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Author Topic: Tech licensees who don't want to upgrade...  (Read 53389 times)
KJ6WSM
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2013, 08:22:14 PM »

Well I had this Summer Engineering Intern from a very good Tech University in Southern California. He has a Tech licence and didn't even know what his call sign was. He was required to take an intro to Engineering class and the final exam was to take the Tech exam. If you pass the Tech exam you PASS the class, if you FAIL the Tech exam then you FAIL the course. He had zero interest in anything radio. Took him a  couple times on field trips to HRO in Santa Clara (TOYS!!), showed him JT65, PSK and other digital modes, 2M /70cm, no interest what so ever.   I do not believe that this is an isolated incident. There seem to be a lot of Collages / Schools that require a intro to Engineering course and do this same thing, PASS the class equates to passing the Tech licence.  So no wounder the attrition rate for Tech licence is horrendous with no ambition or desire to move up. 'I got a 'A' in Intro to Engineering.'

My 2 cents worth!
73
Michael KJ6WSM (yes I'm a new HAM but been playing with radios / Electronics since early 70's)

   
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AA4HA
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2013, 11:06:55 AM »

Well I had this Summer Engineering Intern from a very good Tech University in Southern California. He has a Tech licence and didn't even know what his call sign was. He was required to take an intro to Engineering class and the final exam was to take the Tech exam. If you pass the Tech exam you PASS the class, if you FAIL the Tech exam then you FAIL the course. He had zero interest in anything radio.

That is not surprising, as a senior engineer I have mentored new engineers who are just out of school. About half of them have no interest in engineering, they are only looking at it as a stepping stone to sales or management. I am floored by that every time I deal with one of them. I want to ask "you went through four years of calculus to be a sales person??". Forget about trying to interest them in RF, even with engineers there are vast areas of RF and propagation engineering that is "black magic". More like a bad memory from university, a few classes that they hated and quickly pruged the subject matter with large intakes of beer, three hours after scraping by on the final exam.

I have had much better luck with training Navy nukkies in the RF world. They are incredibly smart, motivated and love the complexity.
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
W1JKA
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2013, 01:49:23 PM »

Re: AA4HA

As the saying goes: Want a degree? go to college
                             Want to learn and know something? GO NAVY
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N5RDE
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« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2013, 07:05:20 AM »

For some, the license is an end in itself, for others it is just a means to an end.  Unless one wants low end HF band privileges, there doesn't seem to be much point in upgrading.  We should be happy to see all the new Techs for whatever reason.  They bump up the FCC numbers.
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KB1SF
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2013, 06:04:22 AM »

Unless one wants low end HF band privileges, there doesn't seem to be much point in upgrading.  We should be happy to see all the new Techs for whatever reason.  They bump up the FCC numbers.

Agreed.

However, perhaps another reason many of our new "wet behind the ears", I-pad savvy Techs have no intention of "upgrading" is that they have listened on our low bands and want absolutely NO part of participating in such arcane nonsense, particularly as our licensing system is still largely based on 1940s and 50's technology.

Indeed, there once was a time when developments in the realm of amateur radio were relevant in relation to the rest of the world.

Indeed, back in the "good old days" of  ham radio, a young person might become interested in the technology of radio and their first steps in that venture may have been as a radio amateur. Through building and experimentation, this neophyte might eventually make a living as a radio and TV repairman, or find work as an electronics technician. They might even follow a path to becoming an electronics engineer developing new methods and hardware for commercial or military communication.

Back then, there was often a thread of commonality between an amateur radio enthusiast's hobby and their vocation. Radio amateurs were on the cutting edge of discovery and experimentation and these developments were closely mirrored in the non-amateur world.   In fact, what this person was doing on the workbench in their ham shacks was often a step or two ahead of what they did for their employer.

But at some point in the flow of space and time, amateur radio reached a critical crossroads. It could proceed in one direction… into the future… or choose the other direction that involved a long and circuitous route back into the past.

Unfortunately, we've collectively chosen to jettison the future and remain firmly mired in the past.

Consider carefully the position of amateur radio just prior to encountering this crossroad. We had pioneered FM radio at VHF and UHF and had blanketed the countryside with repeaters such that an operator with a handheld radio could make contact with others far outside his or her line of sight.

In addition, we had also worked out the protocols and network topology necessary for passing data over the air at rates comparable to landline methods of the age. And we had our own fleet of satellites that pioneered new methods in space communication as well as low-cost spacecraft construction and launch.

Future developments in the non-amateur world of radio from that point included cellular technology and the transmission of higher speed data over the air.

But, since that time, commercial applications for broadcast radio and television have changed radically and now include largely digital methods. Military applications for secure battlefield communication use satellite and terrestrial means like mesh networking for voice and data transmission, which, in turn, now makes  passing quasi-military traffic with SSB voice via the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) a quaint anachronism. Our homes, restaurants and coffee shops are now bathed in RF transmitted data that keep our mobile devices connected to the Internet.

Clearly, none of these “new” technologies would have been even the least bit foreign to the mainstream of today's radio amateurs had we taken the path to the future. Potential (youthful) newcomers of today would have been encouraged to become involved in all aspects of our hobby as it could very well lead to a rewarding career in one of many growing and lucrative technical fields – just like in the earlier days.

The sad truth is that none of these new technologies passed us by because we weren’t intelligent enough to have adapted to the rapid changes thery produced.  Indeed, I believe we hams could have lead that revolution. Remember, we ham radio enthusiasts were, at one time, the proto-geeks on the planet!

The bottom line here is that technology didn’t abandon us.  Rather, we have voluntarily chosen a path that has now led us back to the past.  In many ways, we've become the "Radio Amish".  And in so doing, all we can do now is sit by and watch the future of RF telecommunications march ahead....without us.

As I've been saying over and over again in these and other forums, I believe we chose this backward looking path because the future involved radical changes (primarily to our achievement-based licensing system in the USA) that would have seriously challenged the old dogmas.

For example, the egos of the old "crusty curmudgeons" who could pound brass at 40 WPM would be seriously diminished in this new advanced radio world while the young, pimply faced kid with the computer connected to his radio would be put on a pedestal among his peers.

Clearly, to the "old farts" who were firmly in control of the ARRL and other such "legacy" organizations of the day (themselves mostly "40 WPM CW men") simply couldn't let that happen. The prospect of youngsters (particularly those who hailed from that "other" radio Service (CB)) taking over the ham radio airwaves with their "funny sounding digital burps" and "CB lingo" was deemed to be far too threatening to this crowd.

As a result, the welcome inclusion of such newcomers in our ranks automatically became absolutely unacceptable to the status quo.  In many ways, it still is.

Of course, there are still a few facets of our hobby that require a mastery of some higher tech methods. For example, as some here have already opined, it would be difficult to argue that bouncing a radio signal off the moon and then receiving the echo back from thereabouts isn’t one of the more challenging things that hams do. But consider how many amateurs are active in that pursuit and you must conclude that it’s a small fraction of even one percent of all licensees in our Service.

It’s much easier…trivial in fact… to toss a wire over a tree limb and make a 40-meter CW contact.  So, far more in our ranks simply choose to do that instead of bouncing their signals off the Moon.

Indeed, low-power enthusiasts, (QRP) have spent decades trying to make the point that HF communication is possible with practically nothing at all. That you or I could whip up a two-transistor transceiver in a single evening (and actually make radio contacts with it!) is widely seen as the magic of radio among those in this camp, However, that activity really only serves to make the point that they have embraced the simplest, lowest elements of RF technology and have absolutely no intention of moving beyond it.

Unfortunately, by electing the path to the past, we've also decided that the entertainment value of amateur radio has become far more important than the rapidly expanding field of communications technology.

For example, consider the many ways that we have now made two-way radio into a "game".

Some of us chase DX until all of the countries of the world have been "worked" and then we spend hours (and considerable "official" effort) figuring out how to invent new ones. Weekends are dedicated to non-stop operation with the goal being to earn the most points. We make radio contact with others and then trade post cards back and forth (via "snail mail"...and the even slower "bureau" system, no less!) to prove that we actually did it. Certificates (wallpaper) of all kinds are offered for contact with specific stations or during specific events, etc.

And, of course, the lingua franca of amateur radio remains the Morse code.  

Even in the 21st Century, those who are proficient in CW (Morse) are seemingly more valued in the "pecking order" of ham radio than those who are not. In the larger world of modern RF telecommunications, Morse has become an absolutely dead language that has long since proven to be nothing but a quaint reminder of the early days of radio.  Yet, a working knowledge of Morse still serves as a powerful totem for an entire belief system internal to the hobby.

Clearly, in selecting the path back to the distant past, we have collectively decided that nostalgia is far more important than innovation.  As a result, we must now depend upon nostalgia to drive future growth.

Thankfully, with a whole crop of "baby boomers" now hitting retirement age, this may help us out in the short term as those who "always wanted to be a ham" (or were hams at one time and let their licenses lapse) return to the fold.  

But such an approach is completely unsustainable over the longer-term.  As I've said in other posts both here and in other forums, even twenty years ago, the average age of the average ham in the USA was pushing 60.  It may even be significantly higher than that by now.  Indeed, a whole host of anecdotal and other indicators are also now starting to show that we are aging and dying faster than our numbers are being replaced by youthful newcomers.  

And, as some have noted in this discussion, many of the Technician-class newcomers who "sign up" have absolutely no intention of ever getting on the air.  Or, if they do, they soon lose interest and move on to other, more challenging technical pursuits.

Sadly, ham radio has become much like an old trading post on a lonely stretch of Route 66 somewhere out in the Arizona desert. That is, you may stop to admire the wooden Indian, the old time gas pumps and the soda machines that still offer up glass bottles rather than aluminum cans. You snap a few pictures, buy a few trinkets for your niece or nephew and spend a moment warmly remembering what the Old West was like long ago.

And then you get back into your modern-day automobile and return to the real world.

Now, none of this should diminish the enjoyment that ham radio enthusiasts derive from our unique hobby. And, like many others, I, too, enjoy many of the activities noted above (DXing, contesting, etc.) There are also many people in the world who still enjoy building old steam engines, restoring antique cars, sailing boats by the wind and making butter by hand.

Indeed, technology doesn’t always improve the quality of life and it has many unintended consequences.

But reality also demands that we acknowledge ham radio's place in the grand scheme of things, particularly when the lifeblood of our hobby....ever more sought-after frequency spectrum...is handed out based largely on the services we provide to mankind.  In that regard, it's important to always remember that we are officially known as the Amateur Radio SERVICE.

And this is also why I continue to serve as an officer in AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation.  At least in that pursuit, our experimenters are still trying their very best (despite the FCC's over-regulated "sub-band and sub-sub band" nonsense along with the US State Department's ITAR stupidity) to push the state of the radio art forward.

However, when it comes to amateur radio as a whole, we are, on the whole, no longer of the same mindset as those who innovate and invent.  

Sadly, it’s been decades since we last put a noticeable dent in that universe!

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF / VA3OB
kb1sf.blogspot.ca
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 06:17:53 AM by KB1SF » Logged
KD0WZW
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« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2013, 08:54:29 AM »

I agree with the above post, which is why the recent "Symbol Rate" petition filed with the FCC interests me.  Being able to send data at faster than 1980's modem technology would be a big perk for those of us that grew up with computers as part of our lives.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2013, 10:02:53 AM »

Quote
But reality also demands that we acknowledge ham radio's place in the grand scheme of things, particularly when the lifeblood of our hobby....ever more sought-after frequency spectrum...is handed out based largely on the services we provide to mankind.  In that regard, it's important to always remember that we are officially known as the Amateur Radio SERVICE.

Reality is different than stated.

Amateur radio's existence does NOT depend on providing services to anyone.  Neither do CB nor Radio Control modeling.  They are all hobbies.  They do not have to justify their existence.

"Amateur Radio Service" does not refer to hams providing service.  Rather it refers to the FCC providing services to amateurs.  Likewise the FCC has many other "Services" that no connection to users providing services to others.  No one can argue that the Radio Control Service provides services to anyone.

Hospitals have a Surgical Service and Obstetric Service.  That does not mean that patients provide services to the hospital or to the public.  The hospital Service serves the patients/customers.
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W3HF
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« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2013, 11:46:47 AM »


Amateur radio's existence does NOT depend on providing services to anyone.  Neither do CB nor Radio Control modeling.  They are all hobbies.  They do not have to justify their existence.

"Amateur Radio Service" does not refer to hams providing service. 

Agreed. And this is one of my pet peeves, when people use the wrong definition of the word "service" to explain what the Amateur Radio Service is all about.

Rather it refers to the FCC providing services to amateurs.  Likewise the FCC has many other "Services" that no connection to users providing services to others.  No one can argue that the Radio Control Service provides services to anyone.

Hospitals have a Surgical Service and Obstetric Service.  That does not mean that patients provide services to the hospital or to the public.  The hospital Service serves the patients/customers.

Although I agree with your premise, I would suggest instead that the usage has nothing to do with anyone serving anyone else. Instead, the usage is consistent with definition 6a in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary: "an administrative division (as of a government or business)." It's more like the way the word is used in the Secret Service, or the Internal Revenue Service, which are both organizations within the Dept of the Treasury.
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2013, 03:00:41 PM »

People with driver's licenses who don't want to upgrade to a Formula 1 license - what's up with that?
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K0RGR
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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2013, 04:04:27 PM »

I don't think we've given up on new technology at all. Indeed, I see hams doing what hams have always done - taking things intended for other uses and turning them into technology that we can use. My dad used to steal the pair of 45 tubes out of the family's BC radio at night, so he could get on the air with them in his transmitter. When he went to bed, he'd put the tubes back, so the radio was ready for grandma's radio shows the next day.

Look at all the things being done with the Raspberry Pi computer. They are being used for everything from CW beacons to packet radio stations to HSMM nodes and DSTAR repeaters. Where will we go with these cheap embedded Linux capable computers? We've just started to scratch the surface. Speaking of embedded computers, look at the Flex 5000 series - that's based on some serious computing horsepower that's built into the radio.

Over time, more of these applications will pop up. You can easily build a low power IRLP node with the Pi. How long will it be before they become as common as EchoLink nodes? Perhaps we'll end up with something that looks like the APRS network - with IRLP gateways everywhere.

I think computers and software will be where the serious development efforts happen in the forseeable future - using simpler hardware, but better software. Oh, did I mention cheap? Those $32 Baofeng dualband HT's are built on a self-contained SDR chip that does FM over the very wide frequency range that the rigs cover.

No, I think that low cost computer power will make things possible that we never dreamed of - at least I hope so.
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KD2FAR
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« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2013, 07:40:18 PM »

I can't speak for anyone else (and not only because I don't know many other Hams yet!) but as a new Technician I can speak to why I'm not in a real big hurry to upgrade to general. When I finally decided to get licensed back in October, I started studying for the Code test while I waited for my license manual to arrive, only to find out that the code was no longer a requirement. So when I got through the first book I figured I might as well pick up the General textbook and give that a try too. It came a couple days before I ended up going to a nearby VE session but I had managed to leaf though it a bit. After I passed my Tech exam I figured I'd throw a hail Mary and try for General. Well, no big surprise I failed that one. Of course I could just study for a week or so and take it again, but with my Tech ticket I can play with CW on a few HF bands and try out voice and various data modes on part of 10 meters up to 23 cm.

I might feel the need to upgrade some day but for now I've got more frequency than I know what to do with. Maybe if I had the disposable income to start out with a nice all band-all mode rig I would feel the constraints of the Tech license a bit more, but for now and the foreseeable future I've just got more privileges than the station I can put together can handle. Call me unambitious but I really would rather work at being a good operator, never mind if I have the highest available license. Heck I've been driving an automobile for years and no one ever wonders why I don't take the exam for my motorcycle, CDL or chauffeur license.
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For dinner on May 27, 1844 S.F.B. Morse had mutton chop and strawberries.
ILDARIN
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« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2013, 12:35:17 PM »

Quote
Amateur radio's existence does NOT depend on providing services to anyone.  Neither do CB nor Radio Control modeling.  They are all hobbies.  They do not have to justify their existence.

"Amateur Radio Service" does not refer to hams providing service.  Rather it refers to the FCC providing services to amateurs.  Likewise the FCC has many other "Services" that no connection to users providing services to others.  No one can argue that the Radio Control Service provides services to anyone.

Amateur radio does, however, have to justify the bands reserved for the Amateur Radio Service.
And the ARRL spends a lot of time telling the FCC and the Congress that the Amateur Radio Service provides service which do just that.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2013, 12:48:26 PM »

Re: AA4HA

As the saying goes: Want a degree? go to college
                             Want to learn and know something? GO NAVY

And when you get there you'll find that the ones with the degrees (officers) are in charge  Grin
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KB1SF
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2013, 01:25:45 PM »

Amateur radio's existence does NOT depend on providing services to anyone.  Neither do CB nor Radio Control modeling.  They are all hobbies.  They do not have to justify their existence.

Well, if amateur radio was (as you say) "just a hobby", I'm all but certain our frequencies would have been yanked from us and given over to some other radio "service" a long, long time ago.  

And, for the record, the CB Radio Service was never intended to support "hobby-type" communications.  Rather, it was explicitly established (to quote from the FCC's on line  encyclopedia) ..."for short-distance communications by individuals and businesses." (emphasis mine).  

So, would you please show us where the word "hobby" appears in that definition.

Quote
"Amateur Radio Service" does not refer to hams providing service.  Rather it refers to the FCC providing services to amateurs.  Likewise the FCC has many other "Services" that no connection to users providing services to others.  No one can argue that the Radio Control Service provides services to anyone.


I believe the FCC might beg to differ with your sweeping assertions.  And they do...right up front in their FCC Part 97.1 which lays out the basis and purpose of the Amateur Radio Service in the United States, to wit:  

"The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

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

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
 
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.


To me, that "laundry list" of things our US Government regulators are expecting us to provide to others (in exchange for our continued access to radio frequencies) sure sounds like we've been established to be far more than "just a hobby".  

In particular, the notion of us providing emergency communications services (there's that pesky word again) to the public, advancing the state of the radio art, providing a reservoir of trained radio operators (presumably for "service" to the government in wartime) as well as providing international good will, sure do look for all the world like "services" to me.

Or, to put it another way, if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, perhaps it's a duck.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF / VA3OB
http://kb1sf.blogspot.ca
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 01:31:34 PM by KB1SF » Logged
AA4PB
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2013, 01:57:54 PM »

The long standing U.S. policy is that radio spectrum is a public resource that no individual owns. In order to have access to spectrum you must provide a benefit to the general public. You must provide a benefit of some sort to others beside yourself. That fact that "you" enjoy talking on the radio doesn't justify your use of the public resource.
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