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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?

from Casey Raskob, Esq. on October 9, 2004
View comments about this article!

Seeing many of the articles here, and the same themes repeating themselves, the code vs. no code drone, the "where's our community" question, and "where are the new hams" question, there's clearly one thing we need, as hams, to work on.

What's our Unique Selling Point?

Now, I'm young for a ham, and worse, according to some here, a No Code Tech. My first time with radio was during the 70's, when CB (no flames now) was big, and I, through that, met some hams, at the Fairlawn, NJ radio club. I went to the old Heath showroom, and used to drool at the ham rigs and such. I could barely afford at the time a used CB set, and the money for ham radio was just out of reach, which is why I didn't go further.

I went to college, and didn't go near radio, save for a scanner set, for about 15 years. What I see is still then and now.

Half of the group is still living in 1970. I remember seeing phone patches, with DTMF pads on HT's and being very, very impressed. The HF worldwide communication was also impressive, compared to the cacophony of "skipland" on the CB. By the way, using the knowledge learned from studying ham radio and learning schematics, I was able to figure out how to mod the CB to slide and get two extra channels. (Relax guys, it was 20 years ago).

Hams were clearly a techno elite. They could do cool things no one else could.

Fast forward, as I did, to 2000. Ham rigs now are all solid state. Most have all bands and modes. Worse, they are affordable compared to years ago. I was amazed at the stuff out there.

So, I get a Tech license. A 706 goes into the car, and I program all the local repeaters, chat, and make a few friends. So far, so good.

As someone who comes to this from "the past", I had a base to know about it.

Let me tell you about my most cool radio. It is a microwave, frequency-hopping link to another radio, which is a spread spectrum radio. Both are light, allow me to talk anywhere in the world (assuming no 9-11 nearby) and require no knowledge of anything other than ability to pay a bill. I am of course referring to my CDMA cell phone with a bluetooth earpiece.

Compared to this, hitting a repeater is a yawn. A phone patch is almost pointless, unlike the looks a ham would get at a CB gathering years ago calling home. General Curtis LeMay is dead, and so is the story of him learning to use SSB from Hams.

So, where does that leave ham radio... for the non-ham and those who may be interested? We have, other than the much lauded and appreciated emergency communications, two things.

We can talk worldwide without infrastructure, and secondly, we have open source methods.

As things progress, digital usually means some level of encryption, and that means ownership, and that means the DMCA and other such laws passed for the good of the big media holders, not the people. Ham radio is an open protocol, and digital or analog, will remain that way. This will become very important in about 10 more years.

Secondly, and this gets to the heart of the tiresome no code/code garbage, and the "CBer" rants, is that none of this makes any sense to a non ham or anyone else. Indeed, much BPL stuff you'll see on the net is pro BPL, not by a utility, and many computer geeks think that a bunch of old guys with radios should not stand in the way.

I've spent a lot of time on VHF, FM and SSB. It's fun, but the mystery/magic of HF propagation is the real Unique Selling Point.

To keep the hobby going, you must recruit. As a 42-year-old dad, I'm not the "new blood", although if I am, that's scary.

On another note, some of you guys have to STOP talking about medical procedures in gory detail. If you would not discuss it in a social group, don't do it here.

Code is a large block. This of course is agreed upon by both sides, and for the reason of a citadel. “Keep the infidels out!” is the Coder cry, and “HF for all” is the No Coder cry. The relevance of CW (and I do believe it is relevant and has a place) has changed from the time the railroad agent knew everything in town by those clicks at the station.

There must be some outreach, and some non code HF access. Not all of it, nor most, but some. There are not enough prospective hams out there that you'd have the "CB (1970)" fears of many out there.

I know I'll get flamed for this, but as I have passed several bar exams and consistently pass the General test exams, it's not like I'm not willing to study or capable of learning. Code takes time and effort. I appreciate this, but between being self-employed and two small kids, I end up on 2m SSB not 20 m SSB. Even so, I am tempted to reply to those CQs I hear from Europe and further on HF (no, I have not, relax again).

There's no horde of CB'ers out there waiting to make a Visigoth’s dream out of those pristine ham frequencies. Limited access to the kingdom is a must to allow others to see the Unique Selling Point of Ham Radio.

Casey Raskob K2FIX

Member Comments:
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Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by VE3WBE on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent post and I could not agree more. As a group we have to reach out and draw a wider (and younger) membership. Once they become involved they can decide which route to take in this fascinating and at times frustrating hobby. Let's get more people involved in the "magic" of HF radio- as a group we can only benefit.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AH6GI on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nicely written. I encourage you to work on CW.

I was licensed in 1963 as a Junior in High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was too cool to hurry home and fire up the SX-101A and DX-60 and work stations in Australia and Japan on 15 meter CW as a novice.

It is still "too cool" to be able to do that with antique electronics. The QRP crowd and the Homebrew crowd and the CW crowd offer a unique experience in the age of CellFones.

I'm not an antiquarian or a -cough-cough- geezer; although I am in failing health and will be 58 this year. I work on the cutting edge of software engineering, my M.S. Computer Science dates to 1992.

I am rebuilding my novice experience station. I have a working SX-100 and a DOA DX-60. These are "too cool" compared to the computerized, sythesized all-band ICOM next to them.

No lectures about no-coding but take a look at low-power CW for the pure fun aspect. Think of it as the folk who climb mountains when it's so much easier to take a flight over.

Think of it as going duck hunting when it's easier to pull up to the take out window at McDonalds.

Why have a sailboat when a Mastercard will get you on a cruise ship?

de ah6gi/4 k
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KZ1X on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The Heath store in Fair Lawn *was* a cool place, wasn't it?

I'm 43, two young kids, been licensed since '79.

(Wish I'd gone to law school like you did instead of playing with radios.)

I agree there needs to be a 'return' to the Novice license. That's where we went WAAAY wrong.

Trouble is, it's the start of a "give 'em an inch and they take a mile" human nature problem. That is what happened with the income tax.

OOK signaling is the basic and most necessary wireless communications skill, and should be a requirement for any transmissions that are likely to leave one's territorial communications-oversight jurisdiction.

Rather than pick nits and make things complicated, I think that the 10, 12, and 15 meter bands should be open to new codeless Techs, with a 200W output power limit. "Basic comprehension" exam update like the British have. Same bandplans that are in place now.

 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N4ZOU on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Quote: We can talk worldwide without infrastructure, and secondly, we have open source methods.

Not so fast on that infrastructure and open source stuff! It's already started on the HF amateur radio bands. It's called Winlink 2000, which requires the Internet infrastructure and a $1000 SCS TNC and this company will not even allow just enough of there closed source Pactor II and Pactor III protocol code to allow monitoring of the unattended Internet mail robots and the stations activating them. No self-monitoring (the amateur community) allowed. What would happen to the amateur radio hobby when (not if) some robot and station are found passing porn across an HF link on the amateur bands? There are already stations passing commercial business transactions using Pactor II and III. Even the SCS web site promotes this on there page and yes, Winlink 2000 is listed along with other commercial Internet wireless worldwide mail services. Do we really need digital modes that require closed source protocols that prevent monitoring by other amateurs? SCS should open their source code to the public for Pactor II and III modes or take it off the amateur bands. Don't look for the ARRL to help stop this, they have an Ad hoc committee actively trying to have the amateur band plan changed to push 3 KHz wide digital modes not only in a portion of the digital/CW sub bands but also in the phone bands. This would allow 3 KHz wide Pactor III robots on the phone part of the bands!
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KT0DD on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I find the "magic" of Amateur Radio to be in the fact that our HF signals propagte off the natural ionosphere, and we're not reliant solely upon an existing infrastructure. I also agree there is no horde of CB'ers waiting to descend upon us with any so called giveaway licenses. The CB band has suffered the same fate as the Amateur bands, and in many areas have become dead, (except for an occasional foul mouthed truck driver here and there) due to the internet and cell phones.

Of course, we face a big problem with corporations and their BPL and other filthy part 15 devices that want to pollute the airwaves with their RF smog. I'm really concerned about the fact that some Amateurs are in denial and say that Amateur Radio is not dying and doing just fine. They are living in a dream world. The fact is that there are more old timers becoming SK, than new licensee's coming into the hobby. Some claim that BPL won't be a problem because if it violates Part 15, it must be shut down. Yeah Right! Just try to get someone to listen to your complaint and actually do something about it! It'll never happen once it becomes fully authorized and deployed.

I try to promote the hobby whenever I can, but more often than not, a young person answers, Why do I need a license? I'll just get mom & dad to get me a cell phone, or The internet is my Ferrari to your Ham Radio Model T. I hope Amateur Radio lasts for my lifetime, but if next week, the FCC's R&O on BPL goes the way I think it is, we all better look for good exporters to sell our gear to, because it will become worthless here in the U.S. 73.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K0RFD on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Casey, I'm not that unlike you. A little older, maybe (55). I was interested in radio as a kid, had a shortwave receiver on the nightstand for the last 40 years, but never had much money and always had "something else to do" until the kids grew up and left home.

Without the kids, I needed new activities to keep me busy. I re-acquainted myself with ham radio. I got my no-code tech but quickly discovered that the repeaters didn't feel much like ham radio. I fooled with the FM sats until I earned my 100 grid squares and VUCC, then there was nowhere else to go unless I invested heavily in AO-40 stuff (in hindsight, I'm REALLY glad I didn't).

So I decided that I had to get on HF if I wanted to continue having fun with the hobby. 5 WPM was really not enough of a barrier to be worth talking about and I spent a month or two learning and practicing. I know you are busy with young ones in the house, but it really doesn't take that much time. I'm self-employed too, and time HERE is money also, but it's pretty easy to carve out 15 minutes before the rest of the house wakes up or after the rest of the house has gone to bed. You don't need to steal time from your family or business to spend 15 minutes a day learning code. Just cut out some other piece of time you waste, and we all waste time. Listen to code CDs while driving to work, for example. That's normally pretty unproductive time. Or give up your favorite TV show for a month. If you want to do it, it can be done.

That's really all it takes, a couple of 15-minute sessions a day. Any longer at one sitting and you'll get tired or bored because it's a foreign language at first. But in a month or so, you'll be easily answering your 7 out of 10 questions and passing your minute of solid copy. That's all it takes to pass the exam. It's embarrassingly easy. If you want to get proficient enough to enjoy qsos you have all the time in the world after you pass your exam. Then jump on your theory and pass the Extra. That's where all the good DX is anyway.

As far as the hobby "passing us by" from the standpoint of innovation, I'm not sure I fully agree. In the "old days", Hams invented stuff out of necessity. But nowadays, consumers have high expectations as far as the next "revolution" in consumer electronics, and there's plenty of R&D dollars out there for big companies to give it to them. Spinoffs from the consumer electronics market (TFT displays and digital signal processing just to jump on a couple of obvious examples without much thought) have made radios a lot cooler than they were in the old days. Nowadays, we can buy stuff that's much cooler than anything we can build for anywhere near the same price. Even in the HF market, I'm not so sure that Hams are driving the innovation--I'd be willing to bet that the Homeland Security and Defense Departments buy more radios than we do. But we certainly get the benefits. So the innovations will come in other areas, and given the inventive nature of hams, the innovations WILL come. They just won't be the same as they used to be. And I guess that's the nature of innovation.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W8AD on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Great article! The BIG cool thing about ham radio, and one that may not be well known among hams themselves, is the ABILITY to communicate worldwide--for pleasure or public service. "I know that" you say, "I work DX all the time".

But, here's what you may not know. Over 50% of the world's population has never made a phone call. Over 80% of the world's population has no access to the internet (Africa, India, Asia/Pacific, some South American countries, etc.). So you think the internet will take over ham radio? NOT. These are verified numbers from those who teach communications for industry. I was in that field for years.

So, sell our unique strengths. They're awesome. And, HF propagation is just plain fun. You can't do it with a cell phone!

Don, W8AD
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W8MW on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for your well written article Casey. I support HF access, all modes, for beginners. HT's and VHF repeaters are too limited an introduction to amateur radio and we have lost new amateurs because of it. ARRL recognizes this too and let's hope FCC will adopt their license restructuring petition or something similar that gets us back on the right course. Get 'em on HF and we'll get 'em hooked for life.

Amateurs are rarely the kind of individuals you'd call movers and shakers. We gravitate toward our special interests inside the hobby and tend to ignore the big picture. Forums like this give us a place to pontificate and argue but when it comes to actually affecting change, we are pitifully ineffective. For example, less than two-tenths of one percent of us made formal comment to FCC on the pending petitions for changes to amateur licensing. In contrast, about ten percent of the Austrailian amateur community was active in rejuvination efforts there.

Yes, it is a rude awakening but you fellows in your 40's are among the young guys. We need an influx of fresh thinking and pro-active contributions from responsible young men who will become the stewards of this radio pursuit we love.

73 Mike


 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N6AJR on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
OH no Not again.. folks Ham radio is not dying, if every ham gets two more to join in his or her lifetime we double our size every generation.. and I have VE tested in the last new techs and generals from 2 young ladies , 1 tech one general ages 13 and 14, to a bunch of brand new techs ( who are now upgrading) from a retirement village, 55 or older average home in the mid $400 k, so any and all are welcome, and are also getting their tickets.. our small testing group does an average of 4 sessions a year with 8-12 per session..usuall 6 techs, 2 generals 1 code and sometimes 1 extra..and we bug the extra to be a VE>>
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by VU2WE on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Here's the deal,
If the only entrance to radio was a Novice type license and no phone privlidges whatsoever, you would learn the code because all you would be able to do was make contacts utilizing the code.
But, by your own admission, when it comes to study "Code takes time and effort. I appreciate this, but between being self-employed and two small kids, I end up on 2m SSB not 20 m SSB."

So far, the best advice I have heard on this thread is from K0RFD and how he learned the code at 5WPM.
"So I decided that I had to get on HF if I wanted to continue having fun with the hobby. 5 WPM was really not enough of a barrier to be worth talking about and I spent a month or two learning and practicing. I know you are busy with young ones in the house, but it really doesn't take that much time. I'm self-employed too, and time HERE is money also, but it's pretty easy to carve out 15 minutes before the rest of the house wakes up or after the rest of the house has gone to bed. You don't need to steal time from your family or business to spend 15 minutes a day learning code. Just cut out some other piece of time you waste, and we all waste time. Listen to code CDs while driving to work, for example. That's normally pretty unproductive time. Or give up your favorite TV show for a month. If you want to do it, it can be done. " Excellent advice and it works!

So, this is how you can solve your problem and get on HF!
Spend any radio time you would devote for VHF/UHF chat time and use one of the code practice aids on AC6V's website (http://www.ac6v.com/morseprograms.htm). There are at least 40 training programs/web sites there to assist you.
I hate to say this (flames and all) but, back in those proverbial "old days" we had to have a guy come in and give us our CW practice manually. The only practice outside of that was listening to W1AW transmit on the air (if you were fortunate enough to have a receiver- which most of us didn't)
Honestly, don't you really want to get on HF? It is fun, mysterious and rewarding just as you say it is. Think of the self satisfaction you will have knowing YOU conquered the 5 WPM barrier and got your General ticket!
And wait until you call that first CQ and someone from Macedonia or Argentina or even Australia answers you. You will literally fall off your chair! It's fun and you'll love it.
So get back there, with renewed enthusiasm, and set a goal for yourself. Nothing like self motivation and incentive.
You can do it....I know you can!

Namoste - Klaus
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WILLY on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
from Casey Raskob, Esq. on October 9, 2004

" ...
Now, I'm young for a ham, and worse, according to some here, a No Code Tech."

Though many would prefer that there was no such license, common sense says you cannot be blamed for it.


"...
and the money for ham radio was just out of reach, which is why I didn't go further. "

I agree that this can and does limit the hobby. I wonder how many young people just tune it right out, when they hear that a radio costs $500 or more - let alone adults.

"...
Hams were clearly a techno elite. They could do cool things no one else could."

Still can.


"...
they are affordable compared to years ago."

You are a lawyer.


"...
Secondly, and this gets to the heart of the tiresome no code/code garbage, and the "CBer" rants, is that none of this makes any sense to a non ham or anyone else."

For the non-hams, if it doesn't make sense, then perhaps they were not listening.
Regarding "anyone else", this is not true at all. It makes sense to many.


"...
but the mystery/magic of HF propagation is the real Unique Selling Point. "

Cool things no else can do. :)


"...
To keep the hobby going, you must recruit."

True, and provide a good example.

"...
Code is a large block."

Code is NOT a block. Every time I see this false claim it irritates me. Are you hoping that by seeing it over and over that people will begin to think it is true? Simply stating something repeatedly does not make it true.

The correct assessment of CW is that it a skill to be learned, and that by the very nature of it, it takes time.
The general consensus is that to reach a speed of 5 wpm, it takes about one month of practice. Five wpm is all that is required with today's lowered standards.


"...
“Keep the infidels out!” is the Coder cry,"

Who would want to let the "infidels" in?

Remember, as it is now, no one is kept out. All anyone has to do is pass the test(s) to achieve whatever license they desire. Hundreds of thousands have done it, so it cannot be asking too much.



"and “HF for all” is the No Coder cry. The relevance of CW (and I do believe it is relevant and has a place) has changed from the time the railroad agent knew everything in town by those clicks at the station."

Relevance? CW is not still the most basic method of radio communication?


"...
There must be some outreach, and some non code HF access."

Hold it! "There must be..."

Must?
Why?
Again, simply making a statement does not make it true.


"and some non code HF access"

Again, why?
Who says? You ?

If you'd said that YOU would, in your opinion, LIKE to see such - then fine. You are certaily allowed your opinion. You've switched to claiming what "must" be.



"...
Not all of it, nor most, but some. There are not enough prospective hams out there that you'd have the "CB (1970)" fears of many out there. "

It is not fear. It is common sense and learning from history. Simply look what happened to the Clown Band.


" it's not like I'm not willing to study"

Are you sure?



"...
Code takes time and effort. "

Bingo!
Exactly. Now you understand.


"I appreciate this, but between being self-employed and two small kids, I end up on 2m SSB not 20 m SSB."

This is easy to solve. :)
Turn off your 2m SSB radio, and turn on the code practice.
If you feel that 20M SSB is worth it you will be motivated and giving up 2M SSB for a short while will bring you years of fun on HF. Keep your eye on the target and go for it.
If you don't feel that earning the license that will allow you to use 20M SSB is worth it to you, then that is up to you. No hard feelings. Not until you ask that the license be made easier just to accomodate your desires.


"...
Even so, I am tempted to reply to those CQs I hear from Europe and further on HF (no, I have not, relax again).

There's no horde of CB'ers out there waiting to make a Visigoth’s dream out of those pristine ham frequencies."


Can you prove it, before opening Pandora's box to find out?

Perhaps not actual CB'ers. Perhaps it is just people with that same Clown Band mentality.



"
Limited access to the kingdom is a must to allow others to see the Unique Selling Point of Ham Radio."


It is not a must.
Just saying it is a must does not make it so. Again, I hope that seeing this stuff over and over does not cause the weak minded to start believing it.

Further, you have contradicted yourself.

You just said, "I am tempted to reply to those CQs I hear from Europe and further on HF" .
Since you don't have a license to reply, you are one of those 'others' you mention. Yet you magaged to "see the Unique Selling Point of Ham Radio".

You did so by listening. Nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that's great! I'm glad you are exposed, and tempted. Many others will feel that way too. Apparently that exposure has brought desire. I hope that desire motivates you to put in that small amount of effort necessary to achieve that which you desire.


73
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WILLY on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
by N6AJR on October 9, 2004

OH no Not again.. folks Ham radio is not dying, if every ham gets two more to join in his or her lifetime we double our size every generation..."

Two excellent points, that ARE true, and worth repeating.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WILLY on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
by K0RFD on October 9, 2004

"...
So I decided that I had to get on HF if I wanted to continue having fun with the hobby."

This is a significant statement. What it implies should not be taken lightly. Reading it again, the parts that really stand out are, "I decided" and
"I wanted". These are key points.
Unfortunately, it seems that there are a number of other people out there that likewise "want" but are unwilling to pursue.


"5 WPM was really not enough of a barrier to be worth talking about"

Bingo!
You've worded it very well. Thank you.


"and I spent a month or two learning and practicing."

Not to K0RFD, but to others reading this: It is not unusual to hear this. The point is that it is no big deal, IF one has DECIDED that one WANTS it.


"I know you are busy with young ones in the house, but it really doesn't take that much time. I'm self-employed too, and time HERE is money also, but it's pretty easy to carve out 15 minutes"

Excellent recommendation.

" before the rest of the house wakes up or after the rest of the house has gone to bed. You don't need to steal time from your family or business to spend 15 minutes a day learning code. Just cut out some other piece of time you waste, and we all waste time."

Exactly.


"Listen to code CDs while driving to work, for example. That's normally pretty unproductive time. Or give up your favorite TV show for a month."

Or perhaps give up 2M SSB?


"If you want to do it, it can be done."

Exactly.


"That's really all it takes, a couple of 15-minute sessions a day. Any longer at one sitting and you'll get tired or bored because it's a foreign language at first."

More excellent advice.


"But in a month or so, you'll be easily answering your 7 out of 10 questions and passing your minute of solid copy. That's all it takes to pass the exam. It's embarrassingly easy."

Exactly.

"..."


You have made some excellent points. Thank you.



73
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WILLY on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
by KT0DD on October 9, 2004

"...
The CB band has suffered the same fate as the Amateur bands, "

The sunspot cycle?

"and in many areas have become dead, (except for an occasional foul mouthed truck driver here and there) due to the internet and cell phones. "

But, when propogation returns, by the very nature of HF radio - the very thing that we find so intriguing - it only takes one moron to wreck havoc. Let alone a few hundred. The point is, it doesn't take millions of people with the Clown Band mentality to make a huge mess. It is not a 'local' band.


"...
I'm really concerned about the fact that some Amateurs are in denial and say that Amateur Radio is not dying "

I am concerned about people trying to get others to believe that Amateur Radio is dying by claiming it is a fact.


"and doing just fine. They are living in a dream world. The fact is that there are more old timers becoming SK, than new licensee's coming into the hobby."

And if what you say is true, then we are doomed by mathematics.
I don't think so though.
Look at the long run. For example, are there not over twice as many licensed hams today as compared to 25 years ago?


"Some claim that BPL won't be a problem because if it violates Part 15, it must be shut down. Yeah Right! Just try to get someone to listen to your complaint and actually do something about it! It'll never happen once it becomes fully authorized and deployed."

You may be right.


"I try to promote the hobby whenever I can,"

Excellent. We need this.


"but more often than not, a young person answers, Why do I need a license? I'll just get mom & dad to get me a cell phone, or The internet is my Ferrari to your Ham Radio Model T."

Then one of two things is happening. It just may be that the young person has not been exposed to an Amateur Radio activity that hits his/her hot button.
If nothing about Amateur Radio turns them on, then the young person in question is the wrong one to which you want to be promoting Amateur Radio. You can't win them all. This would be akin to promoting mountain climbing to me. You may think it is great fun, but I would react by telling you that nowadays we have things like helicopters, and I'll see you when you get up there. :)

Personally, I think the thing we all need to learn how to do - better - is become more efficient with our methods of stumbling over that young person that IS turned on by Amateur Radio. I don't think we do this very well, we sort of throw the spagetti on the wall and hope some sticks. Too much effort for the return. There has to be a better way.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WILLY on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
by TECH2004 on October 9, 2004

"come on folks use your heads. ham radio is a dieing hobby."

Ham radio is not "dieing" just because you say so.


"we have to get with the times. old modes like cw, sparkgap and a.m. are dead or on their way out."

CW is not on the way out, just because you say so.

By the way, should we shoot all the horses, now that we have invented cars?


"we now have new and exciting digital modes,"

Great, isn't it?
I'm glad you discovered that we got "with the times".
Earlier you seemed to be saying that we had not.


"and for some of you oldfarts"

Are we allowed to call you names now?


"we even have ssb now."

Your attempt at sarcasm is noted.


"we can communicate thru satellites and bounce signals of the moon."

Right. We really are "with the times" as you put it, aren't we?


"we can use irlp and echolink to talk around the world using computers."

While talking around the world with computers may be great fun, it is irrelevant to ham radio.


"we need to get with the times"

But - - - didn't you just prove that we ARE "with the times". It looked like it.


"or fade away. "

Doesn't anyone else get a say? I sure do not want to fade away. I hope you don't either.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K0RGR on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I come to basically the same conclusions you do, Casey, but for somewhat different reasons.

Many people, even those with General or higher class licenses, are happy to operate exclusively on VHF and UHF. When I lived on the West Coast, in an area with thousands of active hams, I spent 90% of my time there, too, and while I missed HF when I didn't have access to it, it wasn't fatal. Why? Because I could pick up an HT at any time of the day or night and find somebody to talk to, very often somebody new. Two meter SSB sounded like 40 meters.

The problem is with those who live in rural areas , far from the major population centers. Even with a large investment in weak-sgnal equipment, VHF/UHF QSO's are going to be rare.

So, the value of your Technician license, to a large extent, depends on your geography. All other classes of ham license are independent of it. A Novice could be very happy in the remotest corner of Nevada, because he could work stations in California and Washington all day and all night on 40 and 80 meters.

I agree, therefore, that this isolation of our entry level licensees is to the detriment of the service and needs to be ended. All hams need some form of HF access . They should have meaningful access to voice, CW, and digital modes on several bands. Overall, I support the ARRL proposal.

Having said that, however, I want to caution my fellow no-code supporters. I believe that in spite of the availablity of excellent digital modes, those who do not eventually learn the code will be much more likely to drop out of the hobby, because the code opens up so many more opportunities for enjoyment that are just not available to those who do not have the skill.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by TECH2004 on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
many valid points were made. it is so obvious that amateur radio is dieing and needs some life brought back to it. many hams are complaining that it does take up too much time to learn an outdated mode like cw. this can take months to learn, that is time that could be used more constructively. the majority of hams that i have spoken with or emailed have expressed their opinion that all code testing should be eliminated. sorry oldimers, but these are just the facts. you guys and cw have had your time, but now the time is ours and we don't want cw!!!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by VU2WE on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hey TECH2004,
Come on now, you can do it if you really try hard. I learned the code and passed my 5wpm novice test in 1.5 months from when I was first introduced to Ham Radio.
Saying that everybody else wants to get rid of it and it's outmoded etc. isn't the answer.
What about that good old stick-to-itiveness and Gumption? There you go, that's a real 'oldtimer' word there. Gumption! Just pull yourself up by the Bootstraps, read and study...voila, you're a General Class licensee.
Hey, like the old grandma told her grandson one day "How do you know that you don't like steak if you've never tried it?:
Give it a try, you'll like it! Just like John Lennon used to say - 'All we are saying is give CW a chance"

Namoste - Klaus
 
among the wisest words ever posted on eHam  
by KZ1X on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
from K0RGR:

"Having said that, however, I want to caution my fellow no-code supporters. I believe that in spite of the availablity of excellent digital modes, those who do not eventually learn the code will be much more likely to drop out of the hobby, because the code opens up so many more opportunities for enjoyment that are just not available to those who do not have the skill."

May I add to 'enjoyment' above, the word: equipment.

There is no joy in the hobby greater than using a radio you built yourself, whether from a kit or from your own hand, and making a Morse QSO. Those who don't, or won't, miss what we "old timers" (I'm just 43) already know.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K1ZF on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good article and point well taken.

One of the things that attracted me to Ham radio in the first place, is that it has something for everyone. You like echo link? Go for it. Don’t like code? Who cares. Why can’t we just enjoy the hobby without all this high and mighty rhetoric that “My way is the only way…”

I really don’t give a rat’s rump weather you or anyone else knows Morse Code. That doesn’t make you a good/bad ham. I like HF. Good for me. You like VHF, good for you.

The new stuff is great. But unlike fifty years ago, we’re not on the cutting edge any more, nor will we ever be again. Most of the sophisticated military and commercial stuff is far too expensive for the average ham to experiment with. And ham operators, as a group, are not on the cutting edge of technology either. Most innovators in RF technology are not, as in years past, Amateur radio operators. They are engineers.

We do need to attract new people. Any hobby needs new people. Ours is unique in that some technical knowledge is needed to peruse it. A look at the marine VHF band in summer clearly shows what happens when you deregulate a radio service. It used to be a requirement that every radio be checked every year by a licensed tech., for frequency and deviation. And while you were allowed to install your own, it had to be checked by that same licensed guy. And things were orderly. Radios were clean. A license was required, albeit, not difficult to obtain. Now? Yeah. What a mess. And anyone who listens there knows what I’m talking about.

HF sometimes seems to be the same way; listen to 75 meters any night! A wise man once said HF ham radio is about the only communication medium that’s completely terrorist proof. But in the words of Pogo ( I know I’m dating myself here) “We have met the enemy and he is us.”


As for Ham radio dying, gee… listen to the HF bands any contest weekend and try and say that.

Gene, K1ZF
(and yes, I am vane.) Not ashamed of my call, so I include it here.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KE5BJF on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wouldn't mind seeing a seeing a code free Novice license. Limited to one or two bands and 50 watts would give them a taste of what they're missing. On May 1, I passed my Tech and General written tests, last weekend I passed my Extra and code tests. For me, the attraction of ham radio was HF DX. The code took one month to learn, that cannot really be considered a barrier. I'm sure some people study the Tech book for a longer time than I spent learning code. I'm 43 and not adept at learning languages or music, yet I was able to do it with a little dedication. 5 wpm is VERY easy, if I can do it, anyone can. In my first week as an Extra I've worked Slovenia, Honduras and Luxemborg, now doesn't that make you Tech's jealous? Well, you can do it!
Rob (A "Know code" ham)
AD5SM (formerly KE5BJF)
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N0CTI on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
An excellent point is made here. Other people have pointed out that ham radio is similar to sailing in the sense that it is preserving skills and technologies no longer cutting edge but quite satisfying in themselves. HF propogation is at the heart of what makes ham radio unique today. I would suggest that we as a hobby consider opening some of the HF spectrum to no-code licenses. The incentive to upgrade to other levels to gain more access would still be there and should, I think still retain a code requirement. I am 54 yrs old and have been licensed since 1957...through the old novice-general code path. I don't need some blowhard lecturing me on the spiritual purity brought by code knowledge. As in sailing, tying a bowline is a good thing to know but it is possible to sail without tying bowlines. A great deal of fun can be had on HF without cw...ssb, psk etc are modern alternatives that would bring people interested in the magic of radio into the hobby.

Dave
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> if every ham gets two more to join in his or her
> lifetime we double our size every generation

Who else sees the error in this claim?

Hint: A study of the results of one VE group over a five year period show that nearly 70% of the people who passed a technician test *never got on the air*.



 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
“On another note, some of you guys have to STOP talking about medical procedures in gory detail. If you would not discuss it in a social group, don't do it here.”

SOOOO TRUE…I hear it every time I turn on the radio.

Secondly, those who believe learning CW is not that difficult and should not be a barrier to the hobby are down right FOOLS who will destroy this hobby if they have their way. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AH6GI on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Secondly, those who believe learning CW is not that difficult and should not be a barrier to the hobby are down right FOOLS who will destroy this hobby if they have their way. STUPID STUPID STUPID."

It is NOT that difficult, that is for most folk.

That said, I'm working with a no-code tech who is eager to pass 5WPM but will simply not listen. He's determined to "memorize" the code as dashes and dots.

I tell him, don't. Just don't make it a chore. Get a good CD. He drives 3 hours a day. Play the CD in the car and just listen to it.

DON'T make it a stuggle. DOT DASH DASH, uh, what was that? a short and a long and another long. Let's see, that's, oh, J, no. K, no. uh. Lemme think. Where's the paper.

I told him, play the CD while you drive. Ignore it. Just listen to the sounds, hour after hour, day after day.

Eventually, you'll get used to the sounds and after a month or so, start picking out letters and words.

When you get good enough to copy 10 WPM, get the general and get on the air, a little CW on 40 or 80, a couple evenings a week and as the QSO's add up, the speed builds.

It's fun. It's just plain fun to get on with a simple receiver, I have several boat anchors, these are not very expensive, $150 for an SB-303 on eBAY.

40 meter dipole and you're good to go. Work across the continent with 5 watts and an old boat anchor receiver.

de ah6gi/4 k
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KB2HSH on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Yes...I too was amazed at the sounds of DX as a child. I still sit in awe when I hear that 9K2 station...or the KC4 station calling CQ. Sadly, as most have lamented, BPL will probably kill HF as we know it. What then? Either Satellite, or EME. If BPL does come, my Ten-Tecs and my HTX-10 will sit silent, as I work "DX" on the Fuji sat.

How sad.

John
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K0RFD on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WILLY wrote:

>This is a significant statement. What it implies
>should not be taken lightly. Reading it again, the
>parts that really stand out are, "I decided" and
>"I wanted". These are key points.

Thanks WILLY. I'm not that used to being agreed with on here.

Although my post was largely personal, the point really wasn't. We all want different things from Ham radio. We all have different lives. We have to make our own decisions about how to get what we want given the circumstances of our lives and what time and effort we can afford to devote. I have read in here that some people are willing to wait until the rules change. Those people need to understand how much fun they're going to miss while they wait. Even now, at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, there's fun to be had every day.

Other people say that the exams have been dumbed down. Maybe I'm not that smart but the Extra-class theory exam was pretty darned challenging to me. I think it pretty accurately reflected the things I've had to know to build and operate a radio station TODAY. And also to help others. The current exam might not represent what you needed to know 40 years ago, but then again the state of the Amateur service has changed. 40 years ago you didn't have to know the digital stuff.

I respect anyone who's put years and years into Ham radio. (I wish I had done it when I was a kid. I have missed 4 sunspot cycles worth of fun!) With the depth and breadth of experience the old timers gained from actually OPERATING, of course the current Extra exam might seem easy. That's because the best teacher is experience. To someone new, however, it's just as tough as it's always been. The exam has changed, but so has the state of the art. The single biggest difference is that we VEs are a lot more friendly than the old-time ogres at the FCC offices. Shoot--sometimes we even bring doughnuts!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N6AJR on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If you must get on HF with no code, then join Mars, and work all the out of band hf you want.. you still need code for hf on the rest of the ham bands, but even on 2 meters there is more to life than 2 meter fm repeaters.. get a ft847, or 857, or a ic 706 and start working 6 meter ssb to argentina and alaske, and 2 meter psk to the next state and even moon bounce.. get a real rig and get on with ham radio!!!










 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AG4RQ on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The author of this article, Casey Raskob K2FIX made a valid point when he said:

"There must be some outreach, and some non code HF access. Not all of it, nor most, but some."

I totally agree. I am all for limited HF access for no-code hams. What I am vehemently opposed to is the wholesale giveaway that the ARRL and NCVEC proposed. This has always been my stand on the code issue.

Probably the most equitable solution would be to split the Novice sub bands on 80, 40 and 15m to allow half of these sub bands for CW/digital operation and the other half for phone. Leave the Novice sub bands on 10m as is and grant NCTs, Tech+s and Novices access to all the Novice sub bands for CW, digital and phone operation with a power limit of 200W. Requirements for General and Extra should remain as is.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA0RJ on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Casey,

Enjoyed your article.

When I was a youngster the lure of DX was so exciting. I didn't become licensed until after I graduated with a M.A., but I never lost my interest or desire.

I went the novice route in 1978. I enjoyed CW, still do. I still have my Drake 2-NT and the Hallicrafters SX-101a. I use them now and then, too. Alas, my hearing is giving me fits, now and I'm having trouble hearing the code. I have trouble hearing call signs in voice modes, too. Well, when it becomes necessary I'll just go to the digital modes.

I'm not sure what to say about Ham radio dying. Those with licenses are getting up there in age. We desparately need young blood. I think we should go into schools and do demonstrations and donate extra gear to set-up school ARCs.

I, too, am worried about BPL. The powers that be are shoving it down our throats. Man that irritates me. I love HF and I'm not sure if there will be a future for it. SAD. There is very little integrity left in our society anymore, so why would we expect the government to listen to the honest facts or act honorably - no matter who is in office.

Take care and thanks for the article.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
ah6gi/4, how long have you been a ham anyway? The bands are now primarily a heaven for senior citizens. Very few prospective hams give a ratz ass about CW. You guys just don’t get it. The hobby cannot sustain itself on a population of seniors. It’s simple math. If the FCC elects to keep the code requirement for other than Extras, it will be a catastrophe.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
by AE6IP on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> if every ham gets two more to join in his or her
> lifetime we double our size every generation

Who else sees the error in this claim?

Hint: A study of the results of one VE group over a five year period show that nearly 70% of the people who passed a technician test *never got on the air*.

We do get two or more hams into the hobby , they just don't stay. Egos with prime attitudes claim their grounds ,works every time.

KF4VGX
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder how many hams today actually atarted out as CB'ers?

I started out as an SWL tinkering with antennas, tubes and breadboard circuits etc. in the 70's.

I played a little with CB's around 1979. The people on the air back then were more technical savvy and "experimental" with such things as antennas microphones etc. I remember hearing these conversations on CB and people were talking about things like power supply circuits, antennas, and similarly related electronic comnponents.

They seemed more like hams than CB'ers. You barely hear any of this sort of discussion even on Amateur VHF repeaters anymore.

Most amateurs I talk to today on local machines don't even know what a rectifier is.

I would only have to conclude that CB'ers of the 70's must have had more knowledge of electonics than some Amateurs seem to have today.

73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Just type in Google search engine, Education at your leisure (INTERNET)



http://www.icinsights.com/links/glossary.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifier
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Now we know why the internet and Ham radio combined,is a good thing.

kf4vgx
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
So what happens if you have to actually rely on your brain for this information?
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio seems to be turning into nothing but a party chatline with people that have limited knowledge of electical theory.

I can just hear the coversation now...

"Joe, I just put a full wave bridge rectifier in my power supply but I am still getting some AC output in my signal."

Reply,

Hold on a minute Frank,

Joe initiates "google search - "(full wave bridge rectifier)" and "(AC output)"

Ok Frank, I'm back ... I found out what a full wave bridge rectifier is and why you sound "fuzzy" from the internet, but I still have no idea on how to correct your problem.


???

I should be at least glad that Joe at least understands the words I am using huh?

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I'm still trying to figure out why someone would add a bridge rectifier to a switching power supply...

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
uh.. because it is not a switching power supply?

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Needed a room heater, eh?

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W6TH on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!


It has been so long ago that I cannot remember why I wanted to become a ham radio operator. When I built my first regenerative receiver after discarding my galena crystal radio set, I then realized that I was hearing ham radio operators. Listening to the ham radio operators, I realized that I needed to copy code at 13 words per minute and study for electronic theory.

I then heard my first broadcast station, KDKA. KDKA wanted a signal report and I gave them such by mail and I received my first qsl card. This was back in the year of 1934. I was hooked.

I heard some new kind of radio transmissions called continuous waves. These were dits and dahs as I recall.

I acquired the dit and dah code from my local library and started to copy this code and low and behold, I was copying over 13 words per minute in just one years time. Now came the theory and the license I was going for was known as the "class B". I finally went all out and past the test in June of 1938. If I remember correctly, I had to wait one year before I could go the the next higher grade and that was called the "class A".
Class "A" came one year later. All I can say and remember is that it was fun, fun, fun and never regret that first day I put those headphones on my head at the age of 14 and going to school. I was the only ham operator in my school with over 3000 students.

.: 73, W6TH ( As You Sow, Sow You Reap )
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think that the most-undersold selling point of ham radio is that it's a vast hobby, with a lot of opportunity.

There is

experimentation -- these days, mainly, protocols and microwave distance records, but plenty of opportunity for personal growth in aspects like antenna design

public service -- both emcomm and event communications.

opportunity to explore electronics -- getting harder because of SMT and difficulty of finding suppliers, but on the plus side, excellent kits from Elecraft and others.

propagation "magic" -- HF, of course, with the challenge of the bottom of the sunspot cycle, but also eme and satellite.

DXing -- both chasing DX and swaping QSL cards.

contesting -- an opportunity for competition, for those who like such

history -- CW, boat anchors, restorations, and more.

and at least a dozen other things I didn't think to mention
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by X-WB1AUW on October 9, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
“To keep the hobby going, you must recruit.”

Sorry. For some reason, I can’t remember who recruited me. Instruct us again: how do we go forth to recruit? Following your recruiting methods, how many hams do you recruit a year, and for how many years?

“On another note, some of you guys have to STOP talking about medical procedures in gory detail. If you would not discuss it in a social group, don't do it here.”

Really?! Why shouldn’t a group of hams get together either on or off the air, and talk about whatever interests them? Should we not talk about building rigs with tubes in them? It is just like cable TV—if the conversation makes you squeamish, change frequency.

“Code takes time and effort.” Yup. Practicse 5-10 minutes every day, writing down what is sent, for about 30 days. Do it behind closed curtains so that none of your neighbors can see how depraved your family becomes; they might call child care services and turn you in.

Finally when the FCC calls for input on No-Code HF access, send in your comments.

Bob
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W3DCG on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice, down-to-earth article.
Thanks for writing and posting it.

WILLY-

...Thanks.

73.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AH6GI on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"ah6gi/4, how long have you been a ham anyway? The bands are now primarily a heaven for senior citizens. Very few prospective hams give a ratz ass about CW. You guys just don’t get it. The hobby cannot sustain itself on a population of seniors. It’s simple math. If the FCC elects to keep the code requirement for other than Extras, it will be a catastrophe.?"

Me? First licensed as wh6fhn(novice) in 1963.

As a novice, I worked about 10 countries in asia and the pacific with a used SX-101A and a DX-60 that I built. On the advice of a stuck-tech, I had my station ready to go the minute my license arrived.

He was a stuck-tech because in those days, upgrading meant 13 WPM in front of the steely eyed examiner. In 1963, 13 WPM was a long way away if you only had single 78 rpm record for code practice.

On his advice, I was on the air that weekend, shakey hand on the cheap key, calling CW on 40 with my one crystal.

I think my first QSO wasn't completed because I was too scared. But in that first month, I made a dozen or so QSOs, mostly with generals who came down onto the Novice band to "give the nubies a little practice".

They sent me really nice cards.

Then I discovered that my 40 meter dipole worked on 15 and with a couple more crystals, I started working DX. VK, ZL, JA, not exactly pileups but line ups of JA's.

On a good weekend, I could work a 4, 5 JA's on 15, one after another.

This was with simple novice gear. After 6 months, I got a used Vibroplex, the Champion model, and was running 15 WPM.

Another fellow in my highschool built a keyer and was cruising at 20 WPM as a novice. He's the guy who as a general, worked Africa from Honolulu using an inverted V, 50 watts homebrew CW, and a Hallicrafters S-120 with a AMECO pre-amp. This was on 20 meters.

I still have my Vibroplex, it's probably worth $200. I upgraded to a Brown Bros. BTL iambic paddle and first a homebrew handbook keyer (the one made from 2 12AX7s, I substituted a single 6AV11 compactron and a diode). Later I replaced the compactron keyer with a WB4VVF accukeyer. I have the SX-101A but don't use it. My DX-60 is long gone but I got a DOA replacement from eBay.

I have the compactron in my basement, it's probably worth something to a tube collector.

About 2 years ago, I got interested in Ham Radio again. This seems to happen just after each sunspot peak, go figure.

Since then, I've watched/mentored 3 folks to get their tech licences. All 3 are success stories, in a way. Building RC robots, going to hamfests, designing antennas to fit their lots, working on upgrades, studing, learning. One fellow, the one who is memorizing the code, got a brand new ICOM IC-756 Pro-II.

He's doing it the hard way but, hey, if it works for him, 5 WPM ain't that hard.

But yeah, I hear the geezer-nets on 75 meter LSB,

"-cough--ahack- just got another coloscopy, dagnabbit, snake of joy, -hack-hack-, these blood pressure meds are expensive, -harumph- kids these days, should make-em copy at 30 WPM and build a transmitter in front of the examiner -hack-hack-hack- commies, -gak-"

Lookit, I'm 57 and falling apart too but I can do 10 push ups with my left arm and fast walk for 2 hours. In 1992, 12 years ago, I completed the requirements for a M.S. Computer Science at a top University.

I've been refurbing boatanchors to strengthen my fingers and keep my fine motor control.

It's not just about the new blood. The old blood better get with the program. How many of you oldsters understand, say, finite state automata, combinatorics, lexical analysis, discrete math? No? Can you hammer out K&R C? Then you can't really talk about computers, software, open source, and software engineering. Without software, there ain't nothing.

The good news is that it only takes 2 years of part time coursework to powerup on the theoretical side of computer science. Another year doing C and anyone can write production quality C-code.

It's like the Morse code. With automata theory, Morse takes on a new look.

And Hamfests. I'm convinced that Hamfests are saving lives. Instead of sitting slackjawed in front of the old Plasma 16:9 720P HDTV, old hams are getting out, walking the fleamarket, checking out the National NCX-3 or the Drake 2A, two hours of walking hamfests is like chasing a pneumatic blonde around, gets the legs working and heart pounding.

All techs should get the old novice HF CW privileges, plus 10 meter SSB at 100 watts. Maybe even some SSB on other bands too.

de ah6gi/4 k
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KC8VWM on October 9, 2004 ,
So what happens if you have to actually rely on your brain for this information?

You rely on your brain to understand the information you read,learn from it.
KF4VGX
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KC8VWM on May 28, 2004
I think the internet has been well integrated with the Amateur radio service.

We use the internet to see weather maps during storm spotting weather nets. We use the internet to look up callsigns and to gather QSL related information. We use it as a vehicle for recruiting and elmering potential hams. We look up schematics and find out how to wire that new microphone and other equipment, etc.

I think of the internet rather as an enhancement tool or extension of Amateur Radio, I don't feel it has actually replaced it in any way.

73

Charles - KC8VWM


Here is one of your post where you agree.

KF4VGX
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AI4DG on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well stated. At 35 I am one of the "young bloods" in my local clubs. I was a no-code tech for 7 of my 8 years then bought an FT-817 and upgraded to a low-code extra license in 3 months.

As for the appeal, there's still a lot of geek factor to ham radio. Granted, the unique utility of ham radio equipment is diminishing. I carry a cell phone almost everywhere but only occasionally carry an HT. Heck, I carry a scanner more often than an HT, since being able to hear why 10 fire trucks just passed me or why there is a police helicopter overhead is unique to scanners.

But there is still a lot of thrill. I don't much care for Echolink, but working a Russian station with 5 watt PSK31 is cool to me. Yes, I could have maybe searched out an email address or instant messenger link and chatted with them over the internet (even wirelessly on my side), but it's somehow cooler do with nothing but air in the middle. Working satellites is still cool and blows people away in demonstrations. Just explaining that there are ham satellites usually fascinates people. APRS is pretty cool to most people and doesn't have a widely available consumer equivalent. People do tend to ask "what's the point?", and you can debate that, but it is fairly unique.

Building kits or homebrew is still pretty unique. I mean, there are few outlets left for people to really experiment and learn in science. For the most part PC and digital hardware have passed the homebrewer by. There are very few electronic kits left that don't involve radio.

Except maybe robots. The coolness of Lego robots is amazing. Imagine a Lego electronics set. Blocks for mixers, amplifiers, filters, etc. How cool would that be?

As for code, I assure you that if I can pass my 5 words a minute with as little study as I did, almost anyone can do it. Focus on the easy letters and learn what a "exam" QSO looks like. Learn the radio brands and antenna types. Don't get flustered if you miss some letters. You will be able to pick out enough to tell Collins from Kenwood and long wire from beam. Learn the numbers like the back of your hand. They make sense and you can copy them. Know what numbers to expect, like a "599" or "579" RST or a beam at "40" feet, but don't be surprised if the beam is suddenly at "87" feet. It does happen. Don't worry about X, P, Z, etc. and absolutely don't worry about callsigns. You will miss them. All you need to do is figure out the three or so sentences in the middle of the QSO and get those words right.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AC7CW on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent post, thank you.

One big selling point of Amateur Radio is a sense of community. I am thinking that to the extent we can keep the rude, foul, obnoxious people, licensed or not, out of our ears we can grow the hobby. The FCC was totally effete when I was last active. It seems they are taking a new tack and have forced Howard Stern into a corner to where he has to go outside their jurisdiction. Maybe they can clean up our repeaters as well. I know of more than one person that looked into Ham Radio, heard some sickie on a repeater and became turned off instantly.

I recall the hobby in the 1950's, there were some gruff people that would yell at all us kids when we came home from school in the afternoons and got on "their" frequencies but there was not the sick behavior that would make you want to shut the rig off and leave it off like when I last was active in the early 90's.

Max
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K7VO on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
There are lots of interesting points here both in the article and in the reply comments. There are two sides to every story and legitimate differences of opinion. As usual, some people (including the author) are posting opinion as if it were fact, engraved in stone, spoken by G-d, etc... Guess what? It ain't so :)

The whole CW debate gets really tired because it really has become a religious issue to so many. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere between the two camps of zealots.

First off, CW is not dead, nor is it going anywhere. It will be here so long as there are hams who enjoy the mode. It doesn't matter that it's pretty much dead in the commercial workd and it certainly doesn't matter if it's a test requirement or not. CW will still be here regardless. Why? People enjoy it, that's why. People still enjoy classical music too, even if it isn't the current fad or fancy or what's popular at the moment.

Almost all of my CW activity lately is on VHF/UHF (6m, 2m, 70cm) where, during a marginal band opening especially, I can work more grids and the occasional DX on 6m that I just can't work on SSB. I'd have perhaps 3/4 of the countries I have now on 6m without CW and some of that remaining 1/4 are some of my most treasured QSOs simply because they were to places rarely heard from here. I don't enjoy CW much as a rule but for VHF/UHF as well as HF QRP it really is an indispensible tool, one I am glad I have.

Do I think it's hard to learn CW? For me it wasn't. It took me almost a whole week to get my 5 WPM down. A lot of people can't do that. We all have different gifts for different skills and abilities. I do believe that for a small percentage of the population CW is a real barrier and they have a really hard time with it even if the practice and study. Most people who claim CW is a barrier don't fit in that category. It's simply something they have no interest in and no patience to learn.

You are doing people an injustice when you tell them that they can definitely learn code. Some people have a genuine barrier to learning it, thugh I freely admit that its probably a tiny percentage of people who say they can't learn CW. I do believe there are a relative few where this is real. Once upon a time in the dim and distant past when I was in school I had a gift for math and sciences but no talent whatsoever in art and very little in music. I still can't carry a tune (as in singing) to save my life. My athletic ability was near nil. We are not all the same. People have different strengths and weaknesses. Why is it so impossible for the "CW forever" crowd to accept that some people may have a genuine problem with code? Just because you didn't and I didn't doesn't mean they don't.

Doing away with the CW testing requirement won't bring more hams into the hobby. Only those who are really interested will bother studying for the written test. Nor will it retain people who pass their test and then never get on the air. It may retain some people who now get their license, get a cheap 2m FM HT, and are bored to tears and give up on the hobby without trying other things. HF is a much better entry into the hobby if you want to keep people interested. Casey got that right. A very limited subset of HF privileges (as in less than the ARRL is proposing) would make sense for a no code license if we want to keep good people. Japan, for example, has had no code HF for many years (as in decades) but, at least until recently, limited it to parts of 40, 15, and 6 meters at 10W maximum out.

For the sake of argument let's assume the FCC does what roughly 50-60 countries have already done and says adios to the code entirely. Will that "dumb down" the hobby and allow a flood of poor operators with a "CB mentality" in? Honestly, no, not at all. Most people will still be totally uninterested in ham radio. Besides, most of the worst offenders on 75m and the top of 20m are long time hams who passed 13 WPM and 20 WPM exams. Code is not a valid filter. For those who have no interest in it I believe it is little more than a hazing ritual, a right of passage for entry into the ham fraternity.

I also believe more hams who start on HF without code will discover what CW can do from other hams and develop and interest and learn it on their own than presently do. Why? CW won't have been shoved down their throat and it won't have left a bad taste in their mouths. They may even come to love CW the way many who have posted obviously do.

I agree with the "CW forever" crowd that it's lack of motivation or desire to learn code (laziness, if you prefer) that keeps most people who claim that CW is a barrier out. The main question is does requiring a CW test insure a better quality of ham. Just listen to 75m SSB or the top of 20m and you have your answer. It's a resounding no.

Personally, I have more problem with the ARRL's proposal to upgrade no code techs to General without them having ever passed a written test on HF practices and principles than I do with having a new Novice license with some HF SSB allowed.

72/73,
Caity
K7VO
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA2DTW on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Casey
Please learn the code. By excluding CW, you are missing an opportunity to fully enjoy amateur radio. And nobody can tell me that 5WPM is not possible!
73
Steve WA2DTW
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KY1V on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

KC8VWM wrote:

"Amateur radio seems to be turning into nothing but a party chatline with people that have limited knowledge of electical theory."

Charles,

Are you suggesting that the only conversations that should occur on the ham bands be technical in nature?

That sounds very narrow minded to me. While I am very technical, I often find much more interesting subjects to discuss with other amateurs than the antenna they built, the new kit they assembled or some experiment they are conducting.

I have spoken with doctors about medicine, pilots about aircraft, attorney's interested in astronomy and an average Joe about politics.

Ham radio is just as much about communicating as it is about being technical and to force everyone in amateur radio to be technical in order to be included in the hobby is certain to bring about its demise.

You also stated...

"I would only have to conclude that CB'ers of the 70's must have had more knowledge of electonics than some Amateurs seem to have today."

My answer is, so what? Someone wrote in a recent article that the FCC rules stated the intent of Amateur Radio was to provide a pool of technical people with the ability to provide emergency communications in the event of a disaster.

Fantastic! But I believe there is also a mandate to promote international good will. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to promote good will and share culture with people in other countries.

I think it's time we Amateur Radio operators stop being closed minded and accept people into our hobby rather than pushing them away because they aren't technical or because they are challenged copying code.

Speaking of code, I have always been in favor of keeping the code requirement, until recently. I have begun to notice that the majority of people whom support keeping the code requirement got their licenses when they were kids. It was easy as a teenager to learn and copy code. I can see where it would not be so easy for an adult, working long hours and supporting a family. Besides, it is quite possible that these people would become more interested in CW if they aren't forced into learning it.

Perhaps instead of focusing on how we can maintain barriers to keep the riff-raff out of our hobby, we should instead clean up the riff-raff that currently exists within our hobby.

It sickens me to turn on the radio and tune the bands only to hear some ham cursing like an old sailor, while my two boys, 6 and 10, and two girls, 3 and 2, whom love to talk on the radio, are forced to listen to this garbage.

In my opinion, self policing of ham radio is a failure and its past time to get the FCC back in the game.

David ~ KY1V
Amateur of the Year

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
casey,

i enjoyed reading your article. it's well-written.

i am about the same age you are; 43.

but i agree with w1lly and k0rfd. i don't agree at
all that 5 wpm is a serious obstacle. the only
real obstacle is attitude. "i'm *willing* to learn
this". much of what i hear is whining, "why do *i*
have to learn this!!". THAT's the real obstacle.

contrary to the ranting of TECH2004, cw use is
alive and well, by amateurs of all ages, including
those about your age. i'm about your age, and i
often go for weeks without plugging in a microphone.

as i've pointed out in these forums before, in
the 2003 arrl field day (THE most popular on-the-
air operating event in north america), cw accounted
for ~41% of the contacts made. in 1995, cw accounted
for ~37% of the contacts made in the same event.
statistics are at:
http://www.arrl.org/members-only/contests/results/2003/FD/recent-stats.html

that's alot of activity to be locked out of by
remaining ignorant of the radiotelegraph code.

one other unique attribute of amateur radio that
you may have missed is this: that we are the only
radio service that is allowed to build our own
equipment. all other communications services are
required to send their equipment through a process
known as 'fcc type acceptance'.

it's generally a fact, though, that most amateurs
start their building careers with cw projects. the
simpler projects to get your feet wet with are
mostly cw gear.

one other thing i find is that some of the most
imaginative, even whimsical amateur radio activity
is cw-oriented.

such as the flying pigs-
http://www.mpna.com/fpqrp/

or the adventure radio society-
http://www.arsqrp.com/

or the american qrp club-
http://www.amqrp.org/

john harper's site-
http://www.ae5x.com/backpack.html

or even my own humble site-
http://www.geocities.com/scottamcmullen/wildernessQrp.htm

and imaginative, cool gear such as the kx1-
http://www.elecraft.com/KX1/KX1.htm

the rockmite (my personal favorite)-
http://smallwonderlabs.com/Rockmite.htm
&
http://www.qsl.net/n0rc/rm/

or the wilderness radio "norcal 40":
http://www.fix.net/~jparker/wilderness/nc40a.htm

join us!

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
AH6GI:
------
> Can you hammer out K&R C?

yup! and ansi standard c, too. ;-)

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W5HTW on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Code is a block."

Yes, for today's generation, it certainly seems to be. They think ham radio was invented in 1991.

I'm not sure there would be any way to total the hundreds of thousands of those who went before this generation, learning code and theory. In fact, prior to 1991, every ham, all of them (except an extremely small set who managed to cheat) learned the code. ALL of them. Yep, ALL of them. Say it again -- ALL of them.

Says something about the effortless society, huh?

Ed
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
W5HTW

The most highly trained, highly educated, most productive society in the history of mankind and just because you believe everyone should learn an antiquated mode they are target for insult.

Over the years, it has become difficult to recommend this hobby. Too much stick-up-the-bumery.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Another year doing C and anyone can write production
> quality C-code.

I think this was true once; although it depended a whole lot on what C one wrote during that year and who they wrote it for.

It hasn't, however, been true for a long time. Production quality code now relies, among other things, on the ability to understand and utilize the rich set of programming libraries that is available.

"production quality", by the way, is about things like maintainability of code; and that just doesn't seem to be something most programmers learn in a year.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> So what happens if you have to actually rely on your
> brain for this information?

You're doomed. There's a huge amount of information out there, and a limited amount of space in your brain. It's why we have reference books, and now, internet search.

There have always been hams more interested in communications and less in electronics, and always more said on the air that wasn't technical than was. After all, you don't need to know very much electronics to build a transceiver, put up an antenna, and get started.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by GHOSTRIDERHF on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You know we have had so many billions of these code vs no code threads that I swear people just simply cut and paste their answers from the previous 100 threads that they answered...

well at least the author didn't say something about how essential Hams were in Hurricans or about how essential MARS stations were to the safety of the universe....

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AL2I on October 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The kids I have been working with don't care for either computerized or voice modes. Morse code is what they find cool. They find it cool because it is something you do without a computer, it is extremely simple and easy to learn, it is retro-cool rich in history -- and did I mention that you don't need a computer?! The fact that if you have good receiver filtering you can use code to open a band that is otherwise quite closed, is something they will probably learn a lot later, and only if they have an opportunity to use a "real" ham receiver.

What is a bummer, is that they do not seem to find much interest in *radio*. I have been looking for ways to spread the enjoyment of *radio*, but it is a tough sell trying to foster interest in a particular technology when the kids can explore in any number of deep, wide technology paths, including paths which allow for modes of communication all over the world without using a ham radio.

They seem particularly interested in talking to the space shuttle or space station, so maximum use of those rare opportunities is probably a good idea. Also I think that any time that they can stay in communication while doing something active and fun should bring out the enjoyment of radio, and I am going to test this theory soon.

Thank you to the author for exploring how ham radio may be more effectively presented to the next generation.

73/al2i

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KI4CYB on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This Code -vs- No Code is getting old, And I am a new Ham...


Learning 5wpm is not hard at all... 15 minutes a day for 30 days...


73 - Joe
DE KI4CYB
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W2NSF on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
AMEN!!!
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K0RGR on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hmmm...I don't remember the code being "extremely easy and simple to learn" and I did it when I was 13. I think the only reason I did it was because we moved to a new development with no neighbors in a new city at the start of a summer, and I had absolutely nothing else to do for three months.

But, let's get back to the original question. I think the basic allure of ham radio is the ability to use radio equipment to make contacts with people with similar interests with a reasonable amount of effort and investment.

That doesn't mean "no effort" and "free".

For, as the pro-code brethren beat us endlessly with, if there is no effort, the rewards are not respected, and that is absolutely true. If I could, I would restore ham tests to the FCC offices where they belong - I think every ham should have to sit in front of a scowling FCC examiner and take his test! It puts the fear of Uncle Sam in you! You would not dare utter curses on the air after that experience! Those licensed in the last 10 years or so don't even realize that they can be jailed or fined for breaking those FCC rules!

I don't like the current Tech exam very much. There is too much memorization of irrelevant trivia, much of it FCC-mandated. I'd like to require some actual understanding of basic D.C., A.C. and radio theory by weighting the questions differently. So, I hope to see this test merge again with the General test and be made more meaningful, which I believe will happen eventually if the ARRL proposal is adopted.

And if we make that test harder, we do need a new entry license. If we make a simpler entry license, it should grant simple priveleges, too. I think the ARRL proposal was too generous in this area, but I understand why - they want the Novices to be able to participate in ARES on HF. There is a critical shortage of HF-capable hams for ARES in many areas, so this is one way to address this need.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, and interesting reading.

Here's the reason some (or many?) have difficulty learning the code: It's not a popular nor common skill, and somebody told them it's difficult to do.

That's it: And I can prove it, easily.

When I take a batch of 10 year-old Scouts or 5th grade students, put them in a room at tablet arm chairs and tell them, "We're now going to learn Morse Code. This is very simple, and 100 years ago almost anybody who wanted to make a living in communications or electronics learned it in a couple of days. Let's start" there isn't a kid in the room who isn't copying and sending 5 wpm -- without the use of any paper or pencils -- after about two hours. We teach, and learn, code using an interactive method where beginning with the first letter, every student sends that letter with a key and audio oscillator, and his partner learns to copy it. No "listening" to learn. No programs, no software, no CDs, no tapes.

Problem is, people grow up and become biased by what they hear and learn. Code is a very old thing. Nobody uses it, it must be hard. Baloney.

Is there ongoing justification for learning the code in year 2004? Sure there is.

Ever see a PC tech who doesn't know DOS? "Users" like plug & play stuff and may never dig deeper than the home screens of Windows 2000, but those who make money in the industry use DOS to debug. It's what works. Kind of like using code to make a contact when your mike fails, there's no computer around, and you need to work somebody. Like maybe in an emergency.

Remember, Western Union used code for telegraph messaging more than 150 years ago. Those high paying telegraph operator jobs attracted both men and women from coast to coast. Amazing how fast they all learned that "hard" code, when they were competing for high-paying jobs. I understand that, on average, folks went from zero to 20 wpm or so in a matter of days, copying "clackers," not nice, clear tones like we do today. Cash incentivizes, eh?

WB2WIK/6

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KI4CYB on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
>>there isn't a kid in the room who isn't copying and
>>sending 5 wpm -- without the use of any paper or
>>pencils -- after about two hours.


For the test, we don't even have to SEND the code!
Just Listen and write down 5 minutes worth of code.
If you don't know a letter, skip it! After the test
is over you have time to READ and fill in the blanks!



KI4CYB
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KY1V on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK wrote:

"When I take a batch of 10 year-old Scouts or 5th grade students, put them in a room at tablet arm chairs and tell them, "We're now going to learn Morse Code."

Steve, I agree with you...kids can learn morse code quite easily. I did when I was a kid as did many active hams, but I don't think ALL adults have the same learning potential for code.

Believe me, I am not trying to make excuses for all the no code tech's that want HF privileges. I have always been a proponent of keeping the code, if not for anything other than tradition, however, I don't think the average working person whom puts in 8-10 hours a day at the office, comes home to play ball with his kid, cook dinner, clean the house, pay the bills, read the paper or watch the news, help the kids with homework, get them bathed, read them a story and get them in bed...has the time nor ambition to learn code.

Sure, ALMOST EVERYONE COULD DO IT if they buckled down and really worked at it. But you have to admit, the world we live in isn't getting less hectic, it is getting more complex everyday. I agree, it's about setting priorities and sticking to them. It's akin to weight loss programs and everything else in life. There are trade offs.

So, the real question comes down to this...should we continue to force everyone that wants to operate a ham radio on HF to learn morse code in order to sustain a tradition? I see no other reason to maintain morse code, because it is not a barrier that's keeping the riff-raff off the airwaves as is evidenced by what you can hear any evening on 80 meters!

I struggle with this question often...tradition, or no tradition!

Personally, if I was given the choice of retaining morse code testing or bringing back FCC testing and enforcement, I would choose the latter!

By the way, to keep on topic, I think Amateur Radio's unique selling point is friendship. I have made friends with hundreds of people around the world. Everything else is a bonus.

David ~ KY1V
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I don't get the deal with testing at the FCC. I thought the FCC guys were pussy cats, as far as examiners go.

Some people get test anxiety, some don't. The ones that do will do so in front of VEs as well as FCC guys.

It's a hobby, not a fraternity, and the tests should check the skills necessary to _start_ in it.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

The article offers, as do others like it, another valid perspective about ham radio

There are lots of hams who started out as CB'er's or who were influenced by it, especially as kids.

I started out building 200 in 1 electronics kits at about 8 and was amazed to hear my favorite AM stations blasting in via my first crystal set. A 100 mw walkie talkie was next, then on to the big time with a 1 watt 2 channel Midland HT. A couple regenerative shortwave receivers followed, a very supportive Dad and an uncle on the west coast who was a ham (WA6MST - SK) and I was hooked.

I got my license in the early 70's when CBing was all the rage which was actually very good timing. Why? Because everyone, one way or the other was interested in some form of radio communication which undoubtably encouraged some people to take it to the next level, HR.

When I passed my novice exam, it was valid for 2 years. I kept it for about 16 months, then passed the General. By that time, my code speed was up around 28 WPM and I was on all the popular CW traffic nets, did the Novice Round-up, even a Field Day. That Field Day was one of the best; I got to hang out with a bunch of guys with General to Extra class licenses who would sit with me so that I could operate a couple of the club's phone rigs on 40 and 20 SSB - I had a blast.

So what's my visit down memory lane got to do with this post? Quite a bit.

I believe having to run CW-only for my first 16 months as a ham was fine for a 13-14 year old kid who had time on his hands and little in the way of responsibilities. The down side was I was restricted to the Novice bands which to a degree, probably lessened the amount of interaction with more experienced hams. Sure, I had QSO's with hams with higher grade licenses, some that ran on for longer than an hour, but that's a tedious way to learn radio theory and the rest of the skills.

Having Phone privileges - even in a limited capacity may have sped up the learning process by increasing mentoring by fellow hams. I couldn't get enough of the one on one learning with experienced hams, be it understanding how my transmitter worked to the math for calculating resonant frequency to how to to construct a yagi or a vertical. I was fortunate to have some very inteligent and patient friends in the ham community that helped me along.

Reflecting back for a moment: when I was a kid, I took a 5 WPM code test and basic theory/regs exam, passed the Novice and ran CW only because:

#1: This was the best stepping stone to obtaining Phone privileges.

#2: I had to; 13 WPM was too fast for me at that time.

#3: Because the FCC said so.

I venture to say that without the code, I would likely have spent more of my first 3 years as a ham conversing with experienced hams and learning more instead of figuring out which CW contest was the most interesting.

Conversing means talking, not pounding brass or squeezing paddles.

In my opinion, the result could have been a more accelerated learning curve by the faster exchange of knowledge and ideas on the air - without having "Morse" hanging over my head to get there.

But I don't believe CW would just fade away because it was no longer a requirement to pass an exam. As everyone knows, about 50% of our HF spectrum is reserved for CW and Data and CW is still sometimes the only way to make long-haul DX contacts when band/QRM conditions are severe.

Bottom line: We need to do a better job of promoting ham radio for the reasons the majority of hams choose to get involved, not for the reasons that were right or more popular in circa 1950. The goal for the ARRL and the ham community should be to take an honest look at what HR offers today and how it can be enhanced with the most bang for the buck. Examinations with CW testing is an unnecessary obstacle to achieving this goal and will not produce a better quality amateur.

Instead, it should be looked upon as another facet of the hobby like all the other modes of operation.

I believe the no code exams have enhanced this hobby. Obviously others have agreed, otherwise we would not have no code licenses or even the "Less Code Extra".

I also believe that like other things in life, some things get taken to the extreme for the wrong reasons.

I am for promoting ham radio, just not the exact way its being done today. If CW is so popular, so desirable and so useful, it should promoted strictly on it's merits, not as an attestant to belonging to the "old fraternity."



 
RE:  
by KF4VGX on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?

I Know what the Topic is . I just dont know how it changed to Morse code?
 
RE:  
by K6BBC on October 11, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I like CW. I like operating CW QRP.

That said… is it just me, or are there a lot of old hams? Seems to me most hams are 50+. I’ve also noticed there are almost no more younger people on the air. In 68 when I came home from seventh grade, I would fire up my DX 60 and QSO lots of young kids like me. Those days are gone. If something is not done to make the hobby more accessible, it will continue to wither. CW must be dropped as a requirement.

K6BBC
 
RE: code/nocode debater's beer  
by AL2I on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Here I am at a code/nocode debate and I am out of beer. This is a problem.

----------------------------------------
>> K0RGR: "Hmmm...I don't remember the code being "extremely easy and simple to learn" and I did it when I was 13."

Looking back on other things I've learned and other skills I've mastered, code is one of the very, very easy ones. Effort is relative, and with the right attitude, code is a lot of fun. I don't know who you are, but I almost always agree with you completely, so complete *dittos* on the rest of your comment!

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

>> WB2WIK: "...there isn't a kid in the room who isn't copying and sending 5 wpm -- without the use of any paper or pencils -- after about two hours. "

Wow! You're obviously using the right approach Steve. Much of life is a lot easier if you just assume it is easy and enjoy. Now for an essay on "How I Stopped Smoking and Started CW."

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

>> KY1V: "By the way, to keep on topic, I think Amateur Radio's unique selling point is friendship. I have made friends with hundreds of people around the world. Everything else is a bonus."

Why bother to stay on topic? <grin> Good point though, (along with many others) and I agree that comraderie seems to be the number-one attraction of amateur radio.

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

>>AE6IP: "It's a hobby, not a fraternity, and the tests should check the skills necessary to _start_ in it."

As a start, I guess we could require the skill to hold a microphone. I assume you mean something more than that! LOL!

But seriously, look at what K0RGR said and tell me where you differ.

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

>>WA1RNE: "I am for promoting ham radio, just not the exact way its being done today. If CW is so popular, so desirable and so useful, it should promoted strictly on it's merits, not as an attestant to belonging to the 'old fraternity.' "

You are right of course. However, the view expressed from many posts in eHam history seems to be that CW testing is a barrier that prevents the naked feet of barbarians from trampling the marble steps of HF. With the current lack of quality tests, I too am concerned.

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

>>K6BBC: "CW must be dropped as a requirement."

That "must" is kind of strong. Why not simply allow phone access to some subset of HF privledges with a tech-only license and leave the remainder unchanged?

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

All: Great comments and very rational discourse all around, with many good points and ideas. Now about that code/nocode debater's beer....

73,
Dave/al2i
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KI4CYB on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
>>clean the house, pay the bills, read the paper or
>>watch the news, help the kids with homework, get
>>them bathed, read them a story and get them in
>>bed...has the time nor ambition to learn code.


Im sure you spend more than 15 minutes reading and posting mesgs on these forums... I am sure you spent at least 15 minutes a day reading & posting dont you? All it takes is a little desire!





 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
People always find the time for those things that they are most interested in.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
>Charles,

Are you suggesting that the only conversations that should occur on the ham bands be technical in nature?

That sounds very narrow minded to me.<


David,

That sounds pretty narrow minded to me too. This is not however what I was implying. My beef was referring to the idea that we are supposed to be licensed Amateurs, and yet very few I have spoken with on the air lately seem to grasp any understanding of the most basic of electronic principles.

In other words; Amateur Extra who can't wire a coax connector scenario was how my earlier comment could be best described.


>"I would only have to conclude that CB'ers of the 70's must have had more knowledge of electronics than some Amateurs seem to have today."

My answer is, so what? <


So what? ... This concerns me.. Shouldn't it concern you?

While I am all for the idea of breaking down barriers and encouraging more people into the Amateur radio service, I would hope that they at least have a small teeny weeny interest in experimenting at some technical level. ?! ..Do you not agree?


> Someone wrote in a recent article that the FCC rules stated the intent of Amateur Radio was to provide a pool of technical people with the ability to provide emergency communications in the event of a disaster.

Fantastic! But I believe there is also a mandate to promote international good will. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to promote good will and share culture with people in other countries. <


The idea of international goodwill and making friends on the air is not the whole picture in itself. Amateur Radio is not an "either" / "or" situation. It involves a wide array and balanced approach of operating skill in many different areas.

I do agree that you don't have to be a Rocket Scientist to engage in Amateur Radio activities however, this is not to imply that one should limit themselves to one activity or not make any attempts to learn anything else either.


>Perhaps instead of focusing on how we can maintain barriers to keep the riff-raff out of our hobby, we should instead clean up the riff-raff that currently exists within our hobby.<

"Riff-Raff" is a relative term that has a wide range of connotations in different peoples minds.

Therefore, "Keeping the Riff Raff out" might mean something totally different to you and I.

Breaking down barriers that results in / or encourages poor operating practices on the ham bads is probably not a good thing.

However, dropping CW as a requirement for HF on the other hand may not necessarily be a bad thing.

The term "Riff Raff" depends on who you ask.


>In my opinion, self policing of ham radio is a failure and its past time to get the FCC back in the game.<


The FCC has no interest in policing Amateur Radio in this context. Getting the FCC back into the "game" as you put it, means the FCC will simply remove the amateur bands and everyone's privileges altogether.

This would be the final solution for the FCC.
This would be easier to accomplish than injecting taxpayers money into increased enforcement activities.

That is why it is so important that we police and maintain our own band activities if our intention is to continue with our band privileges.

We have to continually show the FCC that we are fully justified and worthy of having amateur bands. Asking the FCC to take over these well established self policing activities is simply not an option.


Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Perhaps instead of focusing on how we can maintain
> barriers to keep the riff-raff out of our hobby,
> we should instead clean up the riff-raff that
> currently exists within our hobby.

i don't agree at all that cw is a "barrier to keep
the riff-raff out". this grates on me every time
i hear it.

cw is the second-most widely used communications
mode in the amateur radio service. very much
mainstream. in earlier posts, i've used objective,
statistical data harvested from commonly available
sources on the web to demonstrate that this is
the case. it also allows a large number of us to
participate in hf operation in a spectrally-
efficient manner. when there's over 700,000 of
us (in the usa), that's important.

it doesn't hurt, as a side effect, that the
cultivation of this learned skill induces most
licensees to take a modicum of pride in their
station operation. not all, as others have
painfully pointed out. but most of us "riff-raff"
are proud of our setups and our -earned-
privileges and behave accordingly. or at least
that's my impression.

> Someone wrote in a recent article that the FCC
> rules stated the intent of Amateur Radio was to
> provide a pool of technical people with the
> ability to provide emergency communications in
> the event of a disaster.

these are actually two different purposes. one
purpose is to cultivate a reservoir of trained
technicians and communications experts. period.
providing emergency communications in the event
of a disaster is a second purpose. period.

it may seem like i'm picking nits, but the first
goal is to create a pool within the population of
people who have expertise in communications
electronics. not necessarily just to help out
in communications disasters. so by learning and
cultivating new skills, you help contribute to
the amateur radio service's fulfilment of this
purpose, independent of whether you've used
this to help out in disaster response.

i'm enjoying reading everyone's posts.

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KF4VGX, you asked how the subject became "the code." Easy, the author brought it up. Did you really read the article?

Many valid points made here. The horse is long dead, so I won't beat it further, but anyone who doesn't see a correlation between a working knowledge of "code" and the ability to do many other ham radio-related things just hasn't been active or paying attention.

Sure, there are exceptions all over the place; but the general and rather obvious trend is this:

-20-30-40 years ago all hams learned code, and most used it for some period of time at least, especially in the heyday of the Novice license (50's-60's-70's).

-At that time, I could chat with virtually *any* brand new licensee, including a Novice who'd had his ticket 24 hours, and ask him about how his station worked, and he knew the principles. He built his own dipoles and installed them, without asking anybody for help or guidance. He knew how by reading books and the license study materials. The exam questions were not published anywhere, so there was zero chance of passing by memorization. There were "sample exams" published, but those did not contain the actual exam questions.

-Fast-forward to 2004: Now, I can find hams who've had their tickets 2-3 years and have no idea how to wire up a hand key, build a dipole or do much of anything. I find people who think their SSB transmitters don't work because they forgot to try modulating them (pretty common question, actually). I *never* heard this stuff 30 years ago, not even once.

Yep, there are surely exceptions. But the trend is obvious. In the good old days, hams learned stuff on their own or by getting together in groups. The "must use code" Novice license, now history -- the one-year, non-renewable ticket that was the entryway for the vast majority of hams -- worked.

Correlation between learning code and learning other relevant stuff? Yes, there is.

Are "we" more busy today than our forefathers were? Maybe, but I don't think so. For all our "business," we find time to watch the Superbowl, don't we?

WB2WIK/6

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KF4VGX on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK ,Many valid points made here. The horse is long dead, so I won't beat it further, but anyone who doesn't see a correlation between a working knowledge of "code" and the ability to do many other ham radio-related things just hasn't been active or paying attention.


For Someone who didn't want to bring it up sure did. :)
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The code/no code debate is indeed relevant here.

If you are truely interested in understanding HR's selling points, then you MUST fully understand all of HR's pro's and con's, then try to accenuate the current positives and attenuate or eliminate the negative aspects.

Code/No Code continues to be looked upon as a negative in the sense that it has the tendency to be a detraction to new hams versus being a motivator.

Nowhere is it being said that CW should be eliminated from use.

But I am convinced for now that it is not relevant in the testing process and could very well be turning away what might have turned out to be excellent hams

- OR when they become hams, slows down the learning curve,

- OR doesn't keep the majority of new hams motivated to stay in the hobby.

Motivation helps everyone. It makes the hobby more interesting and more rewarding for all. It even helps the OEM's make more money because motivation usually spells more sales, so everyone is happy.

73,

Chris
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N9DG on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK/6:
"...But the trend is obvious. In the good old days, hams learned stuff on their own or by getting together in groups. The "must use code" Novice license, now history -- the one-year, non-renewable ticket that was the entryway for the vast majority of hams -- worked."

I think Steve has hit on the key here, whether it's code or not is irrelevant. The real underlying point is "personal motivation", something that is broadly lacking in society today, or is even actually required to get and keep your ham license today. The reality is that to "learn on your own" is now easier and less expensive than ever before, but only if folks choose to do so. You can find more information on any sub segment of ham radio on the Internet in an hour than you could in weeks when you only had books to work from in years past. Sure not all of the info on the Internet is good or even completely accurate, but then not all books of yesteryear were either.

The one year non-renewable Novice was a good idea too, it filtered those who were truly motivated from those who were not. Today I'd like to see a recurrence testing requirement for *all* classes of licenses - regardless of when you last tested. Everybody should be required to retake all their current license class tests every 5 years to keep their licenses. That too will separate the motivated from those who are not. After all everybody *is* continually expanding their knowledge of current communications technologies and practical experience all along, - so a 5 year recurrent testing requirement should no big deal right? It would for sure give us some idea of how many active hams there really are as well, no more guessing.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Steve's post is 100% right on target.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KE4ZHN on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Ham radio sells itself! Either a person takes interest in it or not. You cannot force people to like or be interested in this hobby. Sure, you can introduce them to it, show them what it can do, but the final outcome is determined by if they like it or not. The one thing that bothers me about this hobby of ours is that there are those who wish to make it so easy to get a license that its going to be a giveaway before long.(its almost there already) They seem to feel that our hobby is dying and if we dont just hand out cereal box tickets to get people on the air, the ham bands will die off and be swallowed up by commercial interests.

While I can see the point of commercial interests wanting to grab our spectrum, I dont agree that just giving away tickets with ridiculously easy tests are the answer either! Whatever happened to quality operators, not quantity? I find it really sad to get on the air and hear extra`s who cant cut a simple dipole or solder a PL259 on a coax without winding up in the ER with third degree burns on their fingers! The fact of the matter is, radio is a dinosaur. In todays modern technology world, the invention of radio is a fossil that although still very useful, just doesnt have that wow factor it once had compared to all the flashy digital goodies we have today. Young people today dont want to bother with tests and towers and antennas to communicate when they can do so on a pc or a cellphone with no hassles. If its not (c)rap music or some silly computer game, they want no part of it. Todays society is more of an "instant gratification" society.

What Im trying to say is, a person has to have a love for electronics, and radio propagation to be at all interested in this hobby. There is also the art of communication. Meeting new people and making new friends on the air is very cool! This hobby doesnt require you to be an engineer to enjoy it. I believe that one should at least have a working knowledge of what they are doing before going on the air at 1.5 kw. Giving away the answers to the test isnt teaching anyone anything. The effort involved to get the license should be a small hurdle to those like us who love radio. Throwing hordes of braindead individuals with little or no knowledge whatsoever at this hobby will NOT save it. Quite the contrary. Of course the folks promoting this agenda are only thinking of the money aspect, they dont care about the hobby.

By making the tests easier and easier, all your doing is inviting people who have a very marginal interest in radio to get on with little effort and either trash the bands, or simply lose interest in a couple of months. These same folks wont have any appreciation for the ticket because they didnt have to put any real effort into obtaining it. How many people who read this forum are proud of their effort in passing their test? Would you be as proud of it if it were handed to you with no effort at all on your part? I doubt it. People who restore old cars for example, have a genuine passion for what they do. They dont do it just because they can sell their old restored car for a bunch of money, they do it because they love cars. Ham radio doesnt need tons of people in the hobby only interested in a cellphone substitute. I think its safe to say that those of us who really love radio,communication, propagation and electronics, are the ones who stay in this hobby for many years. Those of us who simply wanted to talk to the xyl about picking up a loaf of bread at the store on the way home have long since left. They found out that a cellphone was much simpler for them to use.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NC2F on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I recall that Ham store in Fair Lawn back in the day. My aunt/uncle lived (still do) not too far from from where it was and I would walk there to check out the "cool rigs" anytime I visited them...

I bought my first rig there, a HW-101, after getting my Novice ticket in '78. Yeah those were the days...

Nice write-up.

73,
Dennis NC2F
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KE4ZHN, I agree with you.

Eliminating the code requirement for HF operations won't add new hams to the population. What it will do is take some already licensed hams and give them new privileges.

People who are interested in ham radio either already are hams, or will become licensed on their own.

One unfortunate thing is that in some third world countries, and maybe even in some first world ones, some excellent, technically trained individuals who have no problems learning code or anything else simply can't afford to be hams because it costs too much, and they're too busy struggling to feed their families and such to be burdened with the cost of a hobby. Of course, this is nothing new.

I remember working a Polish ham many years ago who sent me a QSL card and a little wrinkled black & white photograph of his station, which was 100% homebrew. And I mean "completely" homebrew, including the receiver, the microphone, the key -- everything. He wrote in good longhand that it took him a long time to send his QSL card because he was saving about one year to have enough money to print some cards. His equipment chassis ("rigs") were made of wood, per the photo.

That's a *real* ham, and the kind we need more of! For people like this, I'd bend over backwards to do anything to help them get licensed and on the air.

For people who have no ambition and just want to complain about the way things are, I'd just as soon not have them licensed, or on the air.

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK,

I am told you possess legendary status as a ham. I respect what you have given to the hobby. I have to admit, I am one of those people who know nothing about electronics. Frankly, I was never interested but managed to pass my Advanced ticket (no VE here – FCC office downtown LA), earn DXCC, WAS, and generally enjoy the hobby for the past 36 years – without killing myself. For me, radio is magic. It has always been that way. I believe there are others out there who are kept from the hobby by the code requirement. Wanting enough is just not enough in this day. I’ve seen the faces of folks when they are told the requirements for license. Generally, electrical theory and rules is not a problem. When told of the code however… I get the look. Why? The why is what I cannot answer other to say there is no real good reason. It’s just seems to be common opinion it keeps the undesirables out of the hobby. It is at that point that I realized WE ARE THE UNDESIRABLES. We come off like a pack of stuck up fools. Amateur radio has a huge PR problem. Our fellow hams are often described and obese, dirty, foul smelling, hicks – and that’s in our own forums!!! I believe it is time to take a look at ourselves, our hobby, and make the changes necessary to assure survival of Amateur Radio. When I tune across forty-meters during the day and hear two nets and that’s it, or I hear no young people home from school at 3:00 on the air – well, you can’t tell me we are not in trouble. I, as you do, have the perspective of time on my side. The hobby is clearly in decline. Everybody needs to face up to these facts and begin to move the hobby in the direction of salvation, not oblivion.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Richard;

Although I certainly agree with this,

"I find it really sad to get on the air and hear extra`s who cant cut a simple dipole or solder a PL259 on a coax without winding up in the ER with third degree burns on their fingers!",

I don't agree with this,

"While I can see the point of commercial interests wanting to grab our spectrum, I dont agree that just giving away tickets with ridiculously easy tests are the answer either! Whatever happened to quality operators, not quantity?"

or this,

"Throwing hordes of braindead individuals with little or no knowledge whatsoever at this hobby will NOT save it. Quite the contrary. Of course the folks promoting this agenda are only thinking of the money aspect, they dont care about the hobby."

I am all for getting off my duff and doing whatever I can to motivate folks towards the real spirit of ham radio; experimentation and homebrewing is what drives the passion of this hobby, not commercialism. Unfortunately, this hobby has become quite commercialized for many which can in part be attributed to the huge amount of manufacturers and technology. So as Steve mentioned, motivation should indeed be high on the list.

But nobody - at least not this writer- is implying that the theory portion of the exams should be made less difficult. On the contrary, I believe it should be a ~70/30 balance of theory/regulations which is probably close to what it is now??

So "making the tests easier and easier" is not the intent. Attracting people to HR by taking CW out of the exam process is really just like eliminating the proverbial "cutting off of one's nose to spite their face." We want to sustain ham radio by adding more youth or folks with ambition and drive - but at the same time, we're intent upon making it tedious for these kinds of people by maintaining CW as the "gate of amateur quality and consistency."

Does that make sense???
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
There is no correlation between learning Morse code and learning electronics. I know dozens of people who are good at electronics and have no idea about Morse code.

Not wanting to learn something is not evidence that one wants a handout.

Today's americans are just as ready and willing to expend effort for what they want as they ever were.

There's more to the hobby than cw and electronics, and neither make a ham any more "real".

What make a ham "real" is a willingness to help others find their niche in our vast hobby.

And that's another selling point for ham radio.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well said AE6IP. Frankly, after reading all these pro code testing post, I have come to the conclusion the pro coders are a bunch of LUG HEADS who would rather keep the hazing alive rather than help a hobby that is clearly in trouble. Perhaps knowing CW should dis-qualify one from becoming a ham on grounds that thinking at 13 WPM is just too slow.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> We want to sustain ham radio by adding more
> youth or folks with ambition and drive - but
> at the same time, we're intent upon making it
> tedious for these kinds of people by maintaining
> CW as the "gate of amateur quality and
> consistency."

> Does that make sense???

No, because CW is not "maintained as the gate of
amateur quality and consistency".

CW is examined for because it is the second most
common mode used in the amateur radio; it's both
useful and widely-used.

A 5 WPM CW element won't deter anyone "with
ambition and drive".

As a previous poster, AE6IP noted,

"It's a hobby, not a fraternity, and the tests
should check the skills necessary to _start_
in it."

Which would be basic competence in the most
common, mainstream, modes used by amateur
radio operators. That would be Phone and CW.
And a 5 WPM telegraph element represents the
basic skill needed to _start_ in it.

73

Scott NJ0E
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> But seriously, look at what K0RGR said and tell me
> where you differ.

There' an offer I can't turn down. ;)

I think it's true now that people who don't learn code will drop out more quickly than those who do. However, that's not because of code, it's because of lack of HF access.

I have never bought the theory that where there's no effort the 'rewards are not respected'. I enjoy the hobby because I enjoy what I'm doing, not because of how much effort I put into getting permission to enter it.

I've taken tests in front of FCC examiners, and in front of VEs. I see nothing about the FCC examiners that would "put the fear of Uncle Sam" in me. Maybe some people who have test anxiety would do more poorly in front of the FCC, but the tests aren't about making people feel bad; they're about permission to enter the hobby.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AA6VO on October 12, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I was tempted not to comment due to the incredible number of replies. So I will keep it short: 5WPM code test is a fact of life for now, and for most folks it can be done with just a little time & effort. Read a few minutes at bedtime. Listen to tapes in the car. Just do it. Regardless of when or how the CW requirement is changed, if you want to get on HF just study a bit each week (or day) using the many free resources for CW and General exam. It's not that hard. Or you can complain about the current system. I have no problem with that and in fact I would just as soon see CW requirment eliminated. But complaining is not nearly as fun or rewarding as getting on HF!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio was a fraternity once upon a time; no longer. CW is not a hazing requirement, it is the most valuable weak signal mode available to us.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
“CW is not a hazing requirement, it is the most valuable weak signal mode available to us.”

No, sorry. Requiring CW is hazing. I have read enough post over the years to convince me that many of the GEEZERS just want to keep people out. They are, IMHO, selfish fools who really don’t care about the long-term health of the hobby – WHICH IS ALREADY IN DIRE CONDITION.

K6BBC
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by EXPAT on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Too bad this thread went overboard on the code question, the original point has had me thinking a bit...sure enough, I am in somewhat the same situation as the author, though without the money associated with being a lawyer. In fact, I am a teacher, and even though I teach English (sorry for any mistakes, these posts are all first drafts) I would like to share something of what is special about radio transmission to my students.

Guess I don´t have to tell you that students these days are lazy. Indeed, they seem to be intersted in nothing except booze, sports, and the opposite sex. At 36, I can no longer relate very easily to the students, and wonder if amateur radio could help. So, what IS so unique?

For me, a married guy with some responsibility and a regular job (though not one so punishing as many of yours), "ham" radio (I hate that term, for no good reason) is something to do besides read (my main thing) and, uh, well...right. Anyway, it appeals to my technical side, both learning how to operate and also build electronics. Essentially, I bought a SW radio for better news reporting than offered by the corporate media and ended up checking out amateur websites, mostly this one. By the way, I finally got a licence, admittingly technician, but am very much a beginner.

Point is, amateur radio hits the right buttons with me but I don´t think it will be an easy sell to young people. Except for a few technical types - let´s be honest, geeks like me and you - there has to be some practical or "cool" factor above and beyond repeaters and the interesting but shallow joy of low-power satellites. Which leads to the code question, no doubt...but I am not recommending that the HF bands be open to literally anyone. The author made a good point, amplified in some of the posts here, that limited HF access for those unwilling to learn code would be a compromise to wident he appeal of the hobby. Obviously my perspective is not that of an older fellow with multiple decades of experience who wants to "close the door" to avoid on-air hassles (a weak argument given that most posters seem to agree the older operators are often quite inconsiderate and even vulgar...let´s face it, most people are mixed characters, some good and some bad, no exception here). Still, I am OK about passing the 5 wpm test, the word among older beginners like myself is that this is harder than any of the written tests but it sure isn´t 20 wpm, is it? I am confident enough that I will do it that I am buying a CW radio. Back in the classroom, though, I can just imagine getting a group of twenty surly youths to bang out dits to each other in between SMS messages! That image is pretty absurd, even if several of those students would probably do well...indeed, I could try it as a club, but where to start given they don´t know what amateur radio is in the first place?

This leads to my final point, that several of my students are interested in being DJs, in fact several ARE DJs, at least part-time. I think they would respond with much more interest to low-power broadcasting, an idea hardly ever mentioned here, maybe you guys think it "off-topic." Well, time to get the ole head out of the you-know-where and look around, just because the FCC has generally discouraged this in the past (and I still don´t know if they have relaxed the restrictions on low power FM, I heard they were thinking about it) doesn´t mean it is a bad idea. Seriously, broadcasting is about the only radio thing I can imagine the students getting in to. Also, for-profit broadcasting has turned the American airwaves into a sewer, nothing but ads and then more ads that admit what they are. Also, with the US being so politically polarized these days, isn´t it in the interests of democracy to let more people have their voices heard? I am talking strictly about low power (10-20 W?), non-commercial broadcasting on non-HF frequencies.

Well, there goes my two cents. Thanks for reading.

Randy KC2NGB
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
So, if I am reading this thread correctly, ham radio's unique selling point must be related to learning CW ?

Quite frankly, I would like to see someone elaborate on how learning CW is somehow a focal selling point in today's world of Sony X-boxes and cell phone ring tones?

Don't get me wrong, I think CW has it's historical place in Amateur Radio.

Similarly, all good spark gap transmitters have a useful service life.

I have used CW to communicate on occasion and find it a rather nostalgic form of entertainment.

However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that CW is the communications mode of the future.

73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
It's an attitude thing.

You might want to segregate annoyed and anxious would-be hams into two groups: Those who can't learn code, and those who simply refuse to learn it.

There's nobody in the first group. That leaves only the second group, and those are the same misfits who refuse to do lots of stuff. It's the little-kid attitude popular with toddlers in their "terrible twos." Parents know what that is: Kids at about age two learn how to say "no!" and this becomes their favorite word.

Thankfully, most productive human beings grow out of that stage; but unfortunately, some don't.

I've been in a position to hire and fire people most of my life, and here's what I've found: When I ask someone why he or she hasn't done something (anything), I weigh their response heavily. A positive response like, "I definitely want to get to that, but having just finished college and getting married, it's been a very busy time. My plan is to achieve xyz over the next five years, and here's how I'm going to do it..." is a good one.

A negative response like, "Who'd want to do that? Not interested!" is a bad one. Guess who'd get the job?

I have nothing against no-coders, at all. But those who are adamantly "non"-code strike me as pitiful losers. It's like protesting learning aviation history and still wanting to become a licensed pilot. They go together, and the protests will fall on very deaf ears because nobody really cares if you become a pilot or not, except you.

As I stated earlier, eliminating the code requirement won't create any new hams. It will provide new privileges to some who already are hams. Try to prove otherwise, using a real world case.

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Don't get me wrong, I think CW has it's historical
> place in Amateur Radio.

> Similarly, all good spark gap transmitters have a
> useful service life.

Not a valid comparison at all.

Spark gap transmitters occupied a spectral bandwidth
of hundreds of kiloherts. By modern standards, or
even when continuous wave transmitters first made
their appearance (1920's), it was obviously destined
for the scrap heap.

Continuous Wave transmitters occupy a bandwidth of
~200 Hz, or less, depending on the rise/fall times
of the RF pulses.

By comparison, Single Sideband voice transmissions
occupy ~2400 Hz. About 12x wider than Continuous
Wave, at least.

Ignoring the fact that CW is old, evaluating it
solely on it's technological merits, it's a very
viable mode that enables a large number of
participants to engage in activity on HF while
minimizing congestion.

An important consideration when you're dealing
with 700,000 licensees (in the USA).

73
Scott NJ0E
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You ask for proof WIK? It’s all inference. However, I have been licensed for 36 years and have empirical evidence that the on air ham population is in decline and the average age of hams is increasing. There are very few kids on the air now. What is you solution for solving these fatal facts? I believe code must go. Personally, I like CW. It’s the only mode that makes me remember what the hobby was like when I was a kid. But, to ask a kid who grew up on the fast paced world of MTV is just unreasonable – especially to satisfy a bunch of OLD FARTS who will probably abuse them when they get on the air.

The more I write, the more pissed off I become. I cannot wait for the day the FCC drops CW so I can watch the collective implosion of those who would rather see the hobby run into the ground.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
From K6BBC:

""CW is not a hazing requirement, it is the most valuable weak signal mode available to us.”

No, sorry. Requiring CW is hazing."


Only if it is considered "hazing" to require HF hams to learn useful skills necessary to employ the most valuable weak signal mode available to us. I think a useful question to ask is: How did this modest requirement (even as the required competency level was reduced to virtually nil) become regarded as "hazing" ?

From KC8VWM:

"Don't get me wrong, I think CW has it's historical place in Amateur Radio.

Similarly, all good spark gap transmitters have a useful service life."


I am surprised to see an otherwise well-informed amateur make such a comparison. There is simply no comparison to be made between spark gap technology (which used orders of magnitude more bandwidth than SSB) and CW (which uses orders of magnitude less bandwidth than SSB.)

73 de Chuck NI0C
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Tony (BBC), if writing about this subject "pisses you off," I'd recommend therapy.

We just happen to disagree.

When I asked for a real-world case, I was suggesting somebody look at the data from those countries where the code requirement has already been dropped and see what has happened, there.

I can tell you what's happened in Japan, since they were the first one to drop the requirement and let hams have (limited) HF privileges without it: Their amateur population has decreased steadily, after a big boom several years ago. Look at the numbers.

The number of licensed amateurs in the U.S., and worldwide, has never been higher than it is today. What's disturbing is the "growth" rate has slowed remarkably, and as you point out, eventually as we die off it's possible nobody will be around to replace us.

The circle of life.

Code has nothing to do with it.

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Despite my disagreement with Tony, K6BBC, concerning Morse testing for HF, I acknowledge he raises some good points, namely:

"... a bunch of OLD FARTS who will probably abuse them when they get on the air."

and:

"those who would rather see the hobby run into the ground."

We as the amateur radio community had better address these issues as we are looking for "selling points" for our hobby.

73 de Chuck NI0C


 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Gents;

I believe an on the air chat is in order, yes?

20 meter SSB would probably be the freq. and mode....

I'm serious of course; it would be quite the roundtable....
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KI4CYB on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
A roundtable would be nice!

I would be there for sure...


TU
KI4CYB
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The author of this thread is quite correct when he stated that the mystery and magic of HF propagation sets amateur radio apart and is the unique selling point. That was true for most of the 20th century. But in the last couple of decades quite a number of hams began to believe that amateur radio needed to "recruit" folks. So many Technician licenses were issued to those whose only interest was free access to the telephone lines while on the go. Whole families were licensed with only such use in mind. They took off when cellphones became inexpensive. Rewind to the '50's/'60's, kids discovered am/sw radio and became dx'ers. They were fascinated by the mystery and magic of ionospheric propagation. They often discovered amateur radio via such listening. It wasn't like now where a person discovers amateur radio on Friday, attends a crash course over the weekend and is licensed within a few more days. Also folks weren't as prosperous as today so they didn't have the "instant hamburger" mentality. Some couldn't even get on the air in the beginning because they had no money. For some it took years. Many did not lose interest despite that, started small, put one foot in front of the other, read, studied, learned and grew. They already had a good idea what to do and how to approach various tasks before they ever got to the point to apply it.
Those types are turning into the old timers now. They would have never dreamed of letting morse code impede their entry or advancement. Contrast that with those now who openly and defiantly refuse to learn code. I have no sympathy for them. Those kids of the '50's/'60's came in primarily under the novice license. And many of us discovered early on that cw led to much greater results in dx'ing than am phone. We didn't have kw amplifiers and large yagis up high. It was virtually unheard of in those days for a kid to have an amplifier. They were possessed by the moneyed class of professionals. We achieved outstanding dx results with low dipoles and verticals and came to appreciate the mode. A lot of us remain primarily cw ops to this day because it furthered our fascination with the mystery and magic of HF propagation. The Novice license was ditched because it was not the entry point it once had been. The "no code" Technician license became the favored entry point. Never mind that the power limitation on Novices was raised, they were permitted VFO's and given 10 meter phone privileges. Now all of a sudden, we need to reinstate that license and upgrade its privileges and the ARRL, in its infinite wisdom wants to grandfather all Technicians to General? WIK/6 is right, doing away with cw as a licensing requirement will not do anything to make the numbers increase in any kind of substantive way.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Problem is "when," and how the locals will hear each other. I can't usually work guys 25-500 miles away on 20 meters...

I'm usually on 20m, though, around 0000 to 0100 or 0130 UTC weekdays. Let's try to set it up!

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
>>Don't get me wrong, I think CW has it's historical place in Amateur Radio.

Similarly, all good spark gap transmitters have a useful service life." <<


I am humorously surprised to see my analogy being interpreted as a comparison of a modern day Continuous Wave Transciever to a broadbanded sparking device fully equipped with a chunk of rock in a tube.

Of course I know the difference.. that wasn't my point.

Would you not agree that spark gap transmitters are historical in nature and have already seen useful service in their day?

Good.., now you might consider that similarly using CW today is just as nostalgic in nature as early pioneers that used spark gap transmitters of yesterday.

This is not a bad thing... It is Amateur Radio history.

Although "nostalgic" to use, I would have to say that I would have a hard time selling "history" as amateur radio's unique and main attraction.


73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Charles, you are dead wrong and your analogy is not a a poor example. Spark had to go. CW remains a vital mode that still produces up to date results!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> The number of licensed amateurs in the U.S., and
> worldwide, has never been higher than it is today.

You might want to look at the numbers again. World wide, the number of licensed hams is down by half a million from its all time high, mostly due to the fall off in Japanese hams. (That's about 25 percent)

In the US, the number of licensed hams reached its peak a year ago and has started declining.

 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KE4ZHN on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I didnt even bring up the topic of CW in my first post and yet there are a couple of people assuming I am referring to CW. Although, at present, it is still part of the equation. I was talking about testing in general, meaning not only the existing CW exam but the written test as well. Lets face it, the testing process has been watered down! CW or no CW the whole testing process has already been watered down to appease the whiners who refuse to put in some real effort to obtain a license. And now we have another proposal pending to water it down even further!

I definitely have to agree with Steve WB2WIK on his attitude post. Many of the wannabe hams today have this attitude of wanting HF privileges with the least possible amount of effort into obtaining them. Sure, everyone likes the easy way out. But does this make a better ham? I know this point has been brought up many times but its worth repeating here for the sake of the debate. Years ago CB was licensed and strictly monitored by the FCC and violators got nailed very quickly. Many got heavy fines and equipment seized from them. There was a certain amount of respect for the FCC and authority on the band. CB ops actually were afraid of them. And for the most part, the band wasnt too bad. Once it was deregulated, you have the chaos it is today. The point is, if you give it away, nobody respects it. They treat it like a disposable commodity. Ham radio is heading down this same road if things keep going as they are with freebie licenses and no monitoring. Its FACT! Yes, I know the old argument of the 20 wpm hams caught jamming and acting like idiots too. Theres rotten apples in every barrel, testing was never intended to be a "filter" as some assume. Testing cannot replace enforcement.

As I stated in my first post, when someone puts forth an effort to get a license, they certainly appreciate and respect that license more then if it was handed to them with no effort beyond signing their name to the bottom. As for the "old farts" hazing newbies, thats a load of bull if I ever heard it. Many times, the reason newbies get hazed is the way they carry themselves on the air. Constantly doubling, saying things like "qsl?" after each transmission, saying the "personal here is" instead of "my name is" and IDing 15 times in 5 minutes usually tips off the veteran hams your a newbie! The best ones are the guys using 10 codes! Then they wonder why they get slammed or ignored!

The thing to do is LISTEN before getting on the air and making a fool of yourself, and you shouldnt have any hazing troubles. And if you do...so what? Is your ego or pride that sensitive that you cant take a little ribbing? Twist the VFO and find someone else to talk to if it hurts your pride that much! Chances are youll have to anyway because nobody on that frequency will want to talk to you. If you get on the air sounding like a cb`er, youll be treated as one. Out of the literally hundreds and hundreds of contacts Ive made on HF, very very few have been unpleasent. My first HF contacts were nothing but friendly hams welcoming me to the bands and congragulating me on my upgrade. Yes, even my first night on 75!

I still think giving away licenses like candy on halloween is NOT going to make ham radio appeal to kids anymore then trying to force them to listen to classical music would make them like it. All we can do is try to show the young people what amateur radio can do. Only they can decide for themselves. You either like this hobby or you dont, plain and simple.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

"CW remains a vital mode that still produces up to date results!"

Roy,

I can accept being wrong, and I have on many occasions been corrected. I would only have to graciously accept it coming from a person of your most excellent stature in the Amateur Radio community. However, I am afraid that the comment you made listed above was not exactly the point I was debating.

My thought is how do you sell CW or any operating mode aspect of amateur radio for that matter, whether it be modern day brass pounding or historical day brass pounding, as the unique selling point or main attraction to the Sony X Box generation of today?

73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think we need to be in business of "selling"
Amateur Radio.

We should be in the business of "showing" it.

Those who find it attractive, will.

Those who won't, won't.

It's always been that way.

73
Scott NJ0E
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Charles, we don't have to sell amateur radio to anyone. Those that will gravitate to it anyway are the rightful heirs. Those that see it and become enamored with it, within themselves, will embrace it. Others will find themselves initially enamored with it but lose interest shortly. If you want to stimulate kids to have an interest in radio, buy them radios with short wave bands on them. If that doesn't put the hook in them, nothing will.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
From KC8VWM:

"Would you not agree that spark gap transmitters are historical in nature and have already seen useful service in their day?"

Of course. The reason they are no longer used is they were terribly wasteful in terms of bandwidth (and energy) utilization. These are strictly museum pieces.


"Good.., now you might consider that similarly using CW today is just as nostalgic in nature as early pioneers that used spark gap transmitters of yesterday."

I have a problem with the words "just as." Using CW may seem nostalgic to some; however even in this the 21st century, there is no other mode that uses bandwidth better for amateur communications.

73 de Chuck NI0C
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I had a female friend about a decade ago who seemed interested in amateur radio. She liked to listen to 2 meter repeaters on her scanner. I encouraged her to get a license. She learned the characters and numbers in cw easily. She didn't get a license. Turned out she felt I was pushing her and didn't feel enough interest of her own.

The truth is that there are many who feel pressured or pushed to get a license by someone else, usually a ham. I'm sure the hams don't realize it. When someone tells you that they would be interested, but that cw is a deterrant, what they're really saying is they aren't interested period. The ones that were went on to do it. Yes, cw and all. There are many of us who could not have been deterred no matter how high the standards and entrance requirements were. And not just a few of us made radio/electronics our lifes work, because we viewed radio as more than work or a hobby, but as a "cause".
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WA4DOU, sadly, you are living in the past. The hobby of the fifties and sixties is long gone.

KE4ZHN, you must be load of fun to QSO with you “rules of speech.” And why is it that dropping code will be tantamount to “giving away the license like candy?” Did somebody say make the written test easier?

NJ0E. It’s difficult to show the hobby when most examples of on air QSO are really boring and far too many are between seniors discussing medical issues.

Bottom line, you’re all wrong and I’m right. So there.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

"I have a problem with the words "just as." Using CW may seem nostalgic to some; however even in this the 21st century, there is no other mode that uses bandwidth better for amateur communications."

Your point about CW bandwidth is well taken Chuck.

I stand corrected in my comparison.

73

Charles - KC8VWM

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Lets face it, the testing process has been watered
> down!

This is a commonly made claim, but there's no evidence to support it. The tests were always easy. They're just about different things now.

> Years ago CB was licensed and strictly monitored by
> the FCC and violators got nailed very quickly. Many
> got heavy fines and equipment seized from them.
> There was a certain amount of respect for the FCC
> and authority on the band. CB ops actually were
> afraid of them. And for the most part, the band
> wasnt too bad. Once it was deregulated, you have the
> chaos it is today.

This is not what happened. CB became a zoo. Then it was deregulated.

> The point is, if you give it away, nobody respects
> it.

It's a hobby. The amount of "respect" it gets is based on the amount of pleasure one gets out of it.

> As I stated in my first post, when someone puts
> forth an effort to get a license, they certainly
> appreciate and respect that license more then if it
> was handed to them with no effort beyond signing
> their name to the bottom.

The evidence says otherwise. About the same percentage of hams now "disrespect" their license as always have, based on the history of violation. The Old Man complained about poor behavior, and the complaints have never stopped.

> All we can do is try to show the young people what
> amateur radio can do. Only they can decide for
> themselves. You either like this hobby or you dont,
> plain and simple.

Well, there's showing and then there's showing. Not talking to someone on the air because they're making neophyte mistakes is "showing". It shows the dark side of the hobby, and instead of learning to correct those mistakes, the person is likely to just give up.

I'd prefer to show people a hobby that's about enjoying communicating in a different manner than they're used to, myself.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I agree the written test today isn't necessarily easier than it used to be, it's just different. It's intended to be relevant to the application, and that's a point I'd argue, but nonetheless it's probably not any easier.

What is dramatically easier today than before the VE system came to be is the test-taking experience. In the old days, it was common for people to have to take a day off work or school and travel hundreds of miles to show up at an FCC office, of which there weren't very many -- and those offices were never open on weekends. Now, it's a nicer experience. Most applicants can find a testing session reasonably close to home, and many will find Saturday or sometimes even Sunday testing available.

So, we've already loosened up the process quite a bit. Or rather, "we" didn't, the FCC did.

I'd be in favor of tossing the written examination altogether and replacing it with a simple hands-on demonstration. Give a prospective licensee a box of parts that can be used to build a transmitter, and without any further instructions, give him or her a reasonable period of time to build one and get it working. Maybe 90 minutes. Sink or swim.

How many could pass that one? I'd gladly volunteer for it. Think many wannabes could pass?

That would be a relevant test. I'd be willing to toss both the written and the code exam in favor of a more practical one like this.

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
AE6IP said: "I'd prefer to show people a hobby that's about enjoying communicating in a different manner than they're used to, myself."

That's actually a nice one sentence summary of the hobby. Of course that "different manner" of communications might just include Morse code.

73 de Chuck NI0C
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK said: "I'd be in favor of tossing the written examination altogether and replacing it with a simple hands-on demonstration. Give a prospective licensee a box of parts that can be used to build a transmitter, and without any further instructions, give him or her a reasonable period of time to build one and get it working. Maybe 90 minutes. Sink or swim.

How many could pass that one? I'd gladly volunteer for it. Think many wannabes could pass?"


Depends on what's in the box of parts. How about a Ten-tec Orion, a microphone or key, an instruction manual, a coaxial plug, and some wire for an antenna ? I could go for that.

73 de Chuck NI0C



 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Chuck, if the box contained your suggested stuff, I suspect we'd have every single box walking out the door quickly without anybody bothering to try out the parts at the VE session.

And although I know your response was a joke, it's sad in some ways. Many Extra Class licensees come right up here on eHam and ask questions like, "I'm putting up a dipole. I know the center conductor of the coax goes to one side. Where's the shield go?"

In my first 15 years in ham radio (1965-1980), I never heard a question like that from anybody, not even pre-licensed prospective Novices.

What went wrong?

73

Steve WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Steve WIK, your testing scheme would certainly eliminate the riff-raft like me. To this day I have no idea how my radio works, although I have never electrocuted myself – so that must count for something. And I managed to earn DXCC, WAS and a prestigious public service award for my activities on Amateur Radio.

BTW, you did jog a memory. I did have to ditch school to take my General exam. My dad took the day off too and drove me to Downtown LA for the test. It was one of the great experiences of my life. Quite a character builder for a 12 year old.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WB2WIK on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Tony, I have similar fond memories but for me:

-My dad didn't drive me because I didn't want my parents to know I ditched school;

-I was 13, not 12;

-It was my first time going to New York City without an adult in tow (I lived in suburban NJ), so that was quite the experience;

-My first FCC visit was in early April, when it was cold and snowy, and involved my walking two miles to the bus stop, taking a bus to Newark, transitioning to a train and then to a subway. The fares totaled about $6, so the round-trip was about $12. The FCC application was $4, I think. So, this was a $16 day for a kid with a paper route. It took me about a month to make that much money!

Still, a grand experience.

The FCC did not accept "appointments," so it was first-come, first-served and they opened at 9:00 AM. I was there by 8:00, and so were a few other nervous applicants. We had to stand outside on the street waiting for the building to open. We got snowed on.

Still, a wonderful memory.

Not quite the "When I was your age, I had to walk 20 miles through six feet of snow" type story, but maybe half of that.

WB2WIK/6
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NI0C on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Steve and Tony,

Your testing experiences (which were similar to mine) show what someone who is determined to get on the air and operate will do. I recall memorizing schematics for power supplies and oscillator circuits so that I could draw them for the General Class FCC exam. At age 15, I had not even started on my electrical engineering degree, so I did what I had to do to pass the exam.

With regard to Steve's practical exam, I was only half joking. Because, depending on what is in the box, I'm not sure I could pass this exam either. It seems to me that such a test would necessarily focus on only a narrow body of knowledge, and that it would either test circuit assembly skills or it would require RF circuit design experience. I don't think either of those extremes is what you would want in an amateur radio licensing exam.

I've got to run to the classroom now to teach mesh current analysis to my engineering students.

73 de Chuck NI0C
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> I'd be in favor of tossing the written examination
> altogether and replacing it with a simple hands-on
> demonstration.

Not a bad concept.

> Give a prospective licensee a box of parts that can
> be used to build a transmitter, and without any
> further instructions, give him or her a reasonable
> period of time to build one and get it working.
> Maybe 90 minutes. Sink or swim.

I'd rather the test be more relevant. Very few people ever build their own gear.

> How many could pass that one? I'd gladly volunteer
> for it. Think many wannabes could pass?

Here, take this box of unmarked surface-mount parts. Everything you need to build a transceiver is present, even a silk screened multilayer board, complete with blind vias. You can take two hours, if you'd like.

> That would be a relevant test. I'd be willing to
> toss both the written and the code exam in favor of
> a more practical one like this.

Well, I don't know about you, but noone I know has evere built a transceiver from a parts box in 90 minutes.

If there's going to be a relevant, practical test, it probably ought to test aspects of the hobby that everyone is likely to experience, rather than some arbitrary construction project no one has ever built.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Of course that "different manner" of communications
> might just include Morse code.

Absolutely. Morse code is going to be part of the hobby as long as there's a hobby.


 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> In my first 15 years in ham radio (1965-1980), I
> never heard a question like that from anybody, not
> even pre-licensed prospective Novices.

> What went wrong?

Nothing. Something changed, but nothing went wrong. Amateur radio is a large diverse hobby, and newer equipment has made it easier for people who are not 'hands on' with electrical gear to get involved.

And the diversity has made it easy to be very expert in some parts of the hobby and not so experienced in others. One of the guys I know who is experimenting with trying to set microwave distance records builds most of his own equipment from scratch. But he's never used a single dipole in his entire career. I'm sure he'd ask a bunch of practical installation questions before he tried his first one.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that something went wrong. However, I think what went wrong in amateur radio was but one tiny facet of what went wrong in society in general. I'm not so sure it would be appropriate to open that larger can of worms here but to admit that something went wrong in amateur radio could be the first step in finding and correcting the root causes.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KE4ZHN on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
No sense in trying to debate with Marty, he knows everything. As for Tony, I have no "rules of speech" as you claim. You took my statement out of context and twisted it around to suit your smarmy remark. I dont care how someone talks on the air. The point is, if you get on the air for your first qso and make those common mistakes, chances are nobody will want to bother with talking to you. I guess I touched a nerve....QSL?
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by K6BBC on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Smarmy remake, isn’t that nice. I was wondering why everybody I talk to just disappears.

K6BBC
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Marty's been a ham for a couple of years now. You can tell the real know it all's, they show up with their agendas before the ink is dry on their licenses. Some aren't even licensed yet but already know what's good for amateur radio, or not.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Here, take this box of unmarked surface-mount parts. Everything you need to build a transceiver is present, even a silk screened multilayer board, complete with blind vias. You can take two hours, if you'd like."

How about building it on a scrap piece of wooden breadboard? I mean this in the literal sense. Screw in a IT4 glow plug, make a Regen coil, put in a few scrap capacitors, add some A+ & B+ and you have a radio.

Anyone ever got excited about building a radio inside a Quaker Oats can lately? Has anyone else here ever attempt to do this?

When I was a youngster, I thought this experience was fun. Whatever happened to this sort of experimental creativity in Amateur Radio?

73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Marty's been a ham for a couple of years now.

Yes indeed. Enjoyed the hobby the whole time.

> You can tell the real know it all's, they show up
> with their agendas before the ink is dry on their
> licenses.

It's funny, but the people who bring up how long you've been a ham never seem to be able to point out any errors in what you're saying.

Of course, if they could, they wouldn't resort to ad hominem.

> Some aren't even licensed yet but already know
> what's good for amateur radio, or not.

The Visigoths haven't invaded the hobby; our society isn't falling apart at the seams; and it's not the 1950s anymore.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Anyone ever got excited about building a radio
> inside a Quaker Oats can lately? Has anyone else
> here ever attempt to do this?

> When I was a youngster, I thought this experience
> was fun. Whatever happened to this sort of
> experimental creativity in Amateur Radio?

It is alive and well. It is just being expressed differently. Much of the experimentation is more for personal satisfaction now; so the community at large doesn't hear about it. People still build tuna tin QRP rigs and experiment with antennas, thhey just don't talk about it as much.

Meanwhile, the areas of new experimentation are changing. Distance records are being set with microwave systems. Digital modes are being created and experimented with. Applications are being found for APRS.

What is not happening, is that the number of people who participate in the hobby is not increasing.

I don't know if that's bad or not; but the rest of it is all good.

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by KC8VWM on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Meanwhile, the areas of new experimentation are changing."

So If I understand you correctly, instead of people building a radio in a Quaker Oats can, people are now making Wifi antennas out of Pringles cans...

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by AE6IP on October 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> So If I understand you correctly, instead of people
> building a radio in a Quaker Oats can, people are
> now making Wifi antennas out of Pringles cans...

That too. ;)
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Anyone ever got excited about building a radio
> inside a Quaker Oats can lately? Has anyone else
> here ever attempt to do this?

charles,

we use altoids mint tins these days. see the photo
on my profile.

73
scott nj0e
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by N9DG on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KC8VWM:
"So If I understand you correctly, instead of people building a radio in a Quaker Oats can, people are now making Wifi antennas out of Pringles cans..."

Oh oh, - if this is the area of experimentation we now have focused on we are indeed in trouble. The Pringles can antenna had the distinction of being THE poorest performing antenna at the 2002 Central States VHF conference antenna measuring test in Milwaukee.

http://www.csvhfs.org/ant/CSANT02.HTML

Note that probe all by itself from the Pringles can "antenna" outperformed the Pringles can with probe by 17+ dB!!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Anyone ever got excited about building a radio inside
> a Quaker Oats can lately? Has anyone else here ever
> attempt to do this?

It's alive and well. We use altoids mint tins these
days (see photo on my profile).

also see http://www.qsl.net/n0rc/rm/

73
Scott NJ0E
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

This Quaker oat can, 2 cans and a string stuff, etc. is a bit of a deviation from the original topic.

Some of the relevant facts that really have an effect on the selling points are:

1) CW is not a necessary aspect of the testing process. Passing a CW element of the testing process will not filter out hams without ambition to experiment or who are not willing to get their hands dirty and learn how to install a PL-259 connector, assemble a station and operate it with skill and within the FCC regs.

Since the theory and regs sections of the exam remain untouched, dropping CW from exams will not make the process easier in terms of passing or failing a qualified individual.

Individuals who have excellent technical qualifications who could contribute significantly to HR do not necessarily have the time or desire to learn CW.

2) The ham population surely needs an infusion of youth in it's membership - but so don't all hobbies, so we're not looking for something unusual.

3) HF operation is considered the "magic" which draws most folks to HR.

But we say a Technician Class amateur is less qualified to operate on the HF bands compared to the General Class just because they didn't pass a 5 WPM Code element??

Doesn't sound like a good way to promote HR and it's certainly NOT a selling point!! Our selling points certainly seem a bit lacking here and have little justification or useful purpose.

4) CW and data currently occupy 50% of the available HF spectrum. So is the HR fraternity really sending a message to prospective amateurs that because of this band structure, if you don't run CW, you won't be of much use on HF??

Another way of analyzing this logic is you must have Morse competency otherwise our band plan doesn't work because you will be less likely to use this part of the spectrum.

If you look at this closely, that's exactly what it boils down to, unless of course you take on CW because you're truly interested, as opposed to being jammed down your throat.

So I could go through the trouble to learn CW, and simply say the heck with it, I'm going to run PACTOR on 20 and never use CW again - which probably happens all the time!

5) The radio hardware has certainly taken some technological leaps in the last 20 years and does in part contribute to the redcution of homebrewing and experimenting.

But antenna technology does not follow Moore's Law, and computers have made experimentation more fun and reduced some of traditional trial and error.

Design and asembly of a dipole or a vertical is certainly within the realm of any beginner, as are a TON of other antenna projects, so there is no excuse in this arena. It merely requires a handbook or software (or freeware), some patience and a willingness to try - and some mentoring from the fraternity.

Kits are also available and should be encouraged, as should hands-on electronics workshops at schools or radio clubs.

6) Coupled with the improvements I'm suggesting around licensing, I think our best overall selling points are a means of direct and independent communications over short and long distances for recreational and/or public service purposes - oh, and of course, with the idea you will have fun and enjoy doing it.

Well I've said my piece. There is nothing inflammatory or insulting here. That stuff just incites a lot of useless threads and wastes everyone's time.

It is strictly my opinion after being in this hobby for over 31 years and in the electronics industry for about 26.

I still think an on the air round-table would be a great way to "clear the air" and thought some of you expressed some interest. Granted we don't have a band with propogation that would allow everyone to check in but we shoudl try it out with a small group and see how it goes. 20 is easiest for me around 2-3 PM on Saturdays.....pick a frequency...


73, Chris
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> CW is not a necessary aspect of the testing
> process. Passing a CW element of the testing
> process will not filter out hams without ambition
> to experiment or who are not willing to get their
> hands dirty and learn how to install a PL-259
> connector, assemble a station and operate it
> with skill and within the FCC regs.

i'm not buyin'. the purpose of the amateur radio
license process isn't to filter folks out. it's
to impart knowledge and skills. the exams just
verify that the attainment of the needed
knowledge and skills has been completed.

the 5 wpm element verifies that an individual
has acquired an introductory level of
proficiency needed to begin to participate in
the second most common mode used in the amateur
radio service below 30 mhz. seems like a pretty
reasonable expectation to me.

> The ham population surely needs an infusion
> of youth in it's membership - but so don't all
> hobbies, so we're not looking for something
> unusual.

from 1912 until 1991, a radiotelegraph element
did not deter generations of young folks from
acquiring their amateur radio licenses.

> But we say a Technician Class amateur is
> less qualified to operate on the HF bands
> compared to the General Class just because
> they didn't pass a 5 WPM Code element??

yes, i do. as they have no familiarity with the
second most commonly used mode on hf, so indeed
they are less qualified. i would say they are
not qualified.

> Doesn't sound like a good way to promote HR and
> it's certainly NOT a selling point!! Our
> selling points certainly seem a bit lacking here
> and have little justification or useful purpose.

we don't need to sell amateur radio. amateur radio
sells itself to those who are shown it and are
disposed to pursue it.

> CW and data currently occupy 50% of the available
> HF spectrum. So is the HR fraternity really
> sending a message to prospective amateurs that
> because of this band structure, if you don't run
> CW, you won't be of much use on HF??

no. we're saying that to qualify for an hf license,
you need to have a basic, working familiarity with
the second most commonly used mode in the amateur
radio service on hf; one that will enable you to
participate in a qso within a 200 hertz wide sliver
of bandspace, in addition to the 2500 hertz spread
you will occupy when you also operate ssb. seems
like a reasonable expectation to me.

> Another way of analyzing this logic is you must
> have Morse competency otherwise our band plan
> doesn't work because you will be less likely to
> use this part of the spectrum.

no, the band plan won't work because we simply
don't have enough spectrum for everyone to occupy
a 2500 hertz wide swath of it. so we have the
expectation that licensees will have the knowledge
and skills to have a qso and occupy only 200 hertz.
seems pretty basic to me.

> So I could go through the trouble to learn CW,
> and simply say the heck with it, I'm going to
> run PACTOR on 20 and never use CW again - which
> probably happens all the time!

true, though everyone benefits when many elect to
operate cw, because they occupy less bandwidth
when they do (compared to most other modes). this
alleviates congestion. if they didn't know cw,
they'd likely occupy 12 (or more) times as much
spectrum whenever they get on hf.

i learned alot about rtty and slow scan television
when i was studying for my license exams, though
i've never made use of those modes.

> The radio hardware has certainly taken some
> technological leaps in the last 20 years and
> does in part contribute to the redcution of
> homebrewing and experimenting.

really? it's my impression that homebrewing is
alive and well. i'm a qrp cw guy, so i know alot
of people that do this. and i do a little myself
at a modest level. your mileage may vary.

homebuilt stuff is better than ever. check out
the elecraft and small wonder labs stuff.

> Coupled with the improvements I'm suggesting around
> licensing,

improvements? where?

> I think our best overall selling points are a
> means of direct and independent communications
> over short and long distances for recreational
> and/or public service purposes -

selling? what are we selling?

> oh, and of
> course, with the idea you will have fun and
> enjoy doing it.

i do indeed have fun.

73
de nj0e
dit dit
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Bravo Scott!
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
OK, here it is, copy, paste and plaster, one for one:

[my replies are the little ^^^^ "thumbs-up" symbols]

"i'm not buyin'. the purpose of the amateur radio
license process isn't to filter folks out. it's to impart knowledge and skills. the exams just verify that the attainment of the needed knowledge and skills has been completed. the 5 wpm element verifies that an individual has acquired an introductory level of proficiency needed to begin to participate in the second most common mode used in the amateur radio service below 30 mhz. seems like a pretty reasonable expectation to me."

^^^^ and I'm not cashin' in. It may be inadvertent 'filtering" or whatever label you want to put on it, but the effect is still the same. What has mode popularity got to do with getting an HF license? The spectrum is divided into CW/DATA on one side and PHONE on the other. So from this logic, DATA is also #2 on the popularity list?? The question is about the need to for CW proficiency to obtain a license and how it can be a detraction for people who were not nurtured in the "CW grows better more healthy ham radio babies" era. This perceived mode popularity stuff is not a justification for an FCC license anymore than requiring DATA proficiency would be.

Guess I'd be SOL if I were a lousy typist? Do I wait for state of the art voice recognition technology???


> But we say a Technician Class amateur is
> less qualified to operate on the HF bands
> compared to the General Class just because
> they didn't pass a 5 WPM Code element??

"yes, i do. as they have no familiarity with the
second most commonly used mode on hf, so indeed
they are less qualified. i would say they are
not qualified."

^^^^That's just plain old fashioned nonsense, pure and simple. Again, since CW and DATA co-exist and share the same spectrum, you might as well advocate that we start testing for PACTOR proficiency - and while were at it, let's throw in TCP/IP for good measure.

By the way, I've had the privilege to know several Technician Class licensees who could build just about any type of apparatus they needed and had superior operating skills. Many of them got hooked on VHF and UHF and decided that it was more of a challenge. 6 meters is one of my favorite bands and added some needed spunk after working everything there was to work on 80-10.


"from 1912 until 1991, a radiotelegraph element
did not deter generations of young folks from
acquiring their amateur radio licenses."

^^^^Correct, because in 1912, there was no other mode to use. Amateur radio hit several milestones in the following 82 years, but nothing like what started in 1994. The internet started during the 60's in research labs between universities and think-tanks....and now it's in people's shirt pockets out on the sidewalk. Another words, many of the people seeking out a scientific or technologically interesting hobby have other choices and many people are seeing evidence that amateur radio isn't being perceived as the hobby of choice any more. Hey, look where we're doing right now???

"we don't need to sell amateur radio. amateur radio
sells itself to those who are shown it and are
disposed to pursue it."

^^^^Just like that, not a doubt in your mind? Gee, I read a recent article on eHam that had people up in arms with the ARRL's expansion of data modes across HF. Then there was the article that said the future of HR is tied to the internet via broadband wireless links. Well if that isn't a segue to the demise of an independent means of direct communication by natural means, than I don't know what is.

"no. we're saying that to qualify for an hf license,
you need to have a basic, working familiarity with
the second most commonly used mode in the amateur
radio service on hf; one that will enable you to
participate in a qso within a 200 hertz wide sliver
of bandspace, in addition to the 2500 hertz spread
you will occupy when you also operate ssb. seems
like a reasonable expectation to me." "no, the band plan won't work because we simply don't have enough spectrum for everyone to occupy a 2500 hertz wide swath of it. so we have the expectation that licensees will have the knowledge and skills to have a qso and occupy only 200 hertz. seems pretty basic to me."

^^^^CW is basic, I agree. Otherwise, you're back to the "CW is the second most popular mode" justification stuff again. I bet you guys are the ones who buy the majority of the $3000-$10,000 tranceivers that sport 200 selectable DSP filters and receivers with +30 3rd IP performance, etc., etc. So what are you concerned about? I wish I had that kind of performance when I was a novice and ran CW only; the traffic nets were crowded and so wasn't the DX windows...not any more. You should have no problem filtering out adjacent QRM....besides, there aren't as many "adjacents" to be concerned about.

^^^^If you and others who think this is the real deal continue to follow this "narrow-band" thinking, DATA will eventually over-ride what's left of our spectrum and we won't be calling it amateur radio anymore- we'll be calling it the Amateur Internet Service .....

.....or BOAR, a.k.a. Broadband Over Amateur Radio.

> So I could go through the trouble to learn CW,
> and simply say the heck with it, I'm going to
> run PACTOR on 20 and never use CW again - which
> probably happens all the time!

true, though everyone benefits when many elect to
operate cw, because they occupy less bandwidth
when they do (compared to most other modes). this
alleviates congestion. if they didn't know cw,
they'd likely occupy 12 (or more) times as much
spectrum whenever they get on hf.

^^^^I didn't see in the FCC rules where it states that amateurs must reduce bandwith at all costs and to operate CW whenever possible. We have so much unused bandspace, I personally am concerned that if we don't start utilizing it instead of squaking about how to divide it up for every Tom, Dick and Harry Data mode, we just might lose it all together. Then eHam will need to upgrade it's server and add another 10 terabytes of storage because we will all be here becoming making believe we're running RTTY.(crap, did I say that?)

i learned alot about rtty and slow scan television
when i was studying for my license exams, though
i've never made use of those modes.

^^^^Watch out, those are not narrow band modes. They create more QRM than 50 woodpeckers running SSB.....

> The radio hardware has certainly taken some
> technological leaps in the last 20 years and
> does in part contribute to the redcution of
> homebrewing and experimenting.

really? it's my impression that homebrewing is
alive and well. i'm a qrp cw guy, so i know alot
of people that do this. and i do a little myself
at a modest level. your mileage may vary.

homebuilt stuff is better than ever. check out
the elecraft and small wonder labs stuff.

^^^^I think the Elecraft stuff is great and wish there were more companies like them. But you don't have to take my word for it, read the other posts. The majority of new hams BUY their gear and don't test the homebrew waters. For some it's easier and more convenient and less expensive. I wish Heathkit, Eico, etc. were still around. I built several Heathkits and would recommend that experience to anybody and are good memories. Building a QRP rig is great experience, but let's face it, it can be a little too much of a challenge for the beginner who is trying to bag his or her first DX contacts or for someone who hasn't attained the level of experience necessary to not only build their first rig, but to debug it. Very few work perfectly from the time you power-up....

> Coupled with the improvements I'm suggesting around
> licensing,

improvements? where?

^^^^How about getting people going to learn the trade instead of a putting long standing traditions in their way - just for old times sake?? If a guy came up to me in work who has a lot of experience and know-how in electronics and wanted to get into HR but just didn't have the time to go through the traditional CW drudgery, what a waste that would be - and for what? A months worth of work or more to pass a lousy 5 WPM - mind you a useless speed for most communications - just to be able to say, well, I did it in the proud tradition of ham radio. [Sounds more like an initiation into the ARRL Woofhong Club. Remember that stuff? That was amateur voodoo]

Maybe they will like the tip-tapping, who knows. Again, maybe they will prefer data too, but we don't test hamd for packet radio proficiency either. I liked it when I was a kid and had time to burn. Today, with a family, work, travel, etc., it would be a pain in the butt.

> I think our best overall selling points are a
> means of direct and independent communications
> over short and long distances for recreational
> and/or public service purposes -

selling? what are we selling?

^^^^I think we all need to do a little selling. I'm proud of what we do and we should show off our best attributes and capabilities.

But showing off with 21st century technology running 19th century modes -coupled with "turn of the 20th century" licensing practices is a pretty odd combination don't you think??

> oh, and of
> course, with the idea you will have fun and
> enjoy doing it.

i do indeed have fun.

^^^^I am certainly glad you do. You only go around once.........

....and around and around she goes, where she stops, nobody knows.....................................

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WA1RNE obviously wants the last word on the subject. If all that is and has been written on the subject hasn't done any good by now, none will. Most of us are tired of the subject.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I guess I have a little more to add besides a simple "bravisimo"
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wrote my piece in this thread , read it.
 
Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by W3ULS on October 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This article is right on. Glad to know there are younger hams willing to put up with the denigration that too often passes for discussion on the ham bands. And don't go near the FISTS headquarters in Michigan--it fairly oozes hateful vibes for people who think like you do.

In that sense, you're out of place in hamdom because you don't seem to hate anyone. The FISTS folks have all kinds of enemies.

No matter, the FCC at its usual snails pace eventually (2007?) will open up the HF bands to non-code hams. In the meantime, those of us who have passed the code tests can enjoy ourselves :-)
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

You're right, you did write your piece and I disagree with one in particular from 10/13. In my opinion, it's a terrible generalization that puts the Technician Class operator into the second class amateur category.

^^^^quote, "So many Technician licenses were issued to those whose only interest was free access to the telephone lines while on the go. Whole families were licensed with only such use in mind. They took off when cellphones became inexpensive."

^^^^....and "Contrast that with those now who openly and defiantly refuse to learn code. I have no sympathy for them.

^^^^....and "Those kids of the '50's/'60's came in primarily under the novice license. And many of us discovered early on that cw led to much greater results in dx'ing than am phone."

I'm an Advanced Class licensee from the 70's and went through the so called "old school", learned CW and attained 30 WPM proficiency. Big deal.....

But I have never felt superior to a Technician Class licensee just because I learned CW and attained the higher code speed required. That's just a bunch of egotistical hogwash and a big part of the reason I spend the time I do writing posts against CW testing requirements.

Just to test your doctrine a bit, any of the new Extra Class licensees who only needed to pass 5 WPM are in effect in your "second class ham category" compared to the Extra or Advanced Class when the code requirements were 20 and 13 WPM respectively.

I don't think so......I value their abilities as communicators and their knowledge, especially any knowledge they may be able to share with others - and recognize that they made it through the CW element because they had to - period.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> But I have never felt superior to a Technician
> Class licensee just because I learned CW and
> attained the higher code speed required. That's
> just a bunch of egotistical hogwash and a big
> part of the reason I spend the time I do writing
> posts against CW testing requirements.

no one ever said it made you superior.

when you obtained a driver's license, it didn't
make you superior either. but it did qualify
you to drive a car.

similarly, the general, advanced, and extra class
licenses qualify you for certain privileges in
amateur radio. they don't evaluate your character
or integrity. they evaluate your knowledge and
skill in areas relevant to the amateur radio
privileges the licenses confer.

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
As for me, I don't need to justify my posts. They're not written in some abstract language, just plain English. Anyone with half a brain can properly interprete them.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

....and we can see right through them too.....


Hey, Scott;

What's a CW test got to do with operator qualifications?

Once again, the the bands are divided up into CW AND DATA on one side, Phone on the other.

The next thing you know, we'll be adding a typing element to the test for data proficiency, right??

I have never implied we get rid of CW, just do away with the requirement for testing. Seems to make everyone all jittery at the blessed thought.....

 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Hey, Scott;

> What's a CW test got to do with operator
> qualifications?

it has a great deal to do with operator
qualifications. i've already pointed out in
earlier posts it's prominence as the 2nd
most widely used mode on hf.

if i (or anyone else) sends, "dadadidah didahdit
didadidit", it's useful if others know what that
means, regardless of what mode they're using.

even more so if someone sends "didididadadadididit".

with the alphabet soup of data modes available,
it's useful to have cw as a "lingua franca".

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA1RNE on October 21, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

How are you quantifying CW as being the "second most widely used mode"?

Do you have some real data to back this up?

A simple sweep of the dial anytime on any band usually results in silencio throughout most of the CW sections.

You guys are leading a "charge of antiquity" except you're doing it with $3,000 - $10,000 radios running a 19th century mode of operation - and then claiming it makes one a better more well rounded and/or qualified ham. Around say, 1945-1970 you may have had an argument. 34 years later, CW is, pardon the pun "out-moded" and is not an efficient use of band space. sure, it's uses less bandwidth per QSO but it is not and had never been the mode of choice. People are attracted to the higher grades of licenses so they can converse like they do normally over tremendous distances. A guy in Boston hearing the VOICE of a fellow amateur from Sydney, Australia is what gives current and prospective amateurs the "thrill".

One of you guys should also name the last time CW was used for public service. Even data modes have very limited use for RACES or other emergency services. Phone is always the mode of choice for public service, and usually is preferred without repeaters.

I hear lots of "claims" but little in the way of any sort of quantifiable justification.

Try out a demonstration of CW and SSB with an audience at a local school. Your guests will marvel at you're ability to receive Morse, but they will be absolutely amazed when they hear the voice of a real person barreling in to the room from 3000 miles away.

Wins hands down every time.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by NJ0E on October 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> How are you quantifying CW as being the "second
> most widely used mode"?

using data from the arrl web site for readily
available statistics on operating events. i'm
beginning to feel like a broken record, but from
one of my previous posts:

* as i've pointed out in these forums before, in
* the 2003 arrl field day (the most popular on-
* the-air operating event in north america), cw
* accounted for ~41% of the contacts made. in
* 1995, cw accounted for ~37% of the contacts made
* in the same event. statistics are at:
*http://www.arrl.org/members-only/contests/results/2003/FD/recent-stats.html

from that web site:
Recent Field Day Statistics

2003
---------
CW QSOs 467,748 ~41.5%
Digital QSOs 12,525 ~1.1%
Phone QSOs 646,564 ~57.4%
Total QSOs 1,126,837

so from this, you can see that in field day, phone
is the most popular mode, followed by cw. the
"keyboard modes" comprise a very distant third.

i think that's a pretty accurate breakdown of day
to day activity, also.

in the 2004 michigan qso party
(from http://www.miqp.org/MiQP_2004.htm):
Mode 80 40 20 15 10 Total
CW 1936 9513 2990 25 4 14468 ~52.7%
SSB 1579 8219 2907 68 10 12783 ~46.6%
-----
27451

so in this event, cw use slightly exceeded phone
use.

if you are unwilling to accept the clear evidence
that cw is the second most widely used mode on hf,
then i'm afraid that your agenda is clouding
your objectivity.

> You guys are leading a "charge of antiquity"
> except you're doing it with $3,000 - $10,000
> radios running a 19th century mode of operation

i've never spent even half the lower amount on a
radio; though i really don't see how it's relevant.

> and then claiming it makes one a better more well
> rounded and/or qualified ham.

i think having some proficieny in the second-most
widely used hf mode does make one a more qualified
ham to operate hf.

> One of you guys should also name the last time
> CW was used for public service.

you mean like last week when i handled nts traffic
on the texas cw net?

73
scott nj0e
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by TECH2004 on October 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
no one uses cw anymore. it is a useless mode and we don't want it cluttering up the bands anymore. as most hams already know, the elimination of cw is the only way to save ham radio from a sure death. unfortunately we have some old dinosours who want to keep this mode and stop progess. these are the same people who want to keep the inefective bush in the highest office in the world. we need change and progress. look toward the future and you know who to vote for.
 
RE: Ham Radio's Unique Selling Point?  
by WA4DOU on October 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have no doubt that TECH2004 writes the crap he writes out of sheer ignorance, arrogant as it is. He is unworthy of consideration not only because he doesn't know what he's talking about but also because he prefers to remain anonomous while doing so. He has but one intent, to attempt to stir up trouble.


Tens of thousands of us use cw. Far from being a useless mode, cw is the most effective mode we have to this day. It performs admirably in weak signal applications, especially dx'ing. It is also the 2nd most popular mode in amateur radio. And cw isn't going anywhere. With the exception of two manifestations of WSJT, one associated with moonbounce and the other associated with meteorscatter, no digital mode can outperform cw although PSK31 does approach it.

We are going into the contest season now and thru about next March. For those of you who have an open mind, pay close attention to the sheer volumn of cw stations participating in contests. And remember, ssb requires at least 20 times the bandwidth of a cw signal, therefore it can appear to the uninitiated and uninformed that the phone bands are full while the cw bands are not. Until a better mode comes along, I personally have no intention of abandoning cw. And if that makes me old fashioned and irrelevant, I'll take my place gracefully among the dinosauers.
 
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