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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Time, Money, and Ambition

Duane Grotophorst (N9DG) on January 24, 2014
View comments about this article!

N9DG's theory about the key ingredients for an effective station:

Over the years I have pondered what the highly capable amateur stations that I see all have in common. Not so much the stations themselves, but those who have built them and use them. From those observations I have formulated a basic theory about the key ingredients for building an effective station are. My theory can be summed up with a simple statement that is:

It only takes, Time, Money, and Ambition.

All of the effective, not to mention super class stations that I've seen do all seem to have been built by those who have high levels of Time, Money, and Ambition to do so. Can an effective station be built with less than large quantities of all three? Certainly. Because any one or two of those three key ingredients can generally be substituted at various levels for one or two of the other remaining ingredients to large degree, and still achieve similar end results.

For example if you have plenty of Time, and plenty Ambition, but little Money, you can still indeed build a highly capable station by scrounging parts from junk consumer electronics sources and/or surplus electronic gear of just about any description. And then you can build some sizable antennas systems by fabricating big beams and/or extensive wire antenna systems. And a key part of that Ambition piece is having a true desire to really learn and understand the theory and technology that it really takes to build an effective station. Basically having the Ambition to acquire the knowledge that it takes to get the job done.

Likewise if you have ample Money, you can simply buy a lot of already capable gear that is more or less plug and play, and then either assemble it all together by yourself (if you have enough Time, and enough Ambition), or just hire it all done (if you don't have either Time, or Ambition). Basically just buy large quantities of other people's Time and Ambition if you don't have an enough of your own. There are numerous examples of stations like that out there too.

But it is the comparatively few who do indeed have all three, and have all three at the same time, who do really put together some truly impressive stations. Most everyone else is always having to juggle the quantities of each those three key ingredients all of the time. And many have changing levels for each those three ingredients at different times over the years of their ham careers as well. So any one individual's own Time, Money, and Ambition ratios are continually shifting.

And then there are also plenty of examples at the other end of the range of station capability out there. -- Folks who donít have much of any of those three items represent many times those. Or perhaps they do Have Money but don't even have enough Ambition to learn enough about radio to even know how to effectively buy other peoples Time and Ambition to have a good station built for them. As result many of these folks never become very active on the air, or leave ham radio fairly quickly. Then of course there are those other non-radio activities that take those ingredients away from amateur radio as well, that too accounts for long periods of inactivity, or stations going QRT.

What is your Time, Money, and Ambition ratio?

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by N2OBM on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
At one time I'd rather be DX, than chase it.
No super station required.

Now, i don't even have time to fill out the QSL cards that still trickle in from over two years ago.

Hmmm, super stations...if you can 'create' one, might as well, can't take it with you!

May Sol smile upon you with many rays.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W1JKA on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
TIME: What's left, retired.

Money: Not an issue,50 years of scavenged and junk box parts to build any hollow state radio or ham related gear.

AMBITION: 20-30 watt CW tube xtmr. for 30 meters and 30 meter Regen rcvr.

 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by N4UM on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think it simply boils down to what you regard as an "effective station" for your own personal purposes. Your station is "effective if it allows you to do what you want it to do.

If your purpose is being able to ragchew on the local repeater, a 2 meter HT with a rubber duck may be an effective station. If your goal is to finish first in the multi-multi category of an ARRL DX contest a lot more time, money and equipment will be involved.

What might be an effective station for you might be a very inefficient station for me if I put more time money and ambition into it than is actually required to achieve my goals.

Station effectiveness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KB2DHG on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
BASICLY this applies to most anything we do in life...
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by AA4PB on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
When I had the money I didn't have the time (too busy making money).

Now that I have the time (retired), I don't have the money.

As you get older, the ambition fades so you don't mind too much anyway. Nature has a way of taking care of things :-)


 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by WA4D on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The thesis of this piece is "Time, Money and Ambition"

I got a chuckle from the author's premise. No where does he mention career, spouse or kids in the discussion.

Yet that is typical of many Ham radio operators. Most wives despise the hobby. (Don't ask the Ham what his wife thinks, get her alone and do an "in the blind" interview)

Show me an 'active' ham who is married, with kids and employed and I'll show you an unhappy spouse, a poor parent and a marginal employee. There are many in the hobby.

mike/wa4d
 
Having gear is not being a happy ham.  
by AI2IA on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Got junk?
How much of your gear do you really use?
One good HF transceiver, one or two good HF antennas are good enough for HF.
Depending what else you do, you are wise to keep it all to a minimum.
The same for VHF, digital operations, or whatever you do.

Don't waste time, money, and space building a temple to the god of radio.

Most ham stations are clutter magnets.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by WB4M on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I would think this would apply to just about any hobby, not just ham radio. Compared to a new Harley or bass fishing boat and related expenses, ham radio is fairly cheap.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KC2QYM on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Too much philosophical analysis on what amounts to a simple pass time. If you like to communicate with others you can get on the air with reasonably priced used gear. Build your own antennas using wire and determine which modes you like. If I have more than $1000 invested in my station I'll eat my hat yet I have five rigs and am active on HF rag chews. No silly weather report or gas prices nets, no lusting after wall paper certificates; just talking with like minded souls. If they can't hear me I can't hear them and that's it. Too much energy is spent by people who take HAM radio too seriously.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K9ZF on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice article.

On a 10 point scale, I would say I'm probably 3-3-9...

I would love to have a bigger and better station, but I don't have the time or money to build it. So, I improve slowly and do a lot of "homebrew."

Work keeps me very busy. I have a very active teenager at home who also keeps me busy. So that leaves precious little time for radio, but I find a bit here and there. It's all about priorities. Family and work has to come first, but I can find time here and there for radio as well.

That is one of the reasons I enjoy contesting. When I do get time for radio, I like to make the most of it.

QRZ?

73
Dan

--
K9ZF
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Clark County Indiana. EM78el
former 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!
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W8EIR on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I just want time! I have ambition and money is no issue. Time Time Time!
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by NK2U on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The issue with me is time. I work and when I get home during the week, I'm tired; no mood to get on the radio. The other two are fine, just a rag chewer and DXer when they're there and easy pickings!

de NK2U
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K5TED on January 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you, Master Of The Obvious. What is the point of this "article"? Self help?
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VK6IS on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
a Fellow HAM that I know, had the money but not the time.
also available was the engineering ability to devise a fine station.

so when he had the time, - then he could "talk to anywhere"

there are lot's of stations that run a Kilowatt into a stacked array at 100'. & they can be heard everywhere ..

it really does depend upon just what your version of "amateur radio" actually is .

maybe that's running barefoot into a wire dipole,
and that not 'everyone' will hear you OR even work your station. .. ..

 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by WA4SCA on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A variation of an old engineering saying, probably known by the Romans: "Good. Fast. Cheap. Chose two!"
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W8AAZ on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Running pretty low on all three. Well I have the gear from when the money was not low so my only shortcoming is better antennas, so when the ambition returns, wire is fairly cheap.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KF5KWO on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I'm about a 2-2-10. Very little time (wife and 4 kids), a little extra money, and plenty of ambition. But the XYL thinks it would be a neat idea to bring my gear out again so the little ones can take part. My big ones used to help me color in counties and states, and they'd like to do so again. I've got toddlers to teenager, so time is of the essence. That's why contesting will be the way for me to go. Short duration, easy goals to set, and I can schedule radio time months in advance! :-)
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KASSY on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have money. And ambition. But I travel a lot, never home. Radios are easy to buy...just order it, have it shipped to a neighbor, pick it up when I'm home.

Antennas are a whole nother matter. Remotely hiring a contractor to site and situate a tower - or fling a dipole into the trees - isn't particularly easy!!!

When home, I get on the air sometimes, but more often, I socialize in real life. I tend to do most of my operating while on travel, visiting hams in other countries.

- k
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KASSY on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have money. And ambition. But I travel a lot, never home. Radios are easy to buy...just order it, have it shipped to a neighbor, pick it up when I'm home.

Antennas are a whole nother matter. Remotely hiring a contractor to site and situate a tower - or fling a dipole into the trees - isn't particularly easy!!!

When home, I get on the air sometimes, but more often, I socialize in real life. I tend to do most of my operating while on travel, visiting hams in other countries.

- k
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by RSHIRE22 on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you think about these things you can bet you are addicted to ham radio. By comparison casual operators may not have the best stations but they have better lives without the Nutzoid factor built in. How about time, money, ambition, family needs, perspective, quality of life?

Anything you are into too deeply is into you too deeply. You are no longer you.

Ron
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by G3SEA on January 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Whatever the Time, Money, Ambition you have the main
thing is to enjoy the hobby.

Whether using Echolink or a Super Duper Contest
busting station the same rationale applies.

Keeping the hobby in perspective in regards to Family and social life is also of paramount importance.

KH6/G3SEA
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by N7KFD on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have a moderate amount of all three. As a result I have a moderate station, but it serves it's purpose, makes me happy and I fun with what I have. There are no towers or yagi antennas here, in fact I don't even own an amplifier. I still have a lot of fun with 100 watts and some wire, which is probably more in line with what the average ham has.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K1CJS on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The simple fact of the matter is this: There are hams that regard this hobby as more than a hobby--and it is those who have the elaborate stations, because they have the time, the money, and a somewhat misguided idea of what this hobby should be.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W3TTT on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This reminds me of the "Project Management Quality Triangle". The three are Time, Cost, and Quality. Skimp on Time or Cost, and Quality will suffer. Add to Time or Cost, and Quality may improve.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VA6LM on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
You forgot the 4th element....a low noise level, without witch you will not have a very good station.
Wife, kids and job all factor into the time element.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by ZENKI on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you have ham ambition and you live in the Western Democratic world countries you will need the following 2 ingredients.

First you will need a team of lawyers and and secondly very deep pockets. Thats the first reality you will be faced with when trying to get approvals for your towers or super station dreams.

Its just unfortunate how under the guise of democracy how governments have become so mean spirited and fighting every citizens private endeavors on their own private property!

The easiest way to get a big signal these days is to find a high mountain or hilltop location with the optimum terrain profile. Invest the money you were going to invest in legal battles into some Luso Automatic towers and enjoy yourself. The other alternative is to find yourself a nice tropical island surrounded by seawater and use the team "seawater and vertical" advantage.

The only other point is that if you in a country with a high ham population even if you have a super station you can call CQ till you blue in the face and nobody will reply. It seems hams are not very talkative these days. They just prefer to listen to you call CQ. They prefer to get excited when there is a big pileup rather than chatting to some ham with big towers, station and a big ego.

You want evidence of this look at all the contest super station just sitting idle. You never hear these station on band except for contest weekends. The only super contest station that i hear enjoying their super station is Frank W3WLPL. I can hear and work him on CW on the WARC bands routinely with a big signal.

The simplest way these days is if you a Westerner is go to somewhere in the 3rd or 2nd world and set up a station. You will have rare call sign and you wont be harassed for wanting to put up towers on your own land. You might even be encouraged!

Its just unfortunate how ham radio is being stifled at every opportunity by governments and their Orwellian bureaucrats.

 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VK6IS on January 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Well, actually, there several places in the "Western Democratic world countries" that have a low - medium Ham Population.

Where a big tower /stacked array is quite feasible.
- just maybe not the "Kilowatt alley" equipment .. ..

- on some acreage as well ..

and, No - you don't need a Lawyer - either.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K2BEW on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Some interesting comments, and I think that was the point of the article to facilitate discussion, not state the obvious. You have to be pretty thick skinned to post an article on here and then step back and wait for all the criticism.
My answer is similar to others. The balancing of family and work responsibilities is largely the driving force behind the money and time factors.
The ambition keeps me moving forward with the enjoyment of learning being a backdrop to ambition. Lately my focus has been on planning home brew antenna projects for the spring while also spending time working on older tube equipment and learning more about how radio works. With limitations of money I also enjoy the average ham station of 100 watts and wire antennas, which challenges me to a make it is good as I can, as cheaply as I can.
73, Tom, k2bew
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K1PJR on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you think ham radio is expensive try auto restoration. You will spend an incredible amount of time and money to restore a classic car. Ham radio is inexpensive to get started and you can fit it in anytime you wish.
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by AC7KZ on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Man, those are some "heavy" thoughts!
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KASSY on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Never fully understood the concept of "it's only a hobby", implying that one should not spend too much time at it.

Just try saying that to an enthusiastic downhill skier.
Or the guy who bought a $30,000 fishing boat and the $40,000 truck to tow it. Or the women (I know many) who spend upwards of $20,000 a year traveling to European and Asian cities just for the experience. Or any golfer.

We often live for the things that entertain us. And that includes hobbies, yes. And family. And friends. And pets. And our homes. And most of us can enjoy all those things without sacrificing enough time for work, family, community commitment, and so forth.

I know a few really serious contesters. All of them still put more time into family than they do radio.

You can, and most people do, choose to pursue many things in life. In fact, it seems to be what makes life really fun.

- k
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by NO9E on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Effective radio + amp - cheap
Towers & antennas - more expensive but still reasonable

Large and RFI quiet real estate for towers - mostly out of reach

Ignacy, NO9E

 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W4CNG on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As some others, Retired. Have money, time and now planning the new hamshack in our soon to be built Retirement Home. Lots of planning with Attic Antennas and how to get to them from the Terrace Level Shack. Lots of things to get aligned from power to conduit into the attic. Time is the most precious of the three and driven by ambition then takes money to put into place.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KB6QXM on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I work in the Silicon Valley. 'nuff said

Money-No Problem
Ambition-No Problem
Spare Time-What is that?

73
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by LA1BRA on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Time, whats that? Money, I have some, Ambition, that I have lots of.
As you can tell from the call sign, It is a Norwegian call, I lived there for 6 years, had a modest vertical on the front porch for 40 meters, worked the world.
Now, back stateside as KB5VWZ, new house out in the sticks, new home, new shack, new antennas, yup, lots of things to do. Built the shack up first, did all the electrical in anticipation of a super station.
Installed the first two towers in 2007, finally got the other 2 planted in 2014. Then came upon a deal for a 5 tower, a 50 foot crank up.
Now for the other part of the story.
I moved to Mexico from Norway in 2007. I take my yearly vacation in December every year, so everything has been done during these 30 day windows Most usually call a vacation.
So I have 11 months a year to plan and organize everything I want to do in the shack in my 30 days off.
So one can imagine the work.
I shop, I find deals, I have contacts, stuff gets ordered, stuff is delivered and it waits for my return.
If I had to buy all this at one time, My bank would cancel my debit card hi.
Proper planning and research just about always will reveal a best practice, we are not the first pioneers to build a ham station, others have gone before and well documented there success and failures.
Buy a few books, read up and study, there is always and answer in these forums and the web can be your friend.
So when it is all said and done, I'll have 5 towers up, all purchased at what I think is a reasonable price and I don't look back on any of the items purchased and second guess my decision.
8 years running now, station is coming together, hope to have it done before I retire in 6 more years, (never thought I would say that), but my point is, take your time, do the research, find the deals, grow as you learn, that's the most fun and enjoyable part of being a Ham (to me anyway)((and of course the contacts worldwide))
Another friend used to have a saying I still repeat now and then, Go first class, just don't stay as long hihi.
73
from XE3 / KB5VWZ tom
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VK3DWZ on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A very good article and some very good comments here. Yes, I agree some amateurs take their hobby far too seriously. There are the contesters who spend all their time, and money, fine-tuning their station for 'the next big one.' Nothing, but nothing is allowed to interfere with 'their' contest

Theen there is a local amateur who lives on a farm (lucky fella) and has three rotatable 20m monobanders upon a mast that is 60 metres high. Altho' he would have had no trouble with Council approval, don't you think that is taking things a bit too far! He runs maximum power and must bee a multi-, multi-millionaire. At least he doesn't have to worry about sun-spot minimums.

Yes, some Amateurs take their hobby far too seriously.

Cheers,

...- -.- ...-- -.. .-- --..
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by N7WR on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
At various times over my 56 years as a ham I have had 2 out of the three and for a period of time had all three--time, money for an above average but not super station, and ambition. As a result I earned all of the "top" DXing awards and was somewhat successful in contesting as well.

I am now retired and though still busy I do have "time". The reality of fixed income is that I have to watch the budget and, with advancing age and still other things I enjoy doing that take time and energy the "ambition" for ham radio is less than it once was as well.

I have "downgraded" my station to one that satisfies my ham radio goals which, for now, include some ragchewing on HF, chasing DX on the WARC bands which I never paid much attention to in the past and "playing" in contests just to keep my rapid operating skills sharp.

The down graded station means one HF transceiver rather than multiple, and a shorter tower and smaller yagi that I can maintain myself along with the various wire antennas I like to experiment with.

I suspect my current level of activity and current station sophistication will hold for awhile. I doubt I will ever go back to the big station I once had even if I hit the lottery.

Bottom line is what I do ham radio wise is still fun, it is affordable, and rather than being an addiction has found its rightful place among all of the other things I like to do.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by N7WR on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
At various times over my 56 years as a ham I have had 2 out of the three and for a period of time had all three--time, money for an above average but not super station, and ambition. As a result I earned all of the "top" DXing awards and was somewhat successful in contesting as well.

I am now retired and though still busy I do have "time". The reality of fixed income is that I have to watch the budget and, with advancing age and still other things I enjoy doing that take time and energy the "ambition" for ham radio is less than it once was as well.

I have "downgraded" my station to one that satisfies my ham radio goals which, for now, include some ragchewing on HF, chasing DX on the WARC bands which I never paid much attention to in the past and "playing" in contests just to keep my rapid operating skills sharp.

The down graded station means one HF transceiver rather than multiple, and a shorter tower and smaller yagi that I can maintain myself along with the various wire antennas I like to experiment with.

I suspect my current level of activity and current station sophistication will hold for awhile. I doubt I will ever go back to the big station I once had even if I hit the lottery.

Bottom line is what I do ham radio wise is still fun, it is affordable, and rather than being an addiction has found its rightful place among all of the other things I like to do.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by KC8VWM on January 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think Time, Money or even Ambition has anything to do with it.

After all, this is not intended to be an investment, competition or even a career. It's supposed to be an enjoyable relaxing past time like fishing.

People also go fishing at a level they are comfortable with too.

For example, some go all out and make it into a competitive sporting event spending $1000's upon $1000's of dollars on fishing gear,boats, RV's to travel across the country to the different fishing circuits.

Others simply like to take a short drive on Sunday to the local fishing hole and sit alone in a $2 lawnchair by the lake for a few hours while using a simple $5 fishing pole.

The interesting part is regardless of time, money or ambition, they are both participating in the same thing.

 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VE3TMT on January 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have a moderate amount of time, very little to no money, lots of ambition. Managed to raise two kids and buy a home. One HF radio and two HT's make up my hamshack. I was fortunate enough to acquire a tower and beam, but that's about it. For the amount of operating I do , it's adequate. If I had more gear, I'd have no where to put it. Except an amp, I can always make room for an amp!

YL is tolerable, we married in April 1990, got my ham license three months later, so she's been with me through all of my hamming days. She understands my passion for the hobby. I'll never be able to retire, but will always have the radio.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by VE3TMT on January 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
...and hopefully the wife!
 
Time, Money, and Ambition  
by RSHIRE22 on January 30, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Off subject:

D'Jango Chained:

The NFL is rich white people paying black people to give each other brain damage.
 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by W5SNM on February 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
@KASSY: "Never fully understood the concept of "it's only a hobby", implying that one should not spend too much time at it."

Well, in the words of Norman Bates in Psycho "A hobby is supposed to pass the time, not fill it."

Mainly, I think when folks say "it's just a hobby" they are primarily referring to those types (we've all known them) that seem to obsess over their activities to such an extreme extent that what they're doing doesn't even seem enjoyable to them anymore. I've known a few folks that act like their hobbies are their job.


As an aside, I've always heard the triangle as Time, Money, and Knowledge. You can accomplish any project goal with at any two of them.


 
RE: Time, Money, and Ambition  
by K6CRC on February 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think many take this all too seriously.

In theory, all hobbies are an escape from the day to day life. Why is it that we bring the day to day life with us into this hobby? I hear a lot of moaning and complaining from OTs on the air. I just spin the dial, as I don't need that.
 
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