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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?

from Don Keith, N4KC on October 22, 2015
Website: www.n4kc.com
View comments about this article!

Is the “HT Trap” Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?
By Don Keith N4KC
Copyright 2015 by Don Keith

Get two or more Hams together and the topic of our hobby’s growth—or lack thereof—will eventually come up. Some among our ranks are convinced we are doomed. Kids nowadays prefer Pinterest, YouTube and iPhones to DX, DSP and D-Star. Scan a hamfest crowd and it looks like a Grecian Formula test gone berserk. Others prefer that we not grow our ranks or just do not care one way or the other. Keeps the bands less congested. Or so what if nobody new joins the hobby? Don’t affect me none. I can still jump in with that same bunch of guys that have been meeting every night on 75 meters since Eisenhower was president.

The truth is, much of that stuff in the previous paragraph is wrong. Our numbers are growing. Kids are finding us. So are middle-aged people and even older types who see what a great retirement avocation Amateur Radio is. All should be welcomed with open arms and a helpful spirit.

That being said, I do believe there is one thing that is costing us many enthusiastic newcomers before they have had a good chance to experience most of what our hobby has to offer. I have seen this phenomenon over and over and it saddens me. See if you have observed it, too. Or maybe you are living it right now.

Someone gets excited about Ham Radio, studies hard, passes the exam, and gets a license and call sign. Immediately he or she is faced with the challenge of how to get on the air. What radio to buy? How is it possible to put up an antenna? What would the newcomer even say to all those experienced operators out there if he or she did manage to get a working station on the air?

Most likely if you are a new Ham you start with the Technician-class license—as most people do—and thus have very limited HF operating privileges (“HF” means “high frequencies,” the shortwave frequencies assigned to Amateurs as opposed to the bands on VHF and UHF, where you typically find your local repeater stations). Why should you even think about a new (or used) radio that covers all those frequencies you cannot yet use and still have to worry about an ugly outside antenna? Shouldn’t you even avoid purchasing a 50-watt, $300 VHF/UHF FM radio until you see if this hobby is really all it is cracked up to be? You just need a radio that will allow you to talk through the “repeater” stations around town. That would let you get your feet wet and get you on the air…NOW! Now and with minimum hassle.

Besides, you reason, the catalogs and radio store web sites are packed with those little walkie-talkie things for sale. There are guys at hamfests with tables full of the cute little gizmos. And some of those are priced at less than fifty bucks! That’s less than a family night out at Appleby’s and, with one of those tiny hand-held radios, you would be ON THE AIR, using your license, testing the waters in your newly-adopted hobby. They are a real Amateur Radio station right there in the palm of your hand.

So okay, you decide, that’s it. Easy decision. You want to get on the air quickly and inexpensively and with minimum aggravation. The little HT comes complete with antenna, five watts of FM power, and a built-in battery and drop-in charger. Nothing else to buy. With one of those, you are on the air with no muss and fuss. No surreptitious antenna-raising when the neighbors are not watching. No major ding to the credit card for a big old multi-band/multi-mode transceiver. No steep learning curve while trying to figure out all those meters, buttons and knobs on a big, expensive—and very complicated—shortwave radio.

I understand the reasoning. The day your new call sign pops up in the FCC database, you can turn on that little handheld device and start yakking on the local repeaters. Ham Radio is yours and you can jump right in, enjoying it without fear or stress.

Those little HTs are great and with the entry into the market of the Chinese manufacturers, they are available at so-what-if-I-lose-it prices. Everyone should have at least one walkie-talkie for local repeater use and to assist in public service events, storm spotting, and emergency situations. They are handy for monitoring repeaters, too, no matter where you might be, especially early on in your Ham career as you learn protocol and who is who.

But they are a trap, I tell you. A trap! And here is why.

You finally see your call sign in the FCC database, get excited, pull out the little $50 radio you have already been listening to, and you summon up the courage to make a call. You check to be sure nobody else is using the repeater. You carefully pronounce that convoluted set of letters and numbers the FCC assigned you and ask if anybody is around, just as you have heard others do on the repeater. When you let up on the button you hear the squelch tail of the repeater for a few seconds, and maybe the voice or Morse code identification.

The radio works! You have emitted radio-frequency energy into the atmosphere! The repeater apparently actually heard you!

But nobody responds. You try several more times over the next few days. Nobody answers. Where are all those friendly voices you have been hearing chatting about anything and everything? And even offering friendly welcomes to other newcomers just like you.

Finally, afraid you have gotten a busted radio, you decide to break into an ongoing conversation you hear, just to see if they can pick you up. You gather your courage and wait for a lull, then say your call sign, just as you have heard others do.

“Joe, sounds like somebody trying to get into the repeater. Try it again, Old Man.”

(No insult intended there, by the way. Hams call each other “Old Man” all the time if they don’t know the other guy’s name, and whether you are young, old or somewhere in between. Don’t ask why. Just accept it. Unless you are female. Then you have every reason to get mad about it.)

So, pulse racing, you push the PTT (“push-to-talk”) button once again and give your new call sign, your name, your location, and ask them for a signal report. They heard you! You are about to make your first actual Amateur Radio “QSO.”

“Sorry, friend, you just are not making it into the repeater,” comes the soul-crushing response. “Maybe try again later when you are in a better location.”

And that happens to you a couple more times. Better location? You are hearing the repeater’s signal just fine. And this radio is supposed to put out five watts. Maybe it is broken after all.

There is likely nothing wrong with your radio. That is just the nature of VHF and UHF communications. They are termed “line of sight” frequencies. You literally have to be able to see the repeater antenna—or come very close—for the repeater to hear your signal well enough for it to repeat it back by re-transmitting it.

Plus you are most likely using the stock antenna that came with your radio, what Hams call a “rubber duckie.” It is a flexible but stubby aerial, made for convenience and toughness, not efficiency or effectiveness. Very few of your five watts are actually being radiated. Instead, they are being used up as heat in that compromise antenna screwed to the top of your HT.

If you plan to use the HT much and are not in a prime position to reach the repeater, you should actually invest in a quarter-wavelength antenna and attach it to your little handheld. Or a simple ground plane or j-pole and mount it outside your house with coax feed run inside to hook to your HT’s antenna output. If you intend to use the HT in the car, buy an outside “mag-mount” antenna which can be stuck on the roof or trunk deck, run the coax feedline inside, and attach it to the radio. It will make all the difference in the world.

Of course, you can also get one of those more powerful FM transceivers, put a more permanent antenna on the car, or put up an outside antenna at home. Note that for a home setup, you will need a twelve-volt power supply of some kind, too.

But the fact is that those negative experiences with the cheap HT have dampened your enthusiasm for Amateur Radio more than somewhat. Heck, that cell phone of yours operates somewhere up there in the UHF portion of the spectrum and it runs far less than five watts of power, yet it works. Most of the time anyway. Shoot, you can call China on the thing if you want to, but that doggone HT won’t even reach Mount Whozit twenty miles away!

If this Ham Radio stuff is this persnickety, you decide, you’ll just go back to talking to people on the phone and chatting on Facebook. The HT ends up back in its box or on Craig’s List. You tell friends you just don’t understand why folks are so gung-ho on this radio hobby. Heck, you can’t even talk reliably across town with the stuff.

That, in a nutshell, is the “HT trap.” And I am convinced it robs our avocation of many people who would enjoy it tremendously if they only got past that initial disappointment. That is why I urge people to go ahead and invest in a real station and get at least a marginal antenna up in addition to the cheap HT. There is so much more to the hobby than a handheld and a local repeater, even if you only hold a Technician license.

The good news? There was a time in our hobby’s history when you had to build or modify military or commercial surplus gear to get on the air. We are fortunate to live in a time when manufacturers offer surprisingly sophisticated gear at reasonable prices. Despite what some claim, ours is not an expensive pastime at all. Compare getting started in golf, fishing, or most any other hobby.

Priced a bass boat, trailer, trolling motor, tackle, lures and licenses lately? Do you have any idea what a bag of golf clubs, greens fees or club membership will run you? Believe me, Ham Radio can be much less expensive.

And you can sample most of the aspects of our hobby with a new HF radio (that can cost much less than a bag of golf clubs) and with a simple wire antenna.

Don’t let the cheap HT be your only experience with Amateur Radio. Go a few steps deeper, see what else the hobby has to offer, and you will learn why our numbers continue to grow even as we dive into our second century of existence.

And those numbers will grow even more if we can more folks past that enticing HT trap.





This article appears in a slightly different form in N4KC’s newly-published book Get on the Air…NOW!, a practical and readable guide for how to overcome the obstacles that might keep a newcomer from getting started in Amateur Radio. The book also contains The Amateur Radio Dictionary, the most complete glossary of Ham Radio terms ever compiled, with more than 1600 definitions and hundreds of web links to get more details. The dictionary is also available as a stand-alone book, and both can be obtained in paperback as well as all e-book formats. See www.n4kc.com for details.

Member Comments:
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Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AF7EC on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
"Mount Whozit"...the greatest repeater site EVER!

Thanks for the article! :D
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W4AJA on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Guilty, other than an HT working pretty well where I live. My speed bumps in this hobby are:

1. No dedicated space in the house for a "shack." If you're going to pull coax this has to be solved.

2. HOA antenna restrictions. Yes I have an attic. See #1.

3. I don't have the "gift of gab." I'm very interested in the technology but not very good at carrying on a random conversation.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K5UJ on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I have been saying for years that the elimination of the Novice license in the US was a tremendous mistake. The idea that a Tech. license and a little 2m FM "CB" rig could be an entry path was very misguided. Many new Techs get such a setup and get bored in a week or so and move on to something else. 2m FM, and repeaters isn't really ham radio except in a legal sense.

We badly need the reestablishment of some sort of entry license with HF privileges, and not just 10 meters. Maybe 50 kc subbands and a power limit of 200 w. but something that can allow a new ham to try out 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters and is good for a few years but is non-renewable.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WD4AOG on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I say the real trap is not the type of rig but the non-acceptance of new hams by us old guys. Rather than mentor, we tend to keep to ourselves, refusing to make a welcoming place for the new folks, on the air and in our clubs.

Most of them are already intimidated by all that they DON'T know and are fearful of sounding dumb on the air or "doing it wrong."

When you're on the air, pause and ask for anyone who may be listening to join it. Actually SAY that new hams are welcome and then follow through by including them in the conversation. Ask them what problems they are facing as they establish their station and then offer your advice and experience with a friendly (not superior) attitude.

At club meetings and, especially events, give them jobs that will help them feel needed and part of the group. Offer programs that will help them grow.

The biggest reason new hams lose interest is that no interest is shown to them. Don't blame the HT. It's not the technology. It's the technicians.

And then there's the "you're 5-9. Next station please" mentality vs a good ol' ragchew... but don't get me started on that!

73
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB2DHG on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Personally I hate the new HT's out there today they are a horror to program and use with all these multi function buttons.They can be quite a turn off to a new HAM as to how difficult they are to use. Also repeaters are not as active as they were years ago. For me the action is on HF!
I also agree that the demise of the NOVICE class was a big mistake.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB1GMX on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Yes it is...

I opened my talks in the past with got my tech, then the obligatory HT.
Good news is I started the same day on getting on the air with 6M SSB and haven't looked back.

I still use 2 and 440 FM and even 10 and 6M fm as its a mode and can be a fun mode. But my operating goals and desires to build take me far from FM though SSB on 2M has proven great fun.


Over all I tell people got you ht, that good learn how to use it well. But there is a whole world available to the tech that actually has DX in it.
The belief that some time on 10M SSB or maybe even CW or data will get them hooked enough to get the general and expand their horizons. I do know a few that didn't but instead went up the VHF and UHF path into microwaves. No matter what 2M FM is not the world, just a tiny subset.

Go explore!

Allison
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AC7CW on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
The posts about a novice license are right. We hams need to take the leadership of the hobby away from the manufacturers.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AB9TA on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting article...
It would be nice to get more Tech class licenses on HF, and in a meaningful way, not just on the dead end that is CW.
So here's an idea whose time has come: Let's allow Tech licensees to use PSK, RTTY, JT-65, and other digital soundcard modes in their existing sections of the HF bands.
The combination of computers and RF technology is what's driving the technology world today, and here is an excellent opportunity for young and old to learn.
We're telling people coming into the hobby today they will be able to use advancing technology in Amateur Radio..
Instead, the rules force Tech licensees to use obsolete, outdated, and outmoded CW to be able to enjoy the HF bands..
I can't think of anything more foolish than telling newcomers that we have a high-tech hobby.. But to use it, you have to take a step back in time, and use obsolete technology from two centuries ago.. What are we thinking?

73!
Bill AB9TA
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N3QE on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I'm an HF CW guy myself, and have never seen the allure of repeaters or handhelds.

For a big chunk of its existence, the "Technician" license had no HF privileges and seemed very much a dead-end. Seemed like a very bad idea to me. But many many came into the hobby this way (especially during repeater craze, whole clubs formed around repeaters), and some did the tests to upgrade because they wanted HF privs.

The current "Technician" license includes HF privileges and is not at all a dead-end. This is very good for the hobby.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W5TTW on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
For those of you that are losing sleep over this subject, let me suggest the following: Monitor the testing dates in your area. Visit the testing location and set up a portable or mobile HF rig. Invite the noobs to take a look at HF phone/CW/digi ops in action. If that doesn't get their attention, nothing will.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AF5CC on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
"We badly need the reestablishment of some sort of entry license with HF privileges, and not just 10 meters. Maybe 50 kc subbands and a power limit of 200 w. but something that can allow a new ham to try out 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters and is good for a few years but is non-renewable."

I agree that it was a bad thing for the ARRL to push the Technician license over the Novice license as the point of entry when both licenses existed, and the tech only had VHF/UHF privileges. However, the Technician license has more HF privileges than 10 meters. They also can operate on 15, 40, and 80 meters, similar to the old novice license, but with wider band limits when I was a novice.

I also agree with Allison, get the new techs on 6m SSB, and maybe the satellites, and show them what fun you can have with ham radio. I have worked 40 states on 2m, which is supposed to be a line of sight band-but then I have really good eyesight!

John AF5CC
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N4KC on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!



I'm liking some of the ideas my little article has already ginned up:

- I'd be all for a "Novice" license, but we can't simply get them a call sign and leave them to try to get on HF all on their own.

- Along with several groups, I'm already pushing for digital privileges for Technicians. A poster was correct: we tout modern Amateur Radio and technology yet we don't allow most newcomers to truly experience it outside V/UHF.

- Let's don't put down ANY mode as outdated or old-fashioned, though. CW is just another digital mode that can offer opportunity for experimentation and communication when the propagation is less than stellar...like over the next five years or so. Heck, I still use AM and I'd bet a lot of newcomers would enjoy many aspects of that mode. These "outdated" modes might be just the thing that yanks someone's crank.

- Love the idea of setting up a station at a testing site and letting newcomers see what is awaiting them. By the way, whatever happened to club stations that would allow folks to get on the air even as they studied for the exam and then put their own stations together?

By the way, if you want to see a truly well-targeted and beautifully-produced promotional video for our hobby, take six minutes to watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x6x_6mDVlQ

Keep 'em coming!

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com




 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB4QAA on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
There is no "HT Trap".

The difference today from a couple decades ago is that most new hams have no experience nor interest in HF. They have no interest or romance for learning morse code, which naturally is associated with HF. They aren't familiar with Short Wave radio and listening, and didn't grow up with it.

This is compounded by advertising and promotion efforts by ARRL and individual hams for HT and repeater work for emergency services and disaster relief.

If you want HF operators, then recruit people interested in HF. Our ranks will be smaller. That's OK with me. "Growth" and the absolute size of the licensed ranks is not important to me as a driving goal.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W2UIS on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
In the 70s and 80s 2 meter FM was a good introduction to Amateur Radio, I had a great time as a technican class licensee. Not today with so little activity on vhf/uhf FM.

Purchasing a HT today can be a dissapointment for a new ham unless it has DStar.

Although more expensive to set up a DStar station the mode does allow world wide communications.

I realize many hate DStar but then many at one time hated sideband.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
AB9TA said: "Instead, the rules force Tech licensees to use obsolete, outdated, and outmoded CW to be able to enjoy the HF bands..
I can't think of anything more foolish than telling newcomers that we have a high-tech hobby.. But to use it, you have to take a step back in time, and use obsolete technology from two centuries ago.. What are we thinking"


Errr, Morse is alive and well, perhaps not in your world, but Morse is not only still used in amateur radio but in commercial and military applications, as well. Spare me all the arguments to the contrary, I have heard all of them, your choice to remain ignorant.

Research an introductory digital photography course at most tech schools and universities. The students are first required to purchase a film camera and learn how to use chemicals to develop photos, prior to moving on to digital photography. See where I'm going? Walk, before you pilot a jet aircraft.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by NY7Q on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
JOHNZ is totally correct....
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KA3AUD on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
All of what you said happened to me. Luckily I got back into the hobby and on HF. But it took 25 years to happen.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by NY7Q on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Gaaads, are you nuts or something....CW is fine, and well and probably more ops on now than ever..I have been a CW op since 1953 and it is great...
The thing that upsets me are the techs that are on areas of the bands they aren't licensed to be on. I run onto them almost daily now. Lots of law breakers on ham radio nowadays.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W2UIS on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Licensed in 1980 (at age 30) never left. I'm having fun on HF (40m most of the time) and DStar (REF001C and 030C). Now retired the rig is on all the time.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AF6AU on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Sure the HT "trap" in some areas hurts/hinders new hams, however, if you are lucky to be near a repeater that is access to some system that's the likes of the "Winsystem" (thanks for "Shorty"), you have global reach with a 440 or 2 meter handheld on FM. Even with that, it gets rather quiet during the day.

The other issue of HT range on transmit is thoes OEM supplied flexible resistors a lot of hendhelds come with. Many newbies don't want to install a really good HT gain whip on a $50 cheap-o made-in-PRC radio. Sure I have HT's, that I use mobile (old Alinco 580 and a Yaseu FT-470), but it gets plumbed into a good roof mounted Comet sbb5 and the cigarette lighter power in the car that works excellent. I usually tell newbies that the Antenna is 80% of the radio "system", and the system is like your eyes. 20-20 is great, but add a telescope and height, and then what can you see?

Get them into solid clean contacts on the machines, then they will get hungry for DX as they find they can work 30-50 miles with a 4 watt HT, maybe even a satellite with a home brew cheap yagi. Moving them to higher classes and HF is a lot easier if you help newbies get solid quality contacts.

Go ahead, be an elmer, even if you don't think you can be. If you scoff at some new guy or gal on the machine that is running with an issue, help. Your kindness and advice may be the reason they are there tomorrow, like you were one upon a time..
73's
JML/AF6AU
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by G3SEA on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!

W2UIS Stated on October 22, 2015

" Although more expensive to set up a DStar station the mode does allow world wide communications "

He is correct but Echolink / IRLP involve far cheaper
methods than DSTAR to natter worldwide. However the object of the article is to introduce hams to the magic of HF.

However the HOA restrictions to date preclude many hams
access to HF and so the HT is their only recourse to natter locally and via EchoIRLP to natter worldwide.

G3SEA/KH6




 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WB4M on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
It could be the orange vest syndrome. The ARRL pushes EMCOMM, D-Star, etc. What do you expect?
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KW4JA on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I got over my ham radio addiction about two years ago that I'd had since I was seven years old. I woke up one day and I no longer had a feeling when I heard a transmission from far away. When the feelings are gone the addiction is over.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
One of the good things about EMCOMM if done correctly is that it offers Technicians opportunities to get involved with a group as opposed to just trying to make contacts on a repeater with a HT.

Also if done correctly, emergency communications exercises should encourage participants to think way outside the repeater box.

How can you communicate without relying on a repeater? How can you solve the inevitable problems that might arise? Can you construct a makeshift antenna? Wire up a power supply? Fix a connector?

How do you get that 5 W HT to reach beyond the repeater? If new hams start accomplishing something more than just PTT with an appliance HT through a repeater then they begin to get the real feel of ham radio.

It may be as simple as making an antenna or even just rigging up something on a portable mast. Hey, I talked to that guy 25 miles away with this jury-rigged setup I just made. Cool. (It's not real "DX" like HF, but can be just as thrilling when is it something DIY.)

Simply talking to someone through a little hand held box is no big deal in the cell phone age. Why wouldn't they get bored.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K6AER on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Many repeaters will go for days with out a single ker-chunk even in a city.

Kids have no interest in just talking with old gomers when they have 4G phones.

Ham radio is relegated to the level of watching a Polo Match. Pass the bubbly Reggie!
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AK4YH on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Hello,

I think K5UJ is right, the Technician license is the wrong way to start, and with the Novice license gone, that leaves General only as the next step. Not that General is difficult. With just a little bit more studying, anyone who can pass the Tech exam should pass General.

My first QSO was on a K1 I had just built. Had it not been for CW, I probably would have quit too, because VHF/UHF really is pretty boring. Most newcomers' first QSO will be signing into a net. They'll give their call sign, get a welcome, and that's it. After that, maybe a few conversations about nothing.. It depends on location of course, but around here it's pretty quiet, and not very interesting. I probably average one QSO a month on my HT, and I force myself.. I tried to take it on the road, but nobody ever listens to the simplex calling frequency. I still take it with me sometimes, but it's in my bag, turned off.

When I suggest to someone that they should give Ham radio a try, I always insist that they go for the General license, at least. Yes, the pool of operators is growing, but how many go beyong Technician?

What we need is also more portable HF rigs. Most manufacturers haven't caught up on that, or don't really want to. In the mean time small CW kits sell like hot cakes. Why is it important? Because nobody sees the lone Ham in his shack. Take a small rig to the park and talk to someone on another continent, and you'll have a crowd around pretty quickly. That's how you keep this hobby alive; not with a field day once a year that nobody but Hams go to; and not by posting old men with orange vests at bicycle races. Few people below 50yo will want to be like that guy, no offense..

Let's boycott Technician and promote General. Let's also get our asses outside!

Gil.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K6FTZ on October 22, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
As someone who picked up a Yaesu FT-60 for my first radio prior to getting licensed in June of this year, I understand the issues you outline, but they're barely insurmountable. With the incredible depth and breadth of resources both online and in many (though not all) communities, I've found myself with a ton of options when it comes to getting on and enjoying the airwaves. Where I've had trouble, I always find other hams happy to help. (I'll allow that, as a resident of the ham-dense SF Bay Area, my perspective may be warped.)

Not getting into the local repeater with a cheap HT shouldn't be a roadblock to progress. It should be an invitation to troubleshooting and trying to learn what's going on. The more venues in which we help convey that attitude and answer the questions that inevitably arise for newly licensed HT owners, the better. In the end, it's going to be far easier to go that route than to convince someone that a 5-star HT for $30 on Amazon.com isn't a good entry level radio.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB2HSH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
KB4QAA hit the nail right on the head...

Emcomm, CERT, or even the fools that are "preppers"...believing that the world is coming to a cataclysmic end are what has truly changed radio.

Even more are the "cram and ham" guys that arrive at a hamfest with no knowledge, drill for 3 or 4 hours, and then walk out as a ham with said cheap Chinese HT in hand. Their lack of actual knowledge is terrifying. We have a "tech net" here in Buffalo on one of the repeaters, and it sickens me to hear "no-code Extras" ask questions that were covered in NOVICE theory.

I'm not saying that the CW requirement was right or wrong, but what I AM saying is that common sense and an actual EARNED license are what's lacking.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WA5VGO on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
"QUOTE"
The truth is, much of that stuff in the previous paragraph is wrong. Our numbers are growing. Kids are finding us. So are middle-aged people and even older types who see what a great retirement avocation Amateur Radio is. All should be welcomed with open arms and a helpful spirit.


Actually, the truth is, the hobby is dying and will continue to. Just like toy trains and sandlot baseball, ham radio is now considered passé by the masses. Numbers alone do not tell the story. Activity is only a fraction of what it was when the number of licenses was much lower. Forty years ago it was impossible to find a clear frequency on 75 meters on a Friday. It was impossible to find a clear spot on 20 meters almost any time. Now there are vast swatches of open space on every band all of time. Licenses have gotten so easy to get that many people receive theirs and NEVER make a contact.

This hobby seems to have more than it's fair share of people that can't face reality. Enjoy what's left of the hobby and stop fighting the inevitable decline.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W2UIS on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Operating on the high frequency bands is not the ultimate experience in Amateur radio anymore.

I do find digital modes to be challanging and rewarding on all the bands (HF/VHF/UHF). I tried JT65 which worked well but not suitable for coversations.

For me the Amateur Radio Experience is the conversations I have with other hams. For the last four years Digital Voice (DV) has been a fantastic experience for me.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K1PJR on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Had a novice ticket in high school. Lost interest in college. Got back in the hobby in my fifties. Only new HF. I have no interest in VHF. Making the tests easier keeps the hobby alive. It's just a different era. Just because you passed a code test and harder theory does not make you a better operator. It's a hobby. You get what you put into it. I do agree the techs should get more HF privileges. It's so much more enjoyable than VHF.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K7EXJ on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
When I was 13 my parents thought that getting an amateur radio license was a useless waste of time. Worse yet, the noise of CW signals wafting through the house was annoying.

I had to pass a test in which I wrote out the answers and an actual Morse test. At 13. Then I had to earn enough money from my paper route to buy a used receiver and a used Central Electronics 10A and a BC458 VFO, convert the VFO, and build a small 50-watt linear amplifer.

What was the use? Well, I had a career in electronics and was actually, for a time, paid for my ability to send and receive Morse code. I subsequently moved into computer systems and at 72 I'm still active as a network engineer. Learning about inductance, reactance, resistance and impedance certainly prepared me for the rest of my life. And the State Department paid me for my skills at CW, moved me to interesting places, and I picked up a couple other languages on the way.

I am not entirely sure what sort of career preparation a new ham gets today. But Morse code might be in for a resurrection. It turns out that the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis is requiring Celestial Navigation again after a 15-year hiatus. That means that any Naval Officer half way through his-or-her career is no longer competent to navigate in the event of a hacker taking down the GPS systems.

I wonder if they've thought about the telecom satellites.

K7EXJ
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K9MHZ on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
"....Priced a bass boat, trailer, trolling motor, tackle, lures and licenses lately? Do you have any idea what a bag of golf clubs, greens fees or club membership will run you? Believe me, Ham Radio can be much less expensive...."

Oh yeah. Many out-of-state deer tags would buy 4 or 5 of those little Chinese IMD monsters.

It's all about interests....HTs and repeaters here get use because of one thing, friends with common interests. 33 and 23 cm, 6 meter conversions from biz band gear, Echo, D-STAR, cross-band linking for wide coverage, etc. A new kid with a Baofeng and a Tech license would be welcomed, but accessibility would be an issue, as he'd otherwise be stuck talking to the morons on 2 meters.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KI4OYV on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Well put! We need to help new tech's out and make them feel welcome, whether on the air or at meeting. Ask them question about themselves and their sta's. You'd be surprised how fast they'll respond and fit-in.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@KB2HSH

Yes, exactly, I have seen that happen many times, and when I mention it here, people get angry. A guy will stop by the store on Friday evening, on the way home from work and buy a question & answer book. He then spends a few hours memorizing the answers to some questions he does not understand, goes to the hamfest Saturday morning and passes his exam. Bingo! He is on the air!

The only thing worse than the above scenario is exam fraud, perpetrated by corrupt individuals who pump out untold numbers of illiterate LICENSED operators. I know of a person who claims he passed the 13 wpm Morse exam, given by one of these exam fraud groups, back when Morse was still a requirement. However, he cannot copy a single Morse character. His explanation? He "forgot" the code, because he never used it, after he passed the exam.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC9WIP on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
For me, if there is any trap, it is self induced. Several years ago I got back to getting into the hobby, got my General in one setting, because of the love of tinkering. I just don't have the money, the time and, for a long while now, a place. They are just excuses to keep me from enjoying the hobby. Although those three things are also desirable because the notion to have"the shack."

I have trees to rehang my dipole and sort of a shared place to sit my rig when I'm able to use it. Not as convenient, but it will be available again very shortly.

My dream is to get into vintage equipment. I have an old National receiver that needs recapped. I want to get an old transmitter with some power...probably going to be a tech special. They are less expensive. But one of the things I love about the older stuff is that I can work on it.

I would love to have a dedicated work area and be able to set aside time as well to repair things. The rewards are getting onto the air with stuff I've made or repaired and just making a contact. I've lived that. Want more of it. I can gab, but that's not what draws me. I might try it, but I won't be a contestor either. Not my thing.

I too get on the local repeaters occasionally. Mostly for the weekly nets. I get on them with my little chinese radio. That's all I have, right now. I've made/rescued a couple of antennas to use on VHF/UHF that I'll throw on it and set outside the house... HTs and repeaters only help scratch the itch just a little. But what interests me in the hobby isn't what interests another and that is the beauty of it.

HT trap or life? I tend to think it's life. I know a few others that have stepped aside because time with the family was a higher priority and required any finances and time that could be spent on the hobby, just like me. But that's ok.

73
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AB9TA on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry to burst your bubble, but CW is D.E.A.D in the real world. There is NO commercial use of CW. None! If you think there is, consider this: when's the last time you received a telegraph from Western Union? You will not see a Morse key in any commercial facility anywhere in the world. Whether it's Morse over wire or radio, it's simply not used commercially today. Anywhere!
It's only used as a niche more in some military applications, and as an identifier for navigational aids. Other than that CW is dead as dead can be.
The only place it's used is in Amateur Radio, where coincidentally, people who might be interested in technology consider us old fuddy-duddies.. And, they'd be correct.
The longer we continue this inane fixation with CW, the longer we will be considered irrelevant by the rest of the world.

73!
Bill AB9TA.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K4FMH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Bill,

Great commentary! As I said in my recent Stray on eHam....CW: perhaps the first mode but hardly the only one! Digital has rapidly superseded CW...and weak-signal digital is at least as likely to get through when conditions are poor...one of the last remaining arguments on behalf of CW.

But, I do still have learning CW on my bucket list in ham radio.

73,

Frank
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2QYM on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
The author takes the position that the person who studied and passed a Technician class license has no clue how to proceed into the hobby. Perhaps there are people like that but there's no excuse for total ignorance as long as the internet is flush with information; particularly on operating techniques etc. Duhhh, aren't there a ton of ARRL publications available even to those who don't have an Elmer? The issue at hand on HF is multi fold. Cliquish groups engaged in conversations of no interest to most. When you try to break in some curmudgeons share no interest in welcoming you. Some of these guys might as well have xtal controlled rigs because they're whole thing is each other and they exclude newcomers. What about nets? Check in and wait for your turn and what do you say? Just about what everyone else says...my weather is...my gas prices are....changed the oil in my lawn mower today...no wonder intelligent people get bored quickly with ham radio. Try to do DX (outside a contest) and you excitedly contact a station with relatively good command of English. You ask a few questions and try to engage in a conversation...some AH breaks in and demands you finish so he can work the DX station...you get bullied off because unless you have a superstation no one wants your modest signal getting in their predatory way to bag the DX station with a 59 and goodbye. No friends, I think we have to look far deeper into the darkness that lurks in ham radio. It has become a gathering for smug cliques, old curmudgeons with no patience for others, and win at all costs DX chasing hounds. And I haven't even mentioned the CB QRM hoards running loose on the bands. Oh, and what about encouraging girls into this hobby. You may be successful and get your wives and daughters into this mess but really? What possible interest can ham radio have for them? What are you thinking? If RF experimentation is the goal of getting a license then newcomers who get their tech licenses are just fine on the upper bands; they really don't need the 'HF Experience'. I got my license in 2007 and was one of those no code licensees. I am a good operator, antenna builder, and technically capable. I limit my HF activities to rag chews with a handful of intelligent folks and to DX contacts where I can actually have a conversation without the 'breakers'. Other than that all the other attributes of ham radio are a waste of time for me. What is important to some may not be important to all. Everyone picks the depth of their hobby. Yes, it's a hobby, not an avocation, religion, culture, or community. Anyone who tries to dress it up beyond what it is just doesn't have a real life.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K4PIH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
John Z

Doesn't mean he didn't pass the code test legally and then never used the skill and forgot it. Much like learning a foreign language and then losing the skill due to not speaking the language. Pretty presumptuous statement to make. And if true, what have you done to stop the fraud?
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K4PIH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Here we go again! Blame it all on corrupt testers, no code, and hordes of CBer's ruining the hobby!

The real problem is old Fudd's that don't encourage the new folks to do anything but VHF. Old Fudd's that sit back and piss and moan about how they had to do it and so should the newbies!

Let me remind you old Fudd's ...

Ronnie is no longer the President and Elvis is still dead!

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N4KC on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!


Well, despite my better judgement, I have to refute a few comments above:

K6AER: "Kids have no interest in just talking with old gomers when they have 4G phones." Maybe so and maybe not, but that is my point. There is much more to our hobby today than "talking to old gomers" and we need to make sure potential Hams know about it. But some people want to talk to old gomers, and especially other old gomers, and they should be able to do so without you or me or anybody else criticizing them.

KB4QAA and others who referenced "the orange vest crowd": "Emcomm, CERT, or even the fools that are 'preppers'...believing that the world is coming to a cataclysmic end are what has truly changed radio." EMCOM is an important aspect of our hobby and one that appeals to many. As with all the other great things we can do in Ham Radio, to each his own. I know it is fashionable and considered by some to be clever to make fun of EMCOM, but I have monitored and heard lives being saved and disaster situations made better by those guys in the "orange vests." Besides, seems to me these folks would be easy converts to join us in other activities within the hobby...when all hell is not breaking loose. But if they only want to do EMCOM, more power to them! And thank goodness for them.

WA5VGO: "...the hobby is dying and will continue to..." No, it's not. And stats are on my side of the argument. Finding an empty frequency on 75 meters at night proves nothing. Back in the day (and I was on the air then, too), we only had five viable HF bands, and really only three when sunspots were scarce. 160 was zapped by LORAN. 60, 30, 17, and 12 did not exist yet. You also could only primarily find QSOs on AM, SSB, and CW. Ever consider that many missing from 75 meters may be having a blast with RTTY or PSK31 somewhere else? Or chasing sats? Or doing any number of other activities in the hobby that didn't exist in the "golden age" of Ham Radio? Repeater activity not what it once was? That is because in the day, we only had two or three repeaters in most cities. Now there are scores in most towns, most with unnecessary input tones, so it difficult to find critical mass among all those repeaters. Plus many who might be yakking it up on the repeaters are enjoying all the elbow room and new modes on the HF bands.

CW is not dead either. It is not only a viable mode and still in use in plenty of places across the spectrum (not as much as it was in 1935, I know) but why don't you naysayers admit it is simply F - U - N for many of us, and still a great way to communicate with low power and poor propagation? I doubt today's callow youth shove Amateur Radio aside as "ancient" just because we still employ Morse. Most kids I encounter are fascinated by the stuff. And if you think it is dead on the Ham bands, you obviously don't listen below the voice segments. Vacuum tubes are old technology but lots of folks still enjoy tinkering with them. So is AM, but many of us like playing with it. How many people restore old cars, antique furniture, and other "outdated" stuff?

KC2QYM: "The author takes the position that the person who studied and passed a Technician class license has no clue how to proceed into the hobby." No, I don't at all. Did you bother reading the article? I maintain that there are several potential stumbling blocks that may deter newcomers from moving on to experience many of the aspects of the hobby beyond an HT on 2 meters. But none of us are born knowing it all. I am proposing that we all make an effort to give those new Techs a hand if they want and need it. A Ham license is a license to learn. But there is no requirement to do so. We just need to make sure we assist those who want to.

I also posit that not everyone who desires to enter our hobby wants to build things or dive deeply into the technical side. And that is fine. Absolutely fine. If you want to design and construct radios, knock yourself out. If you only want a general idea of how this stuff works but want to chase DX, ragchew, volunteer for EMCOM, experiment with digital modes, compete in contests, hike and camp with your QRP rig, or do countless other activities available in Ham Radio, that is wonderful, too.

Enjoy whatever you like to do and allow others to have the same freedom without criticism and ridicule. Be encouraging and helpful. That can only make our hobby even more exciting and vibrant.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com



 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB2HSH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Don, I'M the one that made fun of the "orange vest crowd". From actually BEING in ARES (once upon a time), MOST that show up are IN THE DAMN WAY. And the others that arrive to a "crisis" think that the orange vest and radio now gives them some sort of "SUPER AUTHORITY".

When Amateur Radio DOES work well in emcomm (think Haiti), we all look good. When the orange vest brigade shows up with 15 antennas on their shitbox car to a 5K footrace, we look like absolute idiots.

John KB2HSH
 
Those who wnat everything done for them complain.  
by AI2IA on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
As with any sensible endeavor in life, it is up to the individual to inform himself and do what it takes to make a success of ham radio for himself. No one is going to take anyone by the hand and lead them to the promised land. Elmers help, but in the final analysis, you stand or fall by yourself.

Never forget: Ham radio is what YOU make it for yourself.
Only if you try it that way can you be proud of yourself.
 
RE: Those who wnat everything done for them complain.  
by K8QV on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure why the consensus is that newly licensed hams need to be spoon fed and led by the hand to HF and even possibly provided with some HF equipment to use.

If one has interest in a particular hobby, they seek a person or club that can help. They study the techniques and equipment needed for said hobby. They get off the couch and make it happen. Only in amateur radio is there this expectation that everything should magically fall into the lap of the aspiring hobbyist.

We have a lot of HT radios because there are a lot of HT hams. It would seem that many new licensees have an interest that only extends as far as the HT and orange vest. Why push or drag them into radio?
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W7ASA on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Fundamentally:

Why would new hams continue to show interest, if we do not show interest in them?

I have found by experience that helping the new hams over a few hurdles increased their interest. Radio is not user friendly, so some basic guidance about how antennas are the best 'amplifier', how to make key shack items, often from Elmer's junk box and the local hardware store, rather than from some high dollar ham pro-shop - these allow the new ham to make huge progress, into the fun parts of ham, so that they can find what works for them.

IMHO: VHF/UHF voice is a poor attractant, except for local areas with an already existing group of friends.

73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._

Ps. I absolutely agree with Gil: "Get Out Of The Shack!". I even know ONE fellow who took his QRP rig to the coffee shop...

https://youtu.be/dI6mMPPN4J4

 
RE: Those who wnat everything done for them complain.  
by KW4JX on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Would it be better if the entry test(s) were practical instead of theoretical?
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB2HSH on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
W7ASA:

Love the video! I have an MTR! What a rig! (And a CW rig, at that...hihi)

KB2HSH
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB1GMX on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
A few things.

6M is not the end all but a fun place I like that is not 2M FM.

10M (some of it) is available to techs.

Techs have HF! CW on 80, 40 and 15 is permitted.

Techs have full unlimited privileges on every band
from 6M though daylight.

Point being they have the privileges and a great many
bands to operate on but, are they really aware of that
and what it means. It also implies that we (the rest
of us) need to be more willing to accept and mentor
those that care to learn.

But yes 2M FM is a trap of sorts as it can expose
some to ham radio but only small part. Its not all there is but it is easy.

Allison
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KF4HR on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry Don, I don't see HT's as a trap, but rather as one possible entry point for the newbees. Granted HT operation is a small segment of the hobby but it does offer an opportunity for the newbees to learn how far low VHF/UHF power can travel, how repeaters work, how to program a radio, perhaps how to build a J-pole or use a larger antenna for better range, and numerous other things. And after achieving success by obtaining a license, then buying an HT, what ham is going to throw in the towel if they can't be heard through their local repeater right away?

In the general quest to talk further distances and to make more contacts, most hams end up graduating from HT's to VHF/UHF mobile units, then some go on to using the HF frequencies and specialty modes.

Not to high jack this thread but what I do see as an emerging trap are newbees that start out using the VoIP modes, DStar, Wires-X, etc, and don't seem to have much interest to going any further into the hobby because the VoIP modes offer world wide communications with minimal effort and expense. I'm hearing an ever increasing number of hams, especially newbees, spending the majority of their on-the-air time using these VoIP modes and speaking about the HF bands as something they have little or no interest in. Sad.

As for CW being dead. It's a safe bet that anyone that thinks CW is dead is also ignoring all the DX and QSO's that occur at the lower end of the bands.

Bring back the Novice license? Nice thought, but I believe its way too late for that. The gate has been left open and the cows are long gone. Besides, how much easier can the FCC make the entry level test? Start giving away licenses in cereal boxes?
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N7KFD on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!

I agree with most of the comments here in that Technicians should be allowed some HF privileges. The digital modes might be a good place to start just as CW was for Novices back in the day. It'll give them a taste of whats possible which could be encouragement for upgrading.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Some very limited phone privileges on HF may not be a bad idea. Perhaps 50 KHz portions of the General phone bands on 75 and 15, and a power limit of 10 Watts. Leave the rest of the phone bands and higher power as incentives to upgrade.

However, it's probably unlikely that you'll get a majority of current Generals and Extras to support this especially if their favorite operating frequencies fall within the 50KHz, and even if you did it's unlikely you'll get the FCC to agree or actually do anything for years.

So the best thing is to get all those HT-bound new (or not so new) Technicians out to Field Day or over to your shack, or the clubhouse station, or a special event station, work your state QSO party, etc. and get them on the air.

 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
A solution to all the problems being discussed here is a good Chinese dual-band HT that covers 144 mHz & 27 mHz.

Said 2m/11m HT should also have a PTT switch that when unkeyed, a programmed voice says, "No Code."
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC3JV on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
You forgot that Techs can operate the LEO Satellites and it is a heck of a lot of fun.

Mark KC3JV
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC8MWG on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@JOHNZ I can well believe that someone can forget code through lack of use. I was one of the last people who had to pass the 5wpm test for General. Did 5 minutes solid copy, passed the written exam, and never used CW again. I like to get on ssb nets on 75, but cw was never my interest. I can still copy a few characters and I can send my callsign, but that's about it. S o don't go assuming someone is a fraud or took a fraudulent exam just because they can't remember Morse code. I can't remember 99% of my high school algebra, or Spanish, either. For folks like me, it's often "use it, or lose it".
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N8FVJ on October 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I started hamming around 1978. I took a hiatus back in 2002 due to excessive work travel & renewed the license this year (retired). Odd as it is, I never cared for an HT. Bought a $35 Chinese special this year & used it once. Placed back in the box. I'll give it away as a free raffle gift at the local club Xmas party this year.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K7RBW on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I've met hams who like amateur radio for what it is and those who like it for what it can do for them. Personally, I'm in both camps, but this isn't about me.

For what it is, it's a place to experiment and get your geek on. I still think it's cool that with a handful of components and a wire, you can communicate with another handful of components and a wire (and, presumably, a person) somewhere else. The variety of different ways to do that has fascinated many for years.

But, not everyone is interested in technology for technology's sake.

For what it can do, I know the ARRL has prioritized EMCOMM, but that's just one, very important, but very niche application. Ham radio doesn't have to wait for something as dire as "when all else fails." just, "when nothing else is around" is sufficient. Ham radio is self-contained. No towers, no backbone, none of that is necessary to make it work. Even in our "connected" world, there are still many places (some, even close to my house in the city) that are not connected and ham radio is your best bet to talk to someone else. Oh, and by the way, if it works "when nothing else is around," it'll work "when all else fails."

If HT's are slowing the hobby's growth (and I'm not convinced that's the case), it's because those of us who know better, aren't spreading the word.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AI4WC on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Don: I appreciate your thoughts, and many of the others, too. I respect much of what has been said here but I ceased long ago trying to convince anyone about anything. I believe what I believe and other opinions are simply other opinions. I've had some great times in amateur radio and I assume that others will too. I've done airplanes, sailboats, race cars, SCUBA diving and on and on; my advice is to do what you enjoy and don't try to convince anyone to follow you, and don't denigrate anyone that does not follow you. Amateur radio is a great hobby; be good in it and to it. Most of all, be thankful you have the choice to be a participant.

73 and best wishes,
Jim
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AB4D on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
IMO, the HT is not the only trap. In many parts of the country, VHF and UHF are the trap. There is very little activity on those bands. There are many repeaters in my area that sit quiet with little to no use. It may be a hard pill for some to swallow, but IMO VHF and UHF is not really mainstream ham radio. HF world wide communications represents the bulk of Ham Radio activity. I would never recommend an HT as a first radio, unless there is a known group of local hams that are going give a new ham consistent opportunities to use VHF/UHF.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KG4YMC on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
the problem is that hts. are a pain in the ass to program . 2 meter communication was invented by a gov committee? I mean you have, tones. offsets. and whoever ownes the repeater is the one doing the maintance, cost of keeping it going ect. and the good old boy network . the point about not welcomeing newcomers is noted. I almost say eliminate the tec class and go directly to general class.
yes i also hate singnal reports. ego maniac. contestors. but don't get me started on that . bands sounded like cb radio this weekend. a pain. and who comes up with those dam . codes for the cotest. ? I never know what the hell they need on a contact. ? how about location . singnal report . they almost want to know the color of the rig< location on grid. ect ect? crazy .
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KB6QXM on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
ALL,

I believe that the HF trap was caused by the unnamed lobbyists pressured by equipment manufacturers trying to sell HTs and other equipment to eliminate the Novice class license.

Before everyone flames over my opinion, read it carefully and determine if there is any merit in my post before flaming my post.

1) The interest in entering the hobby of Amateur radio has been slowly decreasing over the years.

The reason: Technology has brought us cell phones, high-speed internet, Skype, Twitter, SMS texting and other associated technologies.

2) The new generations (Gen-Xers, Mellenials) have grown up with such technologies. The majority of the amateur radio population are aging Baby Boomers that were brought up in a time when such technologies did not exist. Amateur radio was a highly prized accomplishment.

In those days, you really had to work hard to obtain an amateur radio license. The first license (NOVICE) was a 1 year non-renewable license with many limitations. This was before "incentive licensing" and VECs.

You had a built in incentive to upgrade or find another hobby. That license structure was fine for the baby boomer generation that was built on hard work. In those days there was no instant gratification or political correctness of "inclusion". You either studied hard, passed BOTH your CW test and your theory tests in front of a FCC examiner or you found another hobby. PERIOD!

That model will not fly in this day and age.

I can understand, but do not appreciate the unnamed lobbyists position to push the FCC streamline the license classes. I understand that they need to get more people into the hobby to increase membership in their organization. It is fiscally important to them.

Many of the new licensees due to the elimination of the traditional CW requirement and reduced theory elements and published question pools come from CB radio.

It is a lot easier technically and financially for a newly minted ham to buy an HT, punch in a frequency and talk then to setup an HF station.

Also with the power of the HOA and CC&Rs, I understand that setting up an HF station is more and more difficult. Many municipalities have planning offices that require permits to even install a tower even if you are fortunate not to have an HOA or CC&R.

I believe that only the true hardcore hams that have the ability and the means to purchase rural property are the only hams in the near future that will be able to put up towers and large antenna arrays.

There are some extreme people that require reviews of the tower installation due to appearances and that you are infringing on their views.

I am all for multiple entry points into the hobby.

I also believed that before elimination of the CW requirement that they defined separate classes of licensees. Coded and non-coded hams with separate privileges and license class names.

I personally believe that lumping a 20WPM extra in the same group with a 5WPM extra and a no-code extra is an insult to the 20 WPM ham. If anyone of you who knows how difficult it is to pass a 20 WPM test under pressure, then I would believe that you should separate the classes as this is truly an accomplishment.

Many of you may not agree with me, but the last time I checked, we are still entitled to our own opinion.

73


 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8QV on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
<<< Also with the power of the HOA and CC&Rs, I understand that setting up an HF station is more and more difficult. >>>

Please. People who actually want to get on HF have mounted successful operations from college dorm rooms, tiny apartments, high rise buildings, nursing homes, county parks and vehicles. For decades. The HOA is not an excuse, at least not a valid one.

It never used to be that the first step in approaching a project was to find an excuse for not doing it. Times change, I guess.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@K8QV: I think the HOA is a valid "excuse" or more precisely a major deterrent. It is possible to make HF contacts with small compromised antennas, mobile, QRP, etc. I know because I have done it. However it is a challenge and you are generally at a significant disadvantage over someone with even a simple dipole at 30 feet and 100 W. It may be that a few new hams are looking for such a challenge, but not most. When you all CQ or try to call stations for hours an no one responds, it is quite discouraging. In that respect it is like calling on a repeater with your new $30 HT and never getting a response. The major difference is you've probably spent hundreds of dollars and a considerable time trying to get around the HOA restrictions.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8QV on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
<<< However it is a challenge and you are generally at a significant disadvantage over someone with even a simple dipole at 30 feet and 100 W. >>>

And the guy with 100w and a dipole is at a disadvantage to the guy with a kilowatt and 6 element beam. So what? The point is that you can get on HF without real estate or unlimited funds. The immediate goal of a new ham isn't to be the top DXer in his first year, but to just get on the air. I have worked the world from a car with a TS-50 and a mag mount Hamstick. By "world" I mean SSB contacts with Europe, Australia and Asia. I can string up a wire in the park and work Europe and South America all day long with 10 watts SSB. Even when propagation is bad there are plenty of stateside contacts to be had with considerably less equipment than a tower, beam or 100 watts. Also, I don't know of a club station that wouldn't let a new ham have a chance at operating it. Again, should a ham not try at all if he lives with an HOA? Desire is much more important to success and enjoyment than any list of equipment can ever be.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W7ASA on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
HOA and portable, I can absolutely talk to. These are two KEY areas that I've been able to help new and prospective hams with:

1. Simple, inexpensive, effective antennas.

2. The joy of portable operation.

I live in a total HOA, yet have a wonderful little HF station in the 8x8 storage shed, using a home brew magnetic loop with very good results. My max power is maybe 35 Watts when using the little Chinese amplifier, but I'm generally running QRP CW. Personally, I much prefer CW, but if a person did not want to learn this wonderful skill, they could do similar things using the various digital modes too, though it's a bit more of a hassle to bring a digital station to a park, as opposed to a simple QRP CW rig and wire antenna.

Even modest equipment with a reasonably efficient antenna will yield fine results, most of the time - like any other ham station. New hams are led to believe what they see in advertisements, that 'only' 100 Watts is not nearly enough, that a dipole is a 'compromise antenna' and not nearly enough. 'Enough for what?' I ask. It's more than enough to have a good time If they WANT (and can afford) a tall tower with an LPDA - fine and go to it, Lad & Lassies, but that's not required to start.

Show how to get started and and how to get an enjoyable >beginning< station on the air without impoverishing their family and it will be time well spent - for them AND for you.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W7RF on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I have been a ham continuously since 1972 at age 13 and have tried most aspects of Ham Radio. I work in radio, live and breathe it.
With that said, Ham Radio is different things to different people. I encourage my friends and Hams that I encounter to explore anything in Ham radio that exercises your brain. I teach technical subjects and encourage antenna experimentation. I enjoy operating modes that use my brain. I love CW, the only digital mode that you can decode using your head. I love to work DX and to chat with my fellow hams about homebrew antennas and technical subjects.
I think the best use of an FM HT for repeaters is to arrange lunch with your fellow hams!
There is SO much more to Ham radio than VHF UHF FM repeater operating.
To me the digital modes are just my computer keyboard talking to your computer keyboard. The only difference between an internet chat room and PSK31 is a radio instead of the internet.
If more of us would refuse to buy an HOA house, we might feel more motivated to build and install a better antenna that would allow more than a "keyboard QSO".
Experiment, learn, push your own limits and knowledge.
You have a small to modest station but want to work DX?
Stop using that crutch called "DX Spots". Once reported on the DX clusters it's too late many times to work that DX.
How to do it? First, put the radio ON THE DESK, This way you can actually use the tuning knob to FIND DX as they tune up or call CQ for the first time! This is part of learning that anybody can do. Challenge yourself to see how many states or countries you can work. Not a contester? Use the contests to add to your state and country totals.
Anything in life is more fun when you put effort into accomplishment.
What you get out is what you put in!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WO0KEE on October 24, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
As a newer ham, I can completely understand where you are coming from. I actually had kind of a lull when I first started. I did exactly the steps you talked about, but I kind of went a different direction. When I passed my first tests, I ordered a HT and waited for my callsign to post. I checked every day, multiple multiple times. When I finally saw my callsign I was super excited and couldn't wait to get operating.

Despite a pretty warm welcome by local hams, through the repeater and the club, I was to say the least underwhelmed with UHF/VHF operation. With a bit of help from my lifetime ham father, I was able to piece together an HF station with an ICOM radio and a G5RV jr. antenna. The week after I got on HF was a big international contest. My dad came over and helped me with contest operation. Within a few hours I had worked few dozen stations which included some DX. Oh, man, THIS was the operating I had been wanting.

Over the last few years, I have gotten into several digital modes, and have been trying to become a better contest operator. I have had some good support from some of the local guys, gotten involved with the OK DX association, and gotten pretty excited about some of the awards that are offered. Through some good advice, and more hours of research than I care to think about, I have slowly been improving my station with new antennas and better programs. It has been a bit of a process to save for some of these things, since I am not able to just buy the biggest, nicest equipment. A lot of secondhand, and deliberate purchases, but I have gotten some things that I am amazingly proud of. More importantly, since I started off with a bit of a humble setup, and have had to rely on patience and refining my operating practices, I think that I am a better operator for it.

To summarize, I myself almost fell into the "HT trap", through feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. However, with some great guidance from my dad, W5LE, and the guys from the OKDXA, I found what I was looking for and have been having a blast ever since. Anymore, I am kind of surprised how many people are happy limiting themselves to working a few miles from where they are.

So, as a younger person on a limited budget, this article hit close to home. Speaking from experience, the important thing to remember with newer operators is to be helpful and patient. Show them as many aspects of radio as you can so that they can know what is out there. Some people can be happy with a HT, but others are going to discover HF and all the joys and frustrations that can come with it. Make sure people can know what is out there and then let them find their own passion.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KE4ZHN on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
If someone is stuck using HT's around here they must not be on 2 meters or 70cm. The VHF and UHF bands here in Orlando are dead as a door nail.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
After reading many of the comments here, my image of an amateur radio operator is an old man clothed in a baby diaper, holding a baby bottle in one hand and an HT in the other hand.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K9MHZ on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Don's original premise is spot-on. HT communication has changed dramatically, and old paradigms of: "Hey junior, isn't this HT and talking on repeaters cool?" don't work anymore. Phones were large and expensive boutique items, so just about the only small novelty item available, aside from biz band comm, was amateur gear.

It seems that Don is merely trying to change a few minds on what entry-level enticement into the hobby should look like.

HTs and repeaters are fine, but let's keep them in perspective.... convenient, portable, and capable ways of communicating with (generally) local friends. It's NOT boilerplate ham activity today. That's OK though, it's just different today.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WA8MEA on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Huh. I must be living in a different universe. My 2 meter repeaters are EMPTY! My local 11 meter band is EMPTY! Everyone has graduated to HF because of NO CODE!

One can tell the influx of former CB'ers onto the amateur HF bands with their use of the following: "CQ", "QSK" and "contact" instead of "break." "My personal is...." And who can forget the occasional "10-4."

Not putting down CB'ers. Glad to see them working their way up to amateur radio. (PLEASE don't tell me it's these ex-CB'ers causing all of the problems on the bands. Most of 'em are lifer ARRL members who took the Extra at 20 WPM....)

And WHY does this rumor that our hobby is dying keep coming up decade after decade when the numbers show otherwise? Wanna check it out.... live? Just go to 20 meters right now and tell me how empty the bands are. I am doing other things this weekend because of the congestion on HF due to the CQ Contest.

73, Bill
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8QV on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I'm just wondering if there is a consensus among CB operators that CB is dying and they need to come up with a strategy to entice new blood into the fraternity. I wonder if photography enthusiasts and stamp collectors are fretting over how to make people like their hobby and are they working on ways to drag disinterested strangers into their hobby activities. Are those who do needlepoint actively recruiting for new needlepointers?

 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KD2JBI on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Great post! I am a very new Ham (July 2015) and when I decided to get my license, I went for the General over the Tech specifically so that I could get access to HF. Yes, it was harder and took me longer to get my license. However, I am taking a long view of Amateur Radio as a hobby rather than trying for quick gratification. I bring this up because, I think the marketing/messaging of the HT manufactures are focused on lowering the barriers of entry and enabling "quick gratification" for new Hams by highlighting ease of use and pricing as the two primary drivers.
I think this is a good thing for the hobby, however, I think there needs to be a strong secondary approach by clubs and groups to tout the benefits of moving to HF. I also think there needs to be some thinking about making the barriers of entry easier into HF. Pricing in particular is a big issue here. I would like to see more focus around entry level radios along with entry level pricing. Kind of like digital SLR camera's these days.Where there various levels fo cameras and pricing to match the skill level and desired spend. In addition to pricing, I think that the limited access to physical stores are an issue as well. Why aren't entry level Ham Radios sold at Best Buy or other stores? Instead, I have to buy everything over the internet and in this case, I think that is an issue for the hobby. I also think that Ebay is not the best secondary market for a new Ham to buy his/her HF equipment. This is where I bought mine and my experience has been kind difficult because of the amount of research thatI needed to do.
So I don't think that the HT's are slowing the growth of the hobby. I just think there needs to be a secondary push to get new Hams comfortable to upgrade their license and their equipment.

73,
Dominic
KD2JBI
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8QV on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
<<< Why aren't entry level Ham Radios sold at Best Buy or other stores? >>>

Seriously?

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8AI on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
KB4QAA:

"The difference today from a couple decades ago is that most new hams have no experience nor interest in HF. They have no interest or romance for learning morse code, which naturally is associated with HF. They aren't familiar with Short Wave radio and listening, and didn't grow up with it."

"If you want HF operators, then recruit people interested in HF. Our ranks will be smaller. That's OK with me. "Growth" and the absolute size of the licensed ranks is not important to me as a driving goal."

KB4QAA hit the nail on the head (I SURE WISH THE ADMIN WOULD ADD A "THUMBS UP/DOWN" VOTER FOR COMMENTS HERE - HINT, HINT). There just doesn't seem to be much interest in HF and CW and we just have to admit it rather than constantly lament this fact.

Hey, what do you old duffers care? It's us "young squirts" (I'm 46 and a CW op) that won't have anyone to talk to in the future. In the last 300 or so QSO's last year, only three of them were with hams in my age bracket (47, 48 and 51). The rest got their licenses in the 1960's and are either my dad's or grandpa's age.

Curt, K8AI
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KD2JBI on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Seriously?????? You are comparing apples to oranges here. Amateur Radio Operators have so much importance beyond the hobby. Do needle pointers have a group like ARES?????
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K8QV on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Do needlepointers have a group like ARES? Obviously nobody is as important as the Ham, but other hobbies do contribute to society.



Needlepointers.com - Your #1 Crafting Resource on the Web
Crafting for Charities
Volunteer work can be a rewarding experience and is an important part of society. You can make a difference by completing craft project in the comfort of your own home and donating them to worthy organizations.


 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W3UEC on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Perhaps we should separate the HT per se from the questions about which aspects of our magnificent and diverse hobby should be emphasized. I was first licensed in 1955 and was QRT for ~ 60 years. On my return, I mostly operate just like I did in 1955: low power, wire antenna and a lousy fist. VHF and UHF repeaters were new to me, but I soon learned that being able to participate in local nets complements my regular QRP CW HF enjoyment. Given the low price and small size of HT's, I think it is a good thing to have one on hand at all times. Similarly I hope that every ham would have a chance to hear that rare DX HF station call you back and to get some nice "wall paper" to hold the memory. These and other ham radio experiences are not mutually exclusive. Sorta like how one might prefer Scotch, Merlot or beer at a particular time, they all can give you a nice buzz!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by V73NS on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!

Hi m.. na.. e is Ne. l and I jus.. g .t my tec. ici n license last we.. and I am tes. ing my new HT. No on. will ta. k to me. Th. y say I hav. a poor si. al into th repeat. r. I am ge. ting fr. strated and I ...t ....wa... .....he best .......ment.

The club I was in some years ago strongly discouraged newbies from buying an HT - a.k.a. "Shack-on-a-belt". Their activity ended when the battery pack fails to hold a charge.

Newbies all seem to want to buy top of the line multi-band HT's with all the trimmings - except for an external antenna.

For the same price they could have easily purchased a 50W mobile rig, antenna for the car, antenna for the house and a power supply to use the rig indoors.

Would they listen to us?
Noooo ...they want the HT with its limited battery life, 5 watts and crappy antenna.

Having a crappy signal was reserved for old timers and Extras who used an HT rarely except for Field Day, parades etc.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by AF7EC on October 25, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Why do these discussions frequently devolve into cussing, name-calling and belittling?

Call me thin-skinned or not...I'm DONE with the folks who can't exercise a tiny bit of restraint on this (and other) sites!

There are KIDS who read these discussions! Not all kids are raised in homes where it's okay to cuss! You guys who can't keep a lid on it ought to just keep your foul words to your own self!

Grow up and stop having peeing contests!!!!!!!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K0AST on October 26, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
The BEST thing that can be done for a new ham with a Tech license is for the class instructors (assuming they took a class) to get them a list of local repeater nets where they will be welcomed. Maybe even help them program a few frequencies into their radios.

It's involvement that will grow interest. When you know no one, have no one to talk to, and no one knows you are new or looking to get involved it's tough to figure it all out.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K9MHZ on October 26, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by AF7EC on October 25, 2015 Why do these discussions frequently devolve into cussing, name-calling and belittling?

Call me thin-skinned or not...I'm DONE with the folks who can't exercise a tiny bit of restraint on this (and other) sites!

There are KIDS who read these discussions! Not all kids are raised in homes where it's okay to cuss! You guys who can't keep a lid on it ought to just keep your foul words to your own self!

Grow up and stop having peeing contests!!!!!!!<<<<



"Cussing, name-calling, and peeing contests?" Hmm, not following you at all. Looked up the thread, and it's pretty civil. Maybe I need to look closer, but I saw NO foul language or name-calling. Are you OK, OM?

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KJ4DGE on October 26, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I started in the hobby with a HTX-200 HT sellout from radio shack. moved to an Azden mobile, and later with my general an FT-857ND, I stiil like working simplex on 2 meters if I can find someone there, but HF is always more fun . Still Echolink is an option for Techs as are other digital modes on HF to try.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 27, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
In the 1950s, it was common for "Space Command" walkie-talkies to have the Morse code printed right on them, along with a key to send Morse. Thus, people were encouraged to learn Morse code. This should be made a requirement during the manufacturing of HTs from now on, so that people will learn Morse. Then they can get on HF and use their newly acquired Morse skills for more distant contacts.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N1LWK on October 28, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
The best thing for a new ham is both a good Elmer and a good club. Once in a good club, meet with the different members and ask what modes they are into. I am sure every beginner would like to check out the many facets of ham radio and find their own niche in the hobby.

73
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KG7WBW on October 28, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
New operator here with a technician license. I'm 30 years old.

The best thing that can expand the hobby is for others to be kind and helpful. Case in point: I met someone on 2m Simplex and had a good conversation. He invited me to a local radio club event.

Those who have studied for the technician exam and spent even more than 30 minutes reading about radio online realize that radio isn't limited to just VHF/UHF FM. HTs are not a trap. Simply having an HT doesn't preclude one from getting into HF later on in time.

Right now I'm satisfied with 2m/70cm repeater and simplex. I've been researching a lot about APRS and satellite and belief that will be my next adventure in the coming months. Maybe after that learn CW and get my general for HF...
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WA4DOU on October 28, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
How is it that the use of CW, a mode that enjoys an advantage in effectiveness over SSB of 11-17 db, is adjudged to be an obsolete technology from 2 centuries ago, but phone is so modern and up to date despite the fact that humans have been speaking for thousands of years? A CW station running 100 watts output is as effective as a 1250 watt SSB station with processed audio and 5000 watts with unprocessed audio. Those hams living in circumstances where they must use less than ideal antennas, often find that the advantage they enjoy using CW, is considerable compared to voice. Unless a computer is employed to work the digital modes, no mode available to them can equal the performance of CW. CW isn't obsolete.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2QYM on October 29, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Sure CW is great...signals with lower power rigs get through where voice can't. But CW along with other digital modes is an efficient communications technology whereas voice is personal communications, more akin to human to human communications. The sound of another's voice personalizes the connection between operators. I know that CW operators say they can read the person's fist and style and therefore know the other operator by that...but that's some fluff in my opinion. An attempt to romanticize the old days of telegraphy when there may have been just a few operators on the line may be valid and CW operators that work each other all the time at twenty five wpm may also claim that they know the guy over the air. But come on, they can't tell the emotion of the other operator, it's still an artificial extent ion of human contact. Only the voice can extend the person's emotions and state of mind to others. Voice over the air is the best mode for conveying your personality. Perhaps many hams don't really want to do that so all the power to communication through your fist or macro based digital contacts.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on October 29, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@KC2QYM

"HI" = telegraphic laughter.


@WA4DOU
As I mentioned earlier, Morse continues to have commercial uses. Moreover, Morse continues to be taught and used by the U.S. military. If someone is in denial of these facts, that is their choice to remain ignorant.
 
RE: Those who wnat everything done for them complain.  
by W3TTT on October 29, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
KW4JX = "Would it be better if the entry test(s) were practical instead of theoretical?"

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."

And on the subject of HT Traps and new ham ops, let me say that many, many ham radio ops are "special" types. (Some are more normal, however.) But apparently, most all of us on this blog seem to think that everyone is like them, and what applies to them, would apply to everyone. (And parenthetically again, I wonder if some anthropologist scientist would do a study of ham radio ops? And how we differ from normal human beings. hee hee. ) As I get older, I am starting to recognize more and more, the DIFFERENCES between people and personalities. People join organizations for different, personal reasons. And ham radio is really one big organization; we join by passing the exam. We are all in it together, for a trite better or worse. Am I done rambling on? Yes, for now. See you on the next article.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W3DCB on October 29, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
No way...Mount Who-za-Whatz-it is a much better location.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W3DCB on October 29, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
No way...Mount Who-za-Whatz-it is a much better location.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC5CQD on October 31, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
And then there are the hams that really like 2 meter FM above all other bands and modes. They do exist!!
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by ONAIR on October 31, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
They don't even need a General ticket. Too many kids and newbies today can just purchase a smartphone, get the app for http://www.zello.com or http://www.CBradiochat.net , and talk worldwide!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by NJ3U on November 1, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Don, I don't see the HT as the trouble in this case. It is a symptom of today's instant gratification approach to life. Cram for the exam, buy the cheapest junk out there and expect the world to be your oyster.

Amateur radio, as with anything as potentially rewarding requires a personal investment to pay dividends.

It's OK to take the e-z on ramp to radio, just be sure to understand that more effort is needed.

Repeaters are generally attached to a club, seek them out, help out , show interest and be ready for a bump or two along the road.

Ham Radio is NOT as the Beatles said "...Best things in Life Are Free !..."
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KG5JST on November 1, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Parts of this article resonated with me, but others didn't.

I am a fairly new ham (licensed for about a month). I bought a cheapo HT as described in this article but quickly discovered that I was not able to hit the repeater unless I was very, very close to it. But I also knew from the reading I had done that antennas were key, so I ended up buying several antennas which improved things immensely. I use a window glass mounted antenna on my car and a mag mount antenna on my wife's car (which also attaches with a little tweaking to my bicycle), and then after trying several other possibilities, I ended up getting good luck with a radio shack scanner antenna ( http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/8026 --- I amazingly got this on a clearance sale for $13!) which I mounted on a metal fence pole drive into the ground behind our house (which also gives me a good ground) and can now hit almost every repeater in the Oklahoma City metro area.

My total cost now (with coax cables, connectors, antennas, an additional mike/speaker, programming cable and the transceiver itself) is around $120, which give me great capacity to operate on VHF and UHF at home, in the car and on my bicycle. So I personally think the problem isn't that cheap is bad, but that it is essential that new hams learn quickly that the rubber duckie antenna is pretty much useless but with a little bit spent on antennas, you have a radio that is as useful as a much more expensive one. Of course this is a lot of work to put together (especially when trying to figure out to program the darn memory channels), but the process can be fun too.

Yes, I very badly want to get into HF (I have my general class license) but I just can't afford it right now. So I'm spending lots of time every day with my current rig, as well as using echolink some. If I waited to pay big money for an HF rig before starting, I'm not sure I would have been motivated to stick with it. But getting my feet wet with VHF/UHF is pretty awesome.

Lastly --- when it comes to building interest in HF, I think a great way to do that is by encouraging SWL. A $30 portable shortwave receiver with a long wire attached can tune in stations from the other side of the world. I have been a listener to SW for a long time and it has definitely made me eager to get my HF rig as soon as possible so I can actually join the conversation.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KG5JST on November 1, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Parts of this article resonated with me, but others didn't.

I am a fairly new ham (licensed for about a month). I bought a cheapo HT as described in this article but quickly discovered that I was not able to hit the repeater unless I was very, very close to it. But I also knew from the reading I had done that antennas were key, so I ended up buying several antennas which improved things immensely. I use a window glass mounted antenna on my car and a mag mount antenna on my wife's car (which also attaches with a little tweaking to my bicycle), and then after trying several other possibilities, I ended up getting good luck with a radio shack scanner antenna ( http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/8026 --- I amazingly got this on a clearance sale for $13!) which I mounted on a metal fence pole drive into the ground behind our house (which also gives me a good ground) and can now hit almost every repeater in the Oklahoma City metro area.

My total cost now (with coax cables, connectors, antennas, an additional mike/speaker, programming cable and the transceiver itself) is around $120, which give me great capacity to operate on VHF and UHF at home, in the car and on my bicycle. So I personally think the problem isn't that cheap is bad, but that it is essential that new hams learn quickly that the rubber duckie antenna is pretty much useless but with a little bit spent on antennas, you have a radio that is as useful as a much more expensive one. Of course this is a lot of work to put together (especially when trying to figure out to program the darn memory channels), but the process can be fun too.

Yes, I very badly want to get into HF (I have my general class license) but I just can't afford it right now. So I'm spending lots of time every day with my current rig, as well as using echolink some. If I waited to pay big money for an HF rig before starting, I'm not sure I would have been motivated to stick with it. But getting my feet wet with VHF/UHF is pretty awesome.

Lastly --- when it comes to building interest in HF, I think a great way to do that is by encouraging SWL. A $30 portable shortwave receiver with a long wire attached can tune in stations from the other side of the world. I have been a listener to SW for a long time and it has definitely made me eager to get my HF rig as soon as possible so I can actually join the conversation.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K9MHZ on November 3, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
JST,

I think you're a great example of a new and motivated ham who can get disillusioned once the novelty wears off if a boilerplate interest of yours hasn't also developed. As with most things in life, you'll need to explore what interests you most. It will take time, and in getting there, don't get frustrated when (not "if") you try some aspect of the hobby that seems really boring and lame. Move on to some other part of the hobby....don't try and tough it out hoping that it will improve. With the internet, there are LOTS of special interests to discover in the hobby. The League has lots of guidance as well. It does take some effort, but the rewards are definitely there. Too, you'll meet some tremendously talented people in the process.

Best advice, DON'T limit yourself to just talking on a 2-meter repeater. Not many will stay with the hobby if that's their only exposure.

BTW, welcome!
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by NJ8M on November 5, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
SHACK-ON-THE-CRACK hams. 2meters is where the CB radio ops migrated to on the repeaters. Most of the repeaters time out, burned up because of Key down time just because they could. In general when the no code ham was created and the tech ticket was formed the total degradation of the 2 meter repeater groups imploded. In our village there is really only one person that maintains the repeaters. He is always working on them and to what end? Hardly any one of them is busy for longer then 5 minutes a day. Heh, Why bother?

In emergency communications, when it really hits the fans, most likely the towers with the repeaters will be down also. This leaves NVIS communication with the HF radio operators. It seemingly always works for reliable communication. SSB, CW are reliable communication modes. They take practice and know how to get up and running. A hand held takes little knowledge, just, RTFM. What really is the destruction of ham radio is the total lack of mentoring to the new hams. What we really need is Elmering to enliven and support the new licensee.

Help a ham out. Explain the cost of radio and like any hobby, it will cost money. Realistically, explain the financial commitment to this fun hobby and don't delude them into buying a 2 meter china shack on the crack radio, with promises of being able to work coast to coast on it from the comfort of their arm chair in the evening.

Become an Elmer and help a new ham out.

73---de NJ8M AR
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K7UXO on November 5, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Amen.

The HT should be something someone with a good understanding of VHF/UHF communications uses for a very specific and limited purpose. As a first radio, it is a huge disappointment. In general people like to talk on the radio to other people who have nice, easy to hear and understand signals. Its not a good introduction.

We should socialize new people to set up good stations, with better antennas and a bit of power. We should set them up to be successful rather than fail.

Our community has a lot to blame for this. The HT is pictured on the cover of the Get Your Ham Radio license books, prominently featured in almost all visual representations of Amateur Radio. People are mostly visual learners - their perceptions are shaped by what they see.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KK6VQQ on November 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
This is an interesting thread and string of ideas & opinions. I'm enjoying being in the company of hams after being away from the hobby for decades. Was a Novice/General back in the 1950s and just got my General (again) 3 months ago. I'm a tinkerer & DIYer & love building homebrew gear.

One thing I didn't see in the posts above is discussion of possible overlap with what is called the "Maker Movement" these days. Today there are lots of hackerspaces & makerspaces involving folks of all ages but especially lots of young people. I can't speak with any authority on this having only recently returned to the ham radio hobby, but I am aware of some radio hams involved in kit building often with Arduinos, simple QRP gear, ... a variety of things. It seems that the possibility is there for some cross-polination between related hobby interests, the connecting thread being people who like to make things. I wonder what folks here think about this?
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N4KC on November 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!


Tim:

First of all, welcome back! I'll ask you the same question I asked myself after a ten-year hiatus to make money and raise kids: what took you so long? :-)

Good point on the maker movement. That was beyond the scope of this little article but in my books I talk about the natural synergy between the DIY folks and Ham Radio. You don't have to want to build things or learn anything beyond the basics of RF and electronics to fully enjoy the hobby. But if you naturally enjoy building things and doing it yourself, you may already have gravitated toward the maker movement.

Amateur Radio is the perfect segue!

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com



 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on November 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
It would seem that there should be a tie-in with the “Maker Movement.” However, ham radio doesn’t seem to have the expected attraction. I am sure that part of it is the requirement to get a license.

Also, a lot of the Maker stuff is computer/digital and robotics oriented. Even if they are interested in wireless remote control, there are all kinds of low power unlicensed devices and modules available and an amateur radio license is not required.

Sure, ham radio potentially offers long distance communications, but I think the general perception of the “kids’ is that they already have that on cell phones and Internet wireless. Compare a slick smart phone or tablet to a clunky (relatively speaking) big box radio that requires a big antenna. At least on the surface of it the smart phone, with ‘apps’ that can do almost anything, wins out. Besides, they can’t talk to their friends on ham radio unless the whole group gets licensed.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try promoting to the Maker community, but there is just no novelty in wireless communications anymore.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N4KC on November 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!

Peter, I don't disagree with your points at all. However, my marketing and advertising background teaches me to fish where the fish are. I am convinced that a sizeable number of folks who are attracted to DIY will find plenty to whet their interests in our hobby, too.

We simply have to let them know we are far more than talking through repeaters with cheap HTs and working DX...not that there is anything wrong with either activity.

And that we are welcoming to all, regardless the nature of their interest in Amateur Radio.

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KK6VQQ on November 7, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Don,

Interesting response. And thanks for being gracious even if my post wasn't spot on topic.

It's great to be back into ham radio even if it took me a while. :) There's no short simple answer to that and this isn't the place for it anyway. I'll try to fill in my profile with some bio info.

Tim KK6VQQ
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W9BGJ on November 7, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@AB9TA, Bill i have to say your post sounded great until you decided like too many other newcomers you decided to run the cw part of the hobby down. I'm all for the advancement of the hobby and am constantly learning something new with all the new digital modes out there but to single out cw as some obsolete mode from two centuries ago is just plain wrong! Lets not forget cw was and is the original digital mode. This coming from a 25 year ham who came into the hobby from no code to "Know Code" even today cw enjoys more growth than in previous decades. Don't beleive me listen in on the cw subbands this weekend for ARRL SS. Thanks for the time and 73...
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KI6MPL on November 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
In my case, it didn't have anything to do with HT's per se. I grew up in the 50's, and there was even an independent Ham Store in my neighborhood. I did what most of you did, take apart defunct TV's, repaired a few AA5's along the way, took the telephone apart and couldn't get it together again.

You see, I grew up in Northern California, as did my parents. My dad was on Guadalcanal during WW2, but don't let that color any ideas about what my home life was like.

My dad met my mom at U.C. Berkley. In short, they were beatniks. My dad's hair was longer than mine. I remember my first knight kit me and my dad put together, and I always begged to be taken to the surplus stores just to play with the equipment. No, what kept me out of ham radio was the people I heard on the air, especially when Martin Luther King was shot

My dad was so affected by what he had seen in the war, by what he himself did in the war, he became a
Buddhist, and being an architect, like to make Japanese furniture, using authentic Japanese woodworking tools.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it isn't some aspect of the technology that hasn't engaged the youth, after all they build computers, and yes there are negative types in cyber-land as well as 14.300 mHz, but they are invested, having made some spaces for themselves and their friends to hang out with, to try to make a (hopefully) better world through 'hacktivision' and being connected together.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KK4ITX on November 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
There's always a couple of ways to look at a topic such as this one.

I fit the "HT Trap" but don't knock it. When I got re-acquainted with radio in 2012 I needed an entry point for all of the reasons mentioned and for me the path was HT> Join 3 Clubs> Build Website> HF> Satellite> VE testing> Antenna Building> QRP> Digital> Kit Building> CW> and on and on. My main problem is that my radio library has cost me as much as the equipment and shelf space becomes an issue.

As with any endeavor where much of the success is left to the individual to determine, you have winners and losers. Those that need constant prodding and are not self taught suffer in a hobby such as this........

So perhaps the fact that an HT gets put back in the box is not all that bad, we would hope that the majority of remaining hams are truly interested.

I'm still having fun on local 2m repeaters welcoming the HT's to the hobby as well as visitors to "Sunny Florida".

73,

John , KK4itx
zaarc.org
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K0VOZ on November 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Realizing this is my opinion (and you know what that means) here we go.

When I started out in ham radio most of the older guys in the club wouldn’t even speak to me, much less offer any advice on equipment. Fortunately I have very thick skin and can wait even the most cantankerous person out. Don’t get me wrong I like our club, with one hundred plus members and five plus very active repeaters in our mountain valley. Finally, one member became a temporary Elmer to me and bestowed an old 520 Sugar on me at “no cost” so I could at least listen to HF. He also told me to stop listening to the esoteric club meetings because they really didn’t accomplish anything for the new comer except confusion. My Elmer convinced me to get my General so I could explore the HF world and I did. For this I will ever be grateful.

I guess my question is why do so many hams think it’s necessary to have racks and racks of equipment they don’t use? Not counting all the equipment they have in storage. I pass on all of my unused equipment on to new hams that join our club for “zero” cost. This is why so many new hams dropout; being charged new prices for old obsolete equipment, etc. (great for the Zombie Apocalypse but useless as a modern way to communicate) it’s really not about inexpensive HT’s.

And really, a “backup” radio, most new radios can take incredible amounts of punishment and keep on ticking. Give that “backup” to a new ham and let them experience the joys of ham radio and the camaraderie of the amateur radio world. Learning to “give freely” is the key to expanding the hobby.

Okay, I’m ready for all the verbal punishment I’m about to receive.

73



 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KK4AXX on November 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on November 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
K0VOZ said: "I guess my question is why do so many hams think it’s necessary to have racks and racks of equipment they don’t use? Not counting all the equipment they have in storage."


My answer FWIW, I am grateful for what I have. Who cares what others have? But yeah, I see where you might be going. Why not donate/loan an old clunker rig to some guy starting out who does not have the money to buy a rig.



 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by NN6EE on November 10, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Well NOT REALLY!!! Remember Guys when you got into the "HOBBY" in the 50s OR 60s??? The "INTERNET" was'nt even a thought THEN!!! THEN FOR ALL OF US IT WAS COOL/MYSTICAL to be able to work point to point on low power (crappy rigs & antennas) BUT YET WE DID IT!!! Now our "Kids & Grand kids have been using the "INTERNET" for 20+ years, or at least "Computers"!!! And now with ALL the communication devices/formats available to the via the "INTERNET" like FACEBOOK/TWITTER etc. it's NO BIG DEAL to carry on communications with individuals WORLD-WIDE WITHOUT HAVING TO HAVE A "AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE"!!! I'm one of the "OLDER GUYS (CIRCA 1962 NOVICE LICENSE) who embraces technology, BUT without "YOUNGER BLOOD" gaining entrance into our beloved hobby it'll be a (FORMER SHELL) of itself which is really SAD!!!
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by ONAIR on November 10, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
To put this a little into perspective, as I sit here now I am watching a teen in Russia broadcast (audio and video) a live scene of his friends at a party in Siberia via: http://www.Periscope.tv !!! Kids can set up multiple accounts on this app, and chat with each other anywhere in the world on just a $20 smartphone!!!
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W2DAB on November 12, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Saying that an HT is a trap is like saying a pitching wedge or putter is a trap in golf. All hobbies take some effort and amateur radio is no different. I believe that the variety of things you can do in amateur radio transcends arguments about CW, building a shack or getting on 75 meters.

Others who have said that the internet is full of information are RIGHT!

So let's enjoy the hobby, spread the enthusiasm by talking to people about it and if it is on the wane than it's probably the number of crabby doomsayers and cranks. Become a VE and help get people licensed!

That's all I have to say about that.

73
Dave
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KG7CSS on November 14, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
This is post is snobbish to think HT is a trap.
There are different reasons. For some Ham radio is an utility and a HT offers better range and functionality than CB and FRS.

Others like me are experimenters and makers and see the current establishment of ham radio operators and organization hostile to innovation and novel ways to use ham radio (i.e LARP). A good example is obsession with CW and RTTY, anti RM 11708 which is not based on sound engineering but fear technical ignorance, and very ; little movement new innovated mode such high-speed HF /UHF communication, android over ham radio, drones, broadband, and SMS over ham radio. There also high cost of HF gear, there lack of open source information for homebrew in a modern IC and processor era ( I found plans for a 2m cw radio from the 1990’s but nothing up to date). I would love to experiment with radio on a chip for 2m 70 cm especially breaking the 9600 Bps barrier. I need to step outside of the traditional ham radio complex. If one want to complain then show be where I am violation part 97 (so I can correct the discrepancy) or shut up and get out of my way,.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on November 14, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@KG7CSS

If not careful, HT can be a trap. I would also argue that people with zero interest in amateur radio beyond using a HT as the equivalent of a high power FRS, in other words not exploring any other bands or modes or learning anything about the science or technology, are probably not the people we really want and need to keep ham radio alive and vibrant.

I totally agree that the obsession of some with CW and RTTY to the exclusion of new digital modes is not good. Nothing wrong with using those old modes if you like them, but to oppose the elimination of an antiquated rule that limits symbol rate instead of bandwidth is not in the best interest of the hobby. We already have digital modes that use 2+ KHz bandwidth and they are not going to be outlawed, so why not get the highest possible data throughput in that 2.8 KHz? Amateur Radio is supposed facilitate advancing the state of the radio art. Can't do that with outdated rules.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K5ACL on November 16, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Yes! The HT Trap is slowing our hobbys growth! I got my tech license 3 years ago, and a Yaesu handheld, got tired of not being able to pull in a signal and frankly got bored because there's not much you can do with a simple HT. I'm glad I decided to poke around a bit more into the hobby, and I'm glad I did, although I'll have to say the RTL SDR is what sparked my "Ham" interest again! Great article.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N9LCD on November 17, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
HT's ARE NOT a trap. They're a convenience!

Where else can you get a transceiver, power supply and antenna, ALL IN ONE BOX?

Plus no grounding, no lightning protection and no hassles erecting antenna.

If you've ever tried to plan out a HF station - and I do it when I'm feeling really massacastic - you'd appreciate the convenience of the HT.

Now if they only made something approaching a 100-watt multi-mode HF HT!!!

N9LCD
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W8QB on November 17, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Fuddy-duddies like myself understand that until only a few short years ago, anyone aspiring to an Extra class license needed to demonstrate the ability to send and receive CW at a rate of 20 wpm. Proficiency at that level required considerable time and effort, but it was time well spent: we continue with CW in the year 2015 for the love of it, and most of us could care less about the "commercial value" of CW.

For those uninterested in CW or unwilling to invest the time and effort to "try it", you are missing out on a wonderful pastime. Yes, operating digital modes on HF frequencies is enjoyable, albeit it is nowhere near as challenging or satisfying as developing a mastery of CW.

What accomplishment is it that results from using an Internet dependent $500 HT to artificially bridge large geographic distances, only to be rewarded by some (low fidelity audio) "DX" contact? Internet facilitated UHF "QSOs are not radio in the true sense of the word. But as with most things in life, things of genuine value require effort.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on November 17, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@W8QB:

CW is certainly worth learning if you're interested. It's a shame that so few new hams never even give it a chance.

You are right, Internet linking is not "DX." As far as "low fidelity", that could easily describe an awful lot of HF phone contacts as well.

On the other hand, how many "fuddie-duddies" to this day don't even have a clue how to use a computer much less hook up a simple digital interface and get it working, or install and configure Echolink or IRLP?

Like it or not, the state of the art is digital. CW is great, but using it is keeping alive a tradition, not "Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art."

Before elimination of the CW requirement, how was it right that someone who is the chief engineer of a TV station, one of the smartest technical guys in the club, the one who kept the repeaters going, etc., could only get a Technician license? Answer, not right at all.




 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W8QB on November 17, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
One purpose of the service is to further the continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. Although per Part 97, the service is also for the continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

CW is a time honored tool used by hams to foster international goodwill. The hobby is not only about the latest, most advanced technology; nor is it only about emergency communication: it is about the fraternal nature of this service and the corresponding goodwill.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W8QB on November 17, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
You questioned how it was right, before elimination of the CW requirement, that someone who was chief engineer of a TV station, one of the smartest technical guys in the club, the one who kept the repeaters going, could only get a Technician license. The answer: it was right, because the requirement to demonstrate CW proficiency was applicable to everyone. Many youngsters have developed strong CW proficiency; likewise, nothing prevented smart adult technical guys from achieving the very same morse proficiency.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on November 18, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
W8QB said: "...likewise, nothing prevented smart adult technical guys from achieving the very same morse proficiency."

In a word, the only thing that prevented smart adult technical guys from achieving Morse proficiency was their over-inflated ego.

 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KC2WI on November 18, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@JOHNZ:

You don't know the person that I am referring to. Ego is never a word anyone would even think of when talking about him. What 'prevented' him was a job, life, and family outside of ham radio.

Certainly it was his choice to not spend his 'free' time learning CW. Everyone else in the club was grateful he chose to spend his time (and he spent lots over the years) using his expertise to keep the club repeater running and to help educate other club member on technical matters.

@W2QB:

Segregation was the law in many places at one time. Did that make it right?

Without CW, is ham radio's ability to foster international goodwill is severely diminished? Doubtful.

Communication fosters goodwill.

Voice works fine. So does digital, although I'll admit is seems more impersonal. Personally, I don't like typing back and forth at a keyboard.

On the other hand, "digital" communication the choice of the younger generations who will be the voters and leaders of the future, and those are the people we need to foster international goodwill between. By in large, you're not going to attract them to amateur radio by pushing CW.

If you want to cite Part 97, 'international good will is only 1 of 5 fundamental purposes.

The first cites voluntary and particularly emergency communications. The second cites enhancement of the radio art. The third refers to advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases. The fourth is expansion of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

There is no doubt that CW can be a very effective mode between skilled operators, and that it can be used in an emergency. However, CW is no longer a mainstream communications mode outside of amateur radio. Even within Amateur Radio, the trend is towards voice or digital.

You can cite instances of CW being used outside the amateur radio service, but they are few and far between. Like it or not, CW proficiency is no longer required even for shipboard radio officers or others in a position involving emergency communications. Maybe that's a mistake, but it's a reality that is very unlikely to change.

In that context, CW is certainly not critical to the basis and purposes stated in part 97. Therefore it is not and should not be a requirement. It's as nice mode if you want to use it, but it's a hard sell to most people.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by K5JYD on November 18, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Sold all my two meter gear and antennas last month. Why ? The only thing on two meters around here was the early morning gang who talked about nothing but computers and a few nets during the week about stuff that has nothing to do with ham (such as cooking). It was a rare day that I would hear one word about dx or cw or contesting etc. Not my cup of tea. I'm happy chasing dx with cw on hf .
k5jyd
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N9LCD on November 18, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
It's about time that the cw geeks in amateur radio get off their high(rocking) horses and realize that NOT EVERY IS EQUALLY ENDOWED WITH THE APTITUDES NECESSARY TO ACQUIRE MORSE PROOFICIENCY.

W8QB said: "...likewise, nothing prevented smart adult technical guys from achieving the very same morse proficiency."

Eistein was one of the leading minds of the 20th century. Yet he scored "LOW" IQ tests.

It's a good thing the decision to stand or it is reflexive or probably a lot of CW geeks wouldn't know what to do in the heads>

N9LCD
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by JOHNZ on November 18, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
@N9LCD

I have studied Einstein's life pretty closely and have never found any evidence that he took an IQ test, meaning there is no IQ score of record for him. However, there are numerous educated guesses as to what his IQ was, and these guesses range from 160 to 200, certainly not in the low range, as you claim. If you have information concerning a documented IQ test which Einstein took, I would be interested in knowing your source for same.


 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KW5KW on November 23, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
When I got my license in 1992 I entered the hobby with a Radio Shack HTX 202 Two-meter handi. I was able to hit a couple of local repeaters and even lived close enough to some hams to talk simplex with the supplied rubber duck.

An “older” ham became my elder and I fell in with a group of General, Advanced and Extra class hams who had been in the hobby since the second World War and before. These hams helped me learn the hobby and get interested in the HF bands. One of these hams supplied me with a 2-meter 11 element beam and a rotor. Another ham supplied me with a cranked up push up pole that would raise the beam up a good 40 feet. I purchased an RF Concepts amp that would output 100W on 2-meters and I had a VHF station that, quite simply couldn't be beat. All with only a 5-watt handi. I did the same on 70cm with a HTX-404, a 50 watt amp and an omni-directional antenna. I ran RACES nets for years using this configuration and a speaker mike that I could switch from the 202 to the 404 through a home-brew switch box. Like I said, this lasted me for 12 years with some home brew 30 amp power supplies to power the amps and a smaller 10 amp power supply to supply the talkies. I had two more that I'd take portable with me while doing public service work such as walks, rides and marathons.

My mobile graduated from a handi to a 2-Meter Yaesu, then to a dual band Icom then to a tri-band Kenwood 741. On HF I borrowed a Yaesu FT101 and finally purchased a used Yaesu FT107M which I had until 2006 when I purchased a Yaesu FT857d.

Shortly before Y2K I purchased an Alinco DJ-C5 350mw dual band talkie to just listen to the Skywarn nets, fully knowing that I'd never be able to hit the repeaters from my house.

I bought me a dual band VHF/UHF Yaesu 7800 and a new talkie VX7r in 2005. This got me to this year where I purchased a Kenwood D710G for APRS and an Alinco 635T so I can cross-band (now I can use that little 350mw talkie from the living room.)

But I digress. These hams (sadly all SK's now) did light the fires of HF, albeit briefly, because they had friends that they had sched's with across the country. I did get my General and Advanced ticket back in 93 and 94 and made a total of 100 or so contacts and all but three of them voice. I made 3 CW contacts in the history of my license... 3/13/93 on 7.100 with N5DCF (one of my local mentors) 6/1/93 on 21.151 with KC6IPF and on 8/13/93 on 7.125 with KJ5JE. These three contacts are my total number of contacts using CW. The rest of my contacts in the 90's and up to 2005 were strictly SSB and then I was at a club meeting where a demonstration of PSK-31 piqued my interest in the HF digital modes.

I've been much more interested in VHF/UHF and public service than I have in been in HF, that is until I retired last year that is. In June this year I fired up my 857 and I've been on PSK 31 and JT65 and JT9. I've made more contacts since the end of June this year that I've made since 1993 when I got my General.

Almost everyone I know that's entered the hobby about the time I as I did all started out on VHF 2-meters using a handi. It is not a death to the hobby but a gateway and should be treated as such. Embrace them and introduce them you never know what branch of the hobby they will turn. Public Service / RACES / Skywarn or to microwave and radar experimentation. Not everyone turns to HF immediately or at all but that doesn't mean the hobby is dying.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by KW4JA on December 4, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
How are all those cheap Chinese 2m440 radios sold on eBay when there is no longer any traffic on repeaters? I suspect buyers program them, test whether they get into local repeaters, then put them on the shelf. Am I missing something not owning one of those devices?
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by ONAIR on December 5, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
They are mainly not using them for repeaters. I've heard lots of simplex activity both in and out of the ham bands, by people using these devices! Many are not licensed or using call signs.
 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WB4DX on December 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Another trap that kills interest....

I remember when I first became licensed, I could only use the hf radio on the weekends because of work. I was a tech at the time and only on 10, 2, 440.
I could never get in a qso thanks to contesting interference from a local ham a few miles away pounding cw with a kW.
Which left (I was forced to use) the ht, but I was fortunate enough to have repeaters close by to use and hams that welcomed new users.
Still, contesting interference I'm sure has been the demise of many techs hoping to enjoy hf while they prepare to upgrade.
We need band limits on 10 meters for contesting on the technician portion of the band as most contesters are general class and above and are not restricted on 10m like the technician class.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by N4KC on December 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
WB4DX:

John, pardon me for doubting you, but I think you may be exaggerating a tad here. it is difficult to believe that another ham a few miles away operating contests on CW makes the rest of 10 meters unusable for you. First, there are not that many major CW contests in the first place. Secondly, most modern radios have little trouble with a signal from a station that far away, even if he is running a KW.

Also, to stop allowing contests in the Technician portion of 10 meters would probably cause considerable angst among Tech-class Hams who enjoy them.

I would contend that allowing Techs to participate in contests attracts far more new Hams than the occasional radiosport QRM chases away. I have no data to back me up but I've never heard anyone say they left the hobby because of those gol-darned contests!

73 and enjoy what you enjoy without denying others the right to enjoy what they enjoy...

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com





 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W2EV on December 6, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
The #1 factor in slowing hour hobby's growth is not HT's.

It is the lack of wide-area open repeaters (those that do not require a CTCSS tone to access).

CTCSS (and licensees who believe they are entitled to run a repeater "no matter what") has killed the hobby for FM bound licensees.
 
RE: Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by WB4DX on December 7, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Don,
Maybe I exaggerated a bit on the distance of the interfering signal, we both lived on the opposite side of a small airport. Abt a mile.
Anyway, as soon as he hit the key "chop de chop chop" my receiver would flake out.
I'm not denying anyone the right to use the bands, I'm just saying that as a tech, I couldn't enjoy the 10 meter portion of the band because of this and I think that contesters should be limited to a certain part of the tech portion of 10 meters, To give those a chance to use the band who are not interested in contesting or just getting their feet wet. I almost quit ham radio because of this. The only saving grace was the fact that I had changed shifts at work and now was able to use hf during the day before going to sleep.

Now if only I had a way to mount an antenna on my new car! they make it sooo difficult now!

73'
John
WB4DX


 
Is the 'HT Trap' Slowing our Hobby’s Growth?  
by W1XWX on December 9, 2015 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with you on the HT being a sort of "trap" for newbies in the hobby.

However it would depend on where you are located. I can say that in the Dallas Texas metroplex we have dozens of repeaters and several that are busy most of the day -- especially in the evening hours.

There are some proposals to open up a portion of the bands to Techs working digital HF. I agree with these proposals. While some hams will spend their entire lives in the VHF-UHF portion of the spectrum; it should be the goal of all Elmers to move them into the HF bands by helping them upgrade their licenses.

In my case I purchased a used Icom 7000 as my first radio which gave me an incentive to upgrade. Yes it was a pricey decision but not very risky as I knew I could sell it for almost as much as I had paid (used) if I decided NOT to pursue the hobby.

73

Joe
W1XWX
 
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