping by ZIP coding and available (generally) only on a weekly basis. Later improvements in Information Technology resulted in the combined single large amateur radio license database currently in-use that requires high-speed Internet connectivity to download within an 8-hour period. Note also that database information of nearly two decades ago carried licensee ages.

I alluded to this information, properly attributing source, in e-ham article 21114 "Aren't We All In This Together?" [ www.eham.net/articles/21114 ] I did not use all of the data then so I've presented it here in its fixed-font-spacing needed to properly view the tabulations. This is presented as-is, as I found it last year. I make no claims as to accuracy or inaccuracy of this. I think the author, Richard Hoffbeck, tried his best to be accurate and dispassionate about the results.

====[ Use fixed-font such as Courier in browser ]====

37055 S4/FCC & Regulatory
30-Dec-90 09:44:10
Sb: #36821-No Code
Fm: richard hoffbeck, N0LOX 72406,521
To: Fritz Anderson WT9T 70050,172

Here is the age distribution from the FCC callsign database of 11/1988

Total # Percentage Median Average
License Class Licenses of Total Age Age
-------------- -------- ---------- ------ -------
Novice 95,750 19.94% 42 42.19
Technician 109,192 22.74% 48 48.43
General 122,959 25.61% 57 55.70
Advanced 104,253 21.71% 56 56.26
Extra 47,937 9.98% 51 52.81
-------------- -------- ---------- ------ -------
All Classes 480,101 100.00% 51 51.19


Number of Licenses By Age And Class - All U.S.
Age | Novice| Techni | General|Advanced| Extra | Total |
Range | | -cian | | | | |
---------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
< 20 | 7,670| 1,933| 486| 141| 115| 10,345|
20 - 24 | 9,472| 2,893| 1,268| 529| 377| 14,539|
25 - 29 | 8,889| 5,804| 3,898| 2,074| 1,317| 21,982|
30 - 34 | 8,769| 9,404| 5,013| 4,505| 2,496| 30,187|
35 - 39 | 10,203| 12,960| 8,260| 8,795| 4,523| 44,741|
40 - 44 | 10,573| 15,317| 12,663| 12,464| 6,897| 57,914|
45 - 49 | 9,544| 13,837| 14,695| 12,552| 7,501| 58,129|
50 - 54 | 7,223| 10,393| 12,220| 9,566| 5,392| 44,794|
55 - 59 | 5,810| 8,776| 11,130| 8,151| 3,549| 37,416|
60 - 64 | 5,561| 8,883| 13,070| 9,136| 3,489| 40,139|
65 - 69 | 5,417| 7,915| 14,834| 11,117| 4,205| 43,488|
70 - 74 | 3,540| 5,754| 11,575| 10,682| 3,998| 35,549|
75 - 79 | 1,871| 3,239| 7,262| 7,332| 2,247| 21,951|
>= 80 | 1,208| 2,084| 6,585| 7,209| 1,831| 18,927|
---------+-------+--------+--------+--------+--------+--------+
Totals | 95,750| 109,192| 122,959| 104,253| 47,937| 480,101|


If you plot the previous numbers you'll find that the distribution is bimodal
with peaks at the WWII ages (smaller peak) and the Sputnik crowd (larger peak).
The immediate population is not a problem, but the fact that only 3% of all
hams are 20 years of age or less may prove troublesome in the next 20 years of
so.

I also thought that the age distribution was a pressing problem until I got a
copy of the callsign database and actually calculated the numbers. The second
issue, a 'aliasing' due the the shift from a 5 year to 10 year license term is
also of dubious value. In scanning through the Region 0 data (I don't keep the
whole thing on-line), I found that only 97% of the licenses listed in 1988 had
been issued or renewed since the change in license terms in 1983. Of the
remaining 3%, 2/3 of those were due to expire in the period 1989 - 1992 -- the
remaining 1% due to expire in 1988. Anyway, the maximum loss possible due to
silent keys, etc is only on the order of 3%.

On the other hand, there was a piece that made the rounds on packet,
WorldRadio, etc, to the effect that since the number of hams has been growing
at a faster rate than the population as a whole there is no problem. That type
of analysis is faulty in assuming that society as a whole has remained at the
same level of technology. I think that ham radio has definitely declined in
importance due to technological advances across the board.

rick, N0LOX

======[ end of fixed-font viewing necessity ]======

I'll note again that this communication dates from 19 years ago. It was done before the Internet went public, before all the 'websites' existed (as such). It was done before the official start of the no-code-test Technician class although a Federal Register Notice stated that it would exist. 'Reconstruction' of amateur radio classes and requirements had not yet been put into a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. It was done before there were 18 following Petitions to change USA amateur radio submitted in response to the 'Reconstruction.' It was done well before thare was the big effort by many to eliminate the code test altogether.

As to the "technological advances across the board" alluded to by Richard Hoffbeck in his last paragraph, I will just point to some advances open to the USA public in the last 19 years: Rise of cell sites and miniaturization of handsets to make them a mainstay of personal mobile communications; Fully digital television broadcasting enabling snow-free pictures and quadraphonic audio; The Internet going public, resulting in a major change in both commerce and personal communications internationally. Those nearly two decades marked the displacement of magnetic tape video recordings by the DVD...similar to the CD displacing the vinyl disk audio recordings in the 1980s. Personal computers that had top clock rates of 40 MHz (with expnsive hard disks and 'floppy' small mass-storage systems) in the 1980s changed to 2600 MHz clock rates with 100 MHz average RAM access times and internal or external 2 TB hard disk units costing less than $200 new. Visual displays went to flat-screen LCD or plasma technology, perfect linearity, displacing the bulky CRT "monitor." The Universal Serial Bus allowed all new peripherals to be within the new "plug-and-play" standards. The Personal Data Assistant combined a cell phone, video camera, data storage capability, and text transmission in a unit hardly larger than the smallest cell phone. I won't go into the "games" category suffice to say that primitive early 'computer' games of Pong were displaced by multi-player, multi-function boxes, some of which could link with other games via the Internet. Radio clocks and watches for less than $30 can have automatic calibration by radio for accuracy within 1 second on any day. Automobiles advanced with increased on-board computation capabilites, wireless audio, on-board video, closed-circuit TV for viewing impossible-to-see areas such as just behind and below rear bumpers, and the first of the collision warning systems. Electric cars, from hybrid gas-electric to all-electric drive appeared on the market. Those are just the tip of the iceberg of advances and ALL were available to the ordinary citizen, IN the marketplace.

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Amateur Radio License Statistics of 1988  
by K6LHA on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
On posting the above 1988 Statistics data, the font conversion did not work out. I do not control the e-ham formatting. If anyone desires a .TXT format copy of that 1990 communication just e-mail me privately (AF6AY@aol.com) and I will send the .TXT format in private reply.

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: 2003 was due to a bubble  
by KB6QXM on December 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Steve, K4YZ: In 1993 the no-code tech license came into being.


Actually, it was Valentine's Day, 1991

73

Well we have all heard of what happened on Valentine's Day in Chicago.

Valentine's day 1993 was the day that was the beginning of the end for ham radio, as I and many hams knew it. I remember that day well.

Fitting that the new rule was implemented on that day.
 
US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by N2EY on December 14, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Here's some data on the number of US amateur operators over the years. Source of each set of numbers is also shown.

In some cases the exact date of the numbers is not given in the source. Also, it is not clear whether the numbers include licenses that are expired but in the grace period, or only current unexpired licenses.

It's important to know the history surrounding the license rules if one wants to intelligently analyze the data. Failure to take these facts into account will lead to erroneous conclusions. Some examples:

1) Until the mid-1970s, the Novice was a nonrenewable license with a term of one or two years. In the mid-1970s it became a 5 year renewable license like all the others.

2) From 1953 until 1967, the Advanced was closed to new issues but existing Advanceds could renew and modify their licenses

3) The Conditional license was a separate class of license equivalent to a General-by-mail until the mid-1970s. It was phased out by renewal of all Conditionals as Generals.

4) The license term of renewable US amateur licenses was 5 years until 1984, when it became ten years. One result of this was that no US amateur licenses expired from 1989 until 1994.

5) There were time periods when Novices had privileges that Technicians did not. During some of that time, it was possible to hold both classes of license simultaneously.

6) The Technician license was created in 1951, and until 1991 all Technicians had to pass a 5 wpm code test. In 1991 the FCC dropped the code test for Technician, but did not immediately create a new license class or other method of differentiating code-tested Technicians, who had some HF privileges, from non-code-tested Technicians, who did not.

In June, 1994, the Technician Plus license was created by FCC to separate the two groups, with code-tested Technicians be reclassified as Technician Pluses upon renewal.

In April 2000, FCC reversed direction and began reclassifying all Technician Pluses as Technicians upon renewal. No new Technician Pluses were issued after the change.

The end result is that since 1991 the Technician class has consisted of a mixture of code-tested and noncodetested amateurs. Since 2007 they have all had the same privileges. However it is an error to assume that the growth or decrease of the Technician or Technician Plus is due solely to the 1991 changes.

The number of current Technician Pluses is now less than 350, down from over 128,000 ten years ago.

There's more; those are just the high points.

Now for some numbers:

---

Year End 1948 (from QST March 1949, referencing FCC tabulation)

76,666 operators, 77,338 stations.

---

1963 (from: QST December 1963, referencing Radio Amateur Callbook, Winter edition)

Operators in CONUS:
Novice: 16,795
Technician: 58,656
Conditional: 40,259
General: 95,250
Advanced: 40,296
Extra: 3,164

Operators outside CONUS (AK, HI, possessions, not broken down by license class): 4,167

Total Operators: 258,587

---

End of September 1978 (from QST January 1979, referencing FCC issued numbers)

Novice: 62,930
Technician: 68,281
General: 117,805
Advanced: 82,454
Extra: 21,792
Total Operators: 353,262

---

Year End 1978 (from QST April 1979)

Novice: 62,856
Technician: 68,738
General: 118,808
Advanced: 83,436
Extra: 22,498
Total Operators: 356,336

---

January 31, 1984 (from QST April 1984)

Novice: 85,482
Technician: 77,518
General: 118,023
Advanced: 95,782
Extra: 34,674
Total Operators: 411,479

---

September 30 1985 / September 30 1986 (from QST December 1986)

Novice: 76,337 / 79,107
Technician: 83,117 / 86,148
General: 117,340 / 116,864
Advanced: 97,825 / 98,195
Extra: 37,968 / 40,768
Total Operators: 412,587 / 421,082

---

May 31, 1987 (from QST September 1987)

Novice: 86,175
Technician: 87,631
General: 115,045
Advanced: 97,880
Extra: 42,136
Total Operators: 428,867

---

March/April/May 1988 (from QST August 1988)

Novice: 82,705 / 82,780 / 82.675
Technician: 95,256 / 95,810 / 96,888
General: 113,900 / 113,623 / 113,648
Advanced: 98,505 / 98,403 / 98,493
Extra: 44,617 / 44,819 / 45,208
Total Operators: 434,983 / 435.435 / 436,912

---

1993 Radio Amateur's Callbook

Novice: 99,193
Technician: 184,392
General: 122,735
Advanced: 106,964
Extra: 59,382

Total Operators: 572,666

---

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by KB6QXM on December 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, N2EY.

Good research. Well written. Good Job.
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by N2EY on December 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM writes:

"Good research. Well written. Good Job."

TNX, but it wasn't much, really.

What would be really cool IMHO would be to get the numbers from all of the various Callbooks down through the years and put them on a website. Complete with graphs to show the changes.

73 de Jim, N2EY

 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by K6LHA on December 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM, applauding "CW," wrote on December 15, 2009:

"Jim, N2EY. Good research. Well written. Good Job."

In reality, his numbers have NO bearing on the three years following the elimination of morse code testing in USA amateur radio license examinations. That three year period was stated as such in the title of this article. He could just as well have cribbed statistics beginning with the creation of the FCC in 1934 and be just as "applicable."

At NO time since the 'Restructuring' of USA amateur radio NINE YEARS AGO has there been any stoppage of the ABILITY and OPTION of ALL to use International Morse Code on USA amateur radio bands. There have been regulations FORBIDDING modes/modulations other than "CW" in most USA amateur radio bands, yet "CW" is allowed almost anywhere in USA amateur radio bands NOW. The only "elimination" was to EXCLUSIVITY on some HF bands such as expansion of voice modes in the 80-75m band nearly a decade ago. Legally any USA radio amateur can operate "CW" in the upper part of 80m band. It is IN the USA (FCC) regulations.

The curious part of these "CW Bigotry" displays by a few long-timers overlooks the legal ABILITY and OPTION for *ANY* USA radio amateur licensee to USE OOK CW as they wish, REGARDLESS of whether or not they tested for International Morse Code cognition in the USA at any time in the past. NO code test is required to USE the mode of code, any class! [amazing, but true]

A few barracks lawyers follow the ARRL standard in "sinning by omission." For example, a constant 'rebuke' is "Since 2000 Technician-Plus have been renewed as Technician." N2EY uses that often, almost always after I have made some remark in amateur radio forums that mentions Technician class. :-) Jimmy never states that, of the SIX classes of USA amateur radio licenses existing prior to mid-2000, THREE are NOT being issued as NEW. A Renewal of an existing license is NOT a NEW license grant. According to FCC regulations, NO NEW Novice licenses were granted in the last 9 1/2 years; NO NEW Advanced class licenses were granted in the last 9 1/2 years. All of that has been KNOWN for 10 years since the Memorandum Report and Order establishing 'Restructuring' was published in December 1999. Constantly repeating it year after year does no good, just wastes archive space on amateur radio forums.

A few others, vainly looking for something to be negative about, cite things that were "overlooked" such as AGE of licensees. Since that data was not available through the sole source of USA amateur radio license data (the FCC publicly-available ULS database), it could not be shown NOW.

While PAST history may be "interesting" to SOME, let's face it, the FCC was created in 1934 and is 75 years old this year. It is the ONLY civil radio regulatory agency in the USA. To argue some nebulous connection to regulations of the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, etc. for "keeping CERTAIN regulations (forever and ever)" in the USA amaetur radio service is invalid, facetious, and quite a bit ludicrous. The insistance of some that CERTAIN regulations be KEPT because those 'somebodies' met regulations of LONG AGO is merely self-serving and vain on their part. They think they can posture and preen because anyone who was involved in radio communications a half-century or more ago is extremely rare on this forum. <shrug>

It does no good for the USA amateur radio service to MAINTAIN and NOURISH the deep divide in the service created by these long-timers who favor CERTAIN modes and modulations. That is the antithesis of "keeping up the state of the art." It is regressing or stagnation of skills despite their claimed proficiency. For example, in the more recent "Mad Scientist" article on e-ham there was an opening remark about "EMCOM weenies." "Weenies" is a colloquial pejorative, in this case directed as a sneering remark about newcomers. If it was intended as "humor," then it failed a test of applicability to a large group such as over-700-thousand licensed radio amateurs in the USA.

USA amateur radio regulations had a MAJOR CHANGE in the year 2000. The number of NEW license classes was changed from SIX to just THREE and International Morse Code cognition rate dropped to 5 words per minute equivalent maximum for ALL class examinations needing code testing. That came after a long, protracted Comment period (extended twice) on NPRM 98-143 and a final decision published by the FCC in December 1999. That was NINE YEARS AGO. The decision was LAW.

Following the Report and Order on 'Restructuring' came no less than EIGHTEEN Petitions, all aimed at trying to repeal Restructuring or to change it EVEN MORE, most regressing to the state of older regulations. Those might have been well-intentioned for a clique(s) but did not address the desires for maintenance of regulations for present and future citizens, licensed in anything or not. The FCC manages to explain their decisions clearly in every Memorandum Report and Order. That a particular decision "goes against" some clique is only unfortunate for them. That clique LOST and does not have grace or manners to accept such loss.

What appears to be the most "damaging" to the collective prides of long-timers was NPRM 05-235 released on 19 July 2005. Its main item was the elimination of ALL code testing for any license class. NPRM 05-235 gathered 3,994 Comments and Replies to Comments plus TWO MORE Petitions for Reconsideration that came in after the close of Comments on 25 Nov 05. Those two Petitions by Mssrs Ward and Gordon were both dismissed. Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 was published on 19 December 2006 with an effective date to be established later. That date of cessation of code testing was 23 Feb 07. That was TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO. The decision is LAW.

The FCC does NOT have any charter to nourish the prideful hunger of long-timers seeking to keep their braggadoccio well-fed indefinitely. That anyone passed a federal test in some skill a long time ago does not mean it defines these individuals as being superior to ordinary folk for eternity. In NO way is their opinion somehow "better" than ordinary folk, nor is it imprimateur of their being some kind of "boss" who can establish "what is good for all." Stubbornly, so many think that some or all of those syndromes do not apply to their own selfish illness. Thus the deep divide is maintained in USA amateur radio, true hobbyists on one-hand, the vocal bigots who want desperately to CONTROL amateur radio in their own image on the other side. We cannot have it both ways.
=========================
There IS some hope for the code cliques and those who demand regression to 'their' standards. Simply craft a well-worded Petition to the FCC seeking to change regulations. That is a lawful process, has been done often in the past. Such a Petition may or may not be disseminated for public commentary, depending on the opinion of the FCC. However, there were 18 Petitions up before public scrutiny between establishment of 'Restructuring' and the NPRM on code test elimination. Several of those Petitions were a cross-purposes of other Petitions. Two more Petitions were disseminated AFTER the code test elimination law, both demanding a return of code testing. Those two ('Ward' and 'Gordon') were eventually dismissed.

The fact that a Petition is published does NOT mean it is universally liked/worshipped/damned. It is merely up in the public eye, a public that does NOT share your divine wisdom nor guru-guidance. One has to be mentally STRONG to put up a Peition and then face the consequences of public opinion.
==========================
Cliques can forget the Petition idea and just sit in forums and newsgroups and bitch and moan for ever, damning newcomers via all sorts of pejoratives. That only reinforces evidence of continuing division in amateur radio. That division was there earlier than 15 years ago and shows no sign of ceasing. The pollyanish phrasing "amateur brotherhood" is a hypocritical nonsense statement. It is a vaporous myth.
==========================
Fair warning: Code cliques will eventually be outnumberd. As of this morning (15 Dec 09) there were 344,455 Technician licensees out of a total 716,779 individual licensees in the USA. Just that ONE class has 48.06 percent of ALL individual licensees. In the last 12 months 30,865 NEW licensees were added to the USA total but 26,727 EXPIRED. The net gain in numbers is not much but it is more fantasy voyaging to presume those newcomers are all favoring morse mode.

AF6AY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by KB6QXM on December 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim N2EY wrote:

What would be really cool IMHO would be to get the numbers from all of the various Callbooks down through the years and put them on a website. Complete with graphs to show the changes.

Jim,

I will build the website for you, if you desire.

Let me know.

73
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by N2EY on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM:

Thanks!

The information posted is a start, but I don't have lots of old Callbooks.

For information back to about 1996, the AH0A website has plenty. Maybe AH0A would consider adding historic data?

--

There have been times when the number of US hams grew rapidly, such as during the early 1930s, the 1950s, and the 1970s, and other times when the numbers grew slowly or not at all, such as the mid-1960s and the late 1990s. All sorts of factors influence growth, not just the license requirements. In fact, there is sometimes a negative correlation in that increasing the requirements correlated with more, not less, growth.

As previously mentioned, the rules connected with the licenses must be known and understood to make logical conclusions about the growth as well. For example, the number of Novice licenses was very small until the 1970s, when the license became 5 year renewable. With a 1 or 2 year nonrenewable license, Novices were under considerable pressure to upgrade before the license ran out. Making the license 5 year renewable removed that pressure, so the numbers grew.

The Conditional had a sizable percentage of US amateurs back in the 1950s and 1960s in part because, for about a decade after 1953, it was available to anyone who was more than 75 miles from a quarterly exam point. This included a lot of Americans. But in 1964 the "Conditional distance" was increased from 75 to 175 miles, and the number of exam points increased, so that very little of CONUS was "Conditional territory". The number of Conditionals then began to fall. And one of the major reasons for resistance to the "incentive licensing" changes of the late 1960s was the burden of travel it would impose on hams who didn't live near exam points.

Another rules-change effect is vanity calls. Normally, an amateur license can only be renewed in the last 90 days before expiration, or in the two-year grace period after expiration. (FCC defines "expiration" as the end of the 10 year license term, not the final removal from the database after the grace period ends).

But a vanity call can be requested at any time, and when one is issued, there's an automatic renewal. Changes to the vanity-call rules usually result in a surge of applications, which can distort the whole how-long-to-expiration picture.

Since April 15, 2000, the Novice, Technician Plus and Advanced licenses have been closed to new issues. This is the second time this has happened to the Advanced; the first time was at the end of 1952. And just like the first time, the number of Advanceds is dropping very slowly compared to the other classes. After almost a decade of no new Advanceds, their numbers are down to about 60% of the May 2000 total. Novices are down to about a third of their May 2000 total, indicating lots of cancellations and upgrades.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the last Novice and Advanced class licenses to go away, either from upgrade or cancellation. Some Advanceds have vowed never to upgrade to Extra, so it may be a very long time.

The fastest decline of all has been the Technician Plus, but that's understandable because of the rules change of April 2000. Not only are no new Technician Pluses being issued, but when an existing Tech Plus is submitted for renewal or vanity call, the FCC changes the class to Technician. This auto-reclassing reduces the number of Tech Pluses and increases the number of Techs in a way that is different from all other license classes. Also, any Novice who passes the Tech written gets a Technician, not a Technicians Plus.

So the Technician class isn't just growing because of new hams, but because of upgrades from Novice and automatic class change from Technician Plus. This is almost identical to what happened to the General back in the 1970s when the Conditional was phased out.

IOW, if you look at the number of Technicians without reference to the rules changes, it can (erroneously) appear that their numbers are growing only because lots of new hams are getting that license. But in fact there's a built-in additional source of Technicians from upgraded Novices and reclassified Tech Pluses. In fact, if you look at the combined number of Technicians and Technician Pluses over time, it hardly changes at all, and is actually down from where it was in 2000, in both total and percentages.

All of this is a minor side issue to the really important things:

How many *active* amateurs are there?

What are they doing on the air?

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by NI0C on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY writes:
"How many *active* amateurs are there?
What are they doing on the air?"

Here's some more questions:

How many licensed amateurs spend their hobby time in online discussions such as these, and what are they writing about?

Are they assisting others in some way in the actual conduct of on the air radio operations, or are they merely stuck in a loop writing over and over again about licensing requirements and their own experiences with same?

There are literally thousands of words written above, and we've heard most of it before. Only a handful of people read this garbage. I'm not one of them. I'm having too much fun on 160m CW this winter.

73,
Chuck NI0C

 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by W5ESE on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
> There have been times when the number of US hams
> grew rapidly, such as during the early 1930s,
> the 1950s, and the 1970s, and other times when
> the numbers grew slowly or not at all, such as
> the mid-1960s and the late 1990s. All sorts of
> factors influence growth, not just the license
> requirements.

Here's data from the late 20's to early 30's.
The growth was quite spectacular.

My source is the book '200 Meters and Down'.

1928 16928
1929 16829
1930 18994
1931 22739
1932 30374
1933 41555
1934 46390
1935 45561
1936 46850

By 1934-1935, the growth spurt had come to an end.

The book cited several reasons for the growth:

o term of the license extended to 3 years
o separate license required for portable work
o increase in leisure time owing to unemployment
o decline in cost of equipment between 1929 to 1934
($150 -> $50)
o migration from the shortwave listening hobby

73
Scott W5ESE
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by KB9MWR on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The most alarming trend I noticed in the last three years was that most of the new hams in my area have no electronics background or interest. Most of the new guys are community emergency response ARRL boyscouts.

These numbers mean little to me. They are far more important to the ARRL's membership department and for the commercial ham manufactures, etc.

What is the average age of hams today? And what is their interest in ham radio?

Both of these questions you can't tell by parsing a FCC database.... Both are also the result of ham radio PR from a national level.
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by N2EY on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5ESE: Interesting numbers!

Couple more factors about the early 1930s boom:

- back then, licensing records were all by hand, so a license that reached expiration might not be immediately removed from the files.

- With such rapid growth, the "old timers" were completely outnumbered by the newcomers. (Of course in 1932 there had only been licensing for 20 years!)

- The World Radio Conference of 1927 was a turning point for Amateur Radio. It was at that conference that Amateur Radio received worldwide treaty recognition as a separate and distinct radio service, with its own bands and regulations written into the treaty. There was also a uniform callsign arrangement, so that each country's stations had definitive prefixes.

But that recognition came at a price. The new rules, which went into effect in 1929, required much cleaner signals than many ham rigs of the 1920s could produce without modification. Pure DC notes and other standards became mandatory requirements. Often a transmitter needed major rework or a complete rebuild to meet the "1929 rules". Morse Code and written testing became mandatory for all countries that issued amateur licenses.

The US ham bands were cut down considerably by the new treaty. 40 went from 1000 kc to 300, 20 went from 2000 kc to 400. 30, 17, 15 and 12 meters weren't ham bands at all back then.

You'd think that the higher transmitter standards plus the narrowed bands would have a put a real damper on growth, but the opposite happened.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by K6LHA on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C wrote on December 16, 2009:

"How many licensed amateurs spend their hobby time in online discussions such as these, and what are they writing about?"

As one out of nearly three quarter million USA amateur radio licensees, I wrote up a small study of the changes in USA amateur radio classes since the elimination of the code test from all USA amateur radio license examinations. Then I've replied to ten kinds of disrespect from long-timers who complain bitterly about us "newcomers not doing exactly as THEY say we SHOULD!" :-)
.................
NI0C: "Are they assisting others in some way in the actual conduct of on the air radio operations, or are they merely stuck in a loop writing over and over again about licensing requirements and their own experiences with same?"

Are you a JAG (Judge Amateur General) who has authority under the UCAJ (Un-unified Code of Amateur
Justice)? Are you going to charge some of us with a violation of "Article 31" of the UCAJ and have us tried before a Summery Court of "winter-haired elders in amateurism?" :-)

Ya know, "elder statesman," I examined the Regulations of USA Amateur Radio service very carefully prior to my license tests of 2007. Ya know what? NOWHERE in those regulations does it say a licensee MUST operate an RF emitter within USA-allocated amateur bands for any length of time during their 10-year license term. [amazing but true!] We aren't even required to make a LOG to show authorities except for Spread Spectrum. Not even to the Raddio Kops!

Feel free to put on your shiny Raddio Kop shield and have the Raddio Poe-lice hustle me down to the lock-up (or is it 'lock-out'?). I am sure one of the very amateur Poe-lice will snarl "You'll never QSO in this town again!!!" :-)

Go ahead, make my day...:-)
.................
NI0C: "There are literally thousands of words written above, and we've heard most of it before. Only a handful of people read this garbage. I'm not one of them. I'm having too much fun on 160m CW this winter."

Then WHY are YOU here? Do you have some bipolar disorder that compels you to jump into forums and snarl at all you don't like? That is NO way to "help" the "cause" of USA amateur radio, is it?
=================
Well, now, you just go back to 160m "CW" and have ever so much fun. Nobody is stopping you. Odd it is that you jump in here decry others writing about regulations in here and then call it "garbage."

Gosh, it must be that I am such a "newcomer" to radio and don't "have respect for my radio elders!" Yeah, that's it! I'm a mere 77 who started in HF radio 56 1/2 years ago as a militry professional. I'm such a "beginner!" We "beginners" should all be respectful of all you old-timers busy going back to the non-future past in amateurism...because YOU say we should. <shrug>

Have a wonderful Holiday time Grinch.

AF6AY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by K6LHA on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5ESE wrote on December 16, 2009:

"Here's data from the late 20's to early 30's. The growth was quite spectacular. My source is the book '200 Meters and Down'."

"1928 16928"

I'm sure that is "interesting" to historians. Feel free to compare the USA amateur radio regulations of 1928 to those of 2008, a mere 80 years later. :-)

If a comparison is needed, research the WHOLE of 'radio' not just amateurs. You will find that 'radio' had just BEGUN to expand in other radio services. 'Radio' is only 113 years old, first demonstrated publicly as a communications medium in 1896. In Italy and Russia that same year...by a well-to-do Italian entrepreneur and a Russian academician.
.................
W5ESE: "By 1934-1935, the growth spurt had come to an end."

By July 2, 2003, the growth spurt in MODERN USA amateur radio licensees, all classes totalled, had come to an end. That peak has not even been caught up with by 16 Dec 09 (6 1/2 years later) and is still 9,962 shy of that peak. [source: www.hamdata.com on-line "fccstats" page and includes Club licenses in 2003 and 2009]
=================
As far as the technology of 'radio' there is no applicable comparison because the gap due to the exploding states of the art of all electronics is so great by now that a comparison would be ludicrous. I can cite several sources for the simple reason I've been IN the electronics industry for so long and don't need any "official" ARRL publications to prove it.

Some examples: Vacuum tubes were still in their childhood in 1928 and costly in small quantities. The term "semiconductor" wasn't in the electronics lexicon. The only semiconductor-like diodes were the Galena crystal detector (a form of point-contact diode), the selenium rectifier with its wonderful aroma when overheated, and a cadmium sulphide "photocell." Frequency control in amateur radios consisted of relying on the data from quartz crystal manufacturer's measurements or by L-C "wavemeters." Note: The Phase-Locked Loop had to wait until 1932 and its invention in France. The frequency region above 30 MHz might as well have been Neverland for radio amateurs due to its "strange, complex requirements."

Compare that to 2008. Transistors were then a mature product and Integrated Circuits made many, many features/options available to cover most of the allocated frequency ranges with rather absolute accuracy down to 1 Hz increments. The Analog Devices AD9851 can provide the QRPer with selectable frequencies down to better than 1 Hz in a single IC and at very low DC power demand. AM voice can be emitted using the very same RF power amplifier used for "CW" or Data modes; it is the standard in ready-built amateur radios and does not require a large audio power amplifier to "modulate" a Class C PA stage. FM radio was proven as a communications mode by commercial designers prior to WWII. The USA has NO amateur radio band allocations below the bottom of the AM BC band yet the Europeans have had such for years. Amateur band allocations have long since been approved on up to the 300 GHz international allocation limit and ready-built VHF-UHF transceivers are on the market to go above the 70cm band. Data modes can easily go as high as USA amateur allocations allow thanks to modern solid-state circuitry and devices. There are a (few) VNAs or Vector Network Analyzer that yield very good complex impedance-admittance data on any frequency from the bottom of MF on up to UHF. Anyone can design, build, innovate anything they want now with assurance that lumped constant components are fully characterized in frequency. Very few do and their non-advocates trumpet the "Back to the Future" theme of "pioneering radio" (?) with "CW" on low HF bands in the new millennium.
..................
W5ESE: "The book cited several reasons for the growth:

o term of the license extended to 3 years"

80 years later (even 70 years later) the term was 10 years plus a 2-year grace period for renewal. NO ONE granted a new license in the last 9 years requires ANY testing in their whole life as long as they make mail or e-mail renewals within the regulated time.

"o separate license required for portable work"

No such thing needed now, but then that regulation would have been imposed by a predecessor to the FCC. The FCC was created in 1934. The concept of "portability" with a radio of tube architecture in the 1928-1934 era is ludicrous. :-)

"o increase in leisure time owing to unemployment"

The GREAT DEPRESSION in the USA began in 1928. To most in here it is merely a historical footnote. If they heard stories of it in their families it was from grandparents and great-grandparents. The unemployment rate reached 28% at its worst, roughly three out of ten of the available workforce. Yes, one could say it was "LEISURE TIME" from the comfort of being well-fed NOW.

"o decline in cost of equipment between 1929 to 1934 ($150 -> $50)"

:-) There was no such thing as "war surplus" radios available then as it was after WWII. I don't know if "dumpsters" (even close to the modern design) were available then for amateurs to scrounge for parts. As I remember it, there were just plain garbage dumps or burning pits in northern Illinois back then. :-)

Had you mentioned 'radio' to anyone in the public THEN they would have thought of the then-new home entertainment medium of BROADCASTING. Few in the public knew about amateur radio THEN just as few in the general public know about amateur radio NOW. There are lots of copies of old radio equipment catalogs on the Internet that cover that time, PRICES included. I've downloaded a few just for old-radio references. Its a curiosity, nothing more.

How would you describe those 1928 receivers insofar as "features," stripping away the marketing laguage phrases? Were they even comparable? I don't think so, but then, despite being born in that era, I have no love or affection for it. My radio world is not limited to just broadband AM and "CW" (with a BFO).
................
"o migration from the shortwave listening hobby"

To HAVE a listening hobby requires stations there to listen to. In the 1928-1934 period AM broadcasting on MF had expanded to take on a semblance of a mature entertainment industry. It enabled the fledgling "radio parts industry" in the USA to grow prior to WWII. There really wasn't much to listen to on the "shortwave" (HF) bands yet since Europe was getting close to a shooting war and most of the European SW BC stations were oriented towards their own languages for coverage to their nations citizens in colonies or embassies elsewhere or to their maritime crews. No SW BC listener could decode commercial SSB data sent along the newly-established message carriers. Expansion into other-country broadcasting (i.e., to the general public) would not really become large until AFTER 1945 with most of the hostilites in Europe and Asia much reduced. Note: It will take considerable historical data searching to find ANY period of time when hostilities have actually ceased worldwide between 1945 and now! As a matter of fact, "SW BC" is now available through commsats, some of which require subscriptions for downlinking, some countries abandoning "SW" (HF) broadcasting.
====================
The 1928-1934 time period may be "interesting" to some but so few here have LIVED IN it, let alone lived through it that its "discussion" is limited to quibbling about a few "official" ARRL books or texts available elsewhere which the ARRL doesn't want to talk about (it can't resell them to make a profit). There is data about that era in electronics industry trade publications but those are about (gasp! horrors!) "professional electronics!" :-)

73, Len AF6AY (two years older than the FCC)
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by N2EY on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C:

y'know, I think you have a very good point

I can't do 160 but I can do 80 CW.

Maybe I'll see you there.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by WA4KCN on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W5ESE: Interesting numbers!

- Couple more factors about the early 1930s boom:

- back then, licensing records were all by hand, so a license that reached expiration might not be immediately removed from the files.

- With such rapid growth, the "old timers" were completely outnumbered by the newcomers. (Of course in 1932 there had only been licensing for 20 years!)

- The World Radio Conference of 1927 was a turning point for Amateur Radio. It was at that conference that Amateur Radio received worldwide treaty recognition as a separate and distinct radio service, with its own bands and regulations written into the treaty. There was also a uniform callsign arrangement, so that each country's stations had definitive prefixes.

But that recognition came at a price. The new rules, which went into effect in 1929, required much cleaner signals than many ham rigs of the 1920s could produce without modification. Pure DC notes and other standards became mandatory requirements. Often a transmitter needed major rework or a complete rebuild to meet the "1929 rules". Morse Code and written testing became mandatory for all countries that issued amateur licenses.

The US ham bands were cut down considerably by the new treaty. 40 went from 1000 kc to 300, 20 went from 2000 kc to 400. 30, 17, 15 and 12 meters weren't ham bands at all back then.

You'd think that the higher transmitter standards plus the narrowed bands would have a put a real damper on growth, but the opposite happened.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Jim have you considered writing a book on the history of amateur radio picking up where 200 Meters And Down left off. I think it would sell.

73 Russ
WA4KCN
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by NI0C on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To Jum, N2EY:

Normally, I'm available on 80m (40, too) during the Winter months. However, this winter, I've chosen to put all my eggs in the Top Band basket in order to have a better antenna that will handle more power.

Top Band is experiencing some periods of outstanding propagation this year, and I'm having a good time. For example-- two QSO's with CQ zone 18, and at least a shot at zone 23. (I've never even heard these zones on 80m.)

TF4M reports making first-time ever qso's between Hawaii and Iceland on Top Band. He's got an outstanding website with audio clips; I even heard a recording of my qso with him there.

Here at latitude 38+ degrees, even during the Winter solstice, we have a few hours of daylight available for a break from DX'ing top band and amusement on Top Bnad.

Jim, your contributions concerning licensing history(as well as W5ESE's) are appreciated.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by NI0C on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Jim, sorry for the typo on your name, and make that "amusement on eHam."
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by KG4TKC on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C, Chuck,thanks for the comments and info. The info on top band is very interesting,will be tuning up there a little bit more this winter. Your comments were spot-on.73.
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers  
by KD7YVV on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I look at it this way.
If I can find someone to ragchew with, I'm happy.
There are people who just get the license and never do
anything with it.
I had fun with the Lake Washington Ham Club this past
Field Day. Lots of people trying different things,
different antennas etc. etc.
My eyesight isn't what it used to be and I don't own an
electron microscope to see the molecular sized components
used today. I do like reading a lot of the older QST
magazines and seeing the different projects that were
considered state of the art at the time.
Ham radio isn't only what you make of it for yourself,
it's what you give back to the hobby by way of bringing
others into what is a very diverse pastime.
As far as emergency communications go, I've taken the
courses, but for me, emcomm is not just radio.
Here in WA, we have to worry about avalanches, volcanoes,
tsunamis, flooding, earthquakes.
There's nothing wrong with being prepared, and knowledge
is power. To paraphrase James T. Kirk.....
Give me a good band, lots of sunspots, and a good antenna and radio to tune them by.......
And don't forget the hot chocolate for those cold
winter nights!

--KD7YVV, Kirkland, WA
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers & History  
by N2EY on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA4KCN: I've thought about writing such a book. Maybe when time permits.

Until then, you can read a three-part history of US amateur radio licensing from 1950 to 2000 that I wrote about 9 years ago:

http://www.w6vrc.org/Archive/histmenu.html

is the main menu; select parts 1, 2 or 3 from there.

---

NI0C: I have only one Top Band QSO in my log, but it was quite memorable!

Thanks for the kind words. You may find the licensing history referred to above to be of interest.

---

KD7YVV: Field Day is a favorite of mine; been doing FD since 1967.

I think the phrase "ham radio is what you make of it for yourself" includes what you give back. IOW the person who gives back good stuff will find they get more out of ham radio.

"Give me a good band, lots of sunspots, and a good antenna and radio to tune them by......."

I *like* that!

"And don't forget the hot chocolate for those cold
winter nights!"

Earl Grey tea for me...

73 & TNX all de Jim, N2EY
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by WA2ONH on December 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY Jim

--- and your Fifty Years of Amateur Radio Licensing (1950-2000) History Part Four is at:

http://www.qsl.net/arrlsb/Digest/Pages/story04.html

Good reading!

73 de WA2ONH Charlie
 
RE: USA Amateur Radio History  
by K6LHA on December 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Beginning back in 1996, Bill Continelli, W2XOY, started writing "Wayback Machine," a column for the Schenectady Museum Amateur Radio Asscoiation and continued that through 2003 in 35 parts. It had been carried on www.ham-shack.com but that website went commercial. The same material can be found at:

www.qsl.net/ecara/wayback/main.html

That is the linking page for all 35 parts beginning in 1896 and on through 2007 (with an update elsewhere). It is well written and presents a more dynamic history, an "easy read" in colloquial review terms. The "Wayback Machine" columns have also been reprinted in the Marin ARC newsletter out of San Rafael, CA. Some of those "Wayback" columns' material has also been found on audio and Twitter sites. Bill Continelli retired from the IRS after 30 years in 2009 and formed his own Tax business in upper New York state and still contributes material to several amateur-interest websites.

There is a great deal of HISTORY on the subject of radio, all radio services, available on the Internet and in print. Rewriting of past material is just rewriting. It is better to MAKE history than cribbing available sources.

AF6AY
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers & History  
by WA4KCN on December 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers & History Reply
by N2EY on December 17, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY - I've thought about writing such a book. Maybe when time permits.

Until then, you can read a three-part history of US amateur radio licensing from 1950 to 2000 that I wrote about 9 years ago:
__
Thanks Jim I look forward to reading. My interest in ham radio centers on the history of our service including licensing progression and technological change through the years. A well written book on the more recent history since 200 Meters is needed and no doubt you are the person to write it.

73 Russ
WA4KCN
 
RE: US Amateur Radio License Numbers & History  
by N2EY on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA4KCN: As WA2ONH has kindly pointed out, it's actually in four parts. (Different websites broke it up differently).

IMHO, the challenge to writing a history of Amateur Radio isn't just getting all the info and writing it up, but deciding what to leave out. There is so much to document!

For example, I could easily double or triple the size of that four-part article on licensing by going into more detail about the rules changes over the years, with more dates, details, etc. Then there's the impact of equipment changes, Sputnik, incentive licensing, cb, Vietnam, the 1960s counterculture and much more.

Maybe someday. Thanks for the kind words.

73 de Jim, N2EY

 
Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by K6LHA on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Those who did not like how present history turned out wanted to Change The Subject!

Make no mistake about it, the past dozen years have had a SIGNIFICANT change in USA amateur radio regulations, each easily on-par or greater than "Incentive Licensing" of four decades ago. The first was the decision in 1999 to enact "Restructuring." The second was the decision to eliminate all code testing for USA amateur licenses in 2006. Note I said decisions, not enactment in law. The die was cast once the decisions were published in the Federal Register.

Many, many, many long-time-ago tested USA amateurs were livid, outraged at this terrible thing that was a "personal insult" to THEM. In one way it resembled a highly-amplified horror and anger that surfaced in 1958 when the FCC "took away the 11m HAM band that was 'rightfully' THEIRS" and "gave it away" to ordinary citizens to use as Class C and D Citizens Band. All that anger and resentment still lives since "CB" is still considered a "hateful" thing by so many amateurs and its users are still almost evil incarnate. :-)

Conditioned Bigotry of the hatred against CB still lives after 51 years of its creation. The same Bigotry against the (hack, ptui) "no-coders" will probably live on a century from now. Bigotry is hard to eradicate. It is an emotional state deep inside minds, used as a personal refuge, a surcease of personal frustration by taking it all out on some target. Those targets "are not like US!" cry the bigots (the only ones who know the "truth"). :-)

One way to alleviate some individual frustrations are to CHANGE THE SUBJECT. Yes. Retreat to the PAST. There is SAFETY there because all of then is KNOWN. There is safety there...so few were even alive when the first USA radio regulations were made 97 years ago. They can juggle data and events in perfect safety, have endless arguments over little past "reasons" and sound oh-so-schmardt about it even if they had NO hand in causing those events. The long-ago past is a wonderful place to HIDE. It is a wonderful place to vicariously "live" AS IF one was "there."

No thanks, I've "been there, done that" and would rather look to the future. <shrug> :-)

My little study, never intended as a pretentious work, was simply to try looking towards the future. To try gauging the public's response to those noteworthy FCC decisions of 1999 and 2006. Reaction was as expected. Hard-core ultra-conservative hams just didn't like the outcome since those that applied for licenses were "not like Them, did not do as They had to do." The crowd-pleasing types, trying to guage which way to go, generally sided with the uber-conservatives. In the last dozen years the sky literally fell on them yet the rest of us were unscathed. Only a few respondents expressed independent opinions; those seemed to think for themselves, unaffected by any need to go with conservative group-think. If anyone dared venture into opinions on the immediate future, it was not apparent.

If anyone still thinks that PAST decisions in USA amateur radio are "prologue" then it is a gross mistake, a wrong definition. Since just 75 years ago and the creation of the FCC, USA amateur radio regulations have been constantly EVOLVING, CHANGING...just as they have with every other radio service. Is history "important?" Or is it just a record of what went on before NOW?

WE are living in the PRESENT. Most of us have lived through the last dozen years of noteworthy, remarkable CHANGE. I daresay THAT is "important." Not because we lived through it but for the profound changes it made in USA amateur radio regulatory law. Like it or not, changes were made. Did any of these changes affect any long-timer or uber-conservative operating privileges? Nary a one, hardly any impact at all. Then WHY all the denunciatory labels and epithets thrown out against change? Sorry, no reasonable person can accept individual's personal feelings about changes that apply to all near-three-quarter-million licensees and uncountable future licensees. Long-timers are NOT "in charge" despite their implicit demands that they are...:-)

I'm not disparaging those who like to find out about long-past events in radio. It IS interesting to many, but it is not a model for the future we are in NOW. Just don't dismiss current history unfolding before you in order to live vicariously in the past.

As an old anonymous tagline went, "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yestersday." :-)

Len, AF6AY
 
RE: Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by KB6QXM on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
In reading Len's left leaning comments, I'll bet he believes that the United States should have open borders also! How about Socialism also? One world government?

All of these ideas that the far left leaning population is pushing for now!!

Mark my word, the next incentive licensing that will come out because of the politically correct FCC and greedy ARRL will be a no-test license. That will be the first step. They will sit back and see how that goes over and then they will eliminate all testing to generate a "1 license does all" as the FCC and the ARRL knees will collapse because they do not want to exclude anyone.

The license exams are so watered down now, that they are basically giving away the licenses now.

What is next?
 
What Next?  
by N2EY on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM writes: "the next incentive licensing that will come out because of the politically correct FCC and greedy ARRL will be a no-test license....

The license exams are so watered down now, that they are basically giving away the licenses now."

Well, maybe it seems that way.

But let's look at the history...

Before the restructuring of 1951, there were just three classes of US amateur radio license: A, B and C.

Class B and Class C were identical except that a Class B was the result of testing at an FCC office and a Class C was "by mail". Both required 13 wpm Morse Code (sending and receiving) plus a written exam of about 50 questions that included multiple choice, essay, draw-a-diagram and show-your-calculations questions.

Class C was only available to those who were shut-ins or who lived more than 125 miles from a quarterly exam point. If a Class C moved to within 125 miles, or recovered from whatever made the person a shut-in, s/he had 90 days to retest or lose the license.

Class A required having a Class B or C for at least a year, plus an additional 100 question written exam on technical stuff. Class A was only available by testing in front of an FCC examiner. If the person trying for Class A had a Class C license, s/he had to pass the Class B exams all over again in front of an FCC examiner before being allowed to even try the Class A.

All US hams had access to all amateur frequencies at full power, but only Class A could operate 'phone on the bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz.

And yet 9-year-old Jane, W3OVV earned a Class B in 1948. Front cover of QST, December 1948.

In 1951 the license structure was changed to add the Novice, Technician and Extra licenses, and to rename the A, B and C as Advanced, General and Conditional.

There was outrage in some circles because the Novice allowed newcomers on the amateur bands with just a 5 wpm code test and a 20 question multiple-choice exam that was extremely basic.

The Novice brought in a lot of new hams, and among them were lots of younger people. As in teenagers, which then as now were considered in some circles to have all sorts of bad habits, but who mostly were just good kids interested in radio.

Then in 1953-54 it got worse. FCC made the Novice and Technician by-mail only, and removed the requirement of retest-if-you-move-or-recover for Conditional. Even more shocking, full operating privileges were granted to all US amateurs except Novices and Technicians, so there was no reason to go for Advanced or Extra.

That brought even more outrage! At least one op took to calling CQ on 75 with the qualifier "no kids, no lids, no space cadets, Class A operators only".

There were a lot of mistakes made by the newcomers - so many that in 1956 W6DTY wrote a classic article called "Your Novice Accent", describing how to do it right.

And yet over time the vast majority of those Novice newcomers learned the right ways and went on to do great things in Amateur Radio. Their numbers caused US amateur radio to grow all through the 1950s and into the 1960s. The growth was so much that the US ham population grew faster than the US population overall, despite the baby boom! Many of those Novices became the Old Timers of today.

KB6QXM: "What is next?"

I don't think anything, at least for a while. There are no proposals to change the license structure in front of the FCC now, nor have there been for a while.

If you take a good hard look at the license question pools from the standpoint of someone who has a background in electronics, they look dead-simple except for the regulations, which are really a matter of memorization. Nobody who really knows basic radio should need to study for any US amateur exam except for the rules and regs.

But if you look at them from the standpoint of someone who *doesn't* have a background in electronics, they look a lot different! Lots of new stuff there for the non-technical person.

The really big difference is that, in the bad old days, we didn't have access to the actual Q&A. Which is a change in test method, not material. But remember *why* that change took place: FCC wanted to save money by not doing the tests themselves any more.

Look at all the FCc rules changes we've seen in the past 30-odd years and consider whether they cost FCC money or saved money and you'll see the point.

I don't see a no-test license as a possibility. First off, it violates the ITU-R treaty. Second, and more important, the bad experience of cb is more than enough reason not to do it.

The one thing anyone who is concerned about the current testing can do is to write more questions for the pools and send them to the QPC. The pools could then grow to the point that it would be much easier to learn the material than to word-associate and memorize one's way to a passing grade.

There are many things a person who is concerned about the new hams can do. One of them is to help out at sites like this one, answering newcomer questions and writing articles.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Novice 1967
Technician/Advanced 1968
Extra 1970
 
RE: Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by K6LHA on December 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM snarled angrily on 19 Dec 09:

"In reading Len's left leaning comments, I'll bet he believes that the United States should have open borders also! How about Socialism also? One world government? All of these ideas that the far left leaning population is pushing for now!!"

"Far Left?!?" Tsk, tsk, I am right-handed. :-)

All that for NOT keeping USA amateur radio regulations as they were in 1952 when I voluntarily enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War?!? [see Army Serial Number RA16408336, note the "RA" prefix...:-)]

Just WHICH year "should" I have tested in? Yours? :-)
..................
KB6QXN: "Mark my word, the next incentive licensing that will come out because of the politically correct FCC and greedy ARRL will be a no-test license. That will be the first step. They will sit back and see how that goes over and then they will eliminate all testing to generate a "1 license does all" as the FCC and the ARRL knees will collapse because they do not want to exclude anyone."

Tsk, tsk, you are ANGRY again. Work still going bad for you in Silicon Gulch? My sympathies...

A quick look at the Federal Register doesn't show ANY sign of what you say is "true." No new "incentive licensing plan." Not even from the mighty folks at Newington. NO sign of "eliminating all testing."

In case you haven't looked, the FCC establishes USA amateur radio regulations along with every other USA civil radio service. [amazing but true] Since its beginning 75 years ago the FCC has an orderly and legal process to which anyone can Petition for new regulations, Comment and Reply to Comments on any docket up for discussion...or say anything it wants. Those can be submitted and recognized from ANY citizen, with or without some federal license in that particular radio service! [really amazing when one thinks of it] Yes, anyone can post a Comment or Reply to Comments about an amateur radio docket without any amateur callsign whatsoever! [wow, isn't that "left-leaning," though!] Not only that, all those who submit documents have their names (and callsigns if applicable) listed in decision-making Memorandum Reports and Orders! I applaud that sort of democratic-process government and served my country in the military to back that up. In case you never served, all who enter the military put their LIFE on the line when they take that oath. Did YOU put your life on the line for your ham license?

The ARRL just doesn't have the controlling influence on the FCC it thinks (and implies) it has, not from the amateur radio dockets up for discussion in the last dozen years...compared to what it had long ago. Not my problem. I was a full member of the ARRL for two years and they did NOTHING for me. ONE election to vote in and only ONE candidate to vote on. Sounds much like under the reign of one Josip Broz long ago in another large country, doesn't it? A NO-party "election."
.................
KB6QXM: "The license exams are so watered down now, that they are basically giving away the licenses now."

No, the base fee was $14 when I took my AMATEUR radio license exams (note plural) almost three years ago. It took about 3 1/2 hours of a Sunday afternoon, most of which was spent WAITING an hour to start, then having to wait some more in between test elements. ALL of the questions and answers (120 questions for the 3 different test elements) were generated and made available by the National Council of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators. You can see and download ALL the questions and answers at www.ncvec.org for nothing. The NCVEC Question Pool Committee MUST be composed of already-licensed amateur radio license grantees. That is an FCC regulation.

In preparation for my AMATEUR radio license exams, I downloaded the Question Pool directly from the NCVEC site. On checking that out I was pleased to see that the NCVEC QPC had MORE than the required 10 questions (for random selection by VE groups) for each required question. The average for all 120 questions was 13 times the required test questions; for Amateur Extra it averaged about 16 times the required 50 questions. The so-called "anyone can 'memorize' the answers" charge would apply ONLY if an applicant was eidetic (one who has a "photographic memory"). NOT knowing ahead of time which questions would appear would require "memorizing" about 1560 questions and 6240 answers, the answers necessary to avoid getting a wrong one. In many of the 4-answer multiple-choices,
the QPC inserted "distractors," wording such that a wrong answer MIGHT APPEAR right.

I might have agreed that the number of illustrations MIGHT have been scanty, but then I've only been reading and understanding schematic symbols for about 60 years...and devising circuits and systems that actually worked (!) for over 45 years when I took my AMATEUR radio tests. :-)

I will grant that I have some experience in 'radio' (a subset of electronics) that isn't common to many AMATEUR license applicants. Was it "hard" for me? No. Would it be "hard" for someone just off the street? Yes. But...the average license applicant ALREADY knows SOMETHING about the subject. Good grief there have been all sorts of "Handbooks" (and over-priced "test guides") published by the ARRL alone for a half century.

Now we get to the crux of the matter, the Nobel-laureate International Morse Code test! I didn't have to take one. In fact, the ARRL-VEC team didn't have any code sound reproducing equipment at my test site (room donated by the Los Angeles Fire Department at an unused fire house) to give one! The LAW regarding morse code testing had eliminated any such requirement for any class license!

That elimination had been done in a democratic-process manner, legally and correctly, everything published and still available at the FCC, either in their Reading Room or on-line! [another amazing but true
moment!] How about that? A democratic-process time for ANYONE to make their case on NPRM 05-143 and then have each and every Reply and Reply to Comments made available for the PUBLIC to see! Is that "left-leaning?" Or is it just darn good democracy at work? I'll go with the latter.

You have to remember that USA amateur radio has NEVER been considered "professional" nor is it in any way "academic" (FCC was not chartered as a school). Amateur radio isn't a Union, isn't a Guild, isn't even a Craft that requires apprentice-journyman-master status tested levels of skill. Back when I first started in HF communications (early February 1953) there were 36 high-power HF transmitters that had to be operated/tended/maintained sending out an average of more than 220 thousand messages a MONTH for the Far East Command Hq. NONE of those messages required any sort of morse code skill to send; they were all teleprinter, connecting the Command with all Army stations in the Pacific and to CONUS and Hawaii and Alaska. That's 56 years ago. The Army had dropped OOK CW mode messaging on the bulk of messages back in 1948. Everything was operating on a 24/7 basis. It was
done in a professional manner, nothing amateurish about it. Since that military service time, I've NEVER been required to know or use any sort of "morse mode" means for communications, not even when taking private pilot flying lessons and passing the FAA written.

Ah, but the AMATEURS who had been licensed since the year dot insisted and insisted (and a few demanded) that to be an AMATEUR ond HAD to pass a morse test...all the way to early 2006. It was supposed to be "vital to the nation" or some such quaint notion. By 1960 or so even the USN had begun to drop morse mode. By 1999 the international maritime "community" had dropped the old 500 KHz (morse only) distress frequency in favor of the Global Marine Distress and Safety microwave calling through the Inmarsat relays. The maritime community had devised it as well as using it.

Even the USCG had stopped monitoring 500 KHz that year. Times had changed and become better, safer with new technology and new methods. But, in 1999 the long-timer stalwart morsemen were still adamant about keeping the morse test. Why?

Mostly, I think it was because of an attitude of "I had to take a test in it and all who follow better take one too!" On the eve of the new millennium that sort of attitude was selfish as well as plain dumb. It was regressive for a HOBBY that requires federal regulation (and licensing) only because of the nature of electromagnetic wave propagation.
.................
KB6QXM: "What is next?"

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if your local John Bitch Society demands return of SPARK! It was the traditional means of USA amateur radio transmission in the beginning. :-) OK, so it isn't narrowband, it is TRADITIONAL! Never mind that it was outlawed in 1927, go back further, when hams were HAMS! Not a single transistor or IC around then to confuse long-timers, nossir, nothing complicated about early radio! Go for that crystal detector and spark transmitter DXCC! Pioneer radio all over again, show us how it's done, show 'em who is boss!

Oh, and Happy Holidays! :-)

73, Len AF6AY
 
RE: Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by NI0C on December 20, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"But, in 1999 the long-timer stalwart morsemen were still adamant about keeping the morse test. Why?

Mostly, I think it was because of an attitude of "I had to take a test in it and all who follow better take one too!" On the eve of the new millennium that sort of attitude was selfish as well as plain dumb. It was regressive for a HOBBY that requires federal regulation (and licensing) only because of the nature of electromagnetic wave propagation."

You're wrong, Len. A much better reason (not the only one) for morse testing is that if you are licensed to operate any modes in bands or sub-bands where others communicate using morse, then it is prudent (if no longer technically necessary) that you acquire some basic morse proficiency in order to navigate those frequencies. Many "stalwart morsemen" think it was "selfish as well as plain dumb" to remove that requirement.

We, the "stalwart morsemen" are still on the air and enjoying our privileges, though, despite the rule changes. Many new licensees are joining our ranks, learning and practicing the code even though it's no longer a licensing requirement.

We'll speak for ourselves, thank you, so don't go putting words in our mouths. Over and over again, you have used eHam bandwidth to build up your straw man and tear him down again.

You're a verbose person, Len. You seem to have a lot of radio knowledge and opinions about ham radio. I may have easily missed it, but I don't recall your ever saying where you hang out-- what's your favorite amateur band to listen to; have you ever made a QSO; what kinds of equipment and antennas do you like to try out; have you written any software code to test a DSP algorithm with amateur radio applications, etc.

As you well know (and like to point out) there's no requirement, legal or otherwise, that you do any of these things. I bet, though, I'm not the only one who wonders once in a while-- why do you have a license? Is it merely so you can brandish a callsign in these forums and boast again and again about passing the Amateur Extra test? That's how you come across.

BTW, there used to be a requirement that one needed to log a certain number of hours of on the air activity in order to renew one's license. I think it was a wise requirement, even though it's one (small) reason there was a 13 year gap in my amateur radio activity.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by K6LHA on December 20, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C wrote on December 20, 2009:

[AF6AY] "But, in 1999 the long-timer stalwart morsemen were still adamant about keeping the morse test. Why? Mostly, I think it was because of an attitude of "I had to take a test in it and all who follow better take one too!" On the eve of the new millennium that sort of attitude was selfish as well as plain dumb. It was regressive for a HOBBY that requires federal regulation (and licensing) only because of the nature of electromagnetic wave propagation."

Ni0C: "You're wrong, Len. A much better reason (not the only one) for morse testing is that if you are licensed to operate any modes in bands or sub-bands where others communicate using morse, then it is prudent (if no longer technically necessary) that you acquire some basic morse proficiency in order to navigate those frequencies. Many "stalwart morsemen" think it was "selfish as well as plain dumb" to remove that requirement."

Well, put it this way: I was "wrong" IF and only IF I had attributed that particular statement to you or your immediate amateur friends. As it was, I made a general statement based on a LOT of observation of other amateurs' statements in-person, in-print, in-uendo. <shrug>

Well, then, to "navigate the [radio] waves" I would have to know everything about DATA, too. [actually I know something of Data since I was doing that 56 years ago...:-)]. Since when did the FCC last REQUIRE OOK CW skill, MANDATORY on any band except the low end of 6 and 2 meters? Hmmm?
..............
NI0C: "We, the "stalwart morsemen" are still on the air and enjoying our privileges, though, despite the rule changes."

I thought I had already MADE that point. The biggest "damage" made by the FCC was an expansion of
voice privileges in the 80-75m region. [horrors! :-)] OOK CW could still be used just as it is permitted everywhere on every ham band on up to 300 GHz. The "awful, fateful, end-of-the-world (aa many know it)" decision to drop all code testing requirements was in regards to getting IN amateur radio. Getting IN, not for immediately dropping in to be a "qualified" operator as is some commercial practice.
Now you go right ahead and ENJOY your morse mode all you want. You can.
..............
NI0C: "Many new licensees are joining our ranks, learning and practicing the code even though it's no longer a licensing requirement."

I will classify that statement as entirely subjective. Perhaps yours is just wishful thinking. Reading the Replies to NPRM 05-143 (which I did entire, all saved on a CD), that feeling is NOT mutual.
..............
NI0C: "We'll speak for ourselves, thank you, so don't go putting words in our mouths."

Oh, wow. Yeah. Thanks for the ORDERS, but I will THINK FOR MYSELF and reach my OWN conclusions.
..............
NI0C: "Over and over again, you have used eHam bandwidth to build up your straw man and tear him down again."

Over and over again, you and others have "used bandwidth" to build up your own strawmen and tear down those who would talk against them. Once in a while I would come along with an obsolete Zippo and set fire to them. <shrug> Makes a nice night-time scene with all those olde-tyme shibboleth strawmen burning merrily.
..............
NI0C: "You're a verbose person, Len. You seem to have a lot of radio knowledge and opinions about ham radio."

I have a "lot" of knowledge AND opinions about LOTS of things. I was not aware that such is a CRIME. In my 77 years on this planet I've seen a lot of groupings, gatherings, forums, etc., etc. where SOME, insistent on being "leaders/managers" try to instill THEIR personal wishes/desires on others for no reason than to BE the "leaders/managers" because THEY wanted to it (i.e., ego-driven). I am an independent thinker and try to be objective about many things. That is resented by many longing for a group to belong to, to get guidance in what to do and what to "enjoy." That is unfortunate to those many. I do not feel obligated in any way to provide emotional sustenance to Them or those who wish to subjugate my personal desires into adherence to their personal beliefs/desires.
.............
NI0C: "I may have easily missed it, but I don't recall your ever saying where you hang out-- what's your favorite amateur band to listen to; have you ever made a QSO; what kinds of equipment and antennas do you like to try out; have you written any software code to test a DSP algorithm with amateur radio applications, etc."

So, I am now to Submit to Interrogation by some inspector Clue-no? :-)

Those similar questions have been asked of me before...usually by those who are building up some dossier to use themselves into later messaging pejoratives designed to damange my person. I am wise
to how those things work, yet I am unharmed physically or emotionally by such. <shrug>

You might as well interrogate me about my choice of wife, the foods I prefer, the entiertainment I like, why I chose to live where I do, and everything else under the sun. That is IRRELEVANT to the subject and you know it. But, Inspector Clue-no, I HAVE explained all that BEFORE and I'm not going into such IRRELEVANCY here AGAIN.

OH, and I HAVE made QSOs on ham bands. I've also made radio contacts on seven OTHER radio services, six of which do NOT accept an amateur radio license as a "qualification" for operation. <shrug>

WHY do you NEED such "qualifications" and who in the #$%^!!! made you the "qualifier?"
.................
NI0C: "I bet, though, I'm not the only one who wonders once in a while-- why do you have a license?"

BECAUSE I COULD. Look at your own wording and alleged inquisitiveness, nee snarly interrogation. If you are going to get all huffy and claim "insult" from my answer, look at your own attitude.
.................
NI0C: "Is it merely so you can brandish a callsign in these forums and boast again and again about passing the Amateur Extra test? That's how you come across."

Now you are putting non-relevant "REASONS" into my behavior, personal desires, not just putting "words in my mouth." NUNYABIZNESS on the WHY. I can describe the WHY from my point of view but there will be many who WILL put "words in my mouth" in denigrating all that I say. That is EXPECTED and I KNOW the type of yahoos that are bound to do it...because they have already done that. What is more relevant is TAKING THE TEST(S).

Not wanting to sound like a Motivational Speaker, I'll just describe a successful method to take AND pass a test, ANY test. It isn't MY method, rather it has been stated and done by others before me. I used it for my 1956 Commercial license test and again for my 2007 Amateur Extra class test and a LOT of assorted tests on other things in between:
===================================
1. PREPARE. Get to know the subject, get to know the test method, get to know the reaquirements, get to know the test site environment. You CAN do it.

2. PURPOSE. Be single-minded about the test, let it be the focus of your efforts. You ARE going to pass it.

3. CONCENTRATE. No one else is going to help you, it is all your own doing. You WILL pass it.

4. CONFIDENCE. Have it in yourself. Ignore the doomsayers and pompous jocks and insulters. You set out to do it and you WILL SUCCEED.

5. DO IT. Carefully. Take your time. Watch out for distractors in multiple-choice answers. Ignore the test site environment and distractions from other test takers. Do NOT even imagine failure.
====================================
Radio regulations allow re-taking a test later if it is scored incomplete. Retesting time may vary as regulations are changed. It is NOT the same as a one-shot academic class test (some academic rules require taking a whole course over if a 'final' test is failed). Amateur radio is a hobby, NOT a union, NOT a Guild, NOT a tradecraft. Your JOB does NOT depend on the outcome of this test, certainly not the rest of your life.
.................
NI0C: "BTW, there used to be a requirement that one needed to log a certain number of hours of on the air activity in order to renew one's license."

Yes, I know there was. That is IRRELEVANT. I care not what USA amateur radio regulations WERE in 1912 or 1932 or 1952 or 1972 or 1992 or 2002. USA radio regulations have CHANGED much over the years. Note I say "radio regulations" without specific definitions as to which radio service. If you are aware and informed about MORE radio than just amateur radio service, you will have to agree with that because CHANGE has happened to ALL of them during the last 75 years of FCC existance.

Once the test is passed, that is IT. USA radio regulations do NOT, have NOT required re-testing for
years and years provided regular paperwork renewals are done promptly. The ONLY worry would be about running into those bragging yahoos who want to run "newbies" down because THEIR tests "were so much harder." Pfaugh. Just a lot of BS by them.

Now, after watching NASA-TV on cable for the live lift-off of Expedition 22 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the ISS, I am going to continue to "enjoy my amateur radio license" AT *MY* PREFERENCES, not some "rules" of behavior, lifestyle, or whatever dictated by a minority group at a suburb of Hartford or anywhere else thinks I should be doing. Go ahead and round up YOUR troops for some close-order drill...in the oh, so PROPER way to "enjoy ham radio." Thanks but no thanks, I can figure out what *I* want to do all by myself. Really.

AF6AY

Oh, and Happy Holidays...:-)
 
RE: Back to the Future Part 314159....  
by NI0C on December 20, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To AF6AY: Congratulations on achieving your Amateur Extra Class license. Best wishes for the new year.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
US Amateur License History...  
by N2EY on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C writes: "A much better reason (not the only one) for morse testing is that if you are licensed to operate any modes in bands or sub-bands where others communicate using morse, then it is prudent (if no longer technically necessary) that you acquire some basic morse proficiency in order to navigate those frequencies."

Of course, but FCC didn't see it that way. Unfortunately.

Both in 1999 and after 2003, the majority of those who commented on the various proposals to reduce/eliminate Morse Code testing supported retaining at least some of it. But the FCC ignored the majority and went with the no-code-test-at-all minority opinion. FCC actions are not democratic and comments are not votes.

Basic knowledge of all the other modes is tested in the written exam. Even modes which are used far less on the amateur bands than Morse Code.

It should also be remembered that the 5 wpm code test is just the most basic level, not really "proficiency".

What's really interesting is that the drastic reductions in written exams and the reduction/elimination of Morse Code testing haven't resulted in lots and lots of new hams. So the old tests weren't really a "barrier" at all.

We had some growth from 2000 to 2003, but it didn't last. Since 2007 we've had growth again, and hopefully it will keep on. But in neither case were there lots of new people flooding in. Nor did we see a techno-revolution from the newcomers who *did* come in.

NI0C: "Many new licensees are joining our ranks, learning and practicing the code even though it's no longer a licensing requirement."

The ultimate irony of the situation may be that we wind up with *more* Morse Code operators overall, both in absolute numbers and percentage of actual use.

Some indicators:

You mentioned 160 meters earlier. The ARRL 160 meter contest keeps on growing, despite the fact that effective antennas are rather large - and it's a CW-only contest! It will be interesting to see this year's results.

On Field Day 2009 I was part of the team that ran the CW station at the local club effort. We were in 5A + VHF/UHF, with 3 fulltime phone stations, 1 phone/data station, 1 VHF/UHF station (all phone), and 1 CW station. Yet our CW setup made more QSO points than all the rest of the effort combined, and came very close to making more QSOs. (Wait till NEXT year!) That wasn't unusual, either, it's happened many times in the past decade or so.

Vibroplex was just bought by a ham who used to work for Ten Tec. There are more companies making keys and paddles today than I can keep track of. CW-only rigs are getting more and more common - and they're not all simple QRP sets.

Pretty good for a mode that gets almost no publicity and which requires some skill to use.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by NI0C on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote:
“But the FCC ignored the majority and went with the no-code-test-at-all minority opinion. FCC actions are not democratic and comments are not votes.”

And, as we well know, some of those who expressed the minority opinion were not even qualified to hold an opinion on the subject.

“It should also be remembered that the 5 wpm code test is just the most basic level, not really "proficiency".”

Everyone who got on the CW bands after passing a 5 wpm test learned that there was nobody to talk to at this level. One of the good things about the old 6 week wait (between passing an FCC exam and receiving one’s Novice license in the mail) was that it gave us some more time to practice and improve our skills before actually getting on the air. As I recall, the median speed on the Novice bands was probably about ten wpm. We knew we had to hit the ground running if we were to qualify for a renewable license before our non-renewable Novice tickets expired.


“What's really interesting is that the drastic reductions in written exams and the reduction/elimination of Morse Code testing haven't resulted in lots and lots of new hams. So the old tests weren't really a "barrier" at all.”

No they weren’t, especially since medical waivers were available.


“Nor did we see a techno-revolution from the newcomers who *did* come in.”“

I recall one newly minted Extra Class licensee who purchased a new HF amplifier, and gave it a bad review here on eHam, saying it was DOA out of the box. Turns out he didn’t install the fuses in the primary power line!


“our [Field Day] CW setup made more QSO points than all the rest of the effort combined, and came very close to making more QSOs. (Wait till NEXT year!) That wasn't unusual, either, it's happened many times in the past decade or so.”

In recent years my son and I have operated Field Day with the K9YA club. It’s 1A, CW only. We always make over 1K qso’s, even when our operating time is limited by thunderstorms.


“Vibroplex was just bought by a ham who used to work for Ten Tec. There are more companies making keys and paddles today than I can keep track of. CW-only rigs are getting more and more common - and they're not all simple QRP sets.”

There has also been continuous improvement in electronic keyers– most notably the chips designed by K1EL. Reception of CW has been remarkably improved by DSP filtering, AGC action, and noise reduction.

Those who dismiss CW with comparisons to spark transmission simply haven't kept up with technology.

73,
Chuck NI0C



 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by KB6QXM on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Chuck,

My point exactly. The ham radio license tests are so basic these days that you have hams that make all of the technically savvy hams look bad.

How can you have an Extra class ham that:

1) Does not know how to put a connector on the end of a piece of coax

2) As you mentioned does not have the insight to check the fuses before saying that the amp is dead.

3)Does not know how to find resonance for a simple dipole.

4) Cannot explain the difference between resistance and reactance.

These are scary, but true stories of our new "instant gradification" hams. The mindset of give me a license and I will figure it out later and we call this progress?

In the days of the highly technical testing that was required to get a license, when you told someone you were a ham radio operator, they respected you for your knowledge. Not now!

73
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by N2EY on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C: "some of those who expressed the minority opinion were not even qualified to hold an opinion on the subject."

I'd express that idea rather differently:

Everyone can have and express opinions on anything and everything. Whether those opinions are based on experience, facts and sound reasoning is another matter.

NI0C: "One of the good things about the old 6 week wait (between passing an FCC exam and receiving one’s Novice license in the mail) was that it gave us some more time to practice and improve our skills before actually getting on the air."

6 weeks? It was a lot more in 1967! Process went like this:

1) Prospective ham learned code and theory well enough to have a go at the exam.

2) Prospective ham found volunteer examiner (no capitals) who would give the test, and set up time and place.

3) Volunteer examiner gave code tests (receiving and sending). If prospective ham passed them, volunteer examiner sent away form requesting written test.

4) When written exam came in the mail, volunteer examiner and prospective ham would set up time and place for written exam.

5) At written exam session, sealed test envelope would be opened, prospective ham would take test. When done, volunteer examiner would seal up all papers in FCC-provided envelope and send off for grading. All volunteer examiner did was make sure prospective ham didn't cheat.

6) FCC would process the whole thing and send either a small envelope or a big one. Small envelope was preferred because it contained only the license. Big envelope contained paperwork to do the whole thing all over again.

Getting anything through FCC took 6 to 8 weeks back then, so the whole process could easily take 12 to 16 weeks just in FCC processing.

All that encouraged prospective hams to overlearn so they'd pass on the first go. And as you said, it gave time for more practice.

NI0C: "As I recall, the median speed on the Novice bands was probably about ten wpm. We knew we had to hit the ground running if we were to qualify for a renewable license before our non-renewable Novice tickets expired."

As you say, the nonrenewable Novice with its limited one- or two-year term also had the effect of encouraging newcomers to hit the ground running. Most of the new hams I knew had a key, receiver and antenna set up and working long before they had the license, and used the processing delay to get a transmitter set up and ready to go so there would be no delay when the license arrived. In my case I used the time to build a transmitter from scratch.

NI0C: "No they weren’t, especially since medical waivers were available."

Since 1990. Also accomodations in the tests. But at least some folks I have encountered were too proud to take advantage of them.


NI0C: "I recall one newly minted Extra Class licensee who purchased a new HF amplifier, and gave it a bad review here on eHam, saying it was DOA out of the box. Turns out he didn’t install the fuses in the primary power line!"

That's not a fault of the exam process. It's a lack of common sense and failure to RTFM.

Which is nothing new.

There was a QST article some time back about dumb questions and mistakes that various rigmakers had encountered from customers. Like the ham who plugged a mike into the PHONES jack of his new receiver, hit the SEND-RECEIVE switch and called CQ. Or the ham who wired a Heathkit transmitter and used spaghetti where the manual called for it - except he used *real* spaghetti, not varnished insulating tubing. Or the ham whose set wasn't doing so well, so he lifted the lid and tightened all the loose screws....

The article appeared about 1956.

One big difference between the old days and now is that, in the old days, a mistake like that would generally be known only by a few, rather than being on display at a popular website like eham.

Another difference is that most equipment nowadays is relatively inexpensive compared to yesteryear, when you adjust for inflation. There also wasn't the expectation of plug-and-play.

None of which is a result of changes in testing.

NI0C: "In recent years my son and I have operated Field Day with the K9YA club. It’s 1A, CW only. We always make over 1K qso’s, even when our operating time is limited by thunderstorms."

We have probably worked each other many times, just not using our own calls. The local club rotates the call used each year so that all the regulars get a chance.

NI0C: "There has also been continuous improvement in electronic keyers– most notably the chips designed by K1EL. Reception of CW has been remarkably improved by DSP filtering, AGC action, and noise reduction."

Besides all of that, there are better crystal filters, better rig designs, etc. The Elecraft K2 is an example of a rig with a surprisingly low parts count, cost and overall hardware complexity that has "big-rig" performance. Particularly on CW...

NI0C: "Those who dismiss CW with comparisons to spark transmission simply haven't kept up with technology."

Nor with history. Spark disappeared from Amateur Radio in the early 1920s - not because it was legislated out of existence, but because the new continuous-wave tube transmitters performed the same job so much better.

In 1921, Godley went to Ardrossan, Scotland and received more CW than spark signals on 200 meters - even though most of the spark signals were running higher power and were more numerous than CW rigs at the time. That demonstration, and the 1923 two-way transatlantic QSO on 110 meters changed a lot of minds. By the time spark was outlawed for hams in the late 1920s, it was merely a procedural thing; hams had simply stopped using it.

Yet large numbers of amateurs today continue to use Morse Code/CW on the air, because nothing has come along that does the same job better.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
More Back to the Future (easy as pi)  
by K6LHA on December 21, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C wrote on December 21, 2009:

[N2EY]: “But the FCC ignored the majority and went with the no-code-test-at-all minority opinion. FCC actions are not democratic and comments are not votes.”

NI0C: "And, as we well know, some of those who expressed the minority opinion were not even
qualified to hold an opinion on the subject.

Ahem, not to break up the hate-the-nocoders-cuz-we-morsemen-are-the-GREATEST imitation of Muhammed Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay) but the FCC allows any citizen to comment on any docket up for public comment. NPRM 05-235 was about GETTING INTO USA amateur radio, not an "upgrading" or anything else. GETTING INTO, as in the regulations required by an applicant to pass an amateur radio license exam. There are NO "qualifications" necessary to post Comments or Replies to Comments. <shrug> By that curious illogic of alleged "qualifications" stated above, one cannot comment about GETTING INTO a radio service if one is ALREADY IN that radio service. :-)

On NPRM 05-235 there were 3,786 documents filed between 15 July 2005 and 14 November 2005 (official ending day). On 25 November 2005 I submitted an EXHIBT which was a week-by-week tally of ALL documents posted on that docket. Anyone can access that through the FCC Electronic Comment System under docket 05-235. That was just an informational exhibit, not "official" and quite probably not "qualified" under the coders' curious we-are-the-only-qualified-people "rule."

Having saved each and every publicly-available document under docket 05-235, the exhibit results are as "qualified" as is possible to anyone literate. In that, it shows that the intial months of commentary, the CITIZENS of the USA were FOR the NPRM; i.e., for removal of the code test. There was a great deal of later DENIAL by long-ago-code-tested amateur licensees which skewed the totals towards being "against" the NPRM.

Note that I said "citizens" above. That is the ONLY qualifier necessary for the USA federal government. Anyone is free to peruse the Communications Act of 1934 or the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (some amendments to regulations) to see what "qualifications" are necessary. Anyone NOT a citizen can also post on that docket but one can expect the FCC staffers to be literate and aware of the federal laws governing their actions. As a matter of fact, there were three individuals who made multiple postings of opinions against the NPRM, all of them supposedly "qualified" having amateur radio licenses.

The logic of "qualifications" ONLY by having an existing, active-license term is itself FAULTY given the lawful charters of the FCC. Anyone NOT engaged in Mass Media (broadcasting) radio services may comment on matters concerning such broadcasting. Anyone NOT engaged in Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) without being IN either broadband data communications or electric power distribution activities. Anyone NOT owning/using/licensed-in the Private Land Mobile Radio Service (PLMRS) can comment on any matter in a docket affecting only PLMRS regulations. Each of those would apply for any radio service or Part of regulations of Title 47 Code of Federal Regulations.

FCC 06-178, the Memorandum Report and Order eliminating USA amateur radio service license testing for International Morse Code cognition, was made on 19 December 2006 under the authority of William T. Cross, then head of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. It can be read on the ECFS under docket 05-235. As of this date, 21 Dec 09, it is three years and 2 days since that R&O was released. All of the FCC decision reasons are clearly given in that R&O document. It is LAW.

Those who wish to REVERSE such a test elimination are free to submit a Petition to re-install it in the USA amateur radio service regulations. Two such Petitions were submitted after 06-178 became law. The FCC replied to both with decisions and reasons made public for their denial.
...............
[N2EY?]: “What's really interesting is that the drastic reductions in written exams and the
reduction/elimination of Morse Code testing haven't resulted in lots and lots of new hams. So
the old tests weren't really a "barrier" at all.”

[NI0C}: No they weren’t, especially since medical waivers were available.

Curious sentence structure. There were no "medical waivers" for written tests...or were there? :-) "Lots and lots of new hams" is a subjective description, unquantifiable. The no-code-test Techncian class had been growing continuously between 1991 and 2000, continuaing to grow afterwards until that one class now accounts for 48% of all licensees, a rate that is not affected by the allegations that "Tech plusses are renewing as Techs," a favorite reiterated "reason" of N2EY. N2EY's reiteration is NOT backed up by a shred of evidence proving his allegation. <shrug>
..............
[N2EY?] “Nor did we see a techno-revolution from the newcomers who *did* come in.”“

Now, that's a new excuse/rationalization. :-) I'm not sure where THAT was some kind of "reason" for removing the code test, but I'm sure N2EY will kluge together some kind of "justifying" statement. Somewhat similar to his early-1970s "design" for a low-HF transceiver using vacuum tubes. Very advanced. [see listing of his "silver" photos sure to follow...:-)}
...............
NI0C: "Those who dismiss CW with comparisons to spark transmission simply haven't kept up with
technology."

My apologies, I wasn't born until 1932. "Spark" was prohibited in the USA by 1927. Outside of some EMP testing, the only "spark" in my lifetime was with automobile sparkplugs, including early model gas engines (up to about 1948 or 1949, then replaced with "glow plugs").

However, the TECHNOLOGY of COMMUNICATIONS - as used by other radio services - were already sending continuous teleprinter signals of eight such circuits plus two voice channels all on one SSB radio in the 1930s on HF over long-haul communications paths. Those were a "radio extension" of existing landline wired carrier systems that came into use in the late 1920s. Of course that was for commercial and military "carrier" services and would not be found in amateur radio. The FCC forbids communications carrier service in the USA amateur bands.

On the other hand, the FCC does permit SOME Spread Spectrum operation above 30 MHz in USA amateur radio bands. They will also permit Forward-Error-Correction for Data IF and only IF the format has been published elsewhere and is considered "public knowledge." Then there is PSK-31, a slow-speed data system that takes no more bandwidth than an OOK CW signal. Of course PSK-31 was innovated in the UK and air-tested in Europe before the ARRL bothered to publish anything about it. NIH factor? Well, there are "radio modems" in use by radio amateurs today but the FCC does not yet permit high-rate modems (such as found in commercial radio services) for USA radio amateurs.

The pre-(about)-1960 teleprinter rates used to be 60 WPM equivalent but were raised to 100 WPM before the Teletype Corporation electro-mechanical terminals were replaced by electronics versions with much higher throughput. Personal computers aren't necessary for all-electronic terminals (the first ones were done with digital circuitry as stand-alones) but the tremendous hard-disk mass storage capabilities of PCs of even a decade ago save having reels and reels of tape, paper or magnetic. All that mass storage in PCs also allows very quick retrieval of text data for easy viewing off-line or on-line.

But, I digress. The mighty morsemen of the amateur persuasion insist and insist on "Back to the Future" (easy as pi) modes as a "necessary qualifier" to say anything at all. :-) Only They "know what is good for all amateurs." <shrug>

AF6AY
 
RE: More Back to the Future (easy as pi)  
by NI0C on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
AF6AY:
Congratulations on achieving your Amateur Extra Class license after petitioning the FCC to reduce the requirements.

You might be interested in:
http://eham.net/reviews/detail/6136

Maybe the ARRL will endorse your certificate for your special efforts. Perhaps they will even print a billboard sized certificate for you.
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by NI0C on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote:
"NI0C: "Those who dismiss CW with comparisons to spark transmission simply haven't kept up with technology."

Nor with history. Spark disappeared from Amateur Radio in the early 1920s - not because it was legislated out of existence, but because the new continuous-wave tube transmitters performed the same job so much better. "

It was a quantum leap in communications bandwidth efficiency, perhaps unequaled in terms of percentage improvement since then.

73,
Chuck NI0C

 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by NI0C on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote:
"The Elecraft K2 is an example of a rig with a surprisingly low parts count, cost and overall hardware complexity that has "big-rig" performance. Particularly on CW... "


The K2 is indeed a remarkable radio. In terms of picking up weak signals, it's extremely close to its big brother, the K3. I have my K3 and K2 setup for dual receive now, using a splitter on the Rx antenna inputs, and an audio mixer on the outputs.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by N2EY on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C writes: [CW] "was a quantum leap in communications bandwidth efficiency, perhaps unequaled in terms of percentage improvement since then."

Yes, but the bandwidth improvement was only part of the story. A spark signal can actually be made relatively narrow (tens of kHz at HF) with proper techniques.

What really made the difference was that spark, being a damped (modulated) wave, was not as efficient in operation as an undamped (unmodulated/continuous) wave. This was particularly true as frequency increased and better receivers (Godley used a superhet at Ardrossan) came into use.

The very high peak-to-average ratio of a spark signal meant that insulators and other components had to withstand higher voltages and currents than with "continuous" waves.

There were existing 19-teens technologies that could generate undamped waves, such as Alexanderson alternators and Poulsen arc converters. But they tended to be practical only up to a few hundred kHz at most, far below the frequencies amateurs could use after 1912.

The end result of all this was that amateurs soon found that a 50 or 100 watt tube transmitter on 100 meters could do what had required a kilowatt rotary spark on 200 meters. And often the refugee-from-the-lamp-factory could do more, in both distance and in miles-per-dollar.

That was the end of spark in amateur radio.

Oddly enough, spark continued to be used by other, "professional" radio services for many years. Most common was its use in maritime radio, because many ship owners did not want to invest in new equipment every few years.

(If you think technology changes fast these days, just look at a typical 1920 amateur station, and then one from 1930).

In fact, the use of spark for back-up purposes in the maritime radio service was not outlawed until the 1960s.

NI0C: "The K2 is indeed a remarkable radio. In terms of picking up weak signals, it's extremely close to its big brother, the K3."

Not just in weak-signal reception, either. The K2 also excels in strong-signal environments (very high dynamic range) and in low phase noise on both receive and transmit.

It also has very low power requirements for its level of performance. On receive, my K2 typically requires about 250 mills at a nominal 12 volts. A typical Yaecomwood HF rig will draw four to ten times that!

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by K6LHA on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C wrote on 22 Dec 09 on "King Spark":

"It was a quantum leap in communications bandwidth efficiency, perhaps unequaled in terms of percentage improvement since then."

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Some folks just haven't kept up with the state of the art in "communications bandwidth efficiency." :-)

Disregarding commercial and military SSB formats that can carry two voice channels and eight TTY channels on the SAME 12 KHz bandwidth over HF radio paths since the 1930s, the following are true advancements in "communications bandwidth efficiency:"

1. Claude Elwood Shannon's seminal paper of 1947 relating noise, bandwidth, and error rate and its
relationship to temperature, Bell System Technical Journal 1947 (before the invention of the transistor at Bell Labs, done in a different part of that Laboratory). This established what would be universally known as "Shannon's Law" for ALL communications circuits on this planet.

2. Time-multiplexing of four TTY channels over one FSK CW radio circuit at 850 Hz "spread" (Mark to Space frequency shift), USN contract with DoD, in use 1953 with the worldwide Army Command and Administrative Network (ACAN), later STARCOM. Required no more bandwidth than a single TTY FSK circuit at the time.

3. The first of the voice channel modems faster than the 300 WPM Bell System. Those would peak at the present-day modems on the Internet sending/receiving 56,000 bits per second over a voice-bandwidth channel only 3000 Hz wide. Millions and millions in use worldwide just prior to the new millennium. The USA FCC regulations for amateur radio communications on HF have drastic limits on radio modem data rates.

4. Spread Spectrum techniques, at first classified only for government use, now found in millions of cellular telephone sets/sites that allow many users to coexist WITHOUT INTERFERENCE in the SAME bandspace and close geographical spacing. Makes use of both Shannon's Laws and Information Theory techniques. There are still drastic limitations in FCC regulations on such techniques in USA amateur radio.

5. Digitized voice, first used over wired telephone systems by individuals in the early 1970s expanded to commercial use ON HF broadcasting, most prominanet method being DRM (Digital Radio Mondial) that has been in-use now for six years. Digitized voice AND data has been in-use in small-unit portable radio of the DoD SINCGARS family, operational since 1989, and capable of selectable in-clear or on-line encrypted communications, also adopted by most NATO military member forces. [digitization allows easy encryption/decryption] A variation is the digitized modulation used in FRS/GMRS unlicensed portable/mobile radio use.

6, UWB or Ultra WideBand techniques where bandspace is deliberately widened for many and varied not-communications-application such as short-range underground viaualization of buried objects, "looking through walls" of buildings, etc., etc., etc.

There are hybrid systems which utilize Information Theory techniques, notably SONAR which was one of the first widespread uses of Fast Fourier Transform signal characteristic detection. Such Sonar systems resulted in the "waterfall" display now used in amateur experimentation for weak-signal communications, notably on LF (which the ARRL has not seen fit to promote although many European countries and the UK already have amateur radio bands on LF). Yes, there is an underwater communications system in use but it doesn't use RF. :-)

A common hybrid system is the "radio watch" and "radio clocks" now in use by the (?) millions for automatic self-calibration that use exceptionally-slow data rates permitting the miniature radio demodulators to reduce noise with weak signals on LF (60 KHz in the USA and UK). Mine was "terribly expensive" three weeks ago ($27.45 with free shipping from Amazon for a Casio model that came out of the box already self-calibrated). I have another, older radio watch which cost less than $30 including tax and shipping, does not have the selectable UTC or foreign time zone display.

Another "hybrid system" is the USA DTV broadcast format that uses all available techiques of Information Theory to collapse at least 18 MHz of bandwidth into a single 6 MHz bandspace AND adding quadraphonic sound, teletext (captions for the hearing impaired), plus a number of technical signals for constant checking of modulation quality. That system would be impossible to achieve without an easy-to-manufacture but highly-complex-in-structure Integrated Circuit. The MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) extended known Information Theory techniques to the maximum in modulation-demodulation to enable bandwidth reduction. An added plus is the relative freedom of RFI compared to older, simpler analog modulation schemes and lack of "snow" with weak DTV signals.

PSK-31 can be described as a "hybrid system" in that it permits low-rate text (roughly 30 WPM maximum) in a bandwidth no greater than 500 Hz. Innovated by Peter Martinex, G3PLX, it has been shunned and depreciated in the USA as being: (1) NIH; (2) "non-traditional"; (3) Does not demonstrate the remarkable, awesome, gloried expertise of heroic manual OOK CW telegraphy of the amateur radiotelegrapher. <shrug>

I could describe some more systems which permit as great (in a few cases greater, but those are not allowed in USA amateur radio) an advancement. And, I don't have the personal experience with them as with those just listed...but that spoils your glory worship of the FIRST mode in ALL radio.

Happy Holidays from AF6AY
 
RE: More Back to the Future (easy as pi)  
by K6LHA on December 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C snarled through his teeth on December 22, 2009:

"AF6AY: Congratulations on achieving your Amateur Extra Class license after petitioning the FCC to reduce the requirements."

Wrong. I did not PETITION the FCC for anything. I merely made some Comments and Replies to Comments on the appropriate dockets before the Commision on NPRMs 98-143, 05-235, and some of the 18 Petitions made public by the FCC. Call it LOBBYING in the mildest sense, availing myself of the liberty that any citizen of the United States of America has to speak to their government.

Apparently the only "qualified" persons regarded by so many olde-tymers is THEM. Reflect on the FACT that the FCC (which regulates ALL civil radio in the USA) does NOT require any Commissioners or staff to hold any radio licenses! [gasp, strange but true...]

You will refuse to believe it, but my "campaign" (exaggerated description) was solely to attempt modernization of existing USA amateur radio regulations. Having worked IN radio communications since 1953 and NEVER having had to know or use it as part of that work, I had no bias or brainwashing about manual radiotelegraphy in radio. As far as I was concerned, it was an artifact of the past, used as the first mode of communications in early radio because early radio was extremely primitive, on-off keying was the only practical means and by 1896, a mature technique with (then) a half-century of existance in wired telegraphy.

In the USA, the last remaining radio service to require International Morse Code testing for a license was amateur and only for those classes that allowed operation below 30 MHz. To me that was an anachronism, something that no longer belonged in law. It seemed right to me to attempt modernizing regulations for the FUTURE, not to glory in the past. When William Cross signed off on FCC 06-178 (published first on 19 Dec 06) I felt vindicated for my efforts and know that many of my radio hobbyist friends felt the same way. For the rest of the 2006-2007 holiday time I made NO attempt nor worked up any interest in achieving my "own" license nor in "having my very own radio station." I enjoyed the Holiday time with friends who were not concerned with preserving the past forever, much less glorying in the alleged wonder of it all. At the time I had already worked as a professional IN radio-electronics for 54 years, had "my own radio station" (a business band radio with a tripartite partnership), had my filligree-edged blue background First Class Radiotelephone Operator License certificate granted in March 1956, had been a hobbyist tinkering/dabbling/ building/learning by myself since 1947. Oh, and I'd already been a contributor, then Assciate Editor with Ham Radio magazine...all without any amateur radio license. Plus, I've had enough friends for years who were either hobbyists, licensed in some radio service, or just interested in the technology for their own sake.

A couple weeks after New Years Day of 2007, in talking to my wife and a mutual friend about all the "campaigning" I'd done, they suggested I GO for it. So I decided to do just that. Not a problem. Once decided I set about to DO IT, disregarding all of those who had thought me "unqualified" in anything over the past half century. :-) There was no emotional motivator, simply a personal decision made to DO IT. As the old Hawaiian colloquial phrase has it, "Go for broke!" :-)

I was in a personal financial situation of being able to afford an entire HF-VHF station then and acquired good, but not necessarily "top-of-the-line" radio equipment. That is resented, sometimes bitterly, by those who are unable to do so, and many of them vent their frustrations on me. I cannot nor will not help such resentful individuals, certainly not all those who insist and insist that "I should have done what they did" from teen years through their middle age. Amateur radio would NOT be my LIFE, just another avocation, non-professional, in short a HOBBY. I did it solely for myself, just for my interest, NOT to showcase myself to others of "mighty accomplishments."
....................
NI0C: "You might be interested in: http://eham.net/reviews/detail/6136"

THANK YOU ever so much, Charles, haven't had such a good laugh in days!

Just imagine...a Product Review on a CERTIFICATE! :-) A non-legal certificate at that. That is SO hard to believe! :-) Gotta love it!

Thanks but no thanks. I have my very own, rather plain, austere "license certificate" from the ONLY legal issuer in the USA, the FCC. I still have all my old commercial license certificates, as I said filligree-bordered blue background certificates for the first three radiotelephone (Commercial), then yellow background with less filligree on edges when it was changed to a GROL, until now, just an entry in the ULS database for commercial licensees once thzt license was made lifetime.

Ten bucks for a non-member certificate, seven-fifty for a member charge? Oh, my, I'd get as much or more sustenance from a meal at Home Town Buffet or satisfaction for body comfort from a three-pack of cotton socks from Target (upscale Hanes brand), and have money left over from either one. I don't have ANY certificates on our residence walls, much less at our northern house in Washington state, hardly any photographs. My wife has a BA degree and TWO Masters degrees (for Education and Social Work), using them all when she was still working. Those three certificates are in storage up north. WE don't NEED them for display to others.
..................
NI0C: "Maybe the ARRL will endorse your certificate for your special efforts. Perhaps they will even print a billboard sized certificate for you."

Let's see, in getting into the spirit in the second week of March, 2007, I joined the ARRL on-line. My QST subscriptions were mis-labled in address for four months, despite the ARRL having my correct mailing address from their VE team that tested me a mile and a half from my house. In late April, 2007, the ARRL sent me an "offer" to Join and get a freebie from them if I did. Six weeks LATER? Departments in Newington appeared to NOT being on communication terms. After a polite letter by surface mail asking if I could still avail myself of their freebie offer, I got a terse e-mail saying "I could not because I was already a member." [six weeks after joining] At least they NOW recognized that I really was a member. I've been in ONE "election" as a member over two years, that is, if one can call an unopposed candidate as being an "election." I've not had any responses to my two letters to "official representatives." On asking Newington for membership numbers of the organization I belonged to, I was referred to the Annual Report; they would not answer me immediately on the reason that "demographics of membership are given only to potential advertisers." After a year and a half of growing frustration I decided to let membership lapse. The ARRL is primarily a PUBLISHING HOUSE and less a membership organization by their own attitudes, wordings, and phrases behind their PR propaganda. They hadn't done anything for me in two years.

I just don't think highly over such pretty paper from a NON-legal "official source." Years ago at the availability of better photo programs for PCs, a friend of mine made up all kinds of "certificates" which looked very, very "authentic" and would have WOWED a casual observer. It was all in sarcasm and humor at others' need for wallpaper bling. Some were devastatingly FUNNY but in a sneaky subtle way. :-)

I carry ONE non-standard item in my wallet, a miniaturized photocopy of my DD-214 form I got in 1956. If you are a veteran of the US armed forces you will know what a "DD-214" is (still used today but changed slightly to reflect different military regulations), non-veterans probably don't and don't much care. It is there because it can be there. I don't use it for "certificate bling," just as a casual and different conversation starter in social gatherings. Gatherings of HUMANS who can communicate without radio. [gasp!]

Oh, and Happy Holidays...:-)
AF6AY
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by NI0C on December 23, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I'm glad that words spewed out on eHam don't cause static crashes on 160m. This morning, there are over 9000 reported lightning events here in the midwest, and the band is very noisy.

If there were a prize for an individual's ratio of words uttered on eHam to number of QSO's on the air, you would definitely be a contender.

 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by K6LHA on December 23, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C: "I'm glad that words spewed out on eHam don't cause static crashes on 160m. This morning, there are over 9000 reported lightning events here in the midwest, and the band is very noisy."

Please accept my sympathies on USA amateur radio not be made to your specific desires and geographic location.
................
NI0C: "If there were a prize for an individual's ratio of words uttered on eHam to number of QSO's on the air, you would definitely be a contender."

Please consider CHANGING your personal antipathic commentary to the e-ham Forum Opinion section. There you may vent all you want without touching any of the article subjects that you seem to despise.

Meanwhile some of us care to look to the FUTURE and attempt to see where USA amateur radio is going. I will leave you to the condemnation of the present that was not specifically to your liking.

Happy Holidays

AF6AY
(born and raised in the midwest)
 
RE: US Amateur License History...  
by K6LHA on December 23, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N2EY wrote on December 22, 2009, desperately trying to keep redirecting the focus:

"NI0C writes: [CW] "was a quantum leap in communications bandwidth efficiency, perhaps unequaled in terms of percentage improvement since then."

N2EY: "Yes, but the bandwidth improvement was only part of the story. A spark signal can actually be made relatively narrow (tens of kHz at HF) with proper techniques."

It could be made to have an infinitely narrow bandwidth (as with an ideal, but impossible to achieve, Dirac filter). Such would also have an infinitely small power output.

An arc discharge has extremely FAST conduction/non-conduction transients...in terms of picoseconds or less, dependent on the speed of electron flow, distance between discharge electrodes, plus the network's passive reactances supplying the source of electrons. As a result, the POWER SPECTRAL DENSITY of the total arc discharge is spread over hundreds of thousands of Hertz. The ACTUAL RF power out over "tens of KHz" (or low percentage-bandwidth in any part of the EM spectum) is very small. Passive networks connected to an arc discharge will not magically transform frequencies far from the desired frequency into the desired spectral region, they simply throw them away letting them dissipate that far-from-desired energy as HEAT. Heat is just wasted energy far above maximum-allocated radio frequencies (above 300 GHz).

"Damped wave oscillaton" by arc-discharge into a resonant circuit, better known as "Spark transmitters" can be analyzed once ALL the characteristics of the entire network are known/measured. There will be variables of everything in the total analysis which can take weeks to compute. But WHY bother? Measurement instruments to accurately measure/characterize everything just weren't available to the average amateur experimenter prior to the 1930s and very few CARED to do so. A Spark transmitter was SIMPLE. In addition it gave the ILLUSION of power with the visible and audible arc, generated ozone and arc content ash. Anyone who could handle hand tools could build one out of available wood and metal parts and wire. It was technically CRUDE. Cruder than a kluge.
Spark transmitters, even with the most complex of tuned networks were basically NOISE Generators.

Very early radio used a BRUTE FORCE system of high power RF sources with essentially-passive detectors as receivers, all on relatively low-frequency circuits. It "worked" enough to demonstrate that radio (as it was) was a viable communications medium for relatively short distances. Commercial radio services used the much-more efficient (and expensive) alternators, a (relatively) high-frequency generator (alternator) working in the VLF and LF spectrum regions. Alternators were relatively pure RF sources or the first TRUE Continuous Wave generators in the power category. Yes, alternators had harmonics, relatively low-power, nothing at all like the NOISE GENERATORS of Spark.

Now, James, you should have KNOWN this from your early work with Spark transmitters and your learned lessons in advanced radio theory obtained at the university later. Instead, you portrayed the very old ways in radio AS IF they could be done today or even a half century ago. It was simply not so comparable. Yet you had to glorify the early achievements in terms of others in print AS IF they were wonderous achievements of genius...and thus basking in their reflected glory.
.................
As far as I know, the only surviving, useful arc-discharge RF generator is that used in testing electronic equipment designed to withstand EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pules) effects. Controlled power and PSD (Power Spectral Density) characteristics, carefully measured and calibrated. Such is not used for testing amateur radio equipment; there is no need to do so.
===========================

This article was not remotely considered to be a treatise on OLD radio nor OLD regulations. It started off simply as a study of the number of license classes in USA amateur radio over a period of time following a milestone change in USA amateur radio regulations. As usual, it was hijacked by some certain others who, having an antipathy/personality-conflicts with myself or some need to highlight themselves above others, took it far off the original intent.

It is my interest - NOT shared by most others here - to look towards the FUTURE, not to live in the relected glory of past radio pioneers...or to PRETEND to be pioneers of radio (just of HF) by developed skill in manual radiotelegraphy or reading old copies of amateur radio publications.

Laws of Physics is actually a higher order than man-made laws. Man-made laws are a reinforcement of those physical laws as well as for mitigating interference to all users of the EM spectrum. Laws of physics do NOT recognize human desires, imaginations, nor the "history" aspect of early primitive radio.

AF6AY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by KB0RDL on December 24, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've been a certified county storm spotter for nearly 15 years and over half of our group hold advanced license, which is a bit more then the general ham population. I don't know of anyone who doesn't have equipment of their own. The greatest impediment to wanting to become a general class or above ham isn't lack of interest in the hobby, it's housing association, condominium and apartment difficulties with antennas. Some of the tech class guys are wizards at VHF/UHF, interfacing with computers and so on, so the level of technical know-how of the part of amateur radio that interests them is high.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over T  
by N2EY on December 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
KB0RDL writes: "The greatest impediment to wanting to become a general class or above ham isn't lack of interest in the hobby, it's housing association, condominium and apartment difficulties with antennas."

I've said that for years; thanks for confirming it. I see from QRZ that you live in KS, which means it's not just a big-coastal-city problem either.

And it's not just about upgrading but about getting a license in the first place.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by KJ4KKI on December 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, that is a great idea! 'Nuff said... 73
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by KJ4KKI on December 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
My club has at least 50 members and I believe the actual number is closer to 70-80 (I haven't looked at our outdated membership roster lately). Anyway, while a bunch of the hams do have some "experience," we have a few intermittent college students and had some ladies recently become Techs. Our nightly ARES net turns into a rag chew after any official business is taken care of, and we always have at least 20 members checking in. We also get some Echolinks fairly frequently. We pulled a list of licensed hams in our county and the list was huge! Activity in our club was dwarfed by the number of licensees. I think promoting ham radio should be a part of any public school science or communications/technology course. I also think there should be more ham clubs in colleges.
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by KJ4KKI on December 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
One has to be flexible with the times and needs of a population. I was afraid that I couldn't learn code and put off getting my Tech license for several years. I got it with the no-code; studying for hours daily, taking numerous on-line exams and answering every question in the back of the book. I also bought a second ham book and read probably over a thousand pages of internet material. I made 100%. I plan to learn code...when I have a time in my life to study it and practice it. Right now, I'm studying for my General. I do local FM and satellites. Echolink exposed me to talking to people on other continents and across the nation. You Tube let me watch videos of people talking on their HF rigs. One has to look at the overall mission of something. While I admit that the Tech manual isn't detailed when compared to the General or Extra manuals/tests, it certainly gets one started with an HT or mobile FM rig...to get their feet wet and chew on...so to speak. It showed me how much more I wanted to get involved and learn. In my profession and level of schooling, I've been guilty of complaining about "the way it used to be." Sometimes, in the end, change is good. Sometimes, we just don't realize it until we get there and adjust to it. And for the fellow complaining that an Extra didn't know how to build a dipole...it's in the Tech manual and the General. He's obviously an idiot who either forgot the formula or got lucky on tests (2 in a row?). My consensus: The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Not because a Tech or General license is "dumbed down," but due to my own self-realization. At least, that's my page worth.
 
Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Years  
by K5ZTY on January 2, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Regarding the large numbers of non renewals, Amateur Radio, like golf, archery and girl scouts, is not for everyone. However, the ARRL has made it their project to license every person in the world by dumbing down the license requirements beginning with the Volunteer Examiner program in the early '80s. The publishing of the exam questions and answers has given birth to all sorts of short cuts to obtaining a license. There is no investment in the license other than some memorizing of answers. An applicant doesn't have to learn or display any knowledge of the hobby at all to obtain any class of license. Hence, no investment, no pride of accomplishment, obtained a license and doesn't know how or why to use it, no interest in renewing.
We need to go back to an entry level license that is good for one year. Upgrade or you're out. Publish the question pool but no answers. We wouldn't get as many applicants but we would get more Hams.
 
Don't Blame ARRL For What FCC Did  
by N2EY on January 2, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
K5ZTY writes: "However, the ARRL has made it their project to license every person in the world by dumbing down the license requirements beginning with the Volunteer Examiner program in the early '80s."

The changeover to the VE system wasn't the ARRL's idea, nor did they support it.

FCC did it to save money. Commercial operator's license testing was privatized too. Thank the Reagan Administration for that one.

Reducing the license requirements began, IMHO, in the late 1970s when the Morse Code sending test was "waived" - by FCC.

K5ZTY: "The publishing of the exam questions and answers has given birth to all sorts of short cuts to obtaining a license."

Again, blame the FCC. They refused to go after Dick Bash, and when they created the VE system, publishing the entire Q&A pool became a practical necessity.

K5ZTY: "There is no investment in the license other than some memorizing of answers."

That depends entirely on the licensee. A lot of the newcomers I encounter really want to learn and understand RADIO, not just pass the test. Some others just want to pass.

K5ZTY: "We need to go back to an entry level license that is good for one year. Upgrade or you're out."

Nice wish but it's not going to happen because it would cost FCC more work.

K5ZTY: "Publish the question pool but no answers."

Won't work. What's to prevent somebody from publishing the answers, same as Bash did 30 years ago? (Except it would be easier this time.)

--

I agree that there are all sorts of ways that the system could be improved, but most of them require changes FCC just won't make because they will cost too much in the way of "big government" resources.

The trick is to find those changes that will improve the system *without* requiring FCC to do more.

73 de Jim, N2EY

 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Ov  
by N2EY on January 2, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
KJ4KKI writes: "I was afraid that I couldn't learn code and put off getting my Tech license for several years."

But did you actually try to learn it?

KJ4KKI: "studying for hours daily, taking numerous on-line exams and answering every question in the back of the book. I also bought a second ham book and read probably over a thousand pages of internet material. I made 100%."

GREAT!

But it's important to understand that FCC doesn't require 100%, nor even 80%, to pass. IIRC 74% (give or take a fraction) is the passing grade for all the written exams, and has been for decades.

KJ4KKI: "I plan to learn code...when I have a time in my life to study it and practice it."

15 to 30 minutes a day. The trick is, do it every day.

KJ4KKI: "In my profession and level of schooling, I've been guilty of complaining about "the way it used to be."

Then you understand that it's not all without reason.

KJ4KKI: "Sometimes, in the end, change is good. Sometimes, we just don't realize it until we get there and adjust to it."

And sometimes, in the end, change isn't good. Sometimes the folks who said "That's NOT a good idea!" were right.

KJ4KKI: "And for the fellow complaining that an Extra didn't know how to build a dipole...it's in the Tech manual and the General. He's obviously an idiot who either forgot the formula or got lucky on tests (2 in a row?)."

Remember that it only takes 74% to pass. That means a person can have big gaping holes in the stuff tested and still get the license.

FCC doesn't care how somebody gets the right answer as long as they don't cheat. FCC doesn't care if someone uses rote memorization, word-association, pure guessing, or actual understanding of the material to pass, just as long as they don't cheat.

Some may scoff at the idea that a person could memorize their way to a passing grade, given the size of the question pools. But "memorization" doesn't mean somebody has to memorize all the questions and answers verbatim. In the real world, all it means is that a person has to recognize the right answer out of the given ones - 74% of the time.

There's also a big difference between being able to answer the questions on the exam, and actually knowing how to do something.

KJ4KKI: "My consensus: The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know."

That's not a consensus - it's wisdom!

KJ4KKI: "Not because a Tech or General license is "dumbed down," but due to my own self-realization."

The problem is, too many hams of all vintages don't have that self-realization.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY
 
RE: Trends in USA Amateur Radio License Classes Over Three Y  
by K6LHA on January 2, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
K5ZTY complained on January 2, 2010:

"Regarding the large numbers of non renewals, Amateur Radio, like golf, archery and girl scouts, is not for everyone. However, the ARRL has made it their project to license every person in the world by dumbing down the license requirements beginning with the Volunteer Examiner program in the early '80s."

NO way, senior. Privatization of testing was done by the FCC for BOTH commercial and amateur radio operator licenses...for BUDGET reasons. Also done was to establish frequency coordination groups for business band radio users plus a great overhaul of radio licenses for small boats and general aviation aircraft, public safety agencies. The ARRL has NO POWER to make regulations. The ARRL was also among three to govern the NCVEC beginning in 1984. Note: PL 97-239 enacted on 13 Sep 82 made it possible for the FCC to enact privatization. [That's Public Law 97-239 and does not refer to Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.]
.................
K5ZTY: "The publishing of the exam questions and answers has given birth to all sorts of short cuts to obtaining a license. There is no investment in the license other than some memorizing of answers. An applicant doesn't have to learn or display any knowledge of the hobby at all to obtain any class of license."

That's your opinion, of course. When did you do your last formal amateur radio license exam? I took mine on 25 Feb 07. For all three test elements then, the Question Pool had an average of 13 times the minimum required pool questions of 10. So, for 120 questions total, there would have to be 1560 questions to "memorize," 6240 answers to "memorize" (have to avoid distractor-worded answers that seem right but are wrong), for a total of 7,800 items "memorized." That's much more than I care to memorize for any hobby test.

By the way, the Amateur Extra test element of 50 questions had a tad over 16 times the number of pool questions of 10 so that would have been more difficult for "memorization."
...................
K5ZTY: "Hence, no investment, no pride of accomplishment, obtained a license and doesn't know how or why to use it, no interest in renewing."

Ahem...the second-lowest "renewal" rate in USA amateur radio is Technician class. General is third. Amateur Extra is first (they are the HARD CORE amateurs). The number of licensees in Novice class, Technician Plus class, and Advanced class have ALL been dropping since 2000.

Someone who got their first USA amateur radio license in the year 2007 will have to wait 7 years before they CAM renew. Its the law. As to "investment," the ARRL VEC team of 2007 charged $14 for a test session, for element testing or just for an administrative change not needing testing. I would estimate at least 35 were there on the day of my test, so the team leader locked up (probably) $490 at the end of that day. $14 is the price for a simple breakfast for two at a Denny's. <shrug>
[Jimmie M., "Denny's" logo has an apostrophe, "Ralphs" does not, please remember that]

"No pride of accomplishment?" That's overly-cynical. I take PERSONAL pride in everything I've set out to do and then complete satisfactorily. I don't work up a big head of steam and go parading it around forums for decades. :-)

"Don't know how or why to use it?" Whooo...that's going overboard in a hurry. Unless there is some HUGE revision of Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., USA amateur radio is NOT a trade, NOT a union, NOT a guild, and cannot be a business/corporation (by LAW). Very few amateur radio RF emitter model numbers have identical controls with identical characteristics. ALL of them require reading the effing manual to USE them. Its the same way with commercial RF emitters, believe it or not.

If someone just doesn't know "WHY" to use it, then I doubt they will ever pass a test for it. Just take a look at the current NCVEC QP contents. You should ask WHY they are AT a VEC test site if they "don't know why." That part is a nonsense question. <shrug>
.................
K5ZTY: "We need to go back to an entry level license that is good for one year. Upgrade or you're out."

By golly, then I "failed" this draconian pecification! I got my amateur license almost three years ago...and I've NEVER upgraded it!

I must be one of those "worthless, beginner, know-nothings, ignorant, stupid, etc." beings who didn't DO amateur radio for years before being licensed in amateur radio!!! :-) Ah, no matter, I've been called all of those names by already-licensed amateurs because I've been a professional in radio-electronics since 1952 and just didn't TRY to get an amateur license until age 74. Oh, oh, OH, such a terrible, terrible attitude! :-)

Oh, and how did you do in your federal tests for golf, archery, and girl scouting? I'm really interested in HOW you passed the latter...;-)

AF6AY
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
The Future of Packet Radio


Other Recent Articles
Army MARS at the ARRL Convention:
Skywarn Warriors: Radio Buffs Work Front Lines for National Weather Service
Amateur Radio Operators Descend on Civic Center for Annual Hamfest:
Ham Radio Users Could Be Vital Resource In Emergency:
The First Social Network: Chewing the Rag with India's Ham Radio Operators: