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   Home   Help Search  
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Author Topic: Respecting Other Hams  (Read 11298 times)

Posts: 490

« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2011, 06:50:18 AM »

In my experience, an "Appliance Operator" is one who doesn't RTFM ("Read the F...riendly Manual") because they are too lazy.  Instead of spending an hour or two with the manual they simply get online and post questions, expecting the answers from others.  And yes, there IS a problem with that.  And the internet is chock-full of mis-information, which further contributes to their Appliance Operator tendacies.

As a technical writer, I'm very sensitive to people who don't RTFM, especially if it's something I wrote. While a certain degree of responsibility rests with the operator, the vendors, or the Ham community (when all else the documentation) also bear some of the responsibility. Many of the manuals for the Ham radio gear that I've bought have been very difficult to navigate and understand. Some, are better than others, but most are written with the apparent goal of minimizing the amount of paper they use.

So, while operators should know how to use their equipment, they really shouldn't be criticized for running to forums and such when the documentation is bordering on incomprehensible (and unsearchable).

What could be done (by either the manufacturers or some enterprising Ham)?

1) Host the manuals on line such that they can be searched. Some do this already (thank you!) by posting PDF versions of their printed manuals. That's a start, but they could do more (for not much more cost).

2) Post the manuals in a way that lets other hams add comments and additional documentation. Many computer sites do this. The Mfg's documentation gets the ball rolling and everyone else chips in. I'd guess that the more people can understand the features of the radios they are buying the more they'll be likely to buy them and recommend them to their friends.

If the mfg's did 1 & 2, there'd be less need for

3) Spend some more time describing the radio in plain English. I have ham radio gear manuals from the 70's, 80's, and the 2000's and they all look like they were written in the 60's (they only thing that's changed is the newer ones don't use Courier font). Come on, get with the 21st century and invest in some document design to make the manuals useful and usable! Like it or not, people learn from pictures, charts, diagrams much more quickly than just words. Words are great, too, but how 'bout a meaningful graphic or two, now and then?

One idea for redesign/reorg might be by type of operation. For example have a section that describes how to set up your radio if:
a) you're a casual user who just talks on the same repeater all the time
b) you use your radio for search and rescue
c) you use your radio to scan non-ham freq
d) you use your radio to scan non-ham freqs and talk on ham freqs, how can you set up your radio to keep those straight?


There are lots of ways to help appliance operators and elmers alike, just by improving the documentation that's available.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2011, 06:54:50 AM by K7RBW » Logged

Posts: 4708

« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2011, 07:30:33 AM »

I'm not saying we shouldn't be friendly.... and I've done more than my fair share at pointing newbies in the right direction in a patient, friendly manner. I'm simply it's up to EACH individual operator, especially the more-seasoned operators, to try to increase their technical understanding. 

I agree 100%.

It's one thing to see a question from someone who has read the manual, searched the web, and gone through resources such as the Handbook and Antenna Book.

It's a very different thing to see a question from someone who hasn't done those things, and expects a custom-made explanation of something that will be effortless for them to read and implement.
It's ironic that you quote an "Amateur's Code" from 1928, 83 years ago... when people had to make their own stations and HAD to be technically-inclined to get on the air.  We don't live in that era anymore. 

Yes and no. While we don't need to build everything from parts, a certain amount of techno-savvy is still needed. For example, consider the simple matter of being in-band. You'd think it was no problem any more because modern rigs have digital readouts accurate to a few Hz. Yet the op needs to understand why it's OK to operate LSB on 3999 but not OK to operate USB on 14349, even though both dial indications are inside the band.

When it comes to antennas and transmission lines, there's actually more to know today than in 1928.

The Amateurs Code was probably written based on the assumption that hams had a core set of knowledge already.  There's simply no excuse for hams who refuse to read up on their radios, whether they're judged by 83 year old standards or today's standards.

The reason The Amateur's Code is so important today is because it is about a set of attitudes and values - which should not change.

As for 1928 amateurs having a core set of knowledge - that's pretty debatable. Think of what radio, and amateur radio, were like in 1928:

- Radio itself was only a few decades old. It was the bee's-knees/cat's pajamas New Thing. Mandatory amateur licensing was only 16 years old, and amateur radio itself was only internationally recognized in 1927.

- In 1919, when amateur radio was released from the shut down of the Great War, amateur radio was essentially all on 200 meters and almost all spark. 1000 miles was DX, requiring an elaborate 1 kw station, and 1500 miles was headline stuff. In less than 10 years spark was completely gone, 200 meters was abandoned, and working other continents or the Antipodes with a few dozen watts and a blooper was fairly common. Rapid technological change isn't new.

- In 1928 amateur radio was still struggling just to survive:

 1912 had seen the imposition of licensing and the banishment to 200 meters and 1 kW, both considered worthless at the time.

 The Great War had shut down amateur radio completely, including receiving, and there were plenty of folks who wanted it to stay shut down forever.

 The international radio conferences of the 1920s had been a long struggle to gain international recognition from governments who distrusted the very idea of individual citizens having radio transmitters (and receivers in some cases).

 Although amateurs had proved the value of the short-waves in the early 1920s, they had to compete with government and commercial interests.

 Broadcasting had taken off in the 1920s and interference issues were a big threat; broadcast listeners had almost no understanding of the technology.

It was therefore essential that amateurs present a good face to the world and each other, just to survive.

- As part of the 1927 treaty that recognized amateur radio as a separate service with its own bands and rules, the US bands had been considerably narrowed and technical standards raised, effective 1929. Many amateurs faced a near-complete rebuild of their stations in order to comply. How they faced the challenges was very important.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Posts: 306

« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2011, 07:36:38 AM »

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the clarification (and the history lesson - very interesting!)

Dan / ab0re

Posts: 1454

« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2011, 05:55:02 PM »

If someone has to ask for respect, they usually don't deserve it!  Wink
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