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eHam Forums => Licensing => Topic started by: N2LWE on October 26, 2010, 05:12:55 PM



Title: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 26, 2010, 05:12:55 PM
I've seen all the threads over time by those that are for and those against the code. Most that are against are obviously the old timers that were required to pass the code and have the mentality that if I did it so should you. Or, if you received your license without code you're not a real ham as if that would be the manly thing to do. Now that code is not a requirement I've read many posts where some ask why bother? It's not a requirement anymore. Why do code at all? Now my opinion, not that it matters. I received my Novice back in 1991 and passed the 5 word per minute code. I upgraded a year later to General and passed the 13 word per minute code and remained a General for the next 18 years until I upgraded to Extra just last week. While I held my General and the code became history, I never once felt "new Generals" were something less than me because they didn't pass a 13 word per minute code test like I did. The FCC changed the rules and thats's the way it is like it or not. While I was growing up we didn't have a microwave oven, does that mean I shouldn't have one now? Am I not a true ham now that I obtained Extra Class without the code even though I passed the other code tests in the past? Some of those that feel the codeless hams are nothing but CBer's, here's another thought. Alot of us that became hams and had to pass codes "were" CBer's first and wanted more and that's what sparked our first interest to become hams. That being said, I realize we will get those that come on the ham bands and act like morons, that will happen with or without code. But think about this, I passed two code tests as I stated earlier 5 and 13 words per minute and during a good portion of my ham experience I found several obnoxious hams. I can't tell you how many times I would hear hams on repeaters finish talking and I would try to get in there and none of them would acknowledge me, but a minute later one of their friends would get in there and they would start a QSO again leaving me out. Is that being a good ham? And this was when code was a requirement. Now with no code I have met many hams new and old, code and codeless, on a repeater I frequent and they're all great people. No one feels better than anyone else. Code or codeless should make no difference in how hams should be treated. Then there is the issue of why do it if it's not a requirement anymore. You don't have to, but if someone likes doing it why frown on them. Maybe they like doing it. Obviously they do, or they wouldn't have learned it. Personally, I never had a big interest in CW and forgot what I had learned back when I took the code tests but that's changing and I'm starting to learn again because I would like to try CW on the air and expand my knowledge in this great hobby. I've grown a real interest in CW even though I never did before. I've changed my mind and want to learn EVEN THOUGH I DON'T HAVE TO. It's no different than some people like a Ford while others like a Chevy. So don't knock it just cause you have no interest in it. The complainers should just stop complaining, who knows, you just may make a new friend. Even if they didn't pass a code test. 73, Joe N2LWE.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 26, 2010, 07:13:58 PM
OK, I'll bite.

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE = ON

For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years.

What I *have* encountered are hams who said words to the effect of "if a dummy like me could do it, you can do it too". Meant as an encouragement.

For a lot of us old-timers, the real issue is about trying to maintain reasonable standards in a world that often seems bent on destroying them, a little at a time.

Consider how the *written* testing has changed over the years.

There was a time, well within the experience of many of today's hams, when the written tests above Novice required you to draw block and schematic diagrams, answer essay questions, do show-your-work calculations, and answer some multiple choice too. The exam Q&A were not published, either. Most hams had taken their tests in FCC-run exam sessions, too. There were no CSCEs, and if you failed a test you had to wait at least 30 days to try again.

The result was that most hams "overlearned" quite a bit, in order to be sure of passing.

But over the years the requirements changed. The questions became all-multiple-choice. The Q&A were published, and the FCC stopped giving the tests. The size and number of the written tests went down. The wait-to-retest requirement went away. Now we've gotten to the point that some are saying that even the current Extra, which has been earned by bright children in the early elementary-school grades, is too hard and should be eliminated.

Yet at the same time, we are using more-advanced technology and have more modes and bands. If anything, today's ham licenses should require more knowledge, not less.

How much is enough? At what point do we draw the line and say "NO MORE!"?

Here's how bad it can get:

This year on Field Day I went with a multiclub group. We had a multi-transmitter setup, with some rigs ready to go long before the start time and others....somewhat delayed.

One of the setups that was delayed involved a ham who had a modern solidstate HF transceiver with power supply, an SGC remote tuner meant for long wires, and a G5RV. The G5RV had been put up and the coax run to the radio table and, the power supply, rig and tuner connected to each other.

But the ham who was "captain" of that station was stymied. The SGC tuner output was a binding post for connection to a random-wire antenna, plus a ground post, and the coax to the G5RV ended in a PL-259.

The ham was at a complete loss as to how to hook the antenna to the station. I noticed this and the following conversation ensued:

Me: "What are you trying to do?"

Other Ham: "Connect this antenna to the radio. But there's no way to do it because the tuner is meant for wire antennas, not coax"

Me: "Look at the coax connector. How many conductors does it have?"

OH: "I don't know. I need a tuner that has a coax connector on it"

Me: "Why don't you make an adapter?"

OH: "How?"

At this point I took a short piece of coax that had a PL-259 on one end and stripped/unbraided/twisted the other end into an adapter that could be connected to the random-wire tuner. The other ham was absolutely stunned, and thought this was either magic or Ph.D EE stuff, rather than something I knew to do as a Novice 40+ years ago.

What really stuck with me was the part about not knowing how many conductors there were in coax, let alone what they did.

The other ham was a General, licensed for several years. Not stupid, just a product of the modern system.

Sure, none of us was born knowing radio, or Morse Code, or much of anything, really. Nobody should be called names or disrespected just because of what the requirements were when they were licensed - new or old.

But it seems that someone licensed to do what hams do should at least know SOMETHING about radio.

I ask again: At what point do we draw the line and say "NO MORE!"?

---

Here's another way to look at it:

The standard distance of the marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. Been that for almost 100 years. Anyone in decent physical shape can complete one if they're willing to do the training for it. I've done two of them - broke 4 hours, too.

Suppose you trained (like I did) to run a 26.22 mile marathon. And suppose you completed a couple of them, earning the right to describe yourself as a marathon runner.

Now suppose some people complained that the marathon distance was too long, and kept out too many. So they get the marathon distance changed to 20 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

Then some other folks say 20 miles is too far, and takes too much training. So they get the marathon distance changed to 10 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

Still other folks say 10 miles is too far, and takes too much training. So they get the marathon distance changed to 5 miles, and call themselves marathon runners too.

And then some folks say that *any* distance longer than a mile should be considered a marathon - and they get that idea accepted.

How would that make you feel? Do you think it would be a good thing?

73 de Jim, N2EY




Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AD6KA on October 26, 2010, 07:56:09 PM
TLDR


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 27, 2010, 06:13:35 AM
N2EY, I can see your frustration that this other ham needed help. Yes, you are correct the past testing process required much more technical knowledge. But not everyone picks up as easily as others. Does that mean you should have all opportunities to become a ham taken away from you? This hobby isn't for you then? Isn't part of the hobby learning? Shouldn't you feel good that you helped or taught someone rather than be annoyed because he or she needed your help? You clearly exhibit these same thoughts that I've seen from the hams that turn a cold cheek to the codeless hams. You also mention "For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years. That's interesting because I've been a ham less than half that time as you (19) years and I've heard it more than once. In fact approximately two weeks ago I heard someone on a repeater state "when real hams took the test back when I did and there was code"...... I couldn't believe it myself , but I heard it. I was tempted to get in there and say something but figured why bother. So 43 years you haven't heard it? Or is it that it was said and you didn't hear it because you had the same thoughts? So let me ask you this. I originally became licensed in 1991 with my Novice Class and passed the 5 word per minute code. A year later I passed my General Class and 13 word per minute code. Now due to the lapse in time I received my Extra Class but without the 20 word per minute code. Are you a better ham than me? Because even though I have some code passing in my history you took your test over 20 years before I did. Are you a better ham? I'll never question a ham that has an extensive knowledge of electronics. I admire it. But if there is something another ham doesn't understand no matter how trivial, I would feel honored that I was able to help them. I wouldn't feel annoyed. You may not verbally say it, but you appear to be right on board with other 40+ year hams, I've been a ham for  43 years and the test was harder then so it should be harder for you too. So, am I a real ham? I didn't pass the 20 word per minute code and I didn't take my test 43 years ago. I was seven years old at the time. Sorry.





Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: NI0C on October 27, 2010, 08:33:52 AM
N2LWE:

Congratulations on achieving your extra class license.  Unfortunately, there are some folks who feel insecure and have a need to try to raise themselves up by belittling others.  Ignore them.

"Real hams" get on the air and enjoy their radios.  I hope you will find enjoyment with yours.  Most of the folks spouting ignorant crap on the repeaters couldn't make an HF QSO if their life depended on it. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 27, 2010, 10:09:25 AM
So true, thank you.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W7ETA on October 27, 2010, 11:19:37 AM
"Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?"

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do you need it?

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do I need it?

Nope.  But it's a lot a FUN

73
Bob


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 27, 2010, 05:40:27 PM
"Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?"

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do you need it?

I dunno?

Code/No Code CW-Do I need it?

Nope.  But it's a lot a FUN

73
Bob
The FCC doesn't make decisions based on what ONE old licensee feels is "fun" but rather what it means to the FCC as to whether or not an applicant is worthy to being granted a particular license.  See all the reasons given in Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 released in December 2006.

On the other hand, lots of old, greying Extras NEED to boast of their code skill to please their own egos.  Kind of like a government subsidy for their emotional well-being (or maybe its a "health plan" in disguise?).  Not to worry, the League (which is also old and greying) will protect you and help boast and boost morse code skill.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KH6AQ on October 27, 2010, 05:46:17 PM
    jibber jabber


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 27, 2010, 05:51:53 PM
N2EY, I can see your frustration that this other ham needed help. Yes, you are correct the past testing process required much more technical knowledge. But not everyone picks up as easily as others. Does that mean you should have all opportunities to become a ham taken away from you? This hobby isn't for you then? Isn't part of the hobby learning? Shouldn't you feel good that you helped or taught someone rather than be annoyed because he or she needed your help?


I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. I wasn't frustrated, or annoyed by the situation; I was surprised and a little sad. And I helped get the station on the air, and took the opportunity to help the other ham learn something.

As I wrote before about the other ham: "Not stupid, just a product of the modern system."

In other words, I blame the *system*, not the ham.

Yes, some people learn faster than others. And learning is part of ham radio. But don't you think there should be at least some learning of radio basics before the license is granted? Shouldn't *all* hams know at least some basic technical stuff like how many conductors there are in common coax cable?

You clearly exhibit these same thoughts that I've seen from the hams that turn a cold cheek to the codeless hams.

 
How? Most of my post was about changes in the *technical knowledge* requirement, not code at all.

Is it wrong to want some sort of standards in ham radio? I mean, is the situation I described really all that complicated to understand?

You also mention "For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years. That's interesting because I've been a ham less than half that time as you (19) years and I've heard it more than once.

So you've encountered it once every 9 or 10 years and I haven't encountered it at all. Our statements do not contradict each other.

In fact approximately two weeks ago I heard someone on a repeater state "when real hams took the test back when I did and there was code"...... I couldn't believe it myself , but I heard it. I was tempted to get in there and say something but figured why bother.


What that person said is very different from "I did it so you have to do it too". *Very* different. Not the same thing at all.

You might have asked the person when s/he took the test and whether s/he could pass it today. Or pass today's tests.

So 43 years you haven't heard it? Or is it that it was said and you didn't hear it because you had the same thoughts?


43 years and I've never encountered a ham who said "I did it so you have to do it too" as his/her reason to keep a license requirement. And that's a fact.

I have encountered folks who claimed that to be the reason *others* opposed a change in license requirements. Different thing entirely.

So let me ask you this. I originally became licensed in 1991 with my Novice Class and passed the 5 word per minute code. A year later I passed my General Class and 13 word per minute code. Now due to the lapse in time I received my Extra Class but without the 20 word per minute code. Are you a better ham than me? Because even though I have some code passing in my history you took your test over 20 years before I did. Are you a better ham?


I don't know. I don't have nearly enough information to make a judgement.

More important, I think anyone who says they are a better ham than someone else, or who says they are a "real" ham and someone else isn't, has just proved the exact opposite.

I'll never question a ham that has an extensive knowledge of electronics. I admire it.

I think a person who has an extensive knowledge of electronics isn't bothered by questions.

How knowledgeable would I have to be to pass muster?

But if there is something another ham doesn't understand no matter how trivial, I would feel honored that I was able to help them. I wouldn't feel annoyed.

I didn't feel "annoyed" to help that other ham. Not a bit.

That wasn't the point of the story at all. And I did help. I showed how to solve the problem.

What else should I have done?

You may not verbally say it, but you appear to be right on board with other 40+ year hams, I've been a ham for  43 years and the test was harder then so it should be harder for you too.

It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience.

Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?

Do you resent the fact that I was licensed so young and have some experience in ham radio? That's the impression I get.

It's not about how "hard" the tests are, but what a person has to know to pass them. My whole point is that it does no one any good to set the standards too low. The result is hams frustrated by their lack of knowledge.

So, am I a real ham? I didn't pass the 20 word per minute code and I didn't take my test 43 years ago. I was seven years old at the time. Sorry.

IMHO, what makes a person a "real ham" is what they do with the license after it has been earned. Getting the license is just the first step - an important step, but not the only one.

OTOH, it's important to understand how things have changed and that maybe - just maybe - not all those changes were for the better.

Do you think it's asking too much to expect a General class licensee, with several years' experience to know how coax cable works? Or how to hook up an antenna tuner?

Where do we set the line?

btw, some time back a 7 year old earned the Extra license. That broke the previous record set by an 8 year old in the 1990s.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: NI0C on October 27, 2010, 07:07:38 PM
N2EY:
Jim,
N2LWE's posting here demonstrates the harm done by remarks made by thoughtless and insecure people who have a need to puff themselves up by putting others down.  Joe just passed his extra class license and heard some blowhards on a repeater talking about "real hams."  I have a feeling Joe is more of a "real ham" than these clowns. 

Let me tell you about a couple of friends of mine-- "real Hams". 

I've known Rich since I was in high school.  Rich never went to college and worked in sales until retirement.  He's a superb CW operator and Dx'er.  He has an Advanced Class license, but has managed to achieve the CW DXCC Honor Roll.  He has enough technical knowledge to assemble and maintain his station.  He has "elmered" many a young person in the hobby.

I've known Tom for only about ten years.  Like Rich, he worked in sales, and had no formal technical education.  Until a few years ago, he had a General Class license.  I encouraged him to go for the Extra Class, so as to acquire the full privileges.  He struggled with the theory, but he finally did it, and is very happy.  Tom comes over to my house about every six months to help me with my seasonal antenna changeover.  Without his help, I wouldn't be on the air. 

I have a degree in EE-- I teach circuit theory for a living.  Passing the Extra Class tests was easy for me.  But I have the utmost respect for these friends who have taught me things, as well as the countless hams out there of all license classes who enjoy operating their radios, and do so with pride and courtesy. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 27, 2010, 07:32:47 PM
N2EY, You blame the system not the ham? It was the ham you were helping. You pointed out in quotes he was the "captain". I stated in 19 years I've heard the complaints more than once, I should have said several times since you calculated once every 9 or 10 years. What amazes me is with the knowledge you possess you have never ever come across this by others on the air or in posts, anywhere. You stated "It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience. Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?" I did do that. Just look at the analogy you used with the marathon runner. You compared runners that compete against eachother, that strive to break anothers record and lowering the standards of the distance they have to run. Wow! How does that compare to amateur radio? They absolutely would have an argument in a marathon because beating a time to break a record but having to do it in a shorter distance of running is unfair. But in amateur radio because hams had to have code or what some might feel difficult testing in theory and the requirements aren't as difficult today doesn't make it unfair. When I sat down next to another ham and we both took the ham test, we weren't competing against eachother. Or to be clear, although you took your test several years ago and the test was more difficult and required code, the person taking the test today is not competing against you. This is why it appears you have re-enforced the thought...I did it so you should to.



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 27, 2010, 07:38:07 PM
N2EY:
Jim,
N2LWE's posting here demonstrates the harm done by remarks made by thoughtless and insecure people who have a need to puff themselves up by putting others down.  Joe just passed his extra class license and heard some blowhards on a repeater talking about "real hams."  I have a feeling Joe is more of a "real ham" than these clowns. 

Let me tell you about a couple of friends of mine-- "real Hams". 

I've known Rich since I was in high school.  Rich never went to college and worked in sales until retirement.  He's a superb CW operator and Dx'er.  He has an Advanced Class license, but has managed to achieve the CW DXCC Honor Roll.  He has enough technical knowledge to assemble and maintain his station.  He has "elmered" many a young person in the hobby.

I've known Tom for only about ten years.  Like Rich, he worked in sales, and had no formal technical education.  Until a few years ago, he had a General Class license.  I encouraged him to go for the Extra Class, so as to acquire the full privileges.  He struggled with the theory, but he finally did it, and is very happy.  Tom comes over to my house about every six months to help me with my seasonal antenna changeover.  Without his help, I wouldn't be on the air. 

I have a degree in EE-- I teach circuit theory for a living.  Passing the Extra Class tests was easy for me.  But I have the utmost respect for these friends who have taught me things, as well as the countless hams out there of all license classes who enjoy operating their radios, and do so with pride and courtesy. 

Chuck,

All good points and I agree with every one.

But at the same time I think it's important to deal with folks as individuals, and look at what they actually say and do, regardless of how long they've been hams, what their backgrounds are, etc.

This goes regardless of years licensed, class of ticket, etc. It's all about attitude, or as we say in these parts, "addy-tood".

For example, there are a number of hams who come to our annual Field Day operation and never make a contact:

- Two of them feed us all, beginning to end. Nobody goes hungry or thirsty on Field Day!

- One arranges the logging system, with all the computers networked. He not only does this but has taught others to do it, written a simple manual, and provided laptops and such.

- One brings out his super slingshot and launches lines into the trees for our wire antennas.

- One brings his motor home with genset, a couple of rigs, and various other goodies. Clean reliable power the whole FD period, plus rigs for a couple of positions.

- One gets the various permits, invites the local officials and gets us mentions in the media. Also helps with the GOTA station.

They range from newcomers to old timers, Techs to Extras, 1x2 calls to 2x3s, etc.

Are they "real hams"? IMHO, yes -  every single one!

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 27, 2010, 08:09:04 PM
N2EY, You blame the system not the ham?

Yes. If the system could produce a General class licensee who didn't know how many conductors there are in ordinary coax, there's something wrong with the system!

Don't you agree?

It was the ham you were helping.

Yes. Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? 

You pointed out in quotes he was the "captain".

Yes. Is that a problem?

What amazes me is with the knowledge you possess you have never ever come across this by others on the air or in posts, anywhere.

Yet it's the truth. I didn't say it doesn't happen, only that I've not encountered it from real live hams. 

Of course I don't spend much time on repeaters or the 'phone bands. Others' mileage may vary.

You stated "It seems to me that you're transferring your feelings about other folks onto me, just because I have some experience. Why not look at what I actually wrote, and what I actually did?"

That's how it seems to me. I think I'm being blamed for what others have said.

Just look at the analogy you used with the marathon runner. You compared runners that compete against eachother, that strive to break anothers record and lowering the standards of the distance they have to run. Wow! How does that compare to amateur radio? They absolutely would have an argument in a marathon because beating a time to break a record but having to do it in a shorter distance of running is unfair.

Most people who run marathons are not competing against others, nor are they out to break others' records.

Most people who run marathons are competing against themselves, and striving to set some kind of personal record - even if it's just finishing.

But what makes them all marathon runners is the standard distance. Either a person has gone the distance or they haven't. It's a standard.

The analogy is about the lowering of standards. The marathon could be redefined as 20 miles, or 10 miles, or 5 miles, or whatever. But it wouldn't be the same thing. That's the point.

But in amateur radio because hams had to have code or what some might feel difficult testing in theory and the requirements aren't as difficult today doesn't make it unfair.

It's not about fair. It's about standards. It's not about how difficult the tests are but about what you have to know to pass them. What you have to *really* know.

That's the issue.


 When I sat down next to another ham and we both took the ham test, we weren't competing against eachother. Or to be clear, although you took your test several years ago and the test was more difficult and required code, the person taking the test today is not competing against you. This is why it appears you have re-enforced the thought...I did it so you should to.

When I was running the marathon I wasn't competing against anyone else. I was competing against myself; accepting the challenge and meeting it. The same is true for almost all marathon runners; only a very few have the ability to win or set records.

That's what the analogy is about.

Let's get right down to the point.

Forget about how the tests used to be, the code testing (which disappeared almost 4 years ago) and all that. Ancient history.

Suppose tomorrow the FCC announced a plan to give full amateur privileges to all US hams. No additional testing, no need to upgrade, everybody with a license today would get all US amateur privileges. Any US ham could apply for any available vanity call, too.

When you renewed your license, the new one would simply say "Amateur Radio License".

New hams would have to pass a very basic 20 question exam, mostly on safety. They'd be given a copy of Part 97 and have to promise to read it.

And then they'd get a full-privileges license, same as everybody else.

How would *you* feel about such a plan? Would you support it or oppose it?

73 de Jim, N2EY






Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 28, 2010, 05:04:55 AM
N2EY, you said "I think I'm being blamed for what others have said." No one is blaming you. But after my original post it was you that stated "Ok I'll bite" as if you were going to set the record straight. And I disagree with the marathon issue. They do compete. Many want to have the best timing crossing the finish line. I'm not looking for a fight with you. I guess there is one thing I'm sure we both can agree on.... We can agree it's ok to disagree. That being said, have a good day.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N3DF on October 28, 2010, 07:10:00 AM
Passing the Amateur Extra exam was a great day in my life.  I had spent the entire summer--from May to September--diligently studying code and theory.  I considered it my first "major" exam; the CPA and bar examinations were still years away in my future.  I don't consider myself a "better" ham or more of a "real" ham than one who obtains the AE today.  However, I don't think that if I passed the exam now I would feel that it was much of an achievement as I did back then.  The diploma-form FCC Amateur Extra certificate on my shack wall is still a source of pride to me.  


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W5ESE on October 28, 2010, 10:55:10 AM
However, I don't think that if I passed the exam now I would feel that it was much of an achievement as I did back then. The diploma-form FCC Amateur Extra certificate on my shack wall is still a source of pride to me.  

I agree with this.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W5ESE on October 28, 2010, 11:14:12 AM
In fact approximately two weeks ago I heard someone on a repeater state "when real hams took the test back when I did and there was code"...... I couldn't believe it myself , but I heard it. I was tempted to get in there and say something but figured why bother. So 43 years you haven't heard it? Or is it that it was said and you didn't hear it because you had the same thoughts?

Jim hasn't heard it because he doesn't spend much time on repeaters!  ;)

Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KM9R on October 28, 2010, 01:15:34 PM
In over 31 years as a ham, I have never and emphasize never been given an attitude of elitism in the cw portion of the bands.  

Also N2LWE's complaint is not because of the system that was used to to license amateurs. His complaint is about corrupt human nature and that is found in all humans not just extra class hams. The elimination of the cw requirement or "any requirement" for an amateur license will not eliminate corrupt human nature.

For the record, I support a tiered class of amateur license with an optional cw endorsement for each tier. Operation within the cw portion of the band would be FORBIDDEN without the cw endorsement. For the no coders, this requirement does not affect your opportunity to become a ham or even an extra class ham.  For the lovers of cw, this would help preserve our slice of paradise.  8)  This is not a I did so you too must do it. This is about maintaining standards in an effort to maintain quality and not quantity.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 28, 2010, 02:40:28 PM
N2EY, you said "I think I'm being blamed for what others have said." No one is blaming you.

You are blaming me.

But after my original post it was you that stated "Ok I'll bite" as if you were going to set the record straight.

All that quote meant was that I would answer your post. Because nobody else was, at the time.

And I disagree with the marathon issue. They do compete. Many want to have the best timing crossing the finish line.

How many is "many"?

When you run for time, the competition is against the clock and yourself.

How many marathons have you run? How many have you attended?

I'm not looking for a fight with you. I guess there is one thing I'm sure we both can agree on.... We can agree it's ok to disagree.

That's fine.

But I notice that you didn't answer my question about how you would view a one-license-class system.

I suspect that the reason you didn't answer it is because you would not support such a system, for various reasons, but don't want to admit it.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on October 28, 2010, 03:51:49 PM
N2EY, I didn't answer your question regarding a one license class system, not because I didn't want to admit it as you suspect. I simply overlooked that question among all the other issues we discussed. As far as my opinion, I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I kinda like the tier system we currently have, but I'm not really sure it's better than a one license system. I would think they would both have pros and cons. See, I wasn't dodging the question. I simply overlooked it. You "assumed" I didn't want to admit it.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on October 28, 2010, 04:49:56 PM
In over 31 years as a ham, I have never and emphasize never been given an attitude of elitism in the cw portion of the bands.  

Also N2LWE's complaint is not because of the system that was used to to license amateurs. His complaint is about corrupt human nature and that is found in all humans not just extra class hams. The elimination of the cw requirement or "any requirement" for an amateur license will not eliminate corrupt human nature.

For the record, I support a tiered class of amateur license with an optional cw endorsement for each tier. Operation within the cw portion of the band would be FORBIDDEN without the cw endorsement. For the no coders, this requirement does not affect your opportunity to become a ham or even an extra class ham.  For the lovers of cw, this would help preserve our slice of paradise.  8)  This is not a I did so you too must do it. This is about maintaining standards in an effort to maintain quality and not quantity.

excellent proposal.  however, cost reduction and ease of oversight seems to have moved us away from code testing.  
what would your proposed cw 'endorsement' entail?  

 ;)   cw operators hold the keys  ;)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 28, 2010, 05:17:48 PM
In over 31 years as a ham, I have never and emphasize never been given an attitude of elitism in the cw portion of the bands.  

Nor I.

For the record, I support a tiered class of amateur license with an optional cw endorsement for each tier. Operation within the cw portion of the band would be FORBIDDEN without the cw endorsement. For the no coders, this requirement does not affect your opportunity to become a ham or even an extra class ham.  For the lovers of cw, this would help preserve our slice of paradise.  8)  This is not a I did so you too must do it. This is about maintaining standards in an effort to maintain quality and not quantity.

The problem is that there are only two CW-only parts of the US ham bands: 50.0 to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 to 144.1 MHz. All the rest of the bands are shared with other modes. On the HF bands, all of the non-phone parts are open to data modes.

The end result would be that in order to operate data modes, a ham would need the CW endorsement. You can bet there will be quite a few hams who will oppose that.

How do we solve that problem?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 29, 2010, 04:48:45 PM
N2EY, you said "I think I'm being blamed for what others have said." No one is blaming you. But after my original post it was you that stated "Ok I'll bite" as if you were going to set the record straight. And I disagree with the marathon issue. They do compete. Many want to have the best timing crossing the finish line. I'm not looking for a fight with you. I guess there is one thing I'm sure we both can agree on.... We can agree it's ok to disagree. That being said, have a good day.
Joe, if you don't agree wholeheartedly with Jim then you walk the borderline between "uncivil behavior" and "personal insults."   ;D

The FCC makes all allocated modes OPTIONAL to use.  I think that is a mighty fine thing.  Some others insist on the draconian dictates of "one must take a code test!' (just like they had to long ago).

The FCC settled the whole thing with memorandum report and order 06-178 released in December 2006 and effective on 23 Feb 2007.  So far, nobody had made a valid case for any Petition for Reconsideration on 06-178 but the amateur "discussion" venues have the old-timers trying to ressurect the American Civil War period aftermath.  Those are LOSERS and makes for way too much noise, smoke, and mirrors and petty, petty differences of opinion.

The FCC never forbade USE of on-off-keying radiotelegraphy yet all the old-timers (who had to take a code test long, long ago) keep on selfishly insisting that all who come after them MUST do so.  They claim some sort of ENTITLEMENT forever...which they do not have.

HF bandplans haven't changed much in over a decade but some of the spoiled brats just can't stop mouthing off in various venues about CODE.  The "south" (southeastern) USA did rise again but it rose with the times and (pretty much) stayed loyal to the Union.  It's just so bad that some of these old-timers can't stay loyal to amateur radio of NOW but want their entitlement of long ago to be theirs forever.

The LOSERS keep manufacturing "problems" which don't exist in order to attempt hiding of their selfishness...

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 29, 2010, 05:25:39 PM
N2EY, I didn't answer your question regarding a one license class system, not because I didn't want to admit it as you suspect. I simply overlooked that question among all the other issues we discussed.

OK, no problem.


 As far as my opinion, I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I kinda like the tier system we currently have, but I'm not really sure it's better than a one license system. I would think they would both have pros and cons. See, I wasn't dodging the question. I simply overlooked it. You "assumed" I didn't want to admit it.

Yes, I did assume that. My bad!

I started a new thread to discuss the idea.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on October 29, 2010, 06:37:53 PM
Oy gevalt!  Not this thread again.  Hand me my antacids.  While you're at it, throw in an tranquilizer!  ;D

Here and elsewhere I've advocated for the one license and one high power endorsement.  100 to 150 questions, 80% absolute pass mark, all frequencies, all modes, 250 W.  Pass a theory test on HV and get to use an amp.  That's it!

I'm guilty of inconsistency.  I'd never ask Industry Canada to dumb down their tests for me (well, they dropped the 12 wpm even though I'd gladly take it -- it's hard to pay attention at 5 wpm!)  I haven't written my Canadian Advanced because I'm quite lazy.  Nevertheless, I take it on myself to dumb down the American system!  Perhaps I consider myself entitled to do this since I got the Extra meal ticket years ago.  It's important to have respect for those who earned the 20 wpm and would rather not see any further rationalization of the American testing system.  At this point in my life I'm much more concerned with professional qualifications that carry much greater importance than an AR ticket.  The logical end of restructuring is the "one license".  Let's just get it over with.

For the record, I support a tiered class of amateur license with an optional cw endorsement for each tier. Operation within the cw portion of the band would be FORBIDDEN without the cw endorsement. For the no coders, this requirement does not affect your opportunity to become a ham or even an extra class ham.  For the lovers of cw, this would help preserve our slice of paradise.  8)  This is not a I did so you too must do it. This is about maintaining standards in an effort to maintain quality and not quantity.

Sure -- if there's a phone endorsement as well.  Reminds me of Thanksgiving or Christmas or some socio-religious food-centric gathering: here, eat this for me -- I never liked it anyway!  :D   I could care less if someone banned me from phone, since I haven't been in the phone subband for almost a decade.

73, Jordan      


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on October 29, 2010, 06:51:49 PM
HF bandplans haven't changed much in over a decade but some of the spoiled brats just can't stop mouthing off in various venues about CODE.

Indeed, those hams who frequently operate north of the US/Canadian border are often harassed by such US-based "CW fanatics" for operating "out of the band" when some Canadian hams attempt to operate SSB in those portions of the band that have been set aside in the USA (under the FCC's so-called "incentive licensing" farce) exclusively for CW.  

Specifically, there is a daily Canadian voice net that routinely meets on 7055 KHz hereabouts that has been forced to endure all kinds of catcalls, thrown carriers and other assorted boorish vitriol emanating from those (as you call them) "spoiled brats" in the USA who firmly believe that the rest of the world must also kowtow to our FCC's regulated sub-band (and sub-sub band) nonsense. This is despite the fact that the IARU band plan specifically allows for "all mode" operation in that portion of our amateur radio spectrum in Region 2.

Quote
 It's just so bad that some of these old-timers can't stay loyal to amateur radio of NOW but want their entitlement of long ago to be theirs forever.

Indeed, some of these horrifically intolerant US operators ALSO want every other nation on the planet to firmly adhere to "their" US rules.  And if hams in other countries steadfastly refuse to do so, many of these rabid, US-based ham radio fundamentalists are apparently not at all ashamed to make themselves (and, by extension, their country) look like intolerant, spoiled brats...and all at the speed of light.

Quote
The LOSERS keep manufacturing "problems" which don't exist in order to attempt hiding of their selfishness...

Len, most of these people well KNOW they have now "lost" their battle to have such things as Morse testing and FCC-field-office-administered, objective examinations retained forever in our Service in the United States.  But their over-inflated egos can't (or won't) allow them to publicly admit it.  They also well realize that nobody in any authority at the FCC is now listening to their ever-more frantic rants to have all those official policy changes reversed.  

So, it should come as no surprise that online forums like these constitute the last remaining outlet for that (thankfully!) ever-shrinking cadre of rabid, (primarily US-based) fundamentalists to continually express their extreme displeasure that amateur radio (and indeed, the rest of the world around them) has LONG since moved on.  Fortunately, such persons aren't getting any traction in these forums, either...except, perhaps, among their (similarly royally peeved) fundamentalist buddies.  

Indeed, the seemingly endless fixation on the way things were done in our Service in "days gone by" now emanating from the likes of this crowd would all be comic if it wasn't also so pitifully sad.

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 29, 2010, 07:23:20 PM
Here and elsewhere I've advocated for the one license and one high power endorsement.  100 to 150 questions, 80% absolute pass mark, all frequencies, all modes, 250 W.  Pass a theory test on HV and get to use an amp.  That's it!

Whatever you call it, that's two license classes. Call them high power and low power, or whatever.

As for "theory test on HV", consider that there's no need to run high voltage for high power. Solid-state RF power amps have been around a long time. (Check the cover of QST for April, 1976 - there was a legal-limit solidstate amp in that issue!)

OTOH, it's quite possible to get fatally zapped by a rig running less than 250 watts. Or by house current, which requires no license at all.

So why a high power endorsement/license class?

I'm guilty of inconsistency.  I'd never ask Industry Canada to dumb down their tests for me (well, they dropped the 12 wpm even though I'd gladly take it -- it's hard to pay attention at 5 wpm!)  I haven't written my Canadian Advanced because I'm quite lazy.  Nevertheless, I take it on myself to dumb down the American system!  Perhaps I consider myself entitled to do this since I got the Extra meal ticket years ago.  It's important to have respect for those who earned the 20 wpm and would rather not see any further rationalization of the American testing system.  At this point in my life I'm much more concerned with professional qualifications that carry much greater importance than an AR ticket.  The logical end of restructuring is the "one license".  Let's just get it over with.

See the thread "Imagine this...."


For the record, I support a tiered class of amateur license with an optional cw endorsement for each tier. Operation within the cw portion of the band would be FORBIDDEN without the cw endorsement. For the no coders, this requirement does not affect your opportunity to become a ham or even an extra class ham.  For the lovers of cw, this would help preserve our slice of paradise.  8)  This is not a I did so you too must do it. This is about maintaining standards in an effort to maintain quality and not quantity.

Sure -- if there's a phone endorsement as well.  Reminds me of Thanksgiving or Christmas or some socio-religious food-centric gathering: here, eat this for me -- I never liked it anyway!  :D   I could care less if someone banned me from phone, since I haven't been in the phone subband for almost a decade.
     

Interesting - what sort of test would you suggest for the 'phone endorsement?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on October 29, 2010, 07:37:02 PM
re: phone endorsement:  Perhaps a test on signal adjustment, modulation, correct use of speech processing &c.  I would not seek a phone endorsement unless CW were permitted somewhere within the phone bands.

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

Brooke Astor was fond of saying, "Money is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around."  

A ham radio license itself is s**t.  Not even good manure.  The "money", the value of the license, resides not in the slip of paper but in the knowledge gained as a result of those privileges.  The imperative resides in the dissemination of knowledge capital whether we're 20 wpm Extras or no-code Extras.  Endless roundabout arguments about licensing and seniority does not benefit the ham community at all.

I enjoyed the challenge of getting the Extra (in 1995 -- one of the last off the assembly line!)  Now I enjoy other intellectual challenges both in ham radio and elsewhere.  At every juncture, the reward of the chase has turned to the ethical (and daresay moral) imperative of instruction and learning.  I teach as part of my occupation, but I never consider myself a teacher.  This is especially true when I help a person with a language translation.  I would rather let the person master the text through the subtle guidance of a fellow reader (i.e. "Why have you made this inference?" rather than "this is incorrect").  I can't tell you how many times I have read a passage only to be corrected by someone with much less experience than I have with that language.  One of the greatest experiences in life is to learn and share from those that have just begun to encounter any intellectual endeavor.

Even if the FCC decided to grant ham licenses with five box tops, $3.50, and a SASE addressed to Gettysburg, I would still approach a new ham through this perspective.  Meet you all at the honey wagon.

73, Jordan  


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 30, 2010, 01:52:11 PM
Indeed, some of these horrifically intolerant US operators ALSO want every other nation on the planet to firmly adhere to "their" US rules.  And if hams in other countries steadfastly refuse to do so, many of these rabid, US-based ham radio fundamentalists are apparently not at all ashamed to make themselves (and, by extension, their country) look like intolerant, spoiled brats...and all at the speed of light.
It is all part of the one-station/one-operator/one-shack syndrome psychologically. Similar to doing computer-modem communications. So few can extend their senses beyond their immediate surroundings to realize that anyone (they can't see/touch/feel/sense) are listening to them. Instead they reach inwards to their own psyche and presume to be "the world." They try to make all others believe as they do so that they can extend their personal belief that they are in control. Of everything. Its a grande-scale pretending to be something they are not.

Quote
Len, most of these people well KNOW they have now "lost" their battle to have such things as Morse testing and FCC-field-office-administered, objective examinations retained forever in our Service in the United States.  But their over-inflated egos can't (or won't) allow them to publicly admit it.  They also well realize that nobody in any authority at the FCC is now listening to their ever-more frantic rants to have all those official policy changes reversed.
One slight disagreement but only slight. These losers may understand the situation realistically but they (or their egos) over-ride that with emotion of wanting desperately to be in charge and RULE over others. Put simply, it is their way or the highway.

Most, if not all of the dissenters of elimination of the code test have NOT made any valid case to the FCC in any Petition for Reconsideration of FCC 06-178. Maybe some have written to the FCC and attempted to chastise them but we in the public have not seen much of that. The FCC HAS made some strange input to them public on both NPRMs 98-143 and 05-235 which are still in the ECFS. There is NO "conspiracy" by the FCC to keep such things "secret." Such few "strange" communications are simply digitally copied and put into a docket's database; anyone can view them and see their "strangeness" (almost illegible notations on another document or writing while at least half drunk as two notable ones).

Since FCC 99-412 ("restructuring") and 06-178 (code test elimination) spanning a whole decade, the FCC has not FORBIDDEN the use of on-off-keying CW radiotelegraphy except in the five very narrow channels on the "new" 60m "band." On every other allocated USA amateur radio band, on-off-keying CW radiotelegraphy enjoys carte blanche allocation for USE. That even includes the 200 KHz total bandspace on 6m and 2m set aside solely for code using moonbounce DX. I really don't fathom  WHY all thses rabid code advocates are jabbering incessantly over all that code testing nonsense. NOW.

The only conclusion I can come to is that these jabbering code advocates are just being control freaks bound and determined to make all USA radio amateurs who come later suffer somehow...as they had to "suffer." Boo hoo. Poor babies.

Technologically, those jabbering code advocates who got their beloved Extra "diplomas" (license grant certificates) in the 1970s or earlier are simply lying when they say the TEST was so "HARD" back then. The last four decades of even amateur radio technology has advanced by several plateus and some of that is included in the NCVEC tests of today and five years ago. Some seem to have difficulty with the slightest simple algebra of power, voltage, and amperage calculations(!) in another Forum. It is fairly clear those are just the front-panel knob twiddlers, the "operators" who would be lost in the area behind those front panels. They would be Lost if they had to - as license regulations demand - prove the technical operation of their radios. 

Quote
So, it should come as no surprise that online forums like these constitute the last remaining outlet for that (thankfully!) ever-shrinking cadre of rabid, (primarily US-based) fundamentalists to continually express their extreme displeasure that amateur radio (and indeed, the rest of the world around them) has LONG since moved on.  Fortunately, such persons aren't getting any traction in these forums, either...except, perhaps, among their (similarly royally peeved) fundamentalist buddies.
Another slight disagreement, Keith. There are enough of those old gas-passers to crowd out those of us who can think for ourselves, aren't devoted to the continual perpetuation of ancient radio skills, and are living for a FUTURE, not the past. Licensing regulations should look FORWARD and not to what has been. The FCC has very good records on "what has been," even greater than Moderator Jimmie has in his basement.  :D 

Quote
Indeed, the seemingly endless fixation on the way things were done in our Service in "days gone by" now emanating from the likes of this crowd would all be comic if it wasn't also so pitifully sad.
I look at such behavior as their personal "survivor" syndrome. The want to keep the past because they've been there and it is familiar to them. The FUTURE can be a scary place for many, especially technical areas. These lovers of the past are no longer young and they can observe life passing them by. Personal survival demands they obliterate such scary things, the "unknown" and concentrate only on the past. Naturally those folks were always the "best" at what they did and aren't hesitant to tell everyone that.  :D

Ad astra ad aspera.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K7KBN on October 30, 2010, 08:13:26 PM
Ad astra ad aspera.  ??  (To the stars to difficulties)??

I think you meant "ad astra PER aspera."  (To the stars THROUGH difficulties.)

So Latin's not your strong suit either.  Tsk.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 30, 2010, 09:17:45 PM
Ad astra ad aspera.  ??  (To the stars to difficulties)??

I think you meant "ad astra PER aspera."  (To the stars THROUGH difficulties.)
Yes, Ad Astra Per Aspera

That is at the Apollo 1 Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center. It's been a while since I was a tiny part of the Apollo program and its 400,000 or so total personnel at NASA and all the contractors and sub-contractors.

Quote
So Latin's not your strong suit either.  Tsk.
I've never claimed to be a "Latin expert" nor a skilled craftsman of other dead (or dying) languages such as International Morse Code.


Other than that, do you have anything cogent to say about amateur radio?

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on October 31, 2010, 03:34:10 AM
Ad astra ad aspera.  ??  (To the stars to difficulties)??

I think you meant "ad astra PER aspera."  (To the stars THROUGH difficulties.)

So Latin's not your strong suit either.  Tsk.

Not my strong suit either. 

"inter astraque aspera aporio" or something like that.  Bouncing between stars and difficulties.  Certainly the Romans weren't immune to multiple personality disorder.  Neither are some hams ::)  The discussions here at _Licensing_ are ample proof for my new cooked up aphorism.

Quote
I've never claimed to be a "Latin expert" nor a skilled craftsman of other dead (or dying) languages such as International Morse Code.

Well Len, I completely agree with you on the Latin.  I've spent my life studying the language. That'll get me a cup of coffee and maybe bus fare.  It's not all that wise to be be a craftsman of an arcane art.  Leave it to me to absolutely disobey the Myers-Briggs and choose to be a rather mediocre pointyhead.

False logic often hides the pathetic emotion that shelters the possibility of failure.  Many of us have, and continue to learn and grow from this ancient mode we love.  CW is quite relevant since it is a code and a language that bonds hams in a common interest and medium.  CW will live regardless of those who do not wish to take up the key and enjoy a skill that takes a lifetime (and some humility) to master.  Wouldn't it be easier to challenge the fear of failure and pick up those paddles rather than excoriate an activity that carries the risky reward of eventual satisfaction?

Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."  That's what CW is all about.  I suspect this is why many hams pick up their keys day after day.

73, Jordan     


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0AZZ on October 31, 2010, 05:59:43 AM
I read books on every license class I passed and a lot of time at the library. Bought all I could Handbook, Antenna book took me a year to really understand all the info in extra manual no background or math or electronics so it took some time still have to look up some formulas  ;).

The one thing I found was once you get your license is only the beginning of your start of learning a great hobby where you never stop.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 31, 2010, 07:49:42 AM
It's not all that wise to be be a craftsman of an arcane art.  Leave it to me to absolutely disobey the Myers-Briggs and choose to be a rather mediocre pointyhead.

It all depends on why someone learns something.

Some things a person learns translate into a job, profession, promotion, etc. For example, many if not most jobs today require at least some computer skills.
 
Some things a person learns are "life skills" which are practical necessities for most people. For example, knowing how to cook, how to do laundry, how to drive a car, how to balance a checkbook, how to care for a baby.

Some things a person learns done because they could be useful in an emergency, such as how to do CPR, how to jump-start a car, how to start a fire without matches.

All the rest are a matter of personal choice, life enrichment, etc. Such as meeting the requirements for an amateur radio license.

A thing learned may fit into more than one category, or may change categories over time. For example, learning CPR can be a job requirement for an EMT, a life skill for a person who has a family member with certain medical problems, and an emergency skill for someone else.

Of course it's important to learn stuff in order to have a job. But that doesn't make the other categories useless or worthless.

IOW, the value of a skill should not be judged solely on how much money you can make with it.


False logic often hides the pathetic emotion that shelters the possibility of failure.  Many of us have, and continue to learn and grow from this ancient mode we love.

Well said - except for one little piece.

Morse Code is hardly "ancient" - it's not even 200 years old yet. Compared to a lot of things, it's very new.

For example:

- Shakespeare's works are more than twice as old
- The Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Federalist papers and other documents of great importance are older
- Technology such as fireplaces and sailboats have been around for thousands of years.

CW is quite relevant since it is a code and a language that bonds hams in a common interest and medium.

Yes, it is very relevant to amateur radio *because hams use it*. That's a fact which is too often forgotten.

There's also the technical and operational advantages of Morse Code skill. For example, suppose a radio amateur wants to build their own HF station - what mode would give them the most results from the simplest equipment? It's certainly not any of the voice or data modes!

Some years back, a ham named Dan Tayloe invented a new kind of mixer, with certain advantages over existing kinds. To demonstrate the advantages of his device, he designed a simple CW transceiver around it.

  CW will live regardless of those who do not wish to take up the key and enjoy a skill that takes a lifetime (and some humility) to master.

Well it sure does take humility. But as to taking a lifetime, most people can learn Morse Code to a usable level in a few weeks and to a very usable level in a few months *IF* they put in the time and effort and use effective learning methods. OTOH there's always more to learn.


Wouldn't it be easier to challenge the fear of failure and pick up those paddles rather than excoriate an activity that carries the risky reward of eventual satisfaction?

Depends on the person. Remember the humility factor - some folks don't want to admit they don't know how to do something. Some don't want to ask for help or be seen as a beginner. So they denigrate the thing itself.

For example, a kid who isn't immediately good at sports *may* decide to practice and develop the skills. Or s/he may become a spectator. Or simply not bother with them.

Or, s/he may decide that sports are "dumb" and so are the people who are skilled in playing them, and denigrate both.   

The reason for that last reaction is often jealousy of the attention and praise that the skilled people receive. It's tied into the humility issue you mentioned earlier. Combine that with the fear-of-failing part you mention and it's clear what's really going on.

Same thing for skill in the arts, crafts, and many other things. Including Morse Code.


Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."  That's what CW is all about.  I suspect this is why many hams pick up their keys day after day.

I think ol' Sam B. is a bit too negative there. It's not about failure, it's about success. Glass half full vs. half empty. The journey, not the destination.

For example, if I can do 30 wpm, am I a failure because I can't do 50 wpm? Or am I success because I started out at 0 wpm?

Of course the Morse Code *test* for a US amateur license went away almost 4 years ago. And the test that was eliminated was only 5 wpm.

But the *use* of Morse Code in amateur radio continues, and may actually be increasing. For example, the CQWW DX contest reported its greatest number of log submissions for the CW mode in 2008. Last year on Field Day, the group I went with made more than twice as many CW contacts as all other modes combined, even though CW ops and rigs were a small minority of the effort.

Or look at the number of keys, keyers, filters, software and CW-only rigs being produced, sold and most of all USED today.

73 de Jim, N2EY

"People called Romans they go the house?"


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on October 31, 2010, 08:24:50 AM
The only conclusion I can come to is that these jabbering code advocates are just being control freaks bound and determined to make all USA radio amateurs who come later suffer somehow...as they had to "suffer." Boo hoo. Poor babies.

Perhaps.

But I also believe that, for a goodly number of these Morse code fanatics, ham radio (and Morse) has now become a fundamentalist religion.  

And, just like their God-fearing religious fanatic brethren, this crowd truly believes that unless everyone who chooses to join the "Church of Amateur Radio" worships daily at the altar of Hiram Percy Maxim, can recite passages from the 'holy word" (Part 97) from memory, learns to speak in tongues (i.e. Morse) and becomes a "true believer" in all of the 1950s-era Incentive Licensing nonsense that the ARRL and FCC "Gods" from long ago established as the one true "Cannon Law" for our Service, then one cannot possibly hope to enter into the "Kingdom Of Real Hams" and be "saved".

This is why these people are always in your face about the truly "out of body" experiences one gets when they use Morse, are constantly bitching and moaning about the so-called "dumbing down" of our "baptismal rights" (license exams) and are so absolutely appalled that people like you and me would even DARE to quesiton the "holy scripture" (Part 97) that has been revealed (seemingly specifically to them) by their beloved FCC.  

Such people also truly believe that it is their bounden duty to "go into all the world" and make sure that newcomers to the hobby strictly follow the "one true Gospel" of Amateur Radio according to the ancient rights, rituals (and dogma) that were firmly established in the "dark ages" when they first become hams.  Everything else is blasphemy.

Unfortunately, this crowd is much like those obnoxious religious fanatics who leave all those "Are You Saved?" pamphlets in public toilets or show up unannounced at your front door asking you if you died tonight, would you be in Heaven.  

Now, I certainly don't have a problem if these people want to continue their PRIVATE worship of Hiram Percy Maxim, Morse code, the ARRL, Part 97 as well as the "old time religion" that (for them) established amateur radio as they once knew it in the days of lore.

But all the while they continue to force that fundamentalist agenda on the radio hams being newly licensed TODAY by using forums like these for their seemingly endless proselytizing, I will continue to speak out against it (and them) every step of the way.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on October 31, 2010, 11:32:01 AM
It's not all that wise to be be a craftsman of an arcane art.  Leave it to me to absolutely disobey the Myers-Briggs and choose to be a rather mediocre pointyhead.

It all depends on why someone learns something.

Well this mention of my so-called occupation was supposed to be self deprecating.  I see your point, however.
 
Some things a person learns are "life skills" which are practical necessities for most people. For example, knowing how to cook, how to do laundry, how to drive a car, how to balance a checkbook, how to care for a baby.

Albert Einstein, the man who shattered the hold of Newtonian physics, couldn't balance his checkbook.  I fail on all the above life skills.  I still managed to get an "old" Extra though.  I bet that most "no-code" Extras are 10^100 more life functional than I am.  My diet consists of peanut butter, apples (cheap in Quebec), and endless cups of coffee.  I'm surprised that my teeth haven't fallen out by now because of the scurvy.  Then again, I'm a starving student, so I have some excuse.   

IOW, the value of a skill should not be judged solely on how much money you can make with it.

Quite true.  This is the downfall of the American higher educational system.  So many students are grade-driven to the point of almost complete disinterest in content and intellectual development.  Business, nursing, and education schools should be divorced from universities (as in Europe). The academic study of humanities, theoretical mathematics and sciences, and engineering belong in institutions separate from professional schools.  This is another argument for another thread.   

Also, many (well-paying) jobs do not require a BA or BS.  For most people, college is an expensive credential that contributes little to practical vocational aptitude.  Nevertheless, many jobs require a bachelor's just to get in the door.  Often these jobs require no more than a high school education.  This needs to be reformed as well.

False logic often hides the pathetic emotion that shelters the possibility of failure.  Many of us have, and continue to learn and grow from this ancient mode we love.

Well said - except for one little piece.

Morse Code is hardly "ancient" - it's not even 200 years old yet. Compared to a lot of things, it's very new.

For example:

- Shakespeare's works are more than twice as old
- The Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Federalist papers and other documents of great importance are older
- Technology such as fireplaces and sailboats have been around for thousands of years.

Perhaps a better term would be "seminal". CW is a binary mode of communication that does not require a GUI, BFO, TNC, or envelope detector to operate.  Long. Short.  On.  Off.  Almost any visual stimulus that can be switched on and off can be used to send code.  Morse code contains the potential to transcend radio itself, unlike phone which begins and ends within the radio art.     


Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."  That's what CW is all about.  I suspect this is why many hams pick up their keys day after day.

I think ol' Sam B. is a bit too negative there. It's not about failure, it's about success. Glass half full vs. half empty. The journey, not the destination.

For example, if I can do 30 wpm, am I a failure because I can't do 50 wpm? Or am I success because I started out at 0 wpm?

I don't interpret Beckett this way.  Rather, Beckett speaks of the brilliance of inadequacy.  Inadequacy and struggle perpetuates creativity and success, while the refusal to fail breeds stagnation, frustration, and anger.  Failure is the ironic triumph.  If a person can only send and receive at 3 wpm, he/she has triumphed through a continual desire for greater skill.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 31, 2010, 12:44:21 PM
But I also believe that, for a goodly number of these Morse code fanatics, ham radio (and Morse) has now become a fundamentalist religion.
Of course. A number of years ago I dubbed the League as the "Church of St. Hiram."  :D

That's not just satiric commentary. Each issue of QST contains some boost for radiotelegraphy in amateurism, over and above all other OPTIONAL modes. It is as if it were an Editor's Guide manual that dictated it. Since the ARRL has the virtual monopoly on amateur radio publications in the USA, it is a guarantee of mental conditioning to those easily swayed by such propaganda. One such brainwashed individual, indoctrinated as an early teener, practically lives his free hours on these venues, immersed in his proselyte circuit.

Quote
 
Such people also truly believe that it is their bounden duty to "go into all the world" and make sure that newcomers to the hobby strictly follow the "one true Gospel" of Amateur Radio according to the ancient rights, rituals (and dogma) that were firmly established in the "dark ages" when they first become hams.  Everything else is blasphemy.
Absolutely. We will all be damned to some strange hell if we do not follow their dictates of what is right and proper according to their religion of radio. If WE do not follow their scripture then "WE" have some moral flaw, thus are to be freely damned by them in impunity while they are cloaked in righteousness.

Quote
Unfortunately, this crowd is much like those obnoxious religious fanatics who leave all those "Are You Saved?" pamphlets in public toilets or show up unannounced at your front door asking you if you died tonight, would you be in Heaven.
Sometimes these forums become such "public toilets" full of proselyte propaganda.  :D 

Quote
Now, I certainly don't have a problem if these people want to continue their PRIVATE worship of Hiram Percy Maxim, Morse code, the ARRL, Part 97 as well as the "old time religion" that (for them) established amateur radio as they once knew it in the days of lore.
Good on that, Keith.

Some "word policeman" will show up trying to correct your "days of lore" statement. Unfortunately, you are very correct, Keith, most of what gets printed in QST is LORE, not "yore."  :D

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But all the while they continue to force that fundamentalist agenda on the amateur radio of TODAY by using forums like these for their seemingly endless proselytizing, I will continue to speak out against it (and them) every step of the way.
Good on that! I will join you when I have the time...when not responding to Latin lovers correcting my typo of repeating "ad" instead of using "per."  :D

More important, though, is to check the output of the FCC's documents, looking for the long-awaited Petition for Reconsideration of R&O 06-178 and the proselytes trying to fight for their one true religion of morse mandated for ALL amateurs by LAW. So far there hasn't been much. Apparently the Believers in the One True Morse Religion are fighting a gorilla war...while dressed as chimps.  OOK.  OOK. OOK.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 31, 2010, 12:50:02 PM
K6LHA: "I've never claimed to be a "Latin expert" nor a skilled craftsman of other dead (or dying) languages such as International Morse Code."

Well Len, I completely agree with you on the Latin.  I've spent my life studying the language. That'll get me a cup of coffee and maybe bus fare.
Let's set a record straight here. I have never "studied" Latin and the phrase I tossed in (at the last) was just a random thought still stuck in my head about honoring Astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffee at the Cape. Those three died as a result of an accidental fire during a "routine" ground check of Apollo vehicle systems.

As once a very tiny part of the USA manned space effort I still feel a part of that and am looking UP and FORWARD to more and greater things in technology as well as honoring those who gave their lives as part of it.

A very long time ago to many of you, I keyed on my first HF transmitter (1 KW RF output, single-channel FSK teleprinter) in early 1953. There were NO on-off-keyed CW radio circuits used on any of the 35 other HF transmitters there at the time nor of the HF transmitters added later. Never in my career as an electronics design engineer have I been required to know or test for on-off-keyed radiotelegraphy for any radio operator license. That's a period of over 57 1/2 years.
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It's not all that wise to be be a craftsman of an arcane art.
Sorry, but that is against Scripture of the Church of St. Hiram. R&O 06-178 changed all of that over 3 1/2 years ago. Finally, the State triumphed over a False Religion!

In the last 5 years the sum total of new Radiotelegraph Operator (Commercial) licenses granted by the FCC was 99. That's less than 20 per year, all classes, on an average. Forget your "bus fare" and don't expect good coffee in trying to get a commercial radiotelegraphy job. On the agenda for WRC-12 is one that will replace on-off-keyed radiotelegraphy in Maritime radio service with automatic teleprinter signals at a higher rate.

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False logic often hides the pathetic emotion that shelters the possibility of failure.
Cute. Trying the "moral-ethical flaw" gambit again. FALSE LOGIC is the presumption that on-off-keyed CW radiotelegraphy has some significance for the future just because some individuals have tested for that skill long ago. It is FALSE LOGIC that on-off-keyed radiotelegraphy has ANY real value in commercial radio communications. The ONLY VALUE in amateur radio is to satisfy the "pathetic emotions" (not to mention day-dreams of "greatness") of long-time amateurs in radio who think that radiotelegraphy is THE thing that is amateurism.

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Many of us have, and continue to learn and grow from this ancient mode we love.
Then continue. Nobody is stopping you. Not the FCC, certainly not the ARRL. No group or organization has banned on-off-keyed radiotelegraphy USE in USA amateur radio bands. Just don't feel like you are some "pioneer" in radio for diddling your paddles. You aren't one of those.

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CW is quite relevant since it is a code and a language that bonds hams in a common interest and medium.  CW will live regardless of those who do not wish to take up the key and enjoy a skill that takes a lifetime (and some humility) to master.  Wouldn't it be easier to challenge the fear of failure and pick up those paddles rather than excoriate an activity that carries the risky reward of eventual satisfaction?
Absolutely NOT. Your "pathetic emotion" seems to be some angst about NOT being "worshipped" or at least "revered" for being good at the very first communications mode in radio. BFD and some LOL. :D

When are you going to bring back Spark transmitters and "coherer" receivers? Those were the first things to enable all that on-off-keying radiotelegraphy in early radio. Think you can win a DXCC with just a crystal set receiver?  :D

If you really, Really want to convince amateurs to use radiotelegraphy, don't do this pdeudo-shrink gambit of "pathetic emotion" and "morality ploy" AS IF you are so superior in all things radio. You aren't.

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Samuel Beckett: ...
I'll take "Kate Beckett" over Samuel Beckett any day...and that is NO "pathetic emotion." Run that over your Castle's drawbridge some time. Don't go overboard into the moat on using "Familiar Quotations" to make some vague point. R&O 06-178 settled that but it never forbade on-off-keying radiotelegraphy use by AMATEURS.

If you are "so good" at radiotelegraphy, then you can TEACH it to others and encourage them in it. One thing for sure is that you cannot force it into USA radio amateur regulatory LAW.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on October 31, 2010, 01:33:48 PM
If you really, Really want to convince amateurs to use radiotelegraphy, don't do this pdeudo-shrink gambit of "pathetic emotion" and "morality ploy" AS IF you are so superior in all things radio. You aren't.

You bet I'm no good at radio!  I know nothing about radio, really.  I'm quite out of tune as I haven't had my own station for two years!  My ears are shot.  I'll need a lot of practice before I get back on the air.  I'm sure my favorite phrase will be "e e e e e e e" for many years to come. 

This "old elitist" Extra will be out there with his lid fist soon.  Even if every CW op should consider me a lid, I will have succeeded because I had the confidence to forge ahead despite poor performances.  I can't be a lid if I never take up a key.  I'd rather be a lid than placate the fear of failure.

73, Jordan 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on October 31, 2010, 04:33:45 PM
You bet I'm no good at radio!  I know nothing about radio, really.  I'm quite out of tune as I haven't had my own station for two years!
NO EXCUSE! None whatsoever.

The LAW for USA radio amateurs requires YOU to know at least enough to determine if your transmitter is working properly or improperly. See the "Technical" regulations in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R. That is YOUR responsibility, not for someone else. I can do that with simple test equipment and know what to ask someone on the air what to listen for.

USA amateur radio is supposed to be a technical hobby, not just for those whose only interest is on-off-keying radiotelegraphy and playing AS IF you were important. If nothing else, some books can put you straight on technical principles of radio communication.  I suggest going to www.amazon.com and buying the 2010 ARRL Handbook. The total price for that, even with shipping charges will be LESS than ordering it from Newington (which also expects you to pay shipping charges extra).  Its roughly 3/4 the price from that little suburb of Hartford, CT, almost 2/3 if you have free shipping from Amazon..

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My ears are shot.  I'll need a lot of practice before I get back on the air.
Do you know how to check out your transmitter before your first cue-so? Or do you think you can get away with just on-off-keying radiotelegraphy like all those teen-age novices way back when?

If your ears are faulty, then you have to use those wonderful BLINKING LIGHTS lights that all the mighty morphing code rangers say is a "direct substitute" for hearing for license testing. There are NO medical waivers for ignorance of technical details of radio transmission, never were.
You MUST know technical details before anything else.

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This "old elitist" Extra will be out there with his lid fist soon.
I could care less as long as you know how to use your HF transmitter technically correct, regardless of legally OPTIONAL mode you use.

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Even if every CW op should consider me a lid, I will have succeeded because I had the confidence to forge ahead despite poor performances.  I can't be a lid if I never take up a key.  I'd rather be a lid than placate the fear of failure.
Where should we send your COURAGE medal?  Yourself, your psychiatrist, or attorney retained to answer the improper-operation your FCC NAL describes?

Like it or not, USA amateur radio is a TECHNICAL hobby and you MUST follow the technical regulations stated in Part 97, Title 47 Code of Federal Regulations. That is LAW.

I can care less if you head-copy 100 WPM or have the greatest zippy-de-do-dah "fist" in all creation. Screw up on your technical regulations and you are back there with the stupidest LIDS.

Long before I got any AMATEUR radio license I LEARNED lots and lots of circuit theory and system operation and USED it to legally and successfully operate RF trasmitters from VLF on up to microwaves, nearly all of it ON MY OWN WITHOUT FORMAL CLASSES FOR MOST OF IT.

Frankly, I'm rather aggravated that some code elitists calls me a so-called moral failure just because I don't love, honor, cherish, and obey morsemanship according to the Church of St. Hiram.

Feel free to walk in my shoes and do MY life experience if you or anyone else are so damn morally superior BECAUSE of code skill. Once upon a long time ago, during a period of war time, I voluntarily enlisted in the US Army. Before the Army let me operate any military radios I had to learn to kill the enemy. Once that was demonstrated the Army shipped me to a place of RF wonder, a huge HF transmitting station outside of Tokyo...WITHOUT any formal classes on how to use the equipment. All of us newbies of then LEARNED by on-the-job "training" and none of my group ever flunked out. Those of us who expended some effort studied what few TMs we had and LEARNED MORE about 'radio' of the 1950s. We didn't get medals for such things, we just DID IT and
didn't make excuses about it being "so hard." We followed the familiar phrase of the Signal Corps, "Get the message through."  We did, relaying about 250,000 messages a month during the height of the Korean War. At the same time, off the 8-hour duty shifts, we had to keep up our soldier training "to close with and destroy the enemy." We used VHF and UHF for radio relay and VHF radios for regular Army infantry training. Finally, budgets eased and we got 1.8 GHz microwave equipeent for my original MOS. Our "formal training" on that mother was two weeks to encompass everything of a 24-voice-channel full-duplex radio relay terminal. I was a supervisor of 9 terminals for my last active-duty year. At NO time in my three-year active duty time did that station ever use any on-off-keyed
radiotelegraphy in any radio circuits. I was never indoctrinated into some love-affair with morsemanship hammered into me by some old men in a New England suburb trying to keep their publishing business going for their own fat paychecks. I carried my "can do" spirit into the rest of my life, a successful life that let me retire to a time when I could enjoy playing with electronics with what I've learned for nearly six decades before...and keep on learning because there is NO PAUSE in its technical advancement. Technology never stops growing. Its too bad that amateur radio hasn't caught up in technology since before WWII.

I'm not only aggravated but downright pissed-off that there exist some proselyte-electrolyte evangelicals who insist and insist that on-off-keying radiotelegraphy "must be used" in a hobby activity just because they've personally gotten so "good" with it and are "naturally superior."
Then their arrogance insists that those who don't embrace their One True Radio God are somehow "morally deficient" becaise we don't care to use it. WTF do they think THEY are?

Well, I know who a lot of them "think" they are but Geo. Fremin III won't let me say it.  :D

36.5, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 31, 2010, 05:20:20 PM
You bet I'm no good at radio!  I know nothing about radio, really.  I'm quite out of tune as I haven't had my own station for two years!  My ears are shot.  I'll need a lot of practice before I get back on the air.  I'm sure my favorite phrase will be "e e e e e e e" for many years to come.  

Maybe. Or maybe you know more than you realize. Who was it that said the beginning of wisdom was knowing how much you don't know?

In any event nobody can say you know less than you claim to know.


This "old elitist" Extra will be out there with his lid fist soon.

GREAT! I hope to work you!

Even if every CW op should consider me a lid, I will have succeeded because I had the confidence to forge ahead despite poor performances.  I can't be a lid if I never take up a key.  I'd rather be a lid than placate the fear of failure.

Exactly. But there's more to it.

Your "lid fist" may not be as bad as you think - the only real judge would be an experienced CW op who encounters you on the air. 

There's also the fact that what makes an op a lid isn't just a lack of skills. It's the attitude towards that lack of skills. The true lid not only lacks skills but doesn't try or care to improve. Or the ham who intentionally causes QRM and other problems.

There's also the ham who doesn't bother to develop skills, learn proper *amateur* procedures, etc., because "it's just a hobby", or "not required by FCC", etc. That's a true lid attitude.

What I see most of all in your attitude is a willingness to try and to improve. Which is the exact opposite of lid behavior.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on October 31, 2010, 08:51:09 PM
We will all be damned to some strange hell if we do not follow their dictates of what is right and proper according to their religion of radio. If WE do not follow their scripture then "WE" have some moral flaw, thus are to be freely damned by them in impunity while they are cloaked in righteousness.

Indeed, as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping the common people quiet."

Quote
More important, though, is to check the output of the FCC's documents, looking for the long-awaited Petition for Reconsideration of R&O 06-178 and the proselytes trying to fight for their one true religion of Morse mandated for ALL amateurs by LAW. So far there hasn't been much. Apparently the Believers in the One True Morse Religion are fighting a gorilla war...while dressed as chimps.

Actually, Len, I think the fact that these fundamentalist fanatics are are now DYING in ever-increasing numbers has far more to do with that lack of action on these fronts than any "guerrilla war" they may be mounting.  

As I've said, this crowd already KNOWS their cause is lost and that the FCC is NO LONGER listening to any of their fundamentalist rants.  So, online forums like these remain their only outlet to express their extreme displeasure over these developments as well as to vent their anger that the last remaining regulatory underpinnings for their decades of "I'm better than you" snobbery are now being unceremoniously yanked out from underneath their collectively upturned noses.

Indeed, their once wonderfully satisfying game of ramming their fundamentalist views down the throats of others in our Service is now coming to a screeching, grinding halt as their revisionist dogma falls on more and more deaf ears.  By any measure, it has now become painfully apparent that this crowd is no longer capable of generating a major following among mainstream hams with such rigid, 1950s-era revisionist thinking.  That fact, too, has them royally peeved.

Clearly, for people who continually need to bask in the light of their own self-importance, such developments have GOT to be a tough pill to swallow.  In many ways, our resident authoritarian fundamentalists have now been "left behind" in a "ham radio purgatory" that, over the years has been very gradually doing away with a decades old, systemically discriminatory, Part 97 "caste system" wherein they saw themselves firmly ensconced at the top of that "pecking order".

Indeed, in many ways, those who were once "first" under the old regulatory and licensing system for our Service are now finding themselves "last" under the new one.  

And, based on the ever-more shrill rants emanating from these self-appointed keepers of the "One True Gospel of Amateur Radio", the increasingly widespread, official repudiation of that "Gospel" as little more than systemically discriminatory, bigoted bunkum is turning out to be nothing short of pure, unadulterated, emotional agony for our ever-shrinking cadre of amateur radio fundamentalists.

Indeed, as Dr. Robert Goddard, the "father of modern rocketry" once wrote:  "God pity a one-dream man."

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 01, 2010, 02:59:47 AM
It's not all that wise to be be a craftsman of an arcane art.  Leave it to me to absolutely disobey the Myers-Briggs and choose to be a rather mediocre pointyhead.

It all depends on why someone learns something.

Well this mention of my so-called occupation was supposed to be self deprecating.  I see your point, however.

I see yours too.
 
Some things a person learns are "life skills" which are practical necessities for most people. For example, knowing how to cook, how to do laundry, how to drive a car, how to balance a checkbook, how to care for a baby.

Albert Einstein, the man who shattered the hold of Newtonian physics, couldn't balance his checkbook. [/QUOTE]

I tend to question such stories. Was it that ol' Al couldn't do it, or that he didn't bother to do it? I suspect the latter.

I mean, why *do* people "balance" a checking account? All they're doing is verifying the bank's records and processes, and making sure you know how much money is in your account.

Maybe A.E. wasn't too worried about those things.

I fail on all the above life skills. 

Not sure what you mean.

I still managed to get an "old" Extra though.  I bet that most "no-code" Extras are 10^100 more life functional than I am.  My diet consists of peanut butter, apples (cheap in Quebec), and endless cups of coffee.  I'm surprised that my teeth haven't fallen out by now because of the scurvy.  Then again, I'm a starving student, so I have some excuse. 

I think apples have considerable vitamin C.

I did the starving student thing for 4 years. It *does* end.

IOW, the value of a skill should not be judged solely on how much money you can make with it.

Quite true.  This is the downfall of the American higher educational system.  So many students are grade-driven to the point of almost complete disinterest in content and intellectual development.  Business, nursing, and education schools should be divorced from universities (as in Europe). The academic study of humanities, theoretical mathematics and sciences, and engineering belong in institutions separate from professional schools.  This is another argument for another thread. 

The reason students are grade-driven is simple: Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc. And since students are not paid, grades are the visible evidence of accomplishment.

In "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert Pirsig discusses a theoretical University without grades. It is even more revolutionary now than it was then.

Where all this ties into Amateur Radio is simple: Amateur Radio is a University of Radio, but without grades. The license tests are *entry* tests, not exit exams, and the education can be life-long. Each of us can be student and teacher, researcher and administrator, as we decide. And it's all interest-driven.

And as in any true University, there's a wide range of activities, but you do need to meet some basic requirements to get in.

I see a problem with splitting off certain fields of study from others, however: the cross-education will go away. I think those in the "pure" academics need exposure to the professions and "practical" stuff, and the reverse.
 

Also, many (well-paying) jobs do not require a BA or BS. 

Maybe in Quebec. Not in the USA. It used to be like that, but not any more.

Maybe you mean that the job duties don't require a college-degree - and you're probably right. But most employers prefer hiring degreed employees over those without a degree - for the good jobs, anyway.

Name some well-paying jobs that someone can get without a BA or BS - today. How many of them are really out there?

For most people, college is an expensive credential that contributes little to practical vocational aptitude.  Nevertheless, many jobs require a bachelor's just to get in the door.  Often these jobs require no more than a high school education.  This needs to be reformed as well.

You mean the degree functions as a door-opener, and I agree. The degree is seen as proof that the person can stick with something and be responsible in certain ways. A rite of passage, as it were.

The big question is: does a person get a degree as training for a specific job, or do they get one because they are interested in a particular field?

For years, the idea of "do what you love" has been sold to Americans, with the promise that a job will come from somewhere. And in many cases that worked.

But now the harsh reality is that getting that degree has become enormously expensive, and has to be justified on economic grounds. IOW, "what job will that sheepskin lead to?"

False logic often hides the pathetic emotion that shelters the possibility of failure.  Many of us have, and continue to learn and grow from this ancient mode we love.

Well said - except for one little piece.

Morse Code is hardly "ancient" - it's not even 200 years old yet. Compared to a lot of things, it's very new.

For example:

- Shakespeare's works are more than twice as old
- The Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Federalist papers and other documents of great importance are older
- Technology such as fireplaces and sailboats have been around for thousands of years.


Perhaps a better term would be "seminal".

That is a better term. Much clearer.


CW is a binary mode of communication that does not require a GUI, BFO, TNC, or envelope detector to operate.  Long. Short.  On.  Off.  Almost any visual stimulus that can be switched on and off can be used to send code.  Morse code contains the potential to transcend radio itself, unlike phone which begins and ends within the radio art.
 
Code doesn't have to be visual. And 'phone was on wire before it was on radio.

But your main point remains valid. Morse was the first widely-used method of electronic communications, and it revolutionized the world.

Consider that when Andrew Jackson was president, his communications options weren't much different from those of Julius Caesar. Once two parties got out of visual or shouting range, communications were only as fast as a man on a horse or a sailing ship. And to get news to a variety of places required sending a message to each.

But the single-wire Morse telegraph made communications almost instantaneous, and widespread, because one sender could be heard by many along the wire.

Consider that the Battle of New Orleans was fought after the War of 1812 was over, because word hadn't gotten there yet. But when Lincoln was killed in 1865, the whole country knew in a matter of hours.

btw, folks who think the Morse telegraph was "simple" or "primitive" don't really know how it works.

The most modern communications medium we have today isn't radio; it's fiber-optics. And it uses a variation on Morse Code: on-off keying, with headers and footers on packets - just like preambles and signatures on messages. 


Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."  That's what CW is all about.  I suspect this is why many hams pick up their keys day after day.

I think ol' Sam B. is a bit too negative there. It's not about failure, it's about success. Glass half full vs. half empty. The journey, not the destination.

For example, if I can do 30 wpm, am I a failure because I can't do 50 wpm? Or am I success because I started out at 0 wpm?

I don't interpret Beckett this way.  Rather, Beckett speaks of the brilliance of inadequacy.  Inadequacy and struggle perpetuates creativity and success, while the refusal to fail breeds stagnation, frustration, and anger.  Failure is the ironic triumph.  If a person can only send and receive at 3 wpm, he/she has triumphed through a continual desire for greater skill.
[/quote]

I see where you're going, now. But I would make some change to that third sentence.

I'd write it this way, as two sentences:

'Inadequacy and struggle coupled with the refusal to accept failure as a final verdict perpetuates creativity and success. But the refusal to try for fear of failure breeds stagnation, frustration, and anger.'

Your point is well taken.

73 de Jim, N2EY 



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 01, 2010, 04:07:44 AM
IOW, the value of a skill should not be judged solely on how much money you can make with it.

Quite true.  This is the downfall of the American higher educational system.  So many students are grade-driven to the point of almost complete disinterest in content and intellectual development.  Business, nursing, and education schools should be divorced from universities (as in Europe). The academic study of humanities, theoretical mathematics and sciences, and engineering belong in institutions separate from professional schools.  This is another argument for another thread.  

The reason students are grade-driven is simple: Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc. And since students are not paid, grades are the visible evidence of accomplishment.

Counterintuitively, the higher a student gets in the educational system the less grades matter.  At the PhD level, the most valuable exams are the comprehensives and orals.  These are the admissions tests for the ABD. Fail, and you're not writing that monograph or executing the great experiment.  The exams are pass/fail almost everywhere.  At my school, the student is merely informed that the requirement is completed.  This is quite the opposite of a 250-student first year class with a grading curve etc.  Postgrad education is about the quality and not quantity.

In "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert Pirsig discusses a theoretical University without grades. It is even more revolutionary now than it was then.

I know from experience that the "gradeless classrooms" often fail.  Students often lose motivation or direction.  Yet the A to F system need not be the only metric for evaluation.  Again, postgraduate education often relies on the verified completion of basic requirements plus demonstrated research ability.  Sure, a doctoral student might write a "sufficient" comp exam.  Yet his or her reputation in the department will rest on the direction of the demonstrated knowledge.  "Pass/Fail" doesn't mean an easy out necessarily.  This grading system merely establishes a baseline for holistic evaluation.  

Where all this ties into Amateur Radio is simple: Amateur Radio is a University of Radio, but without grades. The license tests are *entry* tests, not exit exams, and the education can be life-long. Each of us can be student and teacher, researcher and administrator, as we decide. And it's all interest-driven.

And as in any true University, there's a wide range of activities, but you do need to meet some basic requirements to get in.

Quite true.  This is in keeping with what I have written above.  Ham radio exams establish the evaluation baseline, as you suggest.  The ham who holds an Extra is held to a higher water mark than a Technician, but both have met certain minimum requirements to continue self-directed education.  Very good point.

I see a problem with splitting off certain fields of study from others, however: the cross-education will go away. I think those in the "pure" academics need exposure to the professions and "practical" stuff, and the reverse.

Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc.

The "will this be on the test?" mentality will be with us until the Second Coming or when the big asteroid hits, depending on one's persuasion.  I've found that students in humanities introductory classes that arrive from other departments sometimes view arts survey courses as gumball machines: insert the coin, twist the arm of the professor or TA, and get the desired result.  I find myself very constrained in what I can lecture about simply because the professor (and by consequence the TA's) are always aiming to produce an easy to grade exam.  I wish I could teach two entire courses on Christian church architecture, but I have two 50 minute sessions to cover the nativity scene to Pope Benedict.  Forced credentialization through compulsory post-secondary education has stifled discussion and intellectual development.  
 

Maybe you mean that the job duties don't require a college-degree - and you're probably right. But most employers prefer hiring degreed employees over those without a degree - for the good jobs, anyway.

Name some well-paying jobs that someone can get without a BA or BS - today. How many of them are really out there?

<snip>

You mean the degree functions as a door-opener, and I agree. The degree is seen as proof that the person can stick with something and be responsible in certain ways. A rite of passage, as it were.

<snip>

But now the harsh reality is that getting that degree has become enormously expensive, and has to be justified on economic grounds. IOW, "what job will that sheepskin lead to?"

A very good friend of mine taught community college math and tutored the SAT for many years.  He found an interesting dichotomy among community college students.  Some of the students in his classes chose to attend CC because of the low tuition and the automatic transfer to the state university for a BA or BS degree.  My friend enjoyed working with these high achieving students and helped them get ahead.  However, some students marked time in the CC system.  Some had no interest in advancing towards the two-year degree and merely attended to appease a parent.  This is a waste of time, money, and (disinterested) effort.  Unmotivated students would be better off going training for a trade rather than pursuing remedial academic education.  Yet many employers still require that postsecondary meal ticket regardless of whether or not the job requires postsecondary academic abilities.  

My friend also tutored a student that did not want to take the SAT.  He wanted to be a plumber like his father.  I say, great!  Plumbing is a good occupation that pays well and is in demand.  My friend agreed, and encouraged the student to look into an apprenticeship.  A few days later the student's irate mother called my friend and fired him for encouraging the student to seek employment rather than the community college.  She did not want her son to be "disadvantaged" by not having a college education.        

The cultural drift towards compulsory postsecondary education has harmed students.  College should not be viewed as a social marker.  Rather, a person should seek the employment that best suits him or her regardless of pressures to attend a collegiate academic  program.  There are socio-cultural valences here, such as economic position and ethnicity.  Nevertheless, I do think that some of these inequalities are manufactured by the corporate/economic insistence on postsecondary education as credentialization and as a marker of social position.

OT, but I agree that some parallels exist between credentialization and the amateur radio testing program debate.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 01, 2010, 04:13:32 AM
The reason students are grade-driven is simple: Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc. And since students are not paid, grades are the visible evidence of accomplishment.

Counterintuitively, the higher a student gets in the educational system the less grades matter.  At the PhD level, the most valuable exams are the comprehensives and orals.  These are the admissions tests for the ABD. Fail, and you're not writing that monograph or executing the great experiment.  The exams are pass/fail almost everywhere.  At my school, the student is merely informed that the requirement is completed.  This is quite the opposite of a 250-student first year class with a grading curve etc.  Postgrad education is about the quality and not quantity.

In "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert Pirsig discusses a theoretical University without grades. It is even more revolutionary now than it was then.

I know from experience that the "gradeless classrooms" often fail.  Students often lose motivation or direction.  Yet the A to F system need not be the only metric for evaluation.  Again, postgraduate education often relies on the verified completion of basic requirements plus demonstrated research ability.  Sure, a doctoral student might write a "sufficient" comp exam.  Yet his or her reputation in the department will rest on the direction of the demonstrated knowledge.  "Pass/Fail" doesn't mean an easy out necessarily.  This grading system merely establishes a baseline for holistic evaluation. 

Where all this ties into Amateur Radio is simple: Amateur Radio is a University of Radio, but without grades. The license tests are *entry* tests, not exit exams, and the education can be life-long. Each of us can be student and teacher, researcher and administrator, as we decide. And it's all interest-driven.

And as in any true University, there's a wide range of activities, but you do need to meet some basic requirements to get in.

Quite true.  This is in keeping with what I have written above.  Ham radio exams establish the evaluation baseline, as you suggest.  The ham who holds an Extra is held to a higher water mark than a Technician, but both have met certain minimum requirements to continue self-directed education.  Very good point.

Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc.

The "will this be on the test?" mentality will be with us until the Second Coming or when the big asteroid hits, depending on one's persuasion.  I've found that students in humanities introductory classes that arrive from other departments sometimes view arts survey courses as gumball machines: insert the coin, twist the arm of the professor or TA, and get the desired result.  I find myself very constrained in what I can lecture about simply because the professor (and by consequence the TA's) are always aiming to produce an easy to grade exam.  I wish I could teach two entire courses on Christian church architecture, but I have two 50 minute sessions to cover the nativity scene to Pope Benedict.  Forced credentialization through compulsory post-secondary education has stifled discussion and intellectual development. 
 

Maybe you mean that the job duties don't require a college-degree - and you're probably right. But most employers prefer hiring degreed employees over those without a degree - for the good jobs, anyway.

Name some well-paying jobs that someone can get without a BA or BS - today. How many of them are really out there?

<snip>

You mean the degree functions as a door-opener, and I agree. The degree is seen as proof that the person can stick with something and be responsible in certain ways. A rite of passage, as it were.

<snip>

But now the harsh reality is that getting that degree has become enormously expensive, and has to be justified on economic grounds. IOW, "what job will that sheepskin lead to?"

A very good friend of mine taught community college math and tutored the SAT for many years.  He found an interesting dichotomy among community college students.  Some of the students in his classes chose to attend CC because of the low tuition and the automatic transfer to the state university for a BA or BS degree.  My friend enjoyed working with these high achieving students and helped them get ahead.  However, some students marked time in the CC system.  Some had no interest in advancing towards the two-year degree and merely attended to appease a parent.  The latter mentality is a waste of time, money, and (disinterested) effort.  Unmotivated students would be better off going training for a trade rather than pursuing remedial academic education.  Yet many employers still require that postsecondary meal ticket regardless of whether or not the job requires postsecondary academic abilities. 

My friend also tutored a student that did not want to take the SAT.  He wanted to be a plumber like his father.  I say, great!  Plumbing is a good occupation that pays well and is in demand.  My friend agreed, and encouraged the student to look into an apprenticeship.  A few days later the student's irate mother called my friend and fired him for encouraging the student to seek employment rather than the community college.  She did not want her son to be "disadvantaged" by not having a college education.       

The cultural drift towards compulsory postsecondary education has harmed students.  College should not be viewed as a social marker.  Rather, a person should seek the employment that best suits him or her regardless of pressures to attend a collegiate academic  program.  There are socio-cultural valences here, such as economic position and ethnicity.  Nevertheless, I do think that some of these inequalities are manufactured by the corporate/economic insistence on postsecondary education as credentialization and as a marker of social position.

This was all OT, but I agree that some parallels exist between credentialization and the amateur radio testing program debate.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 01, 2010, 04:43:34 AM
Counterintuitively, the higher a student gets in the educational system the less grades matter.  At the PhD level, the most valuable exams are the comprehensives and orals.  These are the admissions tests for the ABD. Fail, and you're not writing that monograph or executing the great experiment.  The exams are pass/fail almost everywhere.  At my school, the student is merely informed that the requirement is completed.  This is quite the opposite of a 250-student first year class with a grading curve etc.  Postgrad education is about the quality and not quantity. .

Sort of. Ultimately there is still a grade; you either make it or you don't.

And how much of the requirements for a master's or doctorate is stuff that isn't really relevant but is thrown in to keep the supply limited?

In "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert Pirsig discusses a theoretical University without grades. It is even more revolutionary now than it was then.


I know from experience that the "gradeless classrooms" often fail.  Students often lose motivation or direction.  Yet the A to F system need not be the only metric for evaluation.  Again, postgraduate education often relies on the verified completion of basic requirements plus demonstrated research ability.  Sure, a doctoral student might write a "sufficient" comp exam.  Yet his or her reputation in the department will rest on the direction of the demonstrated knowledge.  "Pass/Fail" doesn't mean an easy out necessarily.  This grading system merely establishes a baseline for holistic evaluation.

If you haven't read "Zen And The Art...", you should. I cannot do justice to the treatment Pirsig gives the subject of the true University. It is exactly in line with this discussion.

I think the book is online.


Where all this ties into Amateur Radio is simple: Amateur Radio is a University of Radio, but without grades. The license tests are *entry* tests, not exit exams, and the education can be life-long. Each of us can be student and teacher, researcher and administrator, as we decide. And it's all interest-driven.

And as in any true University, there's a wide range of activities, but you do need to meet some basic requirements to get in.


Quite true.  This is in keeping with what I have written above.  Ham radio exams establish the evaluation baseline, as you suggest.  The ham who holds an Extra is held to a higher water mark than a Technician, but both have met certain minimum requirements to continue self-directed education.  Very good point.

Thanks, but what's most important is what the ham does after the license is earned. IOW, when s/he is actually in the University of Radio.

I see a problem with splitting off certain fields of study from others, however: the cross-education will go away. I think those in the "pure" academics need exposure to the professions and "practical" stuff, and the reverse.

Grades can be the difference. Between continuing and not continuing. Between a job and no job. Etc.

The "will this be on the test?" mentality will be with us until the Second Coming or when the big asteroid hits, depending on one's persuasion.  I've found that students in humanities introductory classes that arrive from other departments sometimes view arts survey courses as gumball machines: insert the coin, twist the arm of the professor or TA, and get the desired result.  I find myself very constrained in what I can lecture about simply because the professor (and by consequence the TA's) are always aiming to produce an easy to grade exam.  I wish I could teach two entire courses on Christian church architecture, but I have two 50 minute sessions to cover the nativity scene to Pope Benedict.  Forced credentialization through compulsory post-secondary education has stifled discussion and intellectual development.

I think it's more a question of limited resources. How much time and effort do most students have to study Christian church architecture unless it is a particular interest of theirs?
What about Islamic mosque architecture? Buddhist temple architecture, etc.?
 

Maybe you mean that the job duties don't require a college-degree - and you're probably right. But most employers prefer hiring degreed employees over those without a degree - for the good jobs, anyway.

Name some well-paying jobs that someone can get without a BA or BS - today. How many of them are really out there?

<snip>

You mean the degree functions as a door-opener, and I agree. The degree is seen as proof that the person can stick with something and be responsible in certain ways. A rite of passage, as it were.

<snip>

But now the harsh reality is that getting that degree has become enormously expensive, and has to be justified on economic grounds. IOW, "what job will that sheepskin lead to?"


A very good friend of mine taught community college math and tutored the SAT for many years.  He found an interesting dichotomy among community college students.  Some of the students in his classes chose to attend CC because of the low tuition and the automatic transfer to the state university for a BA or BS degree.  My friend enjoyed working with these high achieving students and helped them get ahead.  However, some students marked time in the CC system.  Some had no interest in advancing towards the two-year degree and merely attended to appease a parent.  This is a waste of time, money, and (disinterested) effort.  Unmotivated students would be better off going training for a trade rather than pursuing remedial academic education.  Yet many employers still require that postsecondary meal ticket regardless of whether or not the job requires postsecondary academic abilities.  

My friend also tutored a student that did not want to take the SAT.  He wanted to be a plumber like his father.  I say, great!  Plumbing is a good occupation that pays well and is in demand.  My friend agreed, and encouraged the student to look into an apprenticeship.  A few days later the student's irate mother called my friend and fired him for encouraging the student to seek employment rather than the community college.  She did not want her son to be "disadvantaged" by not having a college education.  

Yes, the CC students who are there marking time are wasting resources - particularly those of the school, because someone who is truly motivated could be in that CC seat.

But the plumber story, while related, is different. The building trades may seem like good jobs to an outsider, but they have their own challenges, which the "irate mother" has seen first hand.

First, there's the education. Plumbing may appear to be fundamentally simple, and in theory it is. But to be a Master Plumber requires considerable education and experience, and knowledge of a wide range of disciplines and technologies.

Second, there's the constantly changing technologies. New stuff appears all the time, some of it good, some of it junk. A plumber who installs junk will soon have his/her reputation destroyed. Finding parts for old installations can be a time-eating and expensive headache.

Tied in with the technologies are the building codes, licenses, permits, inspections, etc. Which are a big deal.

Third is the whole business aspect. Advertising, revenue, tools, vehicle, supplies, bookkeeping, taxes and much more. Many of those things do not generate revenue directly but are essential to the business. 

The construction trades go through enormous ups and downs, calls in the middle of the night, weekends, holidays, etc. Many people do not understand that the reason a plumber has to charge so much is to cover all the costs and the slow times.

There's also competition from cut-rate folks who bend the rules and get away with it.

Finally there's dealing with people, often in their homes or business places. A good plumber could write books about Plumbing Psychology.
    

The cultural drift towards compulsory postsecondary education has harmed students.  College should not be viewed as a social marker.  Rather, a person should seek the employment that best suits him or her regardless of pressures to attend a collegiate academic  program.  

In a better world, yes. But in reality, that degree is often a door-opener, which earlier generations didn't need.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Agreed!

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 01, 2010, 11:47:45 AM
Frankly, I'm rather aggravated that some code elitists calls me a so-called moral failure just because I don't love, honor, cherish, and obey morsemanship according to the Church of St. Hiram.

I'm not a priest, minister, or rabbi.  I'm not trained to counsel on moral matters.  However, I suspect that a clergyperson wouldn't categorize the like or dislike of morse code as a moral failing.  The hatred of others for any reason, and especially for a matter as petty as the CW avocation, could be perceived as irrational and perhaps even immoral.  "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" is often interpreted as an injunction against envy.

I have my prejudices as well.  I dislike phone quite a bit.  I find the jamming, language, and often idiotic and childish behavior offputting.  I haven't a clue why some hams like to operate phone.  Why would an operator wish to contend with this behavior when CW operators are much more civil?  I haven't been on phone in fourteen years, and I have no desire to pick up a microphone ever again.  Pity is a failing of mine.  Yet, I am willing to place aside my prejudices even though that is difficult sometimes.

When I get my rig running again I'll get on phone occasionally, just to keep the prejudices at bay.  I might enjoy an occasional phone contact or find that I'd rather be on CW again.  In any event I am determined to pick up that microphone.  The path to reconciliation and the healing of prejudice indeed involves not only walking in another's shoes but also appreciating the shoes he wears.  I am quite far from admiring those shoes and taking my first paces in them. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on November 01, 2010, 12:14:13 PM
Actually, Len, I think the fact that these fundamentalist fanatics are are now DYING in ever-increasing numbers has far more to do with that lack of action than any "guerrilla war" they may be mounting. 
That's "gorilla war" and they ain't no bigger than chimps...OOK OOK OOK   :D

(try Isla Flacka and actor-comedian Reni Santoni's routine on talk shows of long ago)

Quote
As I've said, this crowd already KNOWS their cause is lost and that the FCC is NO LONGER listening to any of their fundamentalist rants.  So, online forums like these remain their only outlet to express their extreme displeasure over the fact that the last remaining regulatory underpinnings for decades of "I'm better than you" snobbery are now being yanked out from underneath their collectively upturned noses.
Keith, realistically speaking, I really don't think that thought has hit home yet with the electrolyte-proselytes.  Really.  They so much want to live in the PAST that they appear almost deranged when they try to boost-boast about code. Or, when they turn off their computers, have a nice cry by themselves...

Quote
Indeed, their once wonderfully satisfying game of ramming their fundamentalist views down the throats of others in our Service is now coming to a screeching, grinding halt as their revisionist dogma falls on more and more deaf ears.  By any measure, it has now become painfully apparent that this crowd is no longer capable of generating a major following among mainstream hams with their rigid, 1950s-era revisionist thinking.
Not to worry, Keith, the good old ARRL will look over them and boost the old ways like they've always done.  Big Brother will come to their aid.

Quote
And for people who continually need to bask in the light of their own self-importance, such developments have GOT to be a tough pill to swallow.
Keith, I live only a half hour's drive from Hollywood and all those actors. :D Ain't no actors who don't "bask in their own self-importance." :D

I haven't been to a Hollywood Hills party in six years and it won't hurt me a bit to never go to one again.  Think some hams are bad?  Ham actors are worse.  :D

Quote
Indeed, in many ways, those who were once "first" under the old regulatory and licensing systems for our Service are now finding themselves "last" under the new one.  And, based on the ever-more shrill rants emanating from our Service's self-appointed keepers of the "One True Gospel of Amateur Radio", the increasingly widespread repudiation of that "Gospel" as little more than bigoted bunkum is turning out to be nothing short of pure, unadulterated, emotional agony for many of these people.
Couldn't happen to nicer folks... :D

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K6LHA on November 01, 2010, 02:00:59 PM
Quote from: K6LHA on Yesterday at 04:33:45 PM:  Frankly, I'm rather aggravated that some code elitists calls me a so-called moral failure just because I don't love, honor, cherish, and obey morsemanship according to the Church of St. Hiram.

I'm not a priest, minister, or rabbi.  I'm not trained to counsel on moral matters.
Tsk, tsk, Morality Accusations are NOT certified by CREDENTIALISM.

That includes the pseudo-credentialism of the ARRL as "our" "national representative" (very false) in USA amateur radio.

If you have lived any sort of life OUTSIDE of academic isolation or the isolation of one-person/one-station/one-band amateur radio activity, then you would have been exposed to a massive and mixed variety of MORALITY.

For decades the FCC had kept the SINGULAR pass-fail code test for an amateur radio license in every class but the "no-code-test" Technician class (created legally in 1991). Yet, through all that time enforced by ITU-R Special Radio Regulation S25 up to July 2003, the FCC gave the OPTION of using any allocated mode/modulation.  OPTION.

Yet, under the prompting of certain minority groups the elitist code punders KEPT their exclusive sub-sub-band allocations just for themselves. They still have those, yet they bitch and holler fire-and-brimstone rantings upon those who will not do as THEY say. It is as close to demagogury as one can get.

Finally, in December of 2006 the FCC released Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 which established the elimination of all USA amateur radio code TESTING beginning 23 February 2007. The OPTION of using any allocated mode/modulation was left up to the individual licensee. Nothing really changed in USA amateur radio operation. WE still had plenty of OPTIONS to use.  The LEGAL technicality of having ONE pass-fail test on a mode that was OPTIONAL to use was resolved...3 1/2 or so years after S25 was rewritten at WRC-03.

It has been 7 years since WRC-03 and S25 revision and yet the self-righteous code bigots keep on emphasizing and proselyting and preaching about "we MUST be proficient in radiotelegraphy (or we are not 'real hams')" AS IF they were the sole judge and jury over who should do what in amateur radio. To depart from the pseudo-intellectual obfuscatory blabber that has infected this topic, I just say BS to them. I would say more but there are injunctions of "use nice languge" or be deleted if some pansies in here are "offended."

Quote
I have my prejudices as well.  I dislike phone quite a bit.
That is your personal OPTION. Just because code TESTING was dropped does NOT mean you just use radiotelephone voice mode.  No one is FORCING you by "moral-ethical badness charges" to use anything but what you personally want to use in the FCC's options.

However, try to FORCE a change in the USA amateur radio regulations to REINTRODUCE code testing and you've got a fight going that won't stop.  R&O 06-178 was a LEGAL issue on USA amateur radio regulations, not some pompous self-righteous demands by some mentally old men who couldn't divorce themselves from the past and re-enter the reality of today.

Quote
The path to reconciliation and the healing of prejudice indeed involves not only walking in another's shoes but also appreciating the shoes he wears.  I am quite far from admiring those shoes and taking my first paces in them.
Oh, my, aren't YOU the self-righteous martyr as well as superior educated being!

You just go ahead and obfuscate the topic and make all the pseudo-intellectual jabber about things which are NOT ABOUT the topic.  That way you can both get a "rep" as (supposed) superior moral beings who are way above the mundane issues of things like amateur radio. Keep up this pseudo-intellectual chit-chat and e-ham will simply delete the whole topic due to space wasting.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 01, 2010, 06:08:36 PM
I'm not a priest, minister, or rabbi.  I'm not trained to counsel on moral matters. 

Maybe not.

But all of us make moral judgements every day.

For example, tomorrow is election day in the USA. Who a citizen votes for is partly a moral judgement. If a citizen decides not to vote, that's a moral judgement too.

There's no escaping it. Even saying "I choose not to judge" is a form of judgement.

However, I suspect that a clergyperson wouldn't categorize the like or dislike of morse code as a moral failing.  The hatred of others for any reason, and especially for a matter as petty as the CW avocation, could be perceived as irrational and perhaps even immoral.  "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" is often interpreted as an injunction against envy.

I agree!

But it must be remembered that some folks can take any disagreement, no matter how slight, as an insult, criticism, and/or moral judgement against them - personally.

There's also the case of the person who freely makes moral judgements of others but doesn't want to be judged in turn.



I have my prejudices as well.  I dislike phone quite a bit.  I find the jamming, language, and often idiotic and childish behavior offputting.  I haven't a clue why some hams like to operate phone.  Why would an operator wish to contend with this behavior when CW operators are much more civil?  I haven't been on phone in fourteen years, and I have no desire to pick up a microphone ever again.  Pity is a failing of mine.  Yet, I am willing to place aside my prejudices even though that is difficult sometimes.

Couple of things there:

1) What you have isn't a prejudice as much as a preference.
2) While the bad behavior you describe is most prevalent on 'phone, it is really the work of a relatively small minority of hams. The vast majority of hams that I have worked on voice modes have been courteous, considerate ops. (The same is true of hams online, too). The exceptions are notorious, but few.
3) A considerable number of hams don't have options other than 'phone, because they lack the equipment, skill and/or knowledge to use other modes.
4) A few actually like the bad behavior. Remember that, before he moved to satellite radio, Howard Stern was the #1 personality in broadcast radio in terms of listeners.

When I get my rig running again I'll get on phone occasionally, just to keep the prejudices at bay.  I might enjoy an occasional phone contact or find that I'd rather be on CW again.  In any event I am determined to pick up that microphone.

I picked one up just last night. Didn't have an element in it, though. So I put it back down.

  The path to reconciliation and the healing of prejudice indeed involves not only walking in another's shoes but also appreciating the shoes he wears.  I am quite far from admiring those shoes and taking my first paces in them.

Actually the first step is wanting to reconcile. If a person doesn't want that, the walking won't help.

73 de Jim, N2EY

...trying to remember the old joke about how, if you walk a mile in someone else's shoes, you'll wind up a mile away and have a new pair of shoes....


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 01, 2010, 07:34:14 PM
Couple of things there:

1) What you have isn't a prejudice as much as a preference.

No, it's a prejudice.  I am being honest about my prejudices because I am quite flawed and hypocritical on this issue.  Tolerance and regard are not the same. 

I'm convinced that CW operators are generally more skilled than phone operators.  I consider CW an art and phone mundane communication little different than picking up a telephone.  Yes, there's skill in phone operation protocol and contesting, for example.  A key (and in particular a straight key or a bug) in the hands of a skilled CW operator is music comparable to any instrument.  CW operation contributes the added art of shaping the very elements of communication as well as content.   

Also, as I have mentioned, the abuse of jargon on phone irks me.  That's irrational and my own neurosis.  Still, I am loathe to get on phone simply because I'd rather have a jargon-free conversation.  I have stopped using 2m/70cm FM for the same reason.  I find that jargon use projects an uneducated or unintelligent demeanor.  It doesn't take much to speak clearly as one would speak in a public situation (work, commerce, etc.) 

Similarly, I am afraid to go on phone for a ragchew because I do not use jargon.  I find that the "CW language" frees me from having to conform to uncomfortable behaviors.  Judging from some of the nets I have listened to, I would not be welcome on a HF phone net.  I speak and sound like a pointyhead inside and outside of the tower.  Better, then, to not bother unless there's a "Pointyhead Net". :-)

I once thought it would be great to have a HF phone net (roundtable) on novels, nonfiction, humanities and scientific articles, advances in computer programming and operating systems, linguistics, physics, engineering, -- any intellectual endeavor.  That net would be jammed to smithereens. :-(  Both you and I know that there would be envious hams that would destroy intelligent conversation.  This is why I do not go on phone anymore.  I'd rather join an interesting email list or converse with friends than attempt to have a serious conversation on ham radio phone both above and below 50 MHz. 
   
2) While the bad behavior you describe is most prevalent on 'phone, it is really the work of a relatively small minority of hams. The vast majority of hams that I have worked on voice modes have been courteous, considerate ops. (The same is true of hams online, too). The exceptions are notorious, but few.

I agree.  Most phone ops are courteous.  I'm not saying this in a patronizing manner.  Indeed, most phone ops are just as considerate as their CW brethren.  This is fact.  There are certainly code lids that jam DX by leaning on the key.  CW operators aren't saints.  Nevertheless, I don't have to put up with fart noises or racist diatribes on the code bands. 

3) A considerable number of hams don't have options other than 'phone, because they lack the equipment, skill and/or knowledge to use other modes.

A HF phone transmitter is much more complex (and expensive) than any CW transmitter.  One would be hard pressed to get on SSB for under $200.  It's possible on CW.

As for skill and knowledge, many hams licensed after 2000 are giving CW a try.  I admire anyone who gives it a good try.  It's not for everyone, and many go back to another mode.  Still, some that entered after the code was lifted precisely because of that liberalization are discovering that they actually enjoy code. 

4) A few actually like the bad behavior. Remember that, before he moved to satellite radio, Howard Stern was the #1 personality in broadcast radio in terms of listeners.

Quite true.  Some regions have set up repeaters for the specific purpose of attracting and trapping lids.  W6NUT in LA is the poster child for this type of repeater.

I'm convinced that the FCC has given up on the top part of 75m, 3950, 14300, 14313, K1MAN, and the rest simply because it's better to let the lids congregate somewhere than let them loose on courteous hams.

Pathetic, but perhaps necessary. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KC8WUC on November 02, 2010, 05:50:50 AM
I would have to, unfortunately, agree with AB2T, as well as others who opt to use CW exclusively (unfortunate due to fact, not due to taking a contrarian view of any poster to this discussion).  I have on several occasions attempted phone conversations via repeaters, SSB, and satellite only to be forced off the air or cut out of conversations.  Civility or the lack thereof is not exclusive to any one mode or service nor is it unique to any color, creed, gender, or nationality; I have found a lack of courtesy, rudeness, and lewd or offensive behavior on the maritime frequencies (VHF, HF, and MF alike), as well as free banders.  At present, I operate exclusively with CW/Morse code on the maritime bands on my vessel and while I am being forced (by circumstances, not choice) to install phone capable equipment as part of a complement of GMDSS installation for Sea Area A3, I'm not looking forward to this.

I have attempted to join a number of nets on 2m/70cm repeaters (when I'm at home and on land) and many discussions below 50MHz only to find that either I'm not welcome (I can't get a word in edgewise during a moment of discussion that has a thread that interests me), that I don't want to join due to boorishness (e.g., ham club nets attempting to proselytize, preach, or condemn non-believers), elistism ("you aren't a real ham because you didn't have to pass an exam that required drawing a circuit diagram, pass a code exam, or take it before 19XX"), banality, or just down ride rude behavior.  I know that this represents a very small fraction of the behaviors exhibited by amateur operators, but this has been my experience. 

Any more, my operating mode of choice has been CW, both on the amateur bands and maritime frequencies. For those who choose phone or any of the digital modes, good for you.  Different strokes for different folks.


73,
Michael KC8WUC/WDE9344

(in port Toulon France)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N1DVJ on November 02, 2010, 12:12:33 PM
N2EY said "For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that"

For the record I knew of a NUMBER of hams in the 90's that not only said that openly, but were beligerent about it.  In fact, I know of a few that threatened to 'give up' their license if it ever happened.  But then, there were the braggarts and windbags that SAID they tried to 'downgrade' to Advanced when they went to 5WPM Extras so they could 'prove' they were 'real hams'.  All they really proved was that they were real LIDS.



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 02, 2010, 02:07:33 PM
Not to worry, Keith, the good old ARRL will look over them and boost the old ways like they've always done.  Big Brother will come to their aid.

If that's what these people truly believe, Len, then they are sadly mistaken.  

I know for a FACT that the "movers and shakers" at today's ARRL Headquarters are FAR more concerned about their own organizational survival going forward than catering to an ever-shrinking minority of hams who remain (by choice) permanently stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages".

Looking strictly by the numbers of licensees in each of our license classes (particularly the overwhelming majority of Technician licensees), it is painfully apparent that the vast majority of today's US hams do NOT think as our resident "I'm-Better-Than-You-Because-I-Passed-An-FCC-Administered-20-WPM-Morse-Test" elitists do.  And the League darned well knows that catering exclusively to this ever-shrinking minority of backward-thinking hams is NOT going to garner enough revenue to sustain their organization on into the 21st Century.

The bottom line is that (thankfully!) the "Morse testing forever" crowd no longer has the ear of either the FCC NOR the ARRL!

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 02, 2010, 02:33:30 PM
If that's what these people truly believe, Len, then they are sadly mistaken. 

I know for a FACT that the "movers and shakers" at today's ARRL Headquarters are FAR more concerned about their own organizational survival going forward than catering to an ever-shrinking minority of hams who remain (by choice) permanently stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages".

Keith, please read some of the comments above.

Many of us stay on CW not out of elitism or because of Newington but because of the unsavory, inconsiderate, and boorish behavior on phone.

That's not because of you or anyone else on this thread.  However, phone can be a lot more stressful than CW for some people simply because the level of courtesy can be lower than what is found on the CW subbands.

Perhaps if we all worked together to make the phone bands more accessible and less intimidating, more hams would try phone rather than operate CW only.

EDIT: Keith and Len, have you ever been to Newington?  It's a nice little New England town.  Near Hartford.  My American location is less than an hour's drive from ARRL HQ.  Every ARRL employee I have met has been down-to-earth, helpful, and just darn nice.  The W1AW station manager is very helpful and knowledgeable.  Instead of verbally beating the crap out of the League, take a tour and operate W1AW.  Visit the Connecticut Valley in the fall, when the beautiful beech and oak foliage is in bloom.   You'll have a good time, I'm certain.   

And yes, you can ask questions on the tour.  (I hope the staffers are prepared beforehand, however.) 

73, Jordan



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 03, 2010, 03:05:08 AM
Many of us stay on CW not out of elitism or because of Newington but because of the unsavory, inconsiderate, and boorish behavior on phone.

Very true. And there are other reasons:

1) CW gives better results than 'phone for a given power/antenna/complexity situation.

2) CW takes up much less of the band

3) CW makes less local acoustic noise (a factor if you live in a small home with other people)

All of the above are true of some data modes, too. But:

4) CW doesn't require a computer, TNC, modem, rig capable of SSB, etc. that data modes require.

Also:

5) CW offers a completely different operator-radio interface experience. No talking, yet it's usually implemented as an audio mode. No reading a screen or typing on a keyboard. (Many people today spend a lot of their day either talking with other people or using a computer, so this different interface is often a welcome change).

6) It is a heck of a lot of fun - *once you have the skills*. (Of course some people do not value skills - particularly skills they have never developed).

However, phone can be a lot more stressful than CW for some people simply because the level of courtesy can be lower than what is found on the CW subbands.

Perhaps if we all worked together to make the phone bands more accessible and less intimidating, more hams would try phone rather than operate CW only.

That's very true.

But let us not fall into the false dichotomy of phone-vs.-CW as being the only choices. Data modes like PSK31 are also on the table for most hams.

have you ever been to Newington?  It's a nice little New England town.  Near Hartford.  My American location is less than an hour's drive from ARRL HQ.  Every ARRL employee I have met has been down-to-earth, helpful, and just darn nice.  The W1AW station manager is very helpful and knowledgeable. 

Instead of verbally beating the crap out of the League, take a tour and operate W1AW.  Visit the Connecticut Valley in the fall, when the beautiful beech and oak foliage is in bloom.   You'll have a good time, I'm certain.

I visited in 1993. Got the tour, operated W1AW, and had a good time. I want to go back!

However, I expect that if someone went to Hq. with a lot of negative pre-judgements and a hostile attitude, they'd not have the good time you or I had. Nor would they see the good work done at ARRL Hq. now, today.

Some folks bear decades-long grudges against ARRL because of decisions made many years ago by people who are now long dead. They cannot accept the idea that those decisions may have been the right ones for the times, or that they were supported by a majority of League members when they were made.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 03, 2010, 04:52:23 AM
Many of us stay on CW not out of elitism or because of Newington but because of the unsavory, inconsiderate, and boorish behavior on phone.

I enjoy operating CW as well.  

But I also don't push the mode on others as being "ham radio nirvana" or that learning it is some kind of "right of passage" in order to be considered a "real ham".  As you have also seen, I (as well as some recent posters here) have very much run into that "you-aren't-a-real-ham-unless-you-know-Morse" nonsense from others in our ranks, not so much on the air, but, certainly in forums like these as well as at various ham radio gatherings.

Quote
Keith and Len, have you ever been to Newington?  It's a nice little New England town.  Near Hartford.  My American location is less than an hour's drive from ARRL HQ.  Every ARRL employee I have met has been down-to-earth, helpful, and just darn nice.  The W1AW station manager is very helpful and knowledgeable.

Indeed, I have visited ARRL HQ a number of times.  As a result of my official activities with AMSAT, I've also worked closely with many of their directors, staffers and others over the years on several projects of mutual interest.  Like you (and to the person), I've found them to be "down-to-earth, helpful, and just darn nice."  

My beef in these discussions has always been with those League staffers and directors of yesteryear who arbitrarily foisted their "incentive licensing" nonsense on the rest of amateur radio in the United States via their willing stooges in the FCC at the time.  Indeed, the ARRL staffers and directors of today WELL realize they are now having to live with the HUGE negative impact on our Service of those clearly failed policies of the past, and are now trying their level best to reverse many of them so as to keep our Service in the United States looking (and moving) forward, not backward.  

Needless to say, that's a tall order given their own shifting (dying) member base as well as the HUGE pressures now being brought to bear on our spectrum by well-heeled commercial interests who would just LOVE to get their grubby hands on what many of us routinely take for granted....our precious frequencies.  

But, clearly, those backward-thinking "Radio Amish" who frantically advocate the indefinite perpetuation of Morse testing as well as the rest of our horrifically discriminatory "incentive licensing" nonsense as a kind of sacred "right of passage" in our Service are not doing us (or the League) any favors in our collective quest to hang on to our precious frequency spectrum going forward.  

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 03, 2010, 07:17:40 PM
Many of us stay on CW not out of elitism or because of Newington but because of the unsavory, inconsiderate, and boorish behavior on phone.

I enjoy operating CW as well.  

But I also don't push the mode on others as being "ham radio nirvana" or that learning it is some kind of "right of passage" in order to be considered a "real ham".  As you have also seen, I (as well as some recent posters here) have very much run into that "you-aren't-a-real-ham-unless-you-know-Morse" nonsense from others in our ranks, not so much on the air, but, certainly in forums like these as well as at various ham radio gatherings.

I am guilty of perpetuating the "CW ops are the real hams" stereotype.  I am guilty of patronizing the new hams that demonstrate little interest in CW.  I feel sorry that they're "relegated" to phone.  Maybe they feel sorry that my pride is so fragile that I would not "deign" operate phone. 

Perhaps some phone operators find the CW protocol stilted.  CW contacts are very formulaic.  I can see that position.

Also, courteous hams that stay on phone because they have difficulty with CW aren't responsible for the lids.  No one is responsible for the lids but themselves.  This is a point Jim made earlier.  CW operators must stop conflating lid phone ops with those that behave responsibly.  Still, it is quite difficult to essay the phone bands, especially 75m at night, and not come away discouraged and a bit demoralized.  Phone band lids are damaging the reputation of ham radio.  There is little that courteous ops can do but grit their teeth at the lids' antics.

I have often tried to reframe CW as an artistic endeavor as a way to attract newcomers to CW and remove the "real hams operate CW" stigma.  Yet the League and others (save the CW clubs) aren't interested in presenting CW as an avocation.  This, I think, is the only way to break the elitism. 

Keith and Len, have you ever been to Newington?  It's a nice little New England town.  Near Hartford.  My American location is less than an hour's drive from ARRL HQ.  Every ARRL employee I have met has been down-to-earth, helpful, and just darn nice.  The W1AW station manager is very helpful and knowledgeable.

 Needless to say, that's a tall order given their own shifting (dying) member base as well as the HUGE pressures now being brought to bear on our spectrum by well-heeled commercial interests who would just LOVE to get their grubby hands on what many of us routinely take for granted....our precious frequencies.  

But, clearly, those backward-thinking "Radio Amish" who frantically advocate the indefinite perpetuation of Morse testing as well as the rest of our horrifically discriminatory "incentive licensing" nonsense as a kind of sacred "right of passage" in our Service are not doing us (or the League) any favors in our collective quest to hang on to our precious frequency spectrum going forward.  

As you've noted, today's ARRL knows that certain past moves such as Incentive Licensing failed.  I suspect that the vast majority of hams agree.  I suspect that if the ARRL could wind the clock back it would have tried to block Incentive Licensing with more force.  Remember, though, that the FCC favored Incentive Licensing much more than the ARRL.  The ARRL wanted to cap code testing at 13 wpm (Advanced and Extra by written exam only).  The FCC pushed the notion that ham radio was a proving ground for technological advancement.  The ARRL was not as intent on this project.  The ARRL did not push for the 20 wpm. 

Still, you are completely right that today's ARRL must live with this legacy no matter what.  Restructuring has not fully closed this question. 

Yet the favorite frequencies of the "Radio Amish" aren't high on the list of frequencies commercial interests desire.  I don't see a nascent power grab for 40m or 20m.  It's the UHF+ frequencies that should worry hams.  I don't see a real CW presence on 2m or 70cm outside of contests.  I doubt that CW is prevalent in the GHz ranges.  We Amish aren't the target demographic.

Keith, the older ham prejudice against new hams that have not demonstrated CW proficiency and do not operate CW even on an occasional basis will not die away for many years.  You and I know that here in Canada many older Canadians still describe distances in miles, measure small amounts in inches, and weigh items in pounds.  I respect your desire to free new hams from an artificial and hurtful hierarchy.  Still, patience is necessary.  Trudeau changed the roadways.  Still, 33 years later, many Canadians are still happily thinking Imperial.  Give the old CW prejudice some time.

73, Jordan   


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 03, 2010, 08:46:43 PM
I have often tried to reframe CW as an artistic endeavor as a way to attract newcomers to CW and remove the "real hams operate CW" stigma.  Yet the League and others (save the CW clubs) aren't interested in presenting CW as an avocation.  This, I think, is the only way to break the elitism.

I suggest it is one of MANY ways that the "elitism" can be "broken".  Another way is for people to simply stop pushing their favorite mode on others (whatever that may be) as a "must do" in order for people to be considered "real hams".

One of the beauties of our hobby is that it is really several hobbies rolled into one.  If someone gets tired of one aspect of the hobby, there is always something else to pursue.  But we have to stop this nonsense that unless someone "does Morse"...or Phone, or RTTY, or Packet, or DX, or Satellite, or whatever...then they aren't "real hams". No matter how you cut it, that's sheer, unadulterated bigotry.  And such boorish behavior has absolutely no place in a publicly funded radio service, let alone being enabled by our regulators via an arcane, 1950s-era licensing system.

What's more, this seemingly permanent fixation by some that everyone still needs to successfully pass a Morse test in order to be a "real ham" is killing our hobby. As I've said, it's much like requiring that new applicants for an automobile driver's license must still demonstrate they also know how to shoe a horse.

Quote
Keith, the older ham prejudice against new hams that have not demonstrated CW proficiency and do not operate CW even on an occasional basis will not die away for many years.

Jordan, the operative word in your sentence is "prejudice".  

And the fact that such "prejudice" is still alive and well and being officially perpetuated in our Service in the form of a horrifically systemically discriminatory, US Government administered licensing system in this day and age is nothing short of criminal.

Quote
You and I know that here in Canada many older Canadians still describe distances in miles, measure small amounts in inches, and weigh items in pounds.  I respect your desire to free new hams from an artificial and hurtful hierarchy.  Still, patience is necessary.  Trudeau changed the roadways.  Still, 33 years later, many Canadians are still happily thinking Imperial.  Give the old CW prejudice some time.

Sorry, Jordan, but I cannot agree.  

Passing such prejudicial behavior off as "good old boy" comradeship and/or "just the way it is" only perpetuates the problem. If these people can't figure out a way to accept and adjust to the new social order of the 21st Century in a public radio service that is administered by taxpayer dollars, then they need to find another hobby to pursue.  For example, golf or tennis may be more to their liking as both activities usually take place in private (vice public) "country clubs" where their overbearing snobbery and perpetuation of largely meaningless "hazing rituals" in order for newcomers to become full-fledged members of the "club" does harm to nobody but (perhaps) themselves.

As I've said, I have no difficulty if such people want to pursue their "Radio Amish" ways in their own narrow little fundamentalist worlds.  But when they keep pushing all that fundamentalist nonsense on the rest of us as a hard and fast requirement for entry and advancement...particularly newcomers and potential newcomers to the hobby...then they become not only a nuisance, but a very real threat to the long-term survival of our Service. That's because all of their fundamentalist dogma drives newcomers (primarily youthful ones who don't subscribe to all that elitist nonsense) away.  

Indeed, I shudder to think of how many thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of potential newcomers these clowns have driven away over the years with their rigid, authoritarian dogma, particularly when all their blather is being read and interpreted by potential newcomers to our Service in forums like these as hard and fast requirements for entry into the "inner kingdom" of amateur radio.

The people who insist on perpetuating all that bigoted, fundamentalist garbage are a scourge on the hobby and are simply not welcome in MY amateur radio.  And based on the very real damage these clowns have inflicted on our Service over the years, I should think they wouldn't be made welcome in yours, either.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 04, 2010, 04:19:21 AM
Yet the favorite frequencies of the "Radio Amish" aren't high on the list of frequencies commercial interests desire. 

HF and MF aren't very useful for current commercial purposes because the antennas are too big, the bandwidth is too small and the propogation too unpredictable. That BPL was even proposed, let alone implemented, is proof.

But what does the term "Radio Amish" really mean? Is it an insult or a form of praise?

Consider what the people called "the Amish" really are.

First off, they are a varied bunch. There is no single Amish "church" or "pope" or creed that is imposed by a complex hierarchy. Instead there are local congregations headed by a bishop who is simply one of them. Different congregations have slightly different rules.

One of the misconceptions that "English" folks have about Amish people is that they reject technology and progress. Another is that they are "stuck in the past". Nothing could be further from the truth.

What Amish people reject is the idea that all new things must be instantly accepted as "good" and "progress" simply because they are new and somebody is trying to sell them. The concern is that there may be unforeseen negative consequences which are far worse than the benefits. They do not want their way of life damaged or destroyed by changes that have unforeseen problems. So they only accept changes that, after consideration, they know won't cause such problems.

They also don't want to become dependent on outsiders, and at the same time isolated from each other.

For example, the cell phone is a marvelous invention, but it is also a source of problems.

In the bad old days before cellphones, there were times when most people were simply unavailable because they were in a car, on a plane, etc. And most employers knew and accepted that. But nowadays cell phones have eliminated that private time and space; many employers expect their workers to be available 24/7 via cell phone. People may actually get *less* done because of the constant interruption of cellphone calls.

There's also the growing evidence of accidents and near-misses caused by driver inattention while calling or texting. People justify everyone having cell phones "in an emergency", but how many have died because of cell-phone-related accidents? And now that the calling-while-driving habit has been established, how hard will it be to break?

Those problems are the result of accepting something new blindly, without really thinking about what could possibly go wrong. The Amish consider what could go wrong first, before the acceptance. And sometimes they see the problems as worse than the solutions.

So what does it mean to be "Radio Amish"? Seems to me it could mean folks who want to consider the problems changes could cause rather than blindly accepting them.

For example, there was a time when most hams built at least part of their stations. 100% homebrew stations weren't rare, and homebrew transmitters were common. They might not all have been up to the commercial state-of-the-art but the hams who built them knew how they worked and could fix them.

Then came SSB and transceivers and miniaturization. Kits replaced homebrewing and imports replaced kits. And the homebrew amateur station became a rarity - and so did the amateur who could fix anything that went wrong in his rig. Sure, some still do things the old ways, but they're the exception rather than the rule.

Did Amateur Radio really benefit from the change? The technology has become more complex yet the knowledge has become less. Is this a good thing?

Or should the consequences of change get more consideration BEFORE the change is made?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 04, 2010, 11:54:37 AM
Consider what the people called "the Amish" really are.

First off, they are a varied bunch. There is no single Amish "church" or "pope" or creed that is imposed by a complex hierarchy. Instead there are local congregations headed by a bishop who is simply one of them. Different congregations have slightly different rules.

Quite true.  It's also important to note that the greater theological school that the Amish belong to, the Mennonite branch of Anabaptist Christianity, also have adherents that use modern technology such as cars, air travel, computers, and cell phones.  Many Mennonites also attend university and hold professions.  Also, many Mennonites dress in a contemporary Western style.  Not everyone who's from an Anabaptist tradition is Amish.  Far from it.

One of the misconceptions that "English" folks have about Amish people is that they reject technology and progress. Another is that they are "stuck in the past". Nothing could be further from the truth.

What Amish people reject is the idea that all new things must be instantly accepted as "good" and "progress" simply because they are new and somebody is trying to sell them. The concern is that there may be unforeseen negative consequences which are far worse than the benefits. They do not want their way of life damaged or destroyed by changes that have unforeseen problems. So they only accept changes that, after consideration, they know won't cause such problems.

They also don't want to become dependent on outsiders, and at the same time isolated from each other.

This is quite true also.  Some Amish communities will permit limited computer use and even internet access (mail order sales, for example).  Many communities will have a communal phone booth rather than individual cellphones or landlines in each house.  Still other communities fight commonwealth/state vehicular regulations.  I remember reading that an Amish community in PA refused to put warning strobes and slow vehicle triangles on their buggies.  Other communities will gladly comply with DMV regulations. 

Sadly, many Amish are culturally exploited by tourists (i.e. Lancaster).  I can see their ambivalence about technological engagement with the outside world.  However, I'm sure that many Amish know that they must compromise socioeconomically or die.  The question of Amish accommodation with contemporary North American culture parallels the social factors that isolate and antagonize certain communities within in ham radio.

So what does it mean to be "Radio Amish"? Seems to me it could mean folks who want to consider the problems changes could cause rather than blindly accepting them.

For example, there was a time when most hams built at least part of their stations. 100% homebrew stations weren't rare, and homebrew transmitters were common. They might not all have been up to the commercial state-of-the-art but the hams who built them knew how they worked and could fix them.

Then came SSB and transceivers and miniaturization. Kits replaced homebrewing and imports replaced kits. And the homebrew amateur station became a rarity - and so did the amateur who could fix anything that went wrong in his rig. Sure, some still do things the old ways, but they're the exception rather than the rule.

Did Amateur Radio really benefit from the change? The technology has become more complex yet the knowledge has become less. Is this a good thing?

I see your point about appliance operation.  You and I both know this phenomenon has long been an aspect of ham radio.  The resistance to the "plug 'n' play" mentality among the homebrew/kit community is, in one respect, a lament that ham radio as "the advancement of the radio art" is barely alive.  Still, while many Amish still build their homes and churches by hand, modern conveniences such as electrical generators and modern tools help complete these tasks.  While I have a strong respect those who have built their own stations, I doubt it's salutary to swear off any miniaturization or computerization.  I also doubt that it's possible today. 

I suspect that the phrase "Radio Amish" connotes a different issue.  A person needs only remember the old debates over the "no-code" Tech in the early 90's and the accusation that "no-code" would certainly mean the CBification of the hobby.  This meme is still lodged strongly in the conscience of older operators. 

Some newer hams contend that the code supporters forced the code test issue for so long to create artificial barriers against those who had difficulty with the code or no interest in learning it.  I suspect that many amateurs (including myself) also viewed the code tests as veiled aptitude tests.  Intellectual aptitude does not guarantee courteous behavior.  Still, I strongly suspect that many hams that earned their licenses under the ancien regime thought that the code would filter out less intelligent operators.  I strongly suspect that the "no-code is CB" arguments of the early 90's no-so-tacitly implied that CBers were unintelligent and therefore unfit to be hams.

Also, for many older hams the code tests signified commitment to the hobby.  The desire to learn code and pass the code tests signified a certain devotion to the hobby.  This is disproved somewhat by the many operators who slogged through the code tests only to put the key away after earning the ticket.  Nevertheless, the code tests represented for many the "essence" of ham radio.  I agree that it is the most vital form of communication, but I now doubt if CW can be presented in this manner.  It's uncharitable and perhaps abusive to say to a new ham that really struggles with CW that CW is the "essence of communication". 

"Radio Amish", then advocate three aspects:

1) The patronization and exclusion of towards those that do not show an interest in the radio art or technical proficiency

2) The endorsement of the idea that the code tests selected hams of greater intellectual aptitude.  The abolition of the code tests "lowered the bar" and introduced less apt operators.

3) The position that successful completion of code tests demonstrated "devotion" to the hobby.

The "Radio Amish" strive to recreate the lost ante-restructuring world.  Since this is impossible, many will behave as if these tacit standards still apply: "Oh?  You don't go on CW? ..." 

I am guilty of many of these positions.  Nevertheless, many of us face the decision of sequestering ourselves within the "Radio Amish" community or living in the new world.  Many will struggle with the new modernism.  Others will hold their ground to the end.  I am not sure where I stand.

It's clear, from any perspective, that there are many in the ham radio community that have rejected restructuring as a "way of life".  The accommodation of these hams is the pivot around which many ham radio social issues revolve. 
 
73, Jordan     



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 05, 2010, 07:23:03 PM
It's also important to note that the greater theological school that the Amish belong to, the Mennonite branch of Anabaptist Christianity, also have adherents that use modern technology such as cars, air travel, computers, and cell phones.  Many Mennonites also attend university and hold professions.  Also, many Mennonites dress in a contemporary Western style.  Not everyone who's from an Anabaptist tradition is Amish.  Far from it.

Exactly. A great variety, and should not all be lumped together.

  Some Amish communities will permit limited computer use and even internet access (mail order sales, for example).  Many communities will have a communal phone booth rather than individual cellphones or landlines in each house.  Still other communities fight commonwealth/state vehicular regulations.  I remember reading that an Amish community in PA refused to put warning strobes and slow vehicle triangles on their buggies.  Other communities will gladly comply with DMV regulations.?

Earlier this year I went back and forth between here and Holtwood PA for a couple of days. Encountered several buggies each trip. No problems.

Sadly, many Amish are culturally exploited by tourists (i.e. Lancaster).  I can see their ambivalence about technological engagement with the outside world.  However, I'm sure that many Amish know that they must compromise socioeconomically or die.

I don't see any reason why they must compromise. They've been around a lot longer than most other Americans of European ancestry. Their lifestyle is much more sustainable than "modern" America's.

The biggest problems they face today are connected with land.

1) In most Amish communities the land is passed down to the sons and divided equally among them. Which works for a couple of generations but eventually the farms become too small to be worthwhile.

2) Many Amish communities are squeezed by exurban sprawl, and rising land prices (and taxes) push them out. Some communities have simply packed up and moved to other parts of the USA where land is cheaper. But it's a tough go.

More to come...

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 06, 2010, 05:53:48 AM

I see your point about appliance operation.  You and I both know this phenomenon has long been an aspect of ham radio.  The resistance to the "plug 'n' play" mentality among the homebrew/kit community is, in one respect, a lament that ham radio as "the advancement of the radio art" is barely alive. 

 Still, while many Amish still build their homes and churches by hand, modern conveniences such as electrical generators and modern tools help complete these tasks.  While I have a strong respect those who have built their own stations, I doubt it's salutary to swear off any miniaturization or computerization.  I also doubt that it's possible today. 

Sure it's possible. But that's not the point.

The real point is that the "progress" was pushed as a universal solution, not as one more tool in the toolbox. (The ARRL leadership supported SSB in a big way from the late 1940s onward).



I suspect that the phrase "Radio Amish" connotes a different issue.  A person needs only remember the old debates over the "no-code" Tech in the early 90's and the accusation that "no-code" would certainly mean the CBification of the hobby.  This meme is still lodged strongly in the conscience of older operators. 

Some newer hams contend that the code supporters forced the code test issue for so long to create artificial barriers against those who had difficulty with the code or no interest in learning it.  I suspect that many amateurs (including myself) also viewed the code tests as veiled aptitude tests.  Intellectual aptitude does not guarantee courteous behavior.  Still, I strongly suspect that many hams that earned their licenses under the ancien regime thought that the code would filter out less intelligent operators.  I strongly suspect that the "no-code is CB" arguments of the early 90's no-so-tacitly implied that CBers were unintelligent and therefore unfit to be hams.

But was the concern about "CBification" unfounded?

Consider the history:

Amateur radio has existed since before licensing was mandatory. It was organized and officially recognized through the efforts of a few individuals who lobbied for it and opposed efforts to legislate amateur radio out of existence. Maxim, Warner, Stewart and others were key people on both the national and international scene in this regard. Amateur radio wasn't officially recognized by international treaty until 1927.

Part of the Amateur Radio culture has always been respect for each other and the rules and regulations. While there have always been a few bad apples, the overwhelming majority of hams followed the rules and tried to be courteous and knowledgeable operators.

11 meter CB, on the other hand, was created in the late 1950s by US government fiat. It was intended as a lower-cost higher-performance version of UHF CB, and rules were put in place to limit power, antennas, etc.

For a few years 11 meter CB was well-behaved. But by the mid-1960s a culture of anarchy had begun to appear, and by the early 1970s it was the dominant culture on those channels. Use of "handles" rather than callsigns, super power, jamming, "skip", vandalism, the use of radio to evade law enforcement and many other violations were the rule rather than the exception. 

Worse, the problems did not stay on the authorized channels. CB begat "freeband", using frequencies other than those channels - including 10 meters. TVI caused by super-powered CB was all too common - and all too often blamed on innocent amateurs.

FCC tried to enforce the rules on 11 meters but it was simply too much for them. They had never expected that their would be mass defiance of the regulations.

The question to consider is: Why did CB become such a mess so quickly, yet amateur radio did not?

It wasn't the enforcement efforts of FCC; they expended far more on CB than on amateur radio.

It wasn't be the cost of equipment; lots of hams got started with equipment that cost less than many CB setups.

What was it that caused CB to become so different from amateur radio? And how could amateur radio avoid a similar fate?

What are *your* answers to those questions?

The answers to these questions are vitally important if amateur radio is to avoid what happened to CB. Of course some folks would like it if amateur radio became just like CB!


Also, for many older hams the code tests signified commitment to the hobby.  The desire to learn code and pass the code tests signified a certain devotion to the hobby.

I think a better term is "personal investment". A person can buy radio equipment, and can hire others to put up antennas and assemble a station. Modern gear is pretty simple to get working and to use, anyway.

The written exams have been simplified and reduced steadily since the 1970s, and many people know enough basic electronics to pass the theory parts. Anybody with a job or some training in the electronics game should not require more than a quick overview of the rules to pass the tests.

But the Morse Code test was different. It was something that couldn't be bought and that most people didn't already know.

Sure, it's not really that hard to learn - not at the 5 wpm entry level, or even the 20 wpm top level. But it does require some personal investment of time and effort which could not be farmed out or avoided.

As for the attitudes of "older" operators, consider this data:

Back in 1996, the ARRL had a survey of attitudes towards the Morse Code test done by Readex, a professional survey outfit.

When the results were in and tabulated by the age of the respondents, it turned out that it was the *youngest* respondents who were *most* supportive of Morse Code testing, and the *oldest* who were the least supportive!

This is disproved somewhat by the many operators who slogged through the code tests only to put the key away after earning the ticket.  Nevertheless, the code tests represented for many the "essence" of ham radio. 

I don't think either of those assertions are proven.

You cite those who put the key away as proof, but consider how many hams put the *theory* away. The same argument can be used against almost everything in the written tests. (See "Imagine This" thread).

As for the "essence", what I think was really going on was resistance to a gradual reduction of standards that served no good purpose.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9AOP on November 06, 2010, 01:33:05 PM
It's about the volume.

This day and age, folks go for the easy.  By making the exams elementary, many more folks are able to be licensed.  A by product of this is that the ARRL can inflate its membership.                    Also,  there must be some critical mass, below which we  become useless and the FCC can reissue our frequencies to someone else.  Easy entry to ham radio keeps up the volume.
Art


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 06, 2010, 06:34:18 PM
But was the concern about "CBification" unfounded?

Consider the history:

<snip>

Part of the Amateur Radio culture has always been respect for each other and the rules and regulations. While there have always been a few bad apples, the overwhelming majority of hams followed the rules and tried to be courteous and knowledgeable operators.

<snip: the rise and crashing fall of Class D CB. Well put.>

What was it that caused CB to become so different from amateur radio? And how could amateur radio avoid a similar fate?

What are *your* answers to those questions?

Consider these points.  These points are not only bright lines between CB and ham radio.  These bright lines also delineate cultural camps after code abolition and restructuring.

The centrality of the code to the amateur "narrative"

The code is the ritual narrative of amateur radio.  The code has always separated CB from ham radio in so far as the oral history of CB depended solely on vagary voice transmissions.  CW, as the basal communications mode of amateur radio, has recorded ham radio historical and artistic evolution through a formal language and operating practice that transcends spoken langauge.  Hams were expected to have a baseline proficiency that would permit them at least basic access to this art and history.  We hams could always return to the code.  The code was most common form of expression.

The abolition of the code requirement in 2007 has blurred the lines between ham radio as an avocation of communication art into another personal communications service reliant on the common denominator of voice transmission.  The abolition of the code now removes many hams for the oral history of the code.  This is a great loss, but perhaps unavoidable.  The only other option is to construct an oral history around phone.  Phone, however, does not have the venerable provenance and the unique non-verbal qualities of the code.   

Those who rail against the code's importance in contemporary ham radio neglect the vitality of CW oral tradition.  I wonder if this disinterest in orality also reflects  CBification so far as CB does not presume communicative art. 

The rise of the pseudo-type-acceptance mentality in ham radio

As you well note, many hams today assemble stations from turnkey equipment.  As is well known, ham equipment is "certified" and not "type accepted".  Yet the assemblage of a station from discrete manufactured components can be viewed as a "pseudo-type acceptance mentality".  This development, and its ancilliary effects, could be constructed as a CBification of ham radio.  I am particularly concerned with some new hams' desire to purchase an amp while or soon after purchasing a HF rig.  Would they do better to refresh themselves on technical theory, evaluate their antenna and ground situation, gauge radiation exposure, and ponder the necessity to amplify their signal to the legal limit for profitable operation? 

Though off topic, the recent concern over new Generals repeatedly operating outside of band also portends Parts 95.  After all, Generals are tested on privileges.  There is no excuse. 

Only two solutions exist: elmer new hams into proper operating practice and perhaps an appreciation (if not frequent use) of CW, or simply wall ourselves into the CW sidebands and forget about what's happening on voice.  This is a decision that each operation needs to make for him/herself.  The choice to accept or reject restructuring parallels the Amish experience so far as segments of the ham radio community will inevitably reject those that do not embrace the expected qualifications of hams licensed before 2000.  Some hams, particularly dedicated CW operators, will decide to reject the restructured aspects of phone.  They will decide, better or worse, to hitch their buggies to a CW enclave.

As for the attitudes of "older" operators, consider this data:

Back in 1996, the ARRL had a survey of attitudes towards the Morse Code test done by Readex, a professional survey outfit.

When the results were in and tabulated by the age of the respondents, it turned out that it was the *youngest* respondents who were *most* supportive of Morse Code testing, and the *oldest* who were the least supportive!

As a callow kid back in 1995 when I passed the 20, restructuring was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was relieved to have the tests done.  Soon after this the restructuring talks began.  I was quite opposed to restructuring not because of a hazing mentality but because I enjoyed the code.

This is disproved somewhat by the many operators who slogged through the code tests only to put the key away after earning the ticket.  Nevertheless, the code tests represented for many the "essence" of ham radio.

You are right.  This is completely irrelevant and meaningless.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 07, 2010, 05:19:24 AM

what does the term "Radio Amish" really mean? Is it an insult or a form of praise?

Consider what the people called "the Amish" really are.

First off, they are a varied bunch. There is no single Amish "church" or "pope" or creed that is imposed by a complex hierarchy. Instead there are local congregations headed by a bishop who is simply one of them. Different congregations have slightly different rules.

sounds like code enthusiasts: a diverse group too often mistakenly lumped into a single category with a small group of 2 meter hams who once suggested if you did not pass a code test you were not a real ham.  probably this group of pro-code testing hams actually do not like CW at all but just want others to 'endure' the same obstacles they had to navigate.  despite their grievances, a real ham is anyone with a license (period).

One of the misconceptions that "English" folks have about Amish people is that they reject technology and progress. Another is that they are "stuck in the past". Nothing could be further from the truth.

exactly.  when a ham operates CW with a straight key (or a keyer, hihi), they are 100% in the present.  calling a CW operator 'stuck in the past' is a lame attempt to demonize CW operation.   if you brush your teeth with an 'old school' toothbrush instead of an electronic one, or if you open cans with a manual can-opener instead of a 'modern' one -- you are not stuck in the past any more than someone who uses the latest contraption. 

What Amish people reject is the idea that all new things must be instantly accepted as "good" and "progress" simply because they are new and somebody is trying to sell them. The concern is that there may be unforeseen negative consequences which are far worse than the benefits. They do not want their way of life damaged or destroyed by changes that have unforeseen problems. So they only accept changes that, after consideration, they know won't cause such problems.


Native Americans have the same traditional cultural hesitance toward accepting new technology as 'progress'.  they are not anti-technology -- the canoe/kayak is a design still in use today for its technical excellence.  like the Amish they realize it can be dangerous to accept a new change before it has been vetted over time, and to this end any new proposal was considered in light of its effect on the people seventh generations in the future.  This is an approach much better suited to a sustainable life-style, and to a perspective which considers the whole of life on Earth an inter and intra-related family (as opposed to man against the very Earth and non-human organisms which sustain him).  In short, it is not an approach a generation only concerned about itself (or next quarter's profits) finds desirable. 

So what does it mean to be "Radio Amish"? Seems to me it could mean folks who want to consider the problems changes could cause rather than blindly accepting them.

Or should the consequences of change get more consideration BEFORE the change is made?

we are daily bombarded by advertisements which suggest that blindly accepting change through technological advance is the road to the promised land.  are you daring to suggest that the proverbial promised land can only be found in the here and now and not through the latest gadget?   someone once had the audacity to say that 'progress is finding a good place to stop.' dit dit 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 07, 2010, 05:34:53 AM
The code is the ritual narrative of amateur radio.  The code has always separated CB from ham radio in so far as the oral history of CB depended solely on vagary voice transmissions.  CW, as the basal communications mode of amateur radio, has recorded ham radio historical and artistic evolution through a formal language and operating practice that transcends spoken langauge.  Hams were expected to have a baseline proficiency that would permit them at least basic access to this art and history.  We hams could always return to the code.  The code was most common form of expression.

The abolition of the code requirement in 2007 has blurred the lines between ham radio as an avocation of communication art into another personal communications service reliant on the common denominator of voice transmission.  The abolition of the code now removes many hams for the oral history of the code.  This is a great loss, but perhaps unavoidable.  The only other option is to construct an oral history around phone.  Phone, however, does not have the venerable provenance and the unique non-verbal qualities of the code.  

Those who rail against the code's importance in contemporary ham radio neglect the vitality of CW oral tradition.  I wonder if this disinterest in orality also reflects  CBification so far as CB does not presume communicative art.  


good question.

there are also those who may have already had the technological expertise to jump into ham radio prior to seeking a license, and they might have found the code requirement 'beneath' them even though such an attitude was a knee-jerk reaction that failed to appreciate the points you make above.

what i find humorous is the perspective that states that the code-requirement needed to be dropped because it was discriminatory.  it seems no more discriminatory than forcing would-be hams to learn Q codes.  While cost-cutting no doubt played a big role in the abolition of the code requirement, there is no reason it could not have been retained in multiple choice questions   -- such as: what message does the following morse code communicate?  "_ _ . _       . _ .        . _ . .        . . _ _ . ."   A. CQ from W6LHA     B. 73   C.  what is your location?   D. Are you busy?  

Maybe future tests can include such questions...


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N1DVJ on November 07, 2010, 07:19:22 AM
Morse needed to be dropped for a LONG time.  In my opinion it held on WAY too long and as a result, it CAUSED the problems we now face with the idiots who seem to make class distinction between the no-coders and 'real hams'.  Real lids are more like it.

Yeah, CW is fun, but it had no place as a mandatory requirement past maybe the late 60's.  Ok, maybe as an entry in the 60's, but not for advanced licenses.  

If it wasn't a bogus requirement, then let me ask this...  Why was it that EVERY SINGLE ASTRONAUT that asked, got a waiver?    With a few exceptions, every astronaut in the early shuttle days was a Tech.  But you had to be an Extra to be 'spaced based'.  I recall only seeing 2 astronauts that were even General in those days, but they all got an FCC waiver for space based operation.  If it was a logical requirement, then they shouldn't have gotten the waiver.  

Back about 1986, I wrote to the FCC and enquired about this.  Before I could file a formal request, suddenly the 'space based' requirement was dropped.  

Hey, CW can be fun.  There's something about a minimal station.  My Swan before I loaned it out was straight key only.  It NEVER saw a mic plugged into it in all the time I had it.  I even bought my K2 for the sole reason of more CW.  But now...  

Before they restructured, I had made a proposal that no-code techs be given privlidges in the novice CW sections of HF as a lure, and that once anyone gets any CW endorsement, they have full CW subsection access.  I thought that would be a good  lure to bring people into contact with CW, and once they got exposed to it they might get the bug.  But the infighting of the 'CW forever' crowd and the anti-CW people held off any change until it was proposed to totally drop it.

Personally, I was glad to see it go, although I do feel we lost one hell of an opportunity to draw people into the pro-cw fold by the abrupt change.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 07, 2010, 07:41:47 AM
Yeah, CW is fun, but it had no place as a mandatory requirement past maybe the late 60's.  Ok, maybe as an entry in the 60's, but not for advanced licenses.  

If it wasn't a bogus requirement, then let me ask this...  Why was it that EVERY SINGLE ASTRONAUT that asked, got a waiver?    With a few exceptions, every astronaut in the early shuttle days was a Tech.  But you had to be an Extra to be 'spaced based'.  I recall only seeing 2 astronauts that were even General in those days, but they all got an FCC waiver for space based operation.  If it was a logical requirement, then they shouldn't have gotten the waiver.  

perhaps a better question is what percentage of astronauts requested a waiver vs the percentage that did not -- and why did some request a waiver?  did they think learning morse code was too difficult or beneath them (a diva type reaction)?  did they have a predisposition against learning new things?   was there some fear involved?  should math students today not be required to learn long math because it is antiquated?  maybe basic math students should, but what about math majors?

maybe the FCC was just giving astronauts undue deference




Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N1DVJ on November 07, 2010, 07:45:47 AM
At the time I started my discussion with the FCC, EVERY one that was a ham asked for the exemption.  And every one got it.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 07, 2010, 09:18:03 AM
why didn't they learn code?


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 07, 2010, 09:27:58 AM
Before they restructured, I had made a proposal that no-code techs be given privlidges in the novice CW sections of HF as a lure

This eventually happened.  I agree, however, that this should have been done a long time ago, perhaps in the early 90s.

and that once anyone gets any CW endorsement, they have full CW subsection access.

Yes, very true.  In an ideal plan, the no-code General and Extra would have only the Novice CW privileges.  Those seeking to operate unrestricted CW would have to pass a 5 wpm.  That way, those with no interest in operating CW or data could be satisfied with no-code HF licenses.

73, Jordan   


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 07, 2010, 09:32:08 AM
why didn't they learn code?

I am sure that astronauts are quite busy with their training and administrative work.  I'm also sure that the majority of them aren't interested in ham radio as a hobby.  Does this justify waviers?  No, but I'm sure many of them viewed the Extra as just another vocational certification.  Perhaps some astronauts have an interest in CW.  I don't know but I suspect that many don't.

Then again, many hams that have no interest in CW learned code to get the Extra.  Should the astronauts be any different?  Probably not.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 07, 2010, 10:03:52 AM
Code testing was required by treaty for any class of amateur license that allowed operation below 30 MHz until July 2003. And it was FCC policy not to violate that provision of the treaty. That's why they couldn't just drop the code test before that date, despite proposals and requests.

The treaty provision was revised in July 2003 but it still took FCC almost 4 years to change the rules.

IMHO, the main reason it took so long is that the no-code-test folks dropped the ball and didn't have a short-and-sweet widely-supported proposal ready to go when the rules changed. Instead, there were a flurry of proposals that got RM numbers, comments, etc.

Too often, we hams make the mistake of not achieving consensus before approaching FCC, and the result is delay after delay.

For an example of how it could have been done better, look at what happened in Canada. The code test was not removed; instead, the grading method was revised so that the code-test score is part of the overall score rather than a separate go/no-go element. I suggested such a system in my comments to FCC.

As for the astronauts, AFAIK none of the ham-in-space operations involved HF.

73 de Jim, N2EY

 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 07, 2010, 10:06:17 AM
I am sure that astronauts are quite busy with their training and administrative work.  I'm also sure that the majority of them aren't interested in ham radio as a hobby.

everyone is busy, but a respect for learning is rewarded.  everything is interconnected and everything you learn can end up helping you better understand problems and solutions in seemingly non-related fields.  learning binary may be somewhat easier, but learning code helps the brain, just as music has been shown to help the brain.  learning code does not really take long.  i found that out once i got over my 'this is too much of a pain to learn' initial reaction.  in the end the notion that code is a pain to learn is false, as is the idea that it hasn't practical applications in all kinds of 'modern' places.

my three cents.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 07, 2010, 03:15:00 PM
I am sure that astronauts are quite busy with their training and administrative work.  I'm also sure that the majority of them aren't interested in ham radio as a hobby.

everyone is busy, but a respect for learning is rewarded.  everything is interconnected and everything you learn can end up helping you better understand problems and solutions in seemingly non-related fields.  learning binary may be somewhat easier, but learning code helps the brain, just as music has been shown to help the brain.  learning code does not really take long.  i found that out once i got over my 'this is too much of a pain to learn' initial reaction.  in the end the notion that code is a pain to learn is false, as is the idea that it hasn't practical applications in all kinds of 'modern' places.

You bet we're busy!  (well, I'm not -- I took a few days' vacation, a rarity.)  You're also on target with the above statement.  Yes, it's important to learn the code.  The astronauts were no more exempt from learning the code than Barry Goldwater, who was the highest ranking ham in government at that time.  I tried to think of some excuses as to why astronauts would seek a wavier. 

Why should all astronauts get a ham license anyway?  Why can't they operate third party?  The Extra requirement is bogus (all the satellite up and downlinks are V/UHF, right?).  Something tells me that now all that is needed is a Tech. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 08, 2010, 04:32:20 AM
I tried to think of some excuses as to why astronauts would seek a wavier. 

Why should all astronauts get a ham license anyway?  Why can't they operate third party?  The Extra requirement is bogus (all the satellite up and downlinks are V/UHF, right?).  Something tells me that now all that is needed is a Tech. 


Part of the reason for the ham-in-space stuff is so that people can get a warm fuzzy feeling for NASA. That's not a bad thing - how else would someone not in the business get personal contact with an astronaut? Forging links with hams was just good publicity for both ham radio and NASA.

Remember that in the early 1980s there was a move to make NASA more accessible to the public, with things like the teacher-in-space flight (which ended tragically due to bad decisions about launching in cold weather).

Third-party operation would have hampered flexibility because operation would tie up two astronauts - one as control op and the other as third party. Plus many DX countries don't allow third-party communication at all.

The end result was obvious: require only a Tech for space operations. They're not going to do HF from space anyway, and the equipment in use will be low-power and carefully checked out and certified. (Probably no ham gear in use is as carefully engineered, constructed, checked, documented and certified as that used in manned space operations).

----

This may have been one of the reasons FCC was so eager to create a nocodetest amateur license. They tried in 1975, again in 1982-3, and finally succeeded in 1991. (The first two times the reaction from the amateur community was so overwhelmingly negative that they dropped the idea.)

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N4MJG on November 11, 2010, 04:05:21 AM
I took it just before they drop the code and i pass it ! but i have't use since then,  need to go back and relearn it again it will take me time but atleast i can do it !!


73
Jackie
N4MJG
WWW.N4MJG.COM


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 12, 2010, 12:33:07 PM
This may have been one of the reasons FCC was so eager to create a nocodetest amateur license. They tried in 1975, again in 1982-3, and finally succeeded in 1991. (The first two times the reaction from the amateur community was so overwhelmingly negative that they dropped the idea.)

I don't remember the reaction to the 1991 no-code Tech decision as overwhelmingly positive. Some of the Chicken Little predictions made the Book of Revelation look like a Candyland game. 

I wonder what finally got no-code through in 1991?  Who was more for it, the FCC or the ARRL?  I was first licensed in 1993 but I remember reading up quite a bit about the controversy.  The controversy was still raging when I got my first ticket.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 12, 2010, 03:30:56 PM
This may have been one of the reasons FCC was so eager to create a nocodetest amateur license. They tried in 1975, again in 1982-3, and finally succeeded in 1991. (The first two times the reaction from the amateur community was so overwhelmingly negative that they dropped the idea.)

I don't remember the reaction to the 1991 no-code Tech decision as overwhelmingly positive. Some of the Chicken Little predictions made the Book of Revelation look like a Candyland game. 

I wonder what finally got no-code through in 1991?  Who was more for it, the FCC or the ARRL? 

It was FCC's thing, not ARRL's and in 1990 the FCC decided to do it regardless of opposition.

A bit more history:

When Amateur Radio was first officially recognized as a separate radio service in 1927, the treaty which regulates such things required that all countries have Morse Code and written tests for all amateur radio licenses. That provision lasted 76 years, until 2003.

However, in 1947 there was a modification which allowed countries to have no-code-test amateur licenses if the license only allowed operation above 1 GHz.

Over the years that frequency was lowered until it reached 30 MHz. So it was possible for countries to have no-code-test amateur licenses for many years, but only if the licenses did not allow operation below a certain frequency.

It's also important to realize that in the past there were times when FCC took a very activist approach to amateur radio, whether or not hams wanted them to. The restructuring of 1951 and the "incentive licensing" changes of 1968-69 are just two examples.

In 1975, just a few years after "incentive licensing" went into effect, FCC proposed a license structure that was the most complicated one ever proposed for US amateur radio. It had seven license classes and two "ladders" - one for HF and one for VHF/UHF, with the full-privileges Extra at the top. Under that system, many hams would hold two license classes simultaneously (if they wanted both HF and VHF/UHF privileges but didn't have an Extra).

The HF ladder was Novice/General/Advanced and the VHF/UHF ladder was Communicator/Technician/Experimenter.

All licenses required written tests, and they would focus on HF or VHF/UHF practice depending on which ladder they were for.

And the Communicator license had no code test.

The proposal came from FCC, not ARRL or hams, and was widely opposed in the amateur community for a number of reasons. The proposal was met with counterproposals and eventually dropped.

It should be remembered that this was the peak of the CB boom, and also the time when EIA proposed "Class E" CB, which would have taken 220 from hams and given it to CB the same way that 11 meters had been taken from us 17 years earlier. (220 isn't a worldwide amateur band protected by treaty).

In 1982-83 the FCC tried again, and again there was strong opposition. This time the proposal was much simpler; just a nocodetest amateur license.

Finally in 1990 the FCC tried a third time. At about the same time there was a proposal to re-assign the 220 MHz band, or part of it to land mobile, using a new technology called ACSSB. FCC claimed that hams didn't use 220 enough to justify us having 5 MHz of prime VHF.

They also let it be known that they REALLY wanted a nocodetest amateur license. This time resistance wasn't as strong, particularly when the license was proposed as a limited-privileges VHF-only beginners license.

ARRL went along, finally, proposing a license that would focus on 220. The idea was that the band would fill up with newcomers.

But FCC saw right through that tactic, and simply dropped the code test from the Technician.

The rest you probably know.

---

Why was FCC so intent on a nocodetest amateur license?

One reason was that some other countries, such as Japan, had such licenses, and they had seen explosive growth in the number of hams.

But I think the main reason was the CB mess. 27 MHz CB had grown rapidly since its start in 1958 but was pretty much out of FCC's control. CB had become a sort of outlaw hobby radio in the late 1960s and by the 1970s was all over the place.

I think FCC thought that if they made ham licenses easier to get, a lot of CB folks would become hams and operate legally. They also hoped that many more would bypass CB completely and go straight to ham radio.

The idea was that if the CB folks were exposed to legal, well-behaved Amateur Radio, the culture would rub off on them.

How well that idea worked is debateable.

One thing that did happen was that the popularity of CB waned as cellphones and the internet became inexpensive and ubiquitous.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 12, 2010, 09:19:23 PM
In 1975, just a few years after "incentive licensing" went into effect, FCC proposed a license structure that was the most complicated one ever proposed for US amateur radio. It had seven license classes and two "ladders" - one for HF and one for VHF/UHF, with the full-privileges Extra at the top. Under that system, many hams would hold two license classes simultaneously (if they wanted both HF and VHF/UHF privileges but didn't have an Extra).

The HF ladder was Novice/General/Advanced and the VHF/UHF ladder was Communicator/Technician/Experimenter.

All licenses required written tests, and they would focus on HF or VHF/UHF practice depending on which ladder they were for.

And the Communicator license had no code test.

The proposal came from FCC, not ARRL or hams, and was widely opposed in the amateur community for a number of reasons. The proposal was met with counterproposals and eventually dropped.

What would possess the FCC to create such a hideously complex system?  Did the FCC think tha this system would better prepare hams for professional careers, or establish ham radio as a pseudo-occupation?  Was this simply a gambit to get more hams to operate 50 MHz+?  No wonder the ARRL and many hams opposed this plan.  It would have been simply unworkable.  We now know that incentive licensing has failed on multiple levels.  Did not the FCC realize even in the mid 70's that incentive licensing was extremely unpopular from the very beginning? 

So what were the code requirements for the VHF/UHF "stream"?  5 wpm for all the tests?  I can't see why the VHF/UHF stream would require anything more than that.

Also, this type of dual-level licensing system would have cleaved the ham community into two separate hobbies.  This would have been a social disaster.

This plan would have been a horrible mess for the FCC in terms of test administration (think of the added personnel needed to administer these exams).  I don't know if the FCC and ARRL were already discussing the VE program by this time.  If such a system were to go into effect, the FCC would have had no choice but to call on Congress to pass the VE system. The FCC would not have the personnel to handle this testing scheme.  After all, the VEC was a direct response to Reagan cutbacks on FCC field office personnel.  The FCC field office system could not even handle the existing testing system.

Personally I would have skipped the VHF/UHF ladder and would have gone straight to Extra.  That's just me -- I can (and do) live without these frequencies.

The idea was that if the CB folks were exposed to legal, well-behaved Amateur Radio, the culture would rub off on them.

How well that idea worked is debatable.

That idea has failed. The decline in HF phone operating proficiency after 2000 and especially 2007 is ample proof as to the folly of restructuring.  There, I said my prejudice.  The removal of all code has introduced untrained operators that disregard license sub-bands and use operating protocol adopted from CB.  However, there is more to the story of falling standards on HF.  I don't know if there is an adequate answer at this time.

Strangely, the Canadian restructuring has not, _in my opinion_ given rise to a higher level of VE lids.  Perhaps this is because the Canadians never had incentive licensing: before restructuring the rule was pass one test and the 12 wpm, and gain full privileges.  Actually, someone could get on 80m CW only with limited power after passing a 5 wpm test along with the written test (a pseudo-Novice), but I don't know how many hams took up on that option.  Interestingly, half the hams in Ontario and Quebec hold the Advanced qualification.  This is a much greater percentage than the 17 to 20% of American hams that hold an Extra.  I do not know the answer to this either.     

There must be a sociocultural reason why American restructuring has increased the number of poor operators.  I don't care, and perhaps I shouldn't: I've been off the air for two years.  Heck, there's plenty of folly in unsolicited comments but I'm happy to throw caution to the wind. 

73, Jordan     


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 13, 2010, 03:31:30 AM
What would possess the FCC to create such a hideously complex system?  Did the FCC think tha this system would better prepare hams for professional careers, or establish ham radio as a pseudo-occupation?  Was this simply a gambit to get more hams to operate 50 MHz+? 

FCC thought it was a good idea, that's all. It was complex but not as complex as the commercial licensing of the time, which had numerous classes and endorsements.

The main idea was that hams interested in HF would take HF-centric tests and hams interested in VHF/UHF would take VHF/UHF centric tests. Hams interested in both would take both. Getting to Extra would be easier because it could be done in smaller steps.

No wonder the ARRL and many hams opposed this plan.  It would have been simply unworkable. 

Why? At the time, there were 5 license classes, all the new plan would do is add 2 new classes and some new written exams. A bit of work to set up, that's all.

Remember this was 1975, not today.



We now know that incentive licensing has failed on multiple levels.  Did not the FCC realize even in the mid 70's that incentive licensing was extremely unpopular from the very beginning?  

Popularity wasn't the issue. And if you look at how the number of hams grew after incentive licensing was instituted, it's hard to say it was a failure.


So what were the code requirements for the VHF/UHF "stream"?  5 wpm for all the tests?  I can't see why the VHF/UHF stream would require anything more than that.

HF:
Novice: 5 wpm, Basic HF test
General: 13 wpm, Intermediatel HF test
Advanced: Advanced HF test

VHF:
Communicator: No code, Basic VHF test
Technician: 5 wpm, Intermediatel VHF test
Experimenter: Advanced VHF test

Full privileges:

Extra: 20 wpm, top-level written test

Not such a problem, really. Many would have taken multiple tests at the same time to save on the fees.

Also, this type of dual-level licensing system would have cleaved the ham community into two separate hobbies.  This would have been a social disaster.

THAT was a big reason why it was so strongly opposed. Plus the fact that it came so soon after IL.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 13, 2010, 03:20:14 PM
What would possess the FCC to create such a hideously complex system?  Did the FCC think tha this system would better prepare hams for professional careers, or establish ham radio as a pseudo-occupation?  Was this simply a gambit to get more hams to operate 50 MHz+? 

FCC thought it was a good idea, that's all. It was complex but not as complex as the commercial licensing of the time, which had numerous classes and endorsements.

The main idea was that hams interested in HF would take HF-centric tests and hams interested in VHF/UHF would take VHF/UHF centric tests. Hams interested in both would take both. Getting to Extra would be easier because it could be done in smaller steps.

Do you have the QST citations for this NPRM?  I can't seem to find information on this in the online QST archive.  I'm sure that the online FCC NPRM record system does not go back this far.  I'd like to research this further.

Also, this type of dual-level licensing system would have cleaved the ham community into two separate hobbies.  This would have been a social disaster.

THAT was a big reason why it was so strongly opposed. Plus the fact that it came so soon after IL.

This regulation was proposed during the discussion of part 95 licensing deregulation (I believe CB was finally deregulated in 1976).  I suspect that the dual licensing system was a way to move some CBers to VHF/UHF (I believe this was already mentioned on this thread) and integrate them through a separate licensing stream.  This might have appeared as a barely veiled patronization of CBers.   

Even if the V/UHF stream tests were significantly easier than the HF stream tests, many operators would get "stuck" in the V/UHF stream and never get on HF.  Not a good idea from a ham radio socioanthropological standpoint.  Then again, a number of no-code Technicians didn't get a General or Extra until 2000 or 2007.  Nevertheless, this 1975 proposal is a case of "separate but equal", which in itself is always a faulty and prejudiced premise.

This proposal also reeks of elitism, which isn't helpful either.  Unless the V/UHF exams were of equal rigor to the HF exams, then classist and elitist accusations would certainly appear.

I believe the FCC had good intentions in continually testing ham skills.  However, this move was a bit over the top and certainly dangerous to the hobby in retrospect.  The old IL system was manageable and served most hams well.  Heck, even towards the end (the VE era) certain tests could be "skipped".  I passed the 20 before the 13 and wrote the General, Advanced, and Extra under the 20 CSCE.  I suspect that complications such as these were one impetus for restructuring.

It is interesting how prejudices are coming to the fore now the licensing structure has been radically simplified.  I suppose that any decision in the ham radio community will inevitably be met with some classism, regardless of direction.  As mentioned, many of us are guilty of this classism -- certainly I am.  It is important to try to put this aside after two major restructurings.  Yet, the pecking order is certain a pre-human trait.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 13, 2010, 04:22:54 PM

Do you have the QST citations for this NPRM?  I can't seem to find information on this in the online QST archive.  I'm sure that the online FCC NPRM record system does not go back this far.  I'd like to research this further.

Go to the online archive and search by issue. IOW don't enter any keywords, just choose QST 1975. You'll get every article, and the titles will make it obvious.

I'll look through my stacks but the above way is quicker.


Also, this type of dual-level licensing system would have cleaved the ham community into two separate hobbies.  This would have been a social disaster.

THAT was a big reason why it was so strongly opposed. Plus the fact that it came so soon after IL.

There was also the fact that under the proposal some existing hams would have lost privileges of both frequency and power.


This regulation was proposed during the discussion of part 95 licensing deregulation (I believe CB was finally deregulated in 1976).  I suspect that the dual licensing system was a way to move some CBers to VHF/UHF (I believe this was already mentioned on this thread) and integrate them through a separate licensing stream.  This might have appeared as a barely veiled patronization of CBers.   

Even if the V/UHF stream tests were significantly easier than the HF stream tests, many operators would get "stuck" in the V/UHF stream and never get on HF.  Not a good idea from a ham radio socioanthropological standpoint.  Then again, a number of no-code Technicians didn't get a General or Extra until 2000 or 2007.  Nevertheless, this 1975 proposal is a case of "separate but equal", which in itself is always a faulty and prejudiced premise.

This proposal also reeks of elitism, which isn't helpful either.  Unless the V/UHF exams were of equal rigor to the HF exams, then classist and elitist accusations would certainly appear.

Maybe. But it would be a simple matter for the VHF/UHF tests to be as rigorous if not more so than the HF tests. They would just deal with different subject material.

For example, the VHF/UHF tests could go into real depth about modes like TV and wide FM, satellite comms, tropo, meteor and auroral propagation, klystrons, magnetrons, TWTs, etc.

It's important to understand the times, too. The Novice of 1975 was extremely HF centric, offering almost no VHF/UHF. The repeater boom was coming on strong, the first synthesized amateur VHF FM rigs were appearing, and amateur satellite comms were becoming a big thing. This was long before the internet, PCs, cellphones and cheap long distance, so these were all a big deal.

Here's another factor:

In 1957, the USSR stunned the world by orbiting the first manmade space satellite. For the next couple of years, the USSR filled the history books with space firsts - first animal in space, first man in space, first woman in space, first space probe to the Moon and another planet, etc. Back then the USA prided itself on a long list of firsts and fastests, particularly in aviation, science and electronics, so this was a very big shock. Eventually the USA caught up and surpassed, culminating with men on the moon.

But the initial shock had far-reaching effects, in such things as science education in the schools and amateur radio. IMHO it's not a coincidence that the first incentive licensing talk from FCC came in 1958, just after Sputnik.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Japanese electronics began to appear in the USA in a big way. They had made inroads into the consumer electronics field as early as the 1950s, but by the 1970s their stuff was getting really good - and it wasn't just in the consumer field.

Japan also had the most radio amateurs in the world, surpassing the USA in the mid-1960s and growing at an incredible rate. Nearly all of these hams held the 4th class license, which had no code test and limited, low-power privileges, but their numbers were impressive. The FCC must have wondered why the USA couldn't do the same thing.

So it may have been a concern of FCC that the American electronics industry wasn't keeping up with Japan - and neither was American amateur radio.


I believe the FCC had good intentions in continually testing ham skills.

But they weren't! Most US licenses have always been renewable. Many hams haven't been tested in decades. For example, I passed the Extra in 1970 and haven't taken an FCC amateur radio license exam since (except for practice exams online). I could have simply put the license in a drawer and renewed it as needed and I'd still have the same privileges without learning a thing.

However, this move was a bit over the top and certainly dangerous to the hobby in retrospect.  The old IL system was manageable and served most hams well.  Heck, even towards the end (the VE era) certain tests could be "skipped".  I passed the 20 before the 13 and wrote the General, Advanced, and Extra under the 20 CSCE.  I suspect that complications such as these were one impetus for restructuring.

Not really. VEs do most of the work anyway.

The impetus for restructuring IMHO was to reduce the admin work even more and to put an end to the anticodetest petitions and proposals.

The main point in all this is that many of the changes over the years were driven by forces outside amateur radio. Often the wrong folks were blamed, too.

Take the VE system - totally an FCC invention. FCC did it to save money, because the Reagan Administration wanted less regulation and provided less funding, precisely when all sorts of new communications technologies began to appear. (Just because somebody invents a new technology does not mean FCC gets more money to figure out how to regulate it!)

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 13, 2010, 04:36:16 PM
Do you have the QST citations for this NPRM?  I can't seem to find information on this in the online QST archive.  I'm sure that the online FCC NPRM record system does not go back this far.  I'd like to research this further.

The NPRM number was Docket #20282.  I don't know how to get a NPRM from that far back, so I'm relying on secondary sources.

The only ARRL periodical archive article I could access on the issue was the "It Seems to Us ..." president's editorial. 

Baldwin, Richard, W1RU, "FCC Docket 20282 (It Seems to Us...)", QST, July 1975. 9, 56. 

For ARRL members: http://p1k.arrl.org/pubs_archive/67805.  For some reason I can't access p56 directly -- Jim probably has it in his dead tree archive.   

Mr. Baldwin notes in the first half of his article that a good number of Technicians in 1975 never upgraded after the Technician.  He contends that this is not necessarily because they wanted to give up HF privileges but because they could not write the General for a number of factors.  This, I suspect, was the ARRL's main reason for opposition.  The dual track system would have created a class of amateurs forever closed off from HF.  A reasonable position.

Also note this succinct explanation of NPRM 20282 from a syndicated column, "The Wayback Machine", by Bill Continelli, W2XOY.  reprinted in "The Coastside Communicator" vol. 36, no. 8, 5 - 6.  http://tinyurl.com/39et4yh  Accessed 13 November 2010.

Bill notes some interesting points about this proposal:

Advanceds, Extras, and Experimenters would all be permitted 2 kW on their designated frequencies.  Novices could run 250W, Generals/Technicians 500W.  At least a more complicated system brought more power.

First, Conditionals and Technicians would lose the ability to renew.  According to Bill, around 90% of Technicians at that time earned their ticket through mail testing.  I can see the FCC's point given concerns about fraudulent mail testing.  Still, perhaps a number of hams would not could not travel to a FCC field office or hamfest (was this still true in 1975?)  Would the FCC want to re-examine all of these candidates?

Second, an Advanced class operator or an Experimenter operator could upgrade to Extra by taking the 20 wpm only.  An Advanced could skip 4B, and an Experimenter could skip 4A.  This means that there were strictly three written exams for each class. 

Also, Advanceds would receive all Extra phone frequencies.  The only difference between Advanced and Extra would be the Extra CW subbands and full VHF/UHF for Extras.  I suspect that most HF operators would be happy to have full phone and would simply forget about taking the 20 wpm.   

What a mess.  I would've done the same and went straight to Extra.  In fact, it would've been slightly easier with this plan.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 14, 2010, 06:06:06 AM
The NPRM number was Docket #20282. 

For some more info on all this, take a look at QST for February 1975.

Starting on page 56 is an article "A Tribute And A Challenge", about the past, present and future of ham radio. Note that the article is highlights of a speech given at the QCWA convention by FCC Commissioner Robert E. Lee. (no, not *that* Robert E. Lee!)

Then on page 76 is an article in "Happenings" about docket 20282, including the NPRM. It refers to earlier articles as well.

Couple of points:
- 20282 was the result of a whole raft of proposals that got RM numbers and comments. I count 35 different RM numbers!
 
Only one of those proposals was from ARRL (RM-1535).

Two were from CB groups (RM-1841, from the United CBers of America, and RM-1991, from the US Citizens Radio Council).

Two were from amateur radio clubs (RM-1976, Edgewood Amateur Radio Society and RM-2162, Falmouth Amateur Radio Association).

Two were from groups of unknown interest (RM-1805, Radiotrician Confederation, and RM-2053, Hercules Radio and Recording Studio).

One was from a group with no name (RM-2284, from "S.E. Green et al)

The other 27 were from individuals.

This was long before the internet, ECFS, or PCs, so all those proposals and comments were the result of individuals and groups doing a lot of typing, copying and US mailing.

- The NPRM was a conglomeration of ideas from the various RMs and comments, plus FCC's input.
- Because of publication lead times, all this was actually going on in 1974, less than 5 years after the full force of incentive licensing.

Mr. Baldwin notes in the first half of his article that a good number of Technicians in 1975 never upgraded after the Technician.  He contends that this is not necessarily because they wanted to give up HF privileges but because they could not write the General for a number of factors. 

Not exactly.

What he wrote was that the step from Novice to General was too big for a number of hams, who wound up as Technicians. To fully understand the situation, it's important to know how it all worked back then.

In those days the Novice was a 2 year nonrenewable license whose test was normally done by mail. (Before 1967 the Novice was only good for a year).  The 1975 Novice had very restricted privileges, almost all of them HF, and no 'phone at all. 5 wpm code, simple written test.

The Technician back then was a 5 year renewable license, also normally tested by-mail. It gave only UHF/VHF privileges and was meant for experimenters. It was NOT intended by FCC to be a step between Novice and General. 5 wpm code, same written test as General and Conditional.

What happened to some hams is that they'd get a Novice license but did not upgrade to General or Conditional before the license ran out, for a number of reasons:

1) Couldn't get the code speed up to 13 wpm
2) Couldn't get to an FCC office and was too close for a Conditional
3) Other reasons (school, work, illness, family responsibilities)

So they'd get a Technician, often by-mail, and operate VHF/UHF. But since the VHF/UHF of those days had very little routine CW operation, they'd soon find themselves in a bit of a pickle because upgrading to any other license would require 13 wpm code. That would mean putting down the microphone and studying code until they could pass the test (no code waivers until 1990).

Of course not all Technicians of that era were in that situation. Many had no interest in HF, preferring repeaters, satellites, and other VHF/UHF operation. Even then, it was often much easier to put a ham station on VHF/UHF than on HF, because the antennas are much smaller (and look like TV antennas) and the equipment prices kept dropping.

This, I suspect, was the ARRL's main reason for opposition.  The dual track system would have created a class of amateurs forever closed off from HF.  A reasonable position.

But Technicians had been closed off from HF since the creation of the license 24 years earlier.

Nobody would be "forever" closed off - all they'd need to do is pass the exams for the other license ladder.

Also note this succinct explanation of NPRM 20282 from a syndicated column, "The Wayback Machine", by Bill Continelli, W2XOY.  reprinted in "The Coastside Communicator" vol. 36, no. 8, 5 - 6.  http://tinyurl.com/39et4yh  Accessed 13 November 2010.

Bill notes some interesting points about this proposal:

Advanceds, Extras, and Experimenters would all be permitted 2 kW on their designated frequencies.  Novices could run 250W, Generals/Technicians 500W.  At least a more complicated system brought more power.

First, Conditionals and Technicians would lose the ability to renew.  According to Bill, around 90% of Technicians at that time earned their ticket through mail testing.  I can see the FCC's point given concerns about fraudulent mail testing.  Still, perhaps a number of hams would not could not travel to a FCC field office or hamfest (was this still true in 1975?)  Would the FCC want to re-examine all of these candidates?

Second, an Advanced class operator or an Experimenter operator could upgrade to Extra by taking the 20 wpm only.  An Advanced could skip 4B, and an Experimenter could skip 4A.  This means that there were strictly three written exams for each class. 

Also, Advanceds would receive all Extra phone frequencies.  The only difference between Advanced and Extra would be the Extra CW subbands and full VHF/UHF for Extras.  I suspect that most HF operators would be happy to have full phone and would simply forget about taking the 20 wpm.   

Yes, those are all true. I was mistaken earlier, there would be no additional written for Extra.

Couple more points:

- Under 20282, hams who weren't extras would lose some privileges and gain some. Whether that was good or bad depended on what a ham valued. The General who valued power more than spectrum would lose, for example, while the Advanced who valued 'phone subbands more than power would gain.

- Under 20282, a ham could reach Extra by either ladder - or by both. There would also be Extras who had gotten theirs "the old fashioned way" (like me). So you'd have HF-ladder Extras, VHF-ladder Extras, both-ladder Extras, and old-way Extras. All with the same privileges!

- In 1975 the ARRL conducted a survey of ALL their US members by mail. The survey asked a lot of questions about license structure and the results were published in QST (July 1975, pages 49 and following). They got back 56,000 replies, which was about a 56% response ratio. That survey was a powerful tool in deciding what to do.

- In the event, small parts of 20282 eventually wound up being enacted:

1) The Novice became a 5 year renewable license with 250 watt input power
2) Technicians got Novice HF privileges
3) By-mail exams were phased out by increasing the number of FCC exam opportunities. Only the Novice remained as normally by-mail.
4) The Conditional was phased out by renewing all Conditionals as Generals.

What a mess.  I would've done the same and went straight to Extra.  In fact, it would've been slightly easier with this plan.

It was about that time that the experience requirement for Extra was dropped, so that someone could go from no license to Extra in one test session.

Yes, it would have been a mess.

---

It would be interesting to see what was actually proposed in all those 35 RMs. I find it very interesting that the CB and non-amateur groups got into the act.

The main point is that FCC was proposing a nocodetest US amateur radio license in 1975. Why they did so is left for the reader to determine.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 14, 2010, 05:40:36 PM
- In 1975 the ARRL conducted a survey of ALL their US members by mail. The survey asked a lot of questions about license structure and the results were published in QST (July 1975, pages 49 and following). They got back 56,000 replies, which was about a 56% response ratio. That survey was a powerful tool in deciding what to do.

The July 1975 survey is fascinating.  The survey suggests that a good number of hams were indeed not averse to the dual-track system.  Many also agreed that conditional testing was suspect.  In sum, many hams thought that operators needed more training.  However, overall support for the FCC dual-track plan appears to be quite divided, with an apparent split down the middle.  I suspect that the survey message was "change is needed, but this isn't necessarily it."

One aspect of the survey that's somewhat disturbing is the relatively high number of operators that thought that an "easier" (no code) class would bring in "undesirable" operators.  This is a standard trope that has also appeared in 1991, 2000, and 2007.  At all these junctures hams have thought that any loosening of standards would result in poor operation.  I've openly admitted that the new system is a bit too lenient and has encouraged less than stellar operating practices (especially open disregard for band privileges).  But then again, I got my 20 with a multiple guess, so I'm low(er) on the totem pole myself.

At every change there will be those that predict chaos. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 15, 2010, 06:56:37 AM
One aspect of the [July 1975] survey that's somewhat disturbing is the relatively high number of operators that thought that an "easier" (no code) class would bring in "undesirable" operators.  This is a standard trope that has also appeared in 1991, 2000, and 2007.  At all these junctures hams have thought that any loosening of standards would result in poor operation.  

I'm not sure why you say it was disturbing that a high number of hams thought doing away with the code requirement would result in a drop in the quality of operating practices?   Afterall, doesn't learning to communicate via code yield a natural respect for protocol and brevity?  Also, keep in  mind that CB was growing at that time and CB operators were no-code op.s that exhibited some serious operating deficiencies relative to hams.  The tone & language they used was (in general) much less professional than hams and they also had a significantly higher incidence of breaking the limits which they were licensed to follow (maximum power, etc.).  

One of the natural barriers restricting the legal movement of CB ops into ham radio were the written and code exams. Given that the privileges allocated to hams allowed operation at power levels and frequencies that could lead to far more public, military, & international grievances than CB privileges did -- hams were naturally wary to make the gate into ham radio easier for any citizen to pass through.  The process of earning a ham license (learning code, basic electronic and radio theory, and standard operating protocols) tended to create a better 'class' of operator than did the no code, apply-and-get-it, CB license.

I am not the best judge, as I was largely QRT for 30 years between 1978 and 2008, but it sure seems to me that ham radio has moved toward CB in terms of the quality of general operational practices I hear on the HF bands.  So maybe those 1975 hams who suggested dropping the code requirement would bring in undesirable practices were right ... or ... maybe I am just stuck in the 'good-ole-days' syndrome?  

In any event the no-code era is (unfortunately) here...  
 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 15, 2010, 11:59:49 AM
One aspect of the [July 1975] survey that's somewhat disturbing is the relatively high number of operators that thought that an "easier" (no code) class would bring in "undesirable" operators.  This is a standard trope that has also appeared in 1991, 2000, and 2007.  At all these junctures hams have thought that any loosening of standards would result in poor operation.  

I'm not sure why you say it was disturbing that a high number of hams thought doing away with the code requirement would result in a drop in the quality of operating practices?   Afterall, doesn't learning to communicate via code yield a natural respect for protocol and brevity?

I completely agree with all that you write.  CW is both a communications mode and an art.  Learning the code requires discipline and effort.  The time investment also ensures that (most) CW operators will act courteously both out of respect for others' reputation and their own.  No one ever "masters" CW.  It is a lifetime avocation.  This is the beauty of Morse, and you and I know this from experience.  I am off the air due to circumstance.  However, I will surely re-enter on CW and not on phone for these reasons. 

 
Also, keep in  mind that CB was growing at that time and CB operators were no-code op.s that exhibited some serious operating deficiencies relative to hams.  The tone & language they used was (in general) much less professional than hams and they also had a significantly higher incidence of breaking the limits which they were licensed to follow (maximum power, etc.).  

One of the natural barriers restricting the legal movement of CB ops into ham radio were the written and code exams. Given that the privileges allocated to hams allowed operation at power levels and frequencies that could lead to far more public, military, & international grievances than CB privileges did -- hams were naturally wary to make the gate into ham radio easier for any citizen to pass through.  The process of earning a ham license (learning code, basic electronic and radio theory, and standard operating protocols) tended to create a better 'class' of operator than did the no code, apply-and-get-it, CB license.

I also agree.  I suspect that the pending deregulation of CB prompted the dual track system as a means to adsorb "honest" operators from 27 MHz.  The V/UHF track did not require anything more than 5 wpm, and granted satisfactory privileges (particularly 6 and 2 meters) with the Technician.  Yet, this system would have sent the wrong message.  This restructuring would suggest that a number of  CBers (most likely attracted to the lower code requirements and the proposed 220 CB band) would become sequestered on V/UHF and gain second class status.  Indeed, even today those who wrote the "old tests" before 2000 consider new hams, especially new Extras, as suspect.  Imagine if this discrimination were institutionalized!  This would have been socially disastrous to the hobby.  Thankfully, this legislation did not come to fruition.

I am not the best judge, as I was largely QRT for 30 years between 1978 and 2008, but it sure seems to me that ham radio has moved toward CB in terms of the quality of general operational practices I hear on the HF bands.  So maybe those 1975 hams who suggested dropping the code requirement would bring in undesirable practices were right ... or ... maybe I am just stuck in the 'good-ole-days' syndrome?  

In any event the no-code era is (unfortunately) here...

Again, I am not on the air.  I have not operated HF phone since 1995, so I must rely on others' evaluation of the current situation (a necessarily hazardous proposition).  Nevertheless, if indeed the current "pulse" is correct, operating standards on HF phone have deteriorated after the restructurings.  I have not noticed any difference on the CW sub bands. 

I hope "older" operators (i.e. licensees before 2000) do not patronize the new operators.  Yes, we have new Technicians that are operating illegally on HF phone and Generals that disregard band privileges.  Chides and anger towards these operators is the worst policy.  We need to be Elmers and not scolds.  Many of these operators do have a CB mentality and use CB language.  Our task is to steer them towards being responsible members of the ham "guild".  We need to instil pride in skill and achievement.  To do otherwise will ensure that a number of new hams will continue to operate poorly and/or disregard license privileges.

73, Jordan     
 
[/quote]


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 15, 2010, 03:17:07 PM
I suspect that the pending deregulation of CB prompted the dual track system as a means to adsorb "honest" operators from 27 MHz.  The V/UHF track did not require anything more than 5 wpm, and granted satisfactory privileges (particularly 6 and 2 meters) with the Technician.  Yet, this system would have sent the wrong message.  This restructuring would suggest that a number of  CBers (most likely attracted to the lower code requirements and the proposed 220 CB band) would become sequestered on V/UHF and gain second class status.  Indeed, even today those who wrote the "old tests" before 2000 consider new hams, especially new Extras, as suspect.  Imagine if this discrimination were institutionalized!  This would have been socially disastrous to the hobby.  Thankfully, this legislation did not come to fruition.

I don't know that such a system would have led to those hams who took the VHF/UHF track as being second class.  I never considered Technician class licensees as second class to Generals -- I just saw them as VHF/UHF enthusiasts who were not interested in becoming fluent in morse code in order to gain HF phone privileges.

As for the sub-population of 'old hams' who suggest that post-code hams aren't 'real hams' -- I think they are a much smaller group than most realize.  Unfortunately a few vocal holders of this attitude get misunderstood as representing a larger group than they really do.  While a lot of old-code hams may feel that ham radio would have been better off if the code requirements of old were still in place -- that doesn't mean we consider new hams as less 'real' than old-code hams.  let us not mistake the bigots on either side of an issue as representing one side or the other for any given argument.  

to me, it seems like the biggest issue with the dual track system would have been the logistics of administering it.

I hope "older" operators (i.e. licensees before 2000) do not patronize the new operators.  Yes, we have new Technicians that are operating illegally on HF phone and Generals that disregard band privileges.  Chides and anger towards these operators is the worst policy.  We need to be Elmers and not scolds.  Many of these operators do have a CB mentality and use CB language.  Our task is to steer them towards being responsible members of the ham "guild".  We need to instil pride in skill and achievement.  To do otherwise will ensure that a number of new hams will continue to operate poorly and/or disregard license privileges.

I agree.   73, and hope to cu on CW sometime in the not-too-distant future.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 15, 2010, 04:45:21 PM
K9AIM and AB2T:

You both bring up good points. Here's a few things I remember from those days:

- CB (all references here refer to 11 meter CB) wasn't just growing in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was exploding. CB sets were being sold everywhere, all sorts of homes and vehicles sprouted CB antennas, and the popular media glorified CB in movies and songs.

- Although it started out as a well-behaved service, by the late 1960s CB was pretty much out of FCC's control. Some folks got licenses, many didn't. Some kept to the legal power and distance limits, many didn't. The most common violation was the use of "handles" rather than callsigns, in an attempt to evade positive identification by FCC.

- Amateurs were right to be concerned that the CB culture would spread to the ham bands - or that the ham bands would become CB bands. We lost 11 meters in 1958, and in 1974-75 there was a proposal to take away 220 as well. A little here, a little there...

- Amateurs were often the innocent victims of the CB boom. TVI and RFI from CB was sometimes blamed on amateurs - because you could find a ham's name and address from FCC. Ham rigs were stolen by thieves who thought they were CB sets. CB sometimes got credit for public service done by hams.

When FCC did enforcement actions against CB and "freeband" folks, they often found modified amateur gear being used. (OTOH, many old BA AM rigs survived the era in the hands of CB folks!)

There was a popular national newspaper columnist named Jack Anderson back then. He wrote a column in which he vilified amateurs because we had so many bands and frequencies, while the poor CB folks were limited to 23 channels. His article contained many distortions and flat out mistakes, but it was printed anyway and never retracted. If the press was against us, what could hams do?

- Often, when something starts to go downhill, it does so gradually and almost imperceptibly, until what was once good is gone. A little neglected maintenance here, some shoddy work there, tolerance of bad behavior someplace else, and pretty soon it's a mess. What happened to CB is that the misbehavior was accepted, and became the norm.

The big question IMHO is: How did Amateur Radio avoid what happened to cb? And how do we avoid it in the future?

73 de Jim, N2EY 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on November 20, 2010, 01:38:42 PM
Hey N2EY, after alot of back and forth with you in earlier posts, not agreeing with you on certain issues I must compliment you here. Your last post hit the nail on the head. Your description of how things started downhill in the CB days and how it became the norm was really right on the mark. I must give credit where credit is due. Have a good day.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 20, 2010, 02:42:09 PM
To N2LWE:

Thanks!

But the main question still remains:

How do we keep amateur radio from going the way CB went?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: 2E0OZI on November 23, 2010, 09:43:42 AM
I can only speak from an Australian 1990s perspective, but CB in the late 90s was still a lot of fun for 11m DX enthusiasts like I was. It wasn't anywhere near as crowded with bad behaviour and foul language as AM was, and when mobile phones took off that killed off AM, effectively killing off all the bad language folks.

CB DX in Oz was nice and civilised then. I cant speak for it now mind you.  :)

At least in Oz at the time (when I listened to Amateurs on the Frog 7700) behaviour was pretty good. The again I have never really listened to 2 metres...... maybe I am in for a surprise?


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N3DF on November 23, 2010, 09:59:20 AM
I recall a Jack Anderson column in which he accused the FCC of tolerating conflicts of interest because a number of high level officials had amateur licenses (and thus unfairly favored the amateur service).


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K4YZ on November 24, 2010, 07:18:48 PM

On the other hand, lots of old, greying Extras NEED to boast of their code skill to please their own egos.  Kind of like a government subsidy for their emotional well-being (or maybe its a "health plan" in disguise?).  Not to worry, the League (which is also old and greying) will protect you and help boast and boost morse code skill.

73, Len K6LHA



     Your ignorance of the current state-of-affairs of both the League and modern Amateur Radio are overwhelming, Lennie.  Of course if you were active in any other practical aspect of the Amateur service (other than pages-long rants on 'learning to kill' before you could use HF in the military here in eHam...watta classic!) you'd know better...Not that you'd admit it, of course...Although you do it frequently, you do hate to be wrong...

     Too bad you couldn't have been at the Huntsville Hamfest this year...Literally dozens of under 30 Amateurs there, not to mention the Young Ham of the Year award made.  It was heartwarming to see so many young new Amateurs there.

     Perhaps you should stick to the mutual glad-handing you and Keith seem to enjoy since you stopped spamming USENET and have since moved to eHam.  However I see that no matter how graciously or politely Jim Miccolis and others address you, you're still 'all about' diminutives when addressing others.

     Nothing changes.

     (Interesting, too, that "Keith" uses the eact same derisive and diminutive language you do...Are you ghost-writing his stuff for him?)

     BTW...Are you REALLY an ACTIVE Amateur at all?  Got a rig yet?  I mean OTHER than that old IC-R70 receiver and tube CB you used to brag about on USENET?  Made any QSO's at all?  Or are you still 'just' an SWL who ALMOST passed a pre-solo check-ride and chatted on air-to-air VHF-AM once in the 60's?

     Double BTW:  Don't bother responding.  The questions were rhetorical.  Everyone who's ever read your diatribe knows the answers already. 

No 73 for you.

Steve, K4YZ


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 25, 2010, 06:41:34 AM
    (Interesting, too, that "Keith" uses the eact (sic) same derisive and diminutive language you do...Are you ghost-writing his stuff for him?)

Steve,

I believe if you had actually bothered to read my posts, you might have found that Len and I very much disagree on the current status and intentions of the League.  

It has been my own personal experience (from my working very closely with them on AMSAT issues of mutual interest over the years) that the organization as a whole is very much interested in moving the state of the hobby forward.  However, it has also been my personal observation that they remain hampered in that quest by a large percentage of their paying membership who still seem bound and determined to keep our Service in the technological and sociological "dark ages".

And like you, I've been seeing an uptick in the numbers of youthful newcomers coming into our hobby as of late. Indeed, I was particularly gratified to see all the youthful faces lining up to take exams at this year's Dayton Hamvention.  

My only hope is that the pace of that influx will be enough to offset the eventual demise of those persons remaining in our ranks who still view any change to the entry and advancement requirements in our Service as a direct threat to their personal "Good Old Boy's Extra Class Radio Club".  

As I've often said, for far too long, such people have been allowed to inflict irreparable harm on our Service by lobbying the FCC and others to keep all of their rigid, "Radio Amish" ways enshrined in regulation well into the 21st Century.  This, in turn, has resulted in absolutely baseless advancement requirements...requirements that (as I have repeatedly shown) bear little (if any) direct relationship to the additional operating privileges they grant... still being forced on newcomers and potential newcomers to our Service long after those requirements have outlived whatever useful regulatory purpose they (might have) at one time served.

Thankfully, both our international and FCC regulators (as well as the movers and shakers in today's ARRL!) are no longer listening to the unadulterated, 1950s-era poppycock that still seems to be emanating from this backward-thinking, authoritarian crowd. Indeed, the seemingly endless rants from those who want to keep all that largely baseless regulatory nonsense firmly enshrined as hard and fast "hazing rituals" for entry into the "inner sanctum" of our Service are now falling on more and more deaf ears.

As a result, the decades of needless regulatory overkill this crowd has been championing for our Service in the United States is now (finally!) going the way of the dinosaur.  

Indeed, much to the absolute angst of our ever-shrinking (but still highly vocal) cadre of antediluvian authoritarians, Morse testing is already history. And it is now only a matter of time before the REST of our 1950s-era, systemically discriminatory (so-called "incentive licensing") farce is completely overhauled to bring it back into compliance with the same modern US federal equal access laws that govern similar, operationally based examination systems for most other state and federal agencies...that is...a licensing system that simply measures a person's competency to safely and courteously exercise additional privileges granted rather than a person's "achievements".

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 25, 2010, 10:52:22 AM
I don't see what all the fuss is about.

What we have now in the USA is essentially a three-level license system:

Technician is the entry level
General is the intermediate level
Extra is the full-privileges level

While it is true that the regulations still include the Novice, Tech Plus and Advanced classes, the number of current unexpired Tech Pluses went to zero some time back, and the combined total of Novices and Advanceds is now down to about 10% of US hams - and is slowly but steadily going to zero.

The last remnant of Morse Code testing for a US amateur radio license disappeared almost 4 years ago. The written exams are all standardized and available free for study. License test sessions are held all over the country by a large number of VE groups, and the fees are low. Some VE groups will even waive the fees for hardship cases.

There is no age limit nor any experience, income or educational requirement for a US amateur radio license of any class.

We have a wide selection of modes, bands, frequencies and technologies available, and the stuff costs less than ever before.

Our numbers are growing again - close to 695,000 now, up from about 655,000 three years ago. And the percentage of hams with Extras has grown the most!

The real problems faced by Amateur Radio are not the doing of hams new or old, nor of the ARRL. They have nothing to do with license requirements, Morse Code, or the Amish.

The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

2) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly technology (RFI)

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Those are the problems that need to be addressed. The others are just red herrings.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 25, 2010, 02:58:44 PM
Our numbers are growing again - close to 695,000 now, up from about 655,000 three years ago. And the percentage of hams with Extras has grown the most!

Maybe so.  

But the one set of facts that you and your like-thinking buddies conveniently leave out of such discussions is the average AGE of those 695,000.

Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  Any way you cut it, Jimmie, without a HUGE influx of youthful newcomers into our hobby, all the other "problems" you list in your latest post pale in comparison.

The inconvenient truth that you and your buddies seemingly don't want to discuss is that the long-term survival of amateur radio in the United States in the out years is now very much in doubt. I remain convinced that uncertainty is largely because, until very recently, both the ARRL and the FCC have elected to let the "Radio Amish" keep our Service's regulations and licensing system firmly entrenched in the sociological and technological "dark ages".  This, in turn, has now made our Service increasingly unattractive to enough of today's bright, forward thinking youth to keep our Service politically viable beyond the next decade or so.

For, without a continual INCREASE in the numbers of youthful newcomers entering the hobby to match the ever-increasing numbers of people in our Service who are now dying from "old age", it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that any radio Service where the average age of its licensees is now pushing 60 (and headed ever higher) probably won't be around for very much longer.  

I also can't help but wonder what our numbers would be like today if those so-called "forward thinking men" at the ARRL and FCC of yesteryear hadn't stunted the (up to then) explosive growth that was occurring in our Service back in the 1950s and 1960s when they rammed their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense down people's throats.  

Indeed, rather than a paltry 690,000 or so, our ranks might now contain upwards of a million or two million US amateurs, and our average age might now be far lower than 60.  That's because, rather than creating a self-fulfilling, achievement-based "caste society" of ever-aging "good old boys" where youthful newcomers have been continually made to feel unwelcome, our licensing and regulatory structure would have continued to be attractive to a much wider segment of the younger set.  

Right now, it isn't...and it hasn't been for a very long time.  And our ever-aging demographics provide us with absolutely undeniable evidence of that fact.  

Indeed, it is now painfully evident that the best and brightest of our youth are investing their time and creative talents in other pursuits where they aren't continually ridiculed because they didn't perform some baseless regulatory "hazing ritual" (like a Morse test) and/or successfully completed a series of ever-more irrelevant written tests based largely on 1950s-era technology just to get an advanced license to operate in our Service.

So you and your buddies can continue to do your "kabuki dances" around this "elephant in the room" that you (and they) seemingly refuse to even acknowledge...let alone discuss.  

Those of us who are talking to the people who have actually seen the internal numbers (and have listened to their conclusions about the absolutely sobering internal demographic statistics BEHIND the raw "growth" numbers that you like to keep repeating ad nauseum) know full well which way our Service in the United States is now ultimately headed.

Unfortunately, even a cursory analysis of those internal demographics paints a far different (and far more negative) picture than the "rosy" one you and your like-thinking buddies like to keep touting in forums like these.

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 25, 2010, 05:01:04 PM
But the one set of facts that you and your like-thinking buddies conveniently leave out of such discussions is the average AGE of those 695,000.

Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  Any way you cut it, Jimmie, without a HUGE influx of youthful newcomers into our hobby, all the other "problems" you list in your latest post pale in comparison.

As Jim and I have repeatedly stated, there will always be bright children that will sit ham radio examinations for the intellectual challenge and the incentive licensing privileges (Canada: homebrew privileges).  Yes, these outlier cases will not significantly lower the average age of American ham radio operators.  Still, the spirit of intellectual challenge is still there.  Restructuring took away part of the challenge of examination for a short-term gain in operator numbers.  Still, I suspect there's another way to get young people hooked into the experimental and intellectual aspects of the hobby without the added satisfaction of mastering the tests.

Keith, I suspect that your statistics do not reflect the way in which young adult hams self-identify as members of the amateur radio community.  There are college clubs (there's at U of T and one at Concordia), but the focus at U of T was (and perhaps still is) on repeater construction, V/UHF operation, satellites, echolink, and creative computer-ham radio electronics projects.  Traditional HF avocations such as CW and phone have receded in importance in favor of higher frequency experimentation.  At U of T I had the HF shack nearly to myself most days.

A guesstimation of ham radio operator age from your average ham radio club meeting neglects the younger operators that have created new ad hoc associations.  Young adult hams might not attend club meetings but form informal cliques that are more hang-outs rather than formal associations.  As a youngish adult ham (30's, guess that's aging out a bit) I inhabit a different world from the formal ham club associations.  There's a lot that you're missing if you go by the club attendance metric alone.


73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 25, 2010, 05:02:12 PM
Indeed, I have it on good authority that, while it appears the majority of recent newcomers to our hobby are in their 40s, our overall average age is still pushing 60 and is still headed ever-higher.  

what authority are you citing?  Has not the average age of radio Amateurs been fairly high since at least the 70's?  

and, just because the average age of hams may be fairly old, that does not mean that new hams are not replacing the SK's.

it would be great to look at the average age of hams by decade -- please post the data you are citing so we can let the facts speak for themselves or at least reveal your source.  is the sky really falling?



  


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 25, 2010, 05:15:03 PM
Just because the average age of hams may be fairly old, that does not mean that new hams are not replacing the SK's.

Maybe so.  

But the word I'm getting from my very reliable sources (who shall remain nameless because they shared this information with me in strictest confidence) is that they currently aren't.  

And rather than continue to argue these forward-looking (and, admittedly, highly speculative) issues ad nauseum, what say we all simply make a date to meet here again in ten or twenty years' time and see who actually got it right?

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on November 25, 2010, 05:28:23 PM
The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

I've always wondered if it wouldn't be a bad idea for a group of hams in restricted housing situations could form a syndicate and create a club station in a non-HOA area.  This would probably be most prohibitive if the hams in question had to purchase land, but perhaps a ham could host the club station on their property.

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules

This is a significant problem.  We now have greater (sometimes flagrant) violations of band privileges and even illegal HF phone operation by Technicians.  I chalk this up to a lack of Elmering, even though the privileges are spelled out on each test.  Something tells me that this is the regulatory hydra of ham radio -- a number of new hams, especially after the restructure, have little interest in obeying the rules.  I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but it's a reality we all must live with now given that the OO is moribund and the FCC has adopted an attitude of benign neglect.

I also suspect that the relatively few hams that flagrantly disregard privileges act out of the "freeband" CB tradition.  Some might not understand that hams take privileges seriously.  Again, this is a matter of education.  I doubt, however, that the message will reach many that have adopted a freeband attitude.

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Ham radio must market echolink, satellites, PSK, and remote operation as computer, internet, and extraterrestrial interests.  The emcomm licensing drive has done little more than inflate the ranks of Technicians without generating interest.  Again, the numbers help keep ham radio afloat, but at what cost?




Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 25, 2010, 06:30:22 PM
The real problems we face are:

1) Amateur-Radio-unfriendly housing

I've always wondered if it wouldn't be a bad idea for a group of hams in restricted housing situations could form a syndicate and create a club station in a non-HOA area.  This would probably be most prohibitive if the hams in question had to purchase land, but perhaps a ham could host the club station on their property.

It would be a good idea but it doesn't solve the problem. Here's why:

First, there is a significant investment involved, unless some arrangement could be made to get the space for a very low cost.

Second, while club stations are great, in most cases they involve an additional time and transport investment. A ham with a station at home can fire up whenever s/he has a few free minutes, but except in special circumstances a club station requires travel to and from the station, so a ham needs a much bigger block of time. And it has to be uninterrupted time.

Consider the ham with small children. With a station at home, s/he can operate after they go to bed (if s/he has any energy left!)  even if the ham's spouse isn't home. If the kids wake up, the ham can just sign off. But if operating means leaving the house, it's just not going to happen. Young people interested in ham radio would have similar transport problems.

There are other problems; I'll stop at two.

3) Lack of effective enforcement of existing FCC rules


This is a significant problem.  We now have greater (sometimes flagrant) violations of band privileges and even illegal HF phone operation by Technicians.  I chalk this up to a lack of Elmering, even though the privileges are spelled out on each test.  Something tells me that this is the regulatory hydra of ham radio -- a number of new hams, especially after the restructure, have little interest in obeying the rules.  I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but it's a reality we all must live with now given that the OO is moribund and the FCC has adopted an attitude of benign neglect.

It is NOT a lack of Elmering; it's a lack of respect for the rules.
We don't have to live with it, however. It is a simple matter to record such operations (when heard) and send the recordings to FCC. (I understand they like cassette tapes best). One does not have to be an OO to do that.

The FCC has done enforcement actions against hams operating in excess of their license privileges, when evidence has been submitted. The thing is, they don't go looking for such violations; we have to do it.

I also suspect that the relatively few hams that flagrantly disregard privileges act out of the "freeband" CB tradition.  Some might not understand that hams take privileges seriously.  Again, this is a matter of education.  I doubt, however, that the message will reach many that have adopted a freeband attitude.

One thing that is required for such attitudes to succeed is for others to legitimize them. What I mean is that others ignore the violations.

Suppose hams who disregard the rules were to find that no one would work them. After a while, they'd find amateur radio very frustrating and would give up.   

4) Lack of positive, effective publicity for amateur radio

Ham radio must market echolink, satellites, PSK, and remote operation as computer, internet, and extraterrestrial interests.  The emcomm licensing drive has done little more than inflate the ranks of Technicians without generating interest.  Again, the numbers help keep ham radio afloat, but at what cost?

The numbers tell a different story, though.

If you look at the number of Technicians and Tech Pluses combined, and their percentage of total US hams, there has been very little change in the past ten years. In fact, the percentage has actually dropped!

Meanwhile, the percentage of Generals and Extras has grown considerably.

The question is, how do you package the amateur radio message for a general audience? Most people do not understand how radio works to begin with, let alone the concept of amateur radio nor why anyone would want to do it.

What makes it even more of a sporting course is that amateur radio isn't just one thing; it's a wide variety of things. But they all come under one heading: "Radio for its own sake".

That's what we have to sell.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on November 25, 2010, 06:30:53 PM
Just because the average age of hams may be fairly old, that does not mean that new hams are not replacing the SK's.
Maybe so.  

But the word I'm getting from my very reliable sources (who shall remain nameless because they shared this information with me in strictest confidence) is that they currently aren't.  

then how do you explain an *increase* in the total number of hams???

And rather than continue to argue these forward-looking (and, admittedly, highly speculative) issues ad nauseum, what say we all simply make a date to meet here again in ten or twenty years' time and see who actually got it right?

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF

sounds like a plan.  I have been licensed for 34 years and am presently 48 years old.  my guess is that it will be kind of like bicycles and horses.  the modes I use now (CW / SSB) may be old school then but there will still exist plenty of enthusiasts -- so if i fail to look for you here -- look for me on HF CW  ;)  



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 25, 2010, 07:02:23 PM
how do you explain an *increase* in the total number of hams???

Our numbers (here in the USA) are increasing because we are getting more new hams than we are losing by attrition.

Simple as that.

The new hams are of all ages. Some young, some old, some in between. It really doesn't matter.

When you see claims about the "average age of hams", consider the following questions:

How are such numbers determined? The FCC database doesn't have birthdate data for all US hams. Voluntary surveys are notoriously unscientific. Observing who goes to hamfests, club meetings, etc., isn't reliable either.

Is the average a mean, a median, or something else?

The median age of Americans is climbing and has been for many years. It's easy to understand why: Americans are living longer, having fewer kids, and having them later in life. 

Most of all, consider this:

I became a radio amateur in 1967. The situation then had a lot of parallels with today.

From the end of WW2 until the early 1960s, US amateur radio numbers had grown steadily, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population. Lots of new hams, lots of ham equipment manufacturers, lots of young people getting licenses. Some say it was a Golden Age. 

But in the early 1960s the growth in US amateur license numbers stopped dead. Some years the total held steady, some years it dropped, some years it climbed a tiny bit. Overall it stayed the same, even as the US population kept growing.

Some said ham radio was too old-fashioned. Who wanted HF, Morse Code and tube radios in the solid-state microwave-relay computerized Space Age? What did "DX" mean anymore, when we could see live TV from lunar orbit?

Some said the rising price and complexity of the new SSB equipment shut out too many people.

Some said it was the lack of sunspots, the rise of CB, the many alternatives in electronics.

Some said it was the threat of "incentive licensing" and the license requirements.

Some said it was the young people. They had the counterculture, antiwar protesting, rock-and-roll, drugs, free love, Vietnam, muscle cars, and much more. Some said ham radio was way too square to be accepted by hip young folks who were in a much different groove. Bummer! (How many hams went to Woodstock?)

Some US equipment manufacturers disappeared from the amateur radio market. Others reduced their lines, or kept selling modified versions of their old stuff. Imported Japanese stuff began crowding American ham gear off the shelves.

We had a significant drop out rate, too. Some hams never got beyond the Novice, which at the time was a one-shot license good for only 2 years. Others, particularly young people, let ham radio go due to pressures of school, career, family, etc.

Woe and dismay! Ham radio was doomed! The numbers proved it, we couldn't even keep up with the baby boom! When the old codgers died off, (and they were dying off right and left) that would be the end - 1980 at the latest!

Now it's 43 years later. Amateur radio is still here - and growing. There are more hams, more things to do in ham radio, more bands/modes/technologies to choose from. Equipment is less expensive than ever (when you allow for inflation) and the licenses are much easier to earn.

And yet we still have the doomsayers.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0AZZ on November 26, 2010, 06:42:44 AM
This is a great hobby either using CW, SSB, Digital, EME, look at RTTY still used what ever we are we are all hams. Getting a license is only the beginning of a learning process that never stops or should not it has not for me.

One question are there more than a handfull of hams that are able to build a modern radio at home with surface mount componits and all that go with it? I'm sure there are some there has to be for us to have the radios we now use but at what price would it cost.

I respect all hams as long as they want to improve themselves when starting as I try to on a daily basis so much to learn so little time.

I do feel that that all who are able to learn the code should do so as I wish I could as I'm a DXer and miss a lot of really good DX that is only found on CW my loss.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1CJS on November 26, 2010, 07:27:32 AM
OK, I'll bite.

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE = ON

For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years........

73 de Jim, N2EY


Jim,

I know you've been a reader and contributor to this site for years--just as I've been.  I think you may have to qualify your point made because there have been many such hams--right here on this site!

I would have to agree that when it comes to the bands that these hasn't been many at all, but every once in a while I hear comments made as to those 'no code' generals/extras, and those comments are not kind ones.  Also, there ARE a few hams on the bands who do refuse to slow down when requested to or simply abandon a QSO because the other ham in the QSO can't come up to their code speed.  Those hams most likely are few and far between, but they are still there, and in my opinion aren't any better than the others being discussed.

There is plenty of bandspace and more than enough hams on the bands for each and every ham to enjoy their preferred modes and not to step on the other hams toes, so I'll ask this one question:

Why can't we just all get along and abandon the infighting that actually drives potential hams away from this wonderful hobby?

73,  Chris, K1CJS


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 26, 2010, 09:10:55 AM
OK, I'll bite.

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE MODE = ON

For the record, I have never encountered a real-live radio amateur whose reason for supporting a testing requirement was "I did it so you have to do it too". Nor anything even close to that. Not one, in over 43 years........

73 de Jim, N2EY


Jim,

I know you've been a reader and contributor to this site for years--just as I've been.  I think you may have to qualify your point made because there have been many such hams--right here on this site!


It may seem that way, Chris.

But please note that I wrote "encountered a real-live radio amateur".

More important, note the exact wording of the reason: "I did it so you have to do it too".

Please name some folks who have used that exact reason for supporting testing requirements. Links to online postings are the best because they let one see the actual quote. Not how others interpreted it, but what the person actually wrote.
 

I would have to agree that when it comes to the bands that these hasn't been many at all, but every once in a while I hear comments made as to those 'no code' generals/extras, and those comments are not kind ones.

Yes, there are a few. But that door swings both ways! There's no shortage of unkind comments in the other direction.

Also, there ARE a few hams on the bands who do refuse to slow down when requested to or simply abandon a QSO because the other ham in the QSO can't come up to their code speed.  Those hams most likely are few and far between, but they are still there, and in my opinion aren't any better than the others being discussed.

I'm sure some do exist, but I can't remember encountering any.

There is plenty of bandspace and more than enough hams on the bands for each and every ham to enjoy their preferred modes and not to step on the other hams toes, so I'll ask this one question:

Why can't we just all get along and abandon the infighting that actually drives potential hams away from this wonderful hobby?

Some factors to consider:

There some folks who don't know or don't care about "gentleman's agreements". For example, 3.579 MHz and thereabouts used to be a QRP/glowbug/QRS CW frequency, because it was the color-burst crystal frequency.

Then an innovative low-cost PSK31 kit rig was developed which used color-burst crystals. It put a lot of hams on PSK31. But it also drove a lot of QRP/glowbug/QRS folks away from 3.579 - and created a lot of resentment.

There are lots of other examples, such as the encroachment of DX 'phones into the CW/Data segments as the US 'phone bands are widened.

Some folks think they deserve respect even when they don't show any. You can see plenty of examples right here on eham.

Some folks equate "change" with "progress" even though some change is for the worse.

Some folks are jealous of what others can and have done.

Some folks are just looking for a fight. They'll argue with you even if you agree with them!

Some folks have a particular agenda and see all else as opposition to it.

Because amateur radio encompasses so many activities and technologies, and because many hams only do a few of them, it's easy for the 'six blind men and an elephant' scenario to appear. Plenty of examples right here on eham, in a variety of ways. When someone insists that "nobody uses CW any more", you've got a perfect example.

Some folks aren't good writers/readers/speakers/listeners. They hear/read things others have not said/written.

Some folks don't know the long history of amateur radio. Others don't care. Still others think they know, but their knowledge is full of errors and holes. The result is often conflict with other hams who know the facts.

For example, look at any discussion of "incentive licensing" and see how quickly claims are made which are completely untrue, but widely believed.

Or ask why hams use LSB on 75 and USB on 20, and see how quickly an urban legend is repeated.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 26, 2010, 09:14:17 AM
...then how do you explain an *increase* in the total number of hams???

"Increase"...as compared to when?  

The number of US licensees in our Service actually peaked in 2003 and has been going up and down in spits and spurts ever since.  And the small uptick in the raw license data we are now seeing may (or may not) reflect a long-term trend. I still firmly believe that the small increases we are now seeing in our numbers is NOT a long term trend.

That's because the other thing we need to keep in mind when discussing these issues is that, because our US license system is on a ten-year renewal cycle, the demographic information we are all now looking at to draw such "growth" conclusions still contains an unknown portion of data that is always going to be ten years old.  

That is, we don't now know how many US hams who were licensed 10 years ago have since died (or have otherwise permanently left the hobby) and whose survivors have not bothered to tell the FCC of that fact.  ALL of those people are going to still be carried in the FCC license database until renewal time.  Unfortunately, the only indication we will get that either event has occurred is when those folks fail to renew their licenses at that point and their licenses eventually get cancelled.

This is why I've consistently qualified my predictions that our numbers are now poised to TANK by saying that those sharp downturns will most likely happen in the out years unless something is now done to QUICKLY bring in large numbers of YOUTHFUL newcomers.  

I also predict that sharp downturn in our ranks will most likely come as a result of a "perfect storm" of factors including an increasing amount of non-renewals for people who have died or otherwise left the hobby over the last 10 years, the advancing age and eventual death of people aged 60+ who are still licensed today, as well as the non-replacement of both sets of hams with enough youthful newcomers to offset these combined losses.  As I see it, the only thing that is going to save our hobby going forward is a significant increase in the influx of new and FAR more youthful "blood."  Right now, that doesn't appear to be happening to any great extent.

Now, that all said, I sincerely hope I'm absolutely wrong in all of this.  But, according to all the information I'm now seeing (and what I'm being told by knowledgeable people who have actually seen some of these internal demographic numbers) I'm sad to say that I very much believe I've got it right.

But. like I said, I suggest we all meet again here in 10 or 20 year's time to see who (if any of us) actually did "get it right". Only time will tell.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: COMINGBACK on November 26, 2010, 01:24:12 PM
I'm looking forward to operating some CW once I'm back up to (slow) speed, but I know it's not for everyone.   I'm certainly not young, but in my mid-30s am probably younger than the average Ham.   The technology of the hobby is something that needs to be advanced/advertised more heavily....and not to offend anyone, but there is a stereotype of the guy with a walkie talkie hanging on his hip.   That's a fact, and not attractive to younger folks that want to be "cool" socially.  

However, it wasn't long ago that users of computer bulletin boards (BBS's) were on the cutting edge of dorkiness.  Now there isn't a kid alive that doesn't have a facebook account.  

73's

KF5JAT



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 26, 2010, 04:50:56 PM
...then how do you explain an *increase* in the total number of hams???

"Increase"...as compared to when?  

As compared to about 3-1/2 years ago.

In February 2007 there were approximately 655,000 US current, unexpired amateur licenses held by individuals.

Today (late November 2010) there are approximately 695,000 US current, unexpired amateur licenses held by individuals.

That's an increase of about 40,000 in less than 4 years. Works out to over 6% growth. And it is continuing,

The above numbers come from the ARRL website. They do not include club and other station-only licenses, nor licenses in the grace period. Some other sources (such as hamdata.com) include grace-period licenses and/or club licenses, so theirotals are higher.

IMHO, looking at the number of individuals with current unexpired licenses gives the best view of what's going on because you see the number of *hams* with usable licenses.


The number of US licensees in our Service actually peaked in 2003 and has been going up and down in spits and spurts ever since.

Not really.

At the time of the 2000 restructuring, there were about 675,000 US current, unexpired amateur licenses held by individuals.

That number grew steadily until mid-2003, when it peaked at somewhat over 680,000. (700,000 was never reached). Then it began to decline, reaching 655,000 in Feb 2007. Since Feb 2007 we've seen the steady growth listed above.

If you look at data that includes grace-period licenses, the current numbers are a little behind the July 2003 peak.

And the small uptick in the raw license data we are now seeing may (or may not) reflect a long-term trend. I still firmly believe that the small increases we are now seeing in our numbers is NOT a long term trend.

More than 6% in less than 4 years isn't a flood but it isn't a small uptick, either.

How long must the growth continue to be considered a long term trend?

That's because the other thing we need to keep in mind when discussing these issues is that, because our US license system is on a ten-year renewal cycle, the demographic information we are all now looking at to draw such "growth" conclusions still contains an unknown portion of data that is always going to be ten years old.  

That is, we don't now know how many US hams who were licensed 10 years ago have since died (or have otherwise permanently left the hobby) and whose survivors have not bothered to tell the FCC of that fact.  ALL of those people are going to still be carried in the FCC license database until renewal time.  Unfortunately, the only indication we will get that either event has occurred is when those folks fail to renew their licenses at that point and their licenses eventually get cancelled.

That's been true for more than 20 years. (FCC went to 10 year licenses in the early 1980s). The database has *always* carried a certain percentage of hams who are SK or otherwise gone from ham radio.

This is why I've consistently qualified my predictions that our numbers are now poised to TANK by saying that those sharp downturns will most likely happen in the out years unless something is now done to QUICKLY bring in large numbers of YOUTHFUL newcomers.

But the growth continues. Predictions of drastic drops in the numbers of US hams have been consistently wrong for decades.  

What would YOU do to "QUICKLY bring in large numbers of YOUTHFUL newcomers"? And why must they be "youthful"?
 
I also predict that sharp downturn in our ranks will most likely come as a result of a "perfect storm" of factors including an increasing amount of non-renewals for people who have died or otherwise left the hobby over the last 10 years, the advancing age and eventual death of people aged 60+ who are still licensed today, as well as the non-replacement of both sets of hams with enough youthful newcomers to offset these combined losses.  As I see it, the only thing that is going to save our hobby going forward is a significant increase in the influx of new and FAR more youthful "blood."  Right now, that doesn't appear to be happening to any great extent.

Now, that all said, I sincerely hope I'm absolutely wrong in all of this.  But, according to all the information I'm now seeing (and what I'm being told by knowledgeable people who have actually seen some of these internal demographic numbers) I'm sad to say that I very much believe I've got it right.

FCC hasn't collected birthdate information of licensees for many years. Nobody really knows the age distribution of US hams; the hard data just isn't there.

Sure, if you look around at most club meetings or hamfests, you'll see more older folks than young ones. But that's true of a lot of things that require time in large blocks and transportation.

IOW, those groups aren't a representative sample.

Even if our newcomers are mostly 40 and up, all that matters in the long run (when it comes to numbers) is that we get more newcomers than we lose to death or other loss of interest. And for most of the past 10 years, that's been the case.

But. like I said, I suggest we all meet again here in 10 or 20 year's time to see who (if any of us) actually did "get it right". Only time will tell.

Keith, you've been crying wolf for years here on eham. You've even claimed we were losing hams when the actual numbers were rising.

So I find it rather difficult to accept your doom-and-gloom outlook.

But the more important question is this: What would YOU do to increase the number of newcomers? Particularly the 'youthful' newcomers you claim are so essential?

I'm talking about specific actions, not vague generalities.

I predict you don't have any, beyond possibly another restructuring of the already-absurdly-simple license system and requirements.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1CJS on November 26, 2010, 07:48:29 PM
.....Please name some folks who have used that exact reason for supporting testing requirements. Links to online postings are the best because they let one see the actual quote. Not how others interpreted it, but what the person actually wrote.....
 
73 de Jim, N2EY

You do bring up some good points there, Jim.  But I will say--just as you do--that its how things are viewed by the individual.  Some things that are seen one way by a person aren't seen that way by another--and that does explain the differences of opinion between viewpoints very well, just as in our little discussion of the effectiveness of the ARRL a week or so ago.

Now, to the question posed and quoted--just look back at some of the pro-code/no-code arguments (yeah, I know I'm probably going to get flamed for bringing that up once again, asbestos shorts are on!) that were running hot and heavy right here on this forum just before and right after the code requirement was dropped.  You will find many hams on this site who posted under their callsign--and some who were too cowardly to even mention theirs--that have claimed to have worked another operator in goodwill--until they learned that that other operator learned code just to pass the test and then never used it again or that the other operator was a fresh 'no code' licensee.  Those hams came right out and stated that they refused to work that other operator anymore because the other operator "wasn't a REAL ham" or didn't get their license "the way it's always been done"--or even lambasted other posters because those posters didn't see the wisdom or the necessity of prolonging the use of morse code as a legitimate way to test for the privilege of getting a general, advanced or extra ham license.  

Yes, I was one who didn't think morse code should be used for that--and I still remember being told that if I was on the bands, I would be ignored--or worse--by those hams who thought otherwise.  If I remember correctly, you and I went at it a couple of times, but I have to say that you never made any such statements to me.

In any event, discussions like ours are what brings a little flavor--and hopefully some understanding--to this hobby.  Let's hope that that never changes!

73,  Chris, K1CJS

 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2LWE on November 26, 2010, 10:43:26 PM
To N2LWE:

Thanks!

But the main question still remains:

How do we keep amateur radio from going the way CB went?

73 de Jim, N2EY
I guess my answer to that would be to continue to cooperate with eachother when dealing with those that lean the CB way and commit an infraction and make sure the FCC stays ontop of violators who think they can play games and destroy this great hobby with their nonsense by imposing stiff, swift fines.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on November 27, 2010, 05:14:50 AM
.....Please name some folks who have used that exact reason for supporting testing requirements. Links to online postings are the best because they let one see the actual quote. Not how others interpreted it, but what the person actually wrote.....
 
73 de Jim, N2EY

You do bring up some good points there, Jim.  But I will say--just as you do--that its how things are viewed by the individual.  Some things that are seen one way by a person aren't seen that way by another--and that does explain the differences of opinion between viewpoints very well, just as in our little discussion of the effectiveness of the ARRL a week or so ago.

Of course. But do we hold the speaker/writer responsible for every possible misinterpretation of every listener/reader? Particularly when it's clear that what the listener/reader claims is not at all similar to what was actually written?

Now, to the question posed and quoted--just look back at some of the pro-code/no-code arguments (yeah, I know I'm probably going to get flamed for bringing that up once again, asbestos shorts are on!) that were running hot and heavy right here on this forum just before and right after the code requirement was dropped.  You will find many hams on this site who posted under their callsign--and some who were too cowardly to even mention theirs--that have claimed to have worked another operator in goodwill--until they learned that that other operator learned code just to pass the test and then never used it again or that the other operator was a fresh 'no code' licensee.  Those hams came right out and stated that they refused to work that other operator anymore because the other operator "wasn't a REAL ham" or didn't get their license "the way it's always been done"--or even lambasted other posters because those posters didn't see the wisdom or the necessity of prolonging the use of morse code as a legitimate way to test for the privilege of getting a general, advanced or extra ham license.  

Could you provide links to some of those posts? Because I'd like to read the originals.

The irony of it all is this: if you can't tell whether or not someone met a certain license test requirement unless they tell you, how can you judge that the person is not "a real ham"?

Yes, I was one who didn't think morse code should be used for that--and I still remember being told that if I was on the bands, I would be ignored--or worse--by those hams who thought otherwise.  If I remember correctly, you and I went at it a couple of times, but I have to say that you never made any such statements to me.

That's because our discussions were about the pros and cons of various testing requirements. IIRC, there were also some points made about the history of the license structure. (Some urban legends and myths take a long time to die).

In any event, discussions like ours are what brings a little flavor--and hopefully some understanding--to this hobby.  Let's hope that that never changes!
 

Agreed!

The ultimate irony of the end of code testing in the USA seems to be playing out, however. Despite the end of code testing, code use seems to be on the rise, for a variety of reasons.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on November 27, 2010, 07:57:59 AM
Keith, you've been crying wolf for years here on eham. You've even claimed we were losing hams when the actual numbers were rising.

So I find it rather difficult to accept your doom-and-gloom outlook.

I think the notion that you won't even consider discussing anything that hints at going against the 1950s-era regulatory dogma that you and your like-thinking buddies like to continually repeat is also very well known, Jimmie.  

And, for the record, I have freely admitted that my "forward looking" prognostications are just that.... predictions and speculation based on documented "evidence" that most US hams will probably never get an opportunity to see.  As I've also said, whether or not my prognostications become reality still remains to be seen.  But, for now at least, I stand by my comments and predictions.

On the other hand, I think you and your buddies have no choice but to admit that amateur radio's collective track record at attracting (and keeping) youthful newcomers to date has been far less than stellar. If that effort was even marginally successful, the average age of licensees in the United States wouldn't now be pushing 60 and headed ever higher, now would it?

And the notion that new hams are being ignored by some OTs after being sternly informed that they could never be "real hams" simply because they didn't take a stupid 20 WPM, FCC-administered Morse test is nothing short of reprehensible. But, unfortunately, even as we have seen in this forum, such snobbery is apparently still alive and well (not to mention well documented!) in our Service even in this day and age of personal enlightenment.

Sadly, hearing (or reading about such blatant bigotry in forums like these) does absolutely nothing to attract youthful newcomers.  Moreover, the stark realization that such bigoted nonsense is still happening in our Service nearly four years after the Morse testing requirement was dropped in the USA (and some eight years after it was dropped internationally) simply drives such prospective newcomers away.  

Indeed, as Martti Lane, OH2BH, one of amateur radio's most avid DXer's has said, "If you want to attract youthful newcomers, you need to meet them where they are.  They absolutely won't come to you."

This means that trying to excite youthful newcomers with the prospect of such absolutely stimulating on-air discussions as the details of some old fart's latest heart bypass operation (or expecting such youthful newcomers to continue taking examinations for arcane (not to mention systemically discriminatory) psycho-motor skill tests for a single communication mode (Morse) and then forcing them to memorize reams of largely irrelevant (to them) technical material that has little or nothing to do with the way most modern hams operate these days just to get a full featured license in our Service) are also real "turn offs" to this group.  

Continuing to force-feed such arcane regulatory nonsense down people's throats (all in the name of keeping some long-lost "tradition" from the 1920s or 1930s on life-support) is a "non starter" for today's younger generation, particularly when nearly all of these youngsters already have far more reliable means of electronically communicating among their peers at their fingertips …like cell phones, the Internet and such things as Facebook and MSM.

This is probably also why Martti has used substantial amounts of his own personal funds to set up an organization called "Radio Arcalia" (www.radioarcala.com (http://www.radioarcala.com)) that is specifically aimed at interesting the younger set in what we do.  Martti and his team are skillfully using terms today's youngsters already understand.  His program highlights those activities that interest the youth of today and that might be integrated into what we do...not the other way around.  

Again, this is all part of Martti's philosophy of meeting today's youth where they are and on their terms, not forcing their lock-step compliance with some long-forgotten "traditions" that may have been relevant years ago, but have long since been overcome by modern reality.

Quote
But the more important question is this: What would YOU do to increase the number of newcomers? Particularly the 'youthful' newcomers you claim are so essential?

Well, for starters, in my role as a senior officer (Past President and the current Treasurer) in AMSAT-North America, I'm currently assisting our primarily volunteer organization in building and launching a new amateur radio satellite that is slated to be tossed overboard from the International Space Station, hopefully sometime early next year.  

Dubbed "ARISSat-1", once it is deployed in orbit and is activated on-orbit this new satellite will offer simultaneous 2m FM, CW, and BPSK and transponder transmissions. These multiple transmissions will come from a completely new, so-called "Software Defined Transponder" (SDX)…the first such transponder to ever be carried aboard an amateur radio satellite.

Features provided by the SDX include simultaneous 2m FM, CW, BPSK and transponder transmissions including call sign ID, some 25 spoken FM greeting messages in 15 different languages, select telemetry as well as the call signs of people actively involved with the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program. And, to top it all off, for those so equipped and licensed, the satellite will sport a 16kHz wide amateur radio U/V linear transponder that will operate between the BPSK and FM signals.

Another experiment carried on-board ARISSat-1 (provided by the Kirsk State Technical University in Russia) will sample the amount of vacuum around the satellite each day for 90 minutes and will then transmit that information on the downlink to help experimenters and others map the vacuum of space as the satellite slowly spirals into the atmosphere. Six solar panels will supply power to the satellite and recharge the satellite's battery when it is in sunlight. However, once the battery is completely exhausted, the satellite is designed to continue sending data in a low power mode all the while the solar panels are illuminated.

The spoken telemetry values and greeting messages are all designed to help promote science and math education…and, by extension, an interest in amateur radio…by encouraging school children to listen to the satellite and track its progress. Secret words have also been placed in most of the greetings for which awards will be given to those correctly identifying them. There will also be a contest and awards given to see who correctly copies the most call signs sent. Telemetry data will also be available (in real time via the Internet) to allow school students, interested radio amateurs and other short wave listeners to study environmental changes that the satellite experiences during its orbits around the Earth.

Sound exciting?  It should be.

As part of my other duties with the organization, I'm now helping to "spread the word" about ARISSat to not only the amateur radio press, but also to other media outlets around the world as a whole.  Needless to say, the prospect of such a "classroom in space" should help us in our ongoing quest to attract some far more youthful newcomers to our Service…. that is, unless and until they get "turned off" by still being forced by their amateur radio peers to become proficient in an ancient language (Morse) and/or be able to draw schematics for tube-type Colpitts oscillators from memory in order to participate.

As you and others also know, when I'm not up to my armpits in AMSAT work, I'm also donating my time as an amateur radio instructor and accredited examiner on both sides of the US/Canadian border. Besides conducting numerous license preparation classes and administering literally hundreds of amateur radio examinations over the years to a wide variety of newcomers, as of late, I've also been helping some local hams mentor one of our more youthful entrants.  So far, he's doing well.  But he, like many others of his generation, can't understand the fixation many OTs still have about "knowing Morse" and forcing that seemingly de-facto (not to mention arcane) requirement down everyone's throats in order for them to be deemed "real hams".

So, THAT'S just a part of what I've been doing, Jimmie to try and attract youthful newcomers to our Service.
  
Now, I'll turn your question around and ask YOU what YOU have done to attract youthful newcomers to amateur radio lately. That is, besides spreading the "one true gospel" of Morse code and tossing your own "two cents" (whether it is welcomed or not) into seemingly every regulatory discussion thread here on E-ham (not to mention initiating numerous such "off the wall" threads of your own) what else have you done for the hobby lately?

Have YOU ever tried getting up off your finals to teach licensing classes to potential newcomers?

Have YOU ever gone into elementary or junior high schools or scout meetings (as I have done and continue to do) and presented "hands-on" talks and demonstrations about amateur radio along with letting such as-yet-non-licensed youngsters actually participate in on-air contacts?

Are YOU regularly donating your time and talents as an accredited examiner of newcomers on an examination team in or near your hometown?

Are YOU personally mentoring one or more youthful hams to stimulate their interest in all the many exciting aspects our hobby offers rather than just shaming them into learning Morse code and forever preserving long-lost "traditions"?  

Are YOU helping to push the technology of amateur radio forward (rather than backward) by freely donating your time, money and available talents to one or more amateur radio-related organizations (most of which are operating on shoestring budgets) that are now desperately trying to make amateur radio more attractive to today's youth rather than less so?

That is, rather than seemingly trying your very best to resist inevitable amateur radio progress on every front by offering your endless revisionist and interpretative comments from the E-ham "peanut gallery", may I humbly suggest you now try seeking out such worthwhile opportunities as I have done with some far more forward-thinking, amateur radio related organizations such as AMSAT?  

That is, why not actively contribute something of tangible value to amateur radio's future besides just a lot of endless talk and incessant, rapid-fire questions directed at others with whom you don't happen to agree with in forums like these?

To me, it is extremely rewarding to be actually DOING something lasting and concrete to continually make our hobby more interesting and relevant (and therefore far more attractive) to today's youth. And I also must admit, I find it extremely gratifying to be actively involved in projects that... like ARISSat...are actually pushing the state of the technological art in our Service forward not backward.  

But what is even more gratifying to me is that I'm now an active participant in activities that absolutely fly in the face of that horrifically backward-looking cadre of people in our ranks who still seem hell-bent on keeping our Service permanently stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages".  Clearly, what I and my colleagues are now saying (as well as doing) has many of your backward-thinking, progress-averse authoritarian buddies in our Service royally peeved. And, quite frankly, I couldn't be happier over that development.

So, Jimmie, while I freely admit that I am talking about these issues, I'm also trying my best to actually DO SOMETHING about them.

On the other hand, it would now appear that you and your like-thinking buddies are simply talking.  

And the last time I checked, talk was cheap.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on December 01, 2010, 07:40:02 PM
Keith, you've been crying wolf for years here on eham. You've even claimed we were losing hams when the actual numbers were rising.

So I find it rather difficult to accept your doom-and-gloom outlook.

I think the notion that you won't even consider discussing anything that hints at going against the 1950s-era regulatory dogma that you and your like-thinking buddies like to continually repeat is also very well known, Jimmie.

That's simply untrue, Keith. I can and have discussed all sorts of regulatory possibilities for amateur radio, both here and in other forums.

What's with the "Jimmie" business, anyway?
 
And, for the record, I have freely admitted that my "forward looking" prognostications are just that.... predictions and speculation based on documented "evidence" that most US hams will probably never get an opportunity to see.  As I've also said, whether or not my prognostications become reality still remains to be seen.  But, for now at least, I stand by my comments and predictions.

Even though your predictions have turned out to be wrong for the past several years.

Also, what you're saying is that the ordinary unwashed amateur radio masses should take your word for it - based on data we're not allowed to see. Sorry, I don't accept that.

On the other hand, I think you and your buddies have no choice but to admit that amateur radio's collective track record at attracting (and keeping) youthful newcomers to date has been far less than stellar. If that effort was even marginally successful, the average age of licensees in the United States wouldn't now be pushing 60 and headed ever higher, now would it?

I don't know which "buddies" you mean, Keith. I have a lot of friends, and they have a wide variety of opinions.

I suggest you deal with what *I* have actually written, not what others have written.

You claim that the "average age of licensees in the United States...[is] "pushing 60 and headed even higher" as if that were a fact. But in reality, you're presuming your conclusion.

The truth is that neither you nor I nor anyone else knows the "average age" of US hams - whether that "average" be the mean, the median, or something else. The FCC hasn't collected licensee birthdate info in many years, so there's no accurate way to determine the age distribution. *That* is a fact.

Here's another fact: For more than 3-1/2 years, the number of US amateurs has been growing steadily. At the current rate, we will soon have over 700,000 US hams with current, unexpired licenses.

Yet you continue to prophesy doom and gloom. How many more years of growth will it take for you to admit you're wrong?

Still another fact: The percentage of US hams with Extra, Advanced and General licenses is growing too. If that trend continues, it won't be too long before the majority of US hams have one of those three license classes.

In fact, the license class with the greatest percentage growth in the past 10 years has been the Extra - the top license class.

And the notion that new hams are being ignored by some OTs after being sternly informed that they could never be "real hams" simply because they didn't take a stupid 20 WPM, FCC-administered Morse test is nothing short of reprehensible.

Yes, it is reprehensible. Which is why I've never done anything like that.  

It is also reprehensible to label the genuine accomplishments of others as "stupid". The FCC-administered tests - code and written - were not "stupid" at all. They were simply too expensive for FCC to continue.

But, unfortunately, even as we have seen in this forum, such snobbery is apparently still alive and well (not to mention well documented!) in our Service even in this day and age of personal enlightenment.
Sadly, hearing (or reading about such blatant bigotry in forums like these) does absolutely nothing to attract youthful newcomers.  Moreover, the stark realization that such bigoted nonsense is still happening in our Service nearly four years after the Morse testing requirement was dropped in the USA (and some eight years after it was dropped internationally) simply drives such prospective newcomers away.

There's all kinds of bigoted nonsense online - on all sides of most issues.

btw, the Morse Code test requirement was dropped from the ITU-R treaty seven years ago (2003), not eight years.
 
This means that trying to excite youthful newcomers with the prospect of such absolutely stimulating on-air discussions as the details of some old fart's latest heart bypass operation (or expecting such youthful newcomers to continue taking examinations for arcane (not to mention systemically discriminatory) psycho-motor skill tests for a single communication mode (Morse) and then forcing them to memorize reams of largely irrelevant (to them) technical material that has little or nothing to do with the way most modern hams operate these days just to get a full featured license in our Service) are also real "turn offs" to this group.  

Continuing to force-feed such arcane regulatory nonsense down people's throats (all in the name of keeping some long-lost "tradition" from the 1920s or 1930s on life-support) is a "non starter" for today's younger generation, particularly when nearly all of these youngsters already have far more reliable means of electronically communicating among their peers at their fingertips …like cell phones, the Internet and such things as Facebook and MSM.

No, that's simply not what's going on. You miss the point entirely.

Amateur Radio is about radio for its own sake. It's not so much about the content as about the medium and the technology. Most people, regardless of age or license requirements, aren't all that interested in radio for its own sake. They're more interested in the *content*, which is not what amateur radio is about at all.

And no amount of fiddling with the regulations will change that. You will not see the equivalent of the internet or cell phones on amateur radio because there are better ways to deliver that sort of thing.

Nobody is "force fed" anything in amateur radio. The tests are so basic that young people in *elementary school* have earned the Extra license - even back in the days of 20 wpm Morse Code testing and 5 written exams.

Well, for starters, in my role as a senior officer (Past President and the current Treasurer) in AMSAT-North America, I'm currently assisting our primarily volunteer organization in building and launching a new amateur radio satellite that is slated to be tossed overboard from the International Space Station, hopefully sometime early next year.  

Dubbed "ARISSat-1", once it is deployed in orbit and is activated on-orbit this new satellite will offer simultaneous 2m FM, CW, and BPSK and transponder transmissions. These multiple transmissions will come from a completely new, so-called "Software Defined Transponder" (SDX)…the first such transponder to ever be carried aboard an amateur radio satellite.

Features provided by the SDX include simultaneous 2m FM, CW, BPSK and transponder transmissions including call sign ID, some 25 spoken FM greeting messages in 15 different languages, select telemetry as well as the call signs of people actively involved with the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) program. And, to top it all off, for those so equipped and licensed, the satellite will sport a 16kHz wide amateur radio U/V linear transponder that will operate between the BPSK and FM signals.

Another experiment carried on-board ARISSat-1 (provided by the Kirsk State Technical University in Russia) will sample the amount of vacuum around the satellite each day for 90 minutes and will then transmit that information on the downlink to help experimenters and others map the vacuum of space as the satellite slowly spirals into the atmosphere. Six solar panels will supply power to the satellite and recharge the satellite's battery when it is in sunlight. However, once the battery is completely exhausted, the satellite is designed to continue sending data in a low power mode all the while the solar panels are illuminated.

The spoken telemetry values and greeting messages are all designed to help promote science and math education…and, by extension, an interest in amateur radio…by encouraging school children to listen to the satellite and track its progress. Secret words have also been placed in most of the greetings for which awards will be given to those correctly identifying them. There will also be a contest and awards given to see who correctly copies the most call signs sent. Telemetry data will also be available (in real time via the Internet) to allow school students, interested radio amateurs and other short wave listeners to study environmental changes that the satellite experiences during its orbits around the Earth.

Sound exciting?  It should be.

That's great stuff.

But how will it interest young people in amateur radio? How many will get licenses and set up stations because of it?

Amateur radio satellites have been around for almost 50 years (Oscar 1 was launched in 1961). Nothing really new; commercial satellite technology is far ahead of what amateurs can afford to do.

How many young people have become radio amateurs since 1961 because of amateur radio satellites?

Here's another fun fact: Almost all amateur radio satellite transmissions happen above 30 MHz. The Technician class license has not had a code test of any kind since 1991, and before that required only a 5 wpm code test. And its written testing was only one step above the Novice.

So you can't blame Morse Code testing or elaborate written testing for lack of interest in amateur radio satellites among newcomers, oldtimers, or anybody else.

Needless to say, the prospect of such a "classroom in space" should help us in our ongoing quest to attract some far more youthful newcomers to our Service…. that is, unless and until they get "turned off" by still being forced by their amateur radio peers to become proficient in an ancient language (Morse) and/or be able to draw schematics for tube-type Colpitts oscillators from memory in order to participate.

English is a far more "ancient" language than Morse Code. Drawing schematics hasn't been a part of the US testing for amateur licenses for more than 40 years.

Why do you insist on running down the accomplishments of others?

Here's a fun fact: In my experience, one of the aspects of amateur radio that young people find *MOST* interesting is....Morse Code! Because it is unique and different, and a challenge.

Of course it has to be presented in a positive way. From the way you behave online, I cannot imagine that you present Morse Code in a positive way.

---

You seem to want to make the discussion about me and my supposed "buddies", whoever they are.

But the real question is left unanswered: What would you *change* besides the license requirements?

Would you insist that amateurs stop using certain bands or certain modes?

Would you reduce the spectrum where certain modes were allowed?

Would you censor the opinions of amateurs who don't agree with you?

Would you ban certain old technologies? Not allow hams to talk about the past? Insist that every amateur donate a certain amount of time and/or money to certain amateur radio groups before being allowed to express an opinion?

Would you require that those of us who have been licensed longer than you pass the exams again? (You'd be surprised how many of us would be happy to do just that).

What *would* you change, besides the license requirements?


73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on December 02, 2010, 12:22:23 PM
Clearly, the very best thing I can do at this point, Jimmie, is what I SHOULD have done in response to your very first set of "off the wall" questions.

I should have IGNORED them.

I won't be fooled again!

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1CJS on December 03, 2010, 04:29:34 AM
I think that one thing that should be realized is this--Even though the number of hams in this country (the US) is rising, those numbers are not keeping pace with the rise of the population numbers here.  So, in effect, even though there may be more hams, the percentage of the population that are licensed is actually falling when compared to the actual population of this country.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K5TR on December 03, 2010, 08:27:52 AM
I think that one thing that should be realized is this--Even though the number of hams in this country (the US) is rising, those numbers are not keeping pace with the rise of the population numbers here.  So, in effect, even though there may be more hams, the percentage of the population that are licensed is actually falling when compared to the actual population of this country.

This is a interesting comment to me and I think it was W5ESE or maybe N2EY that posted some numbers in one of these threads that I was really surprised to see.  Something I would have never guessed.

Here is one version of that post:

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,70322.msg474445.html#msg474445

Quote
The following numbers have been posted by W5ESE on QRZ.com and elsewhere:
 
Year    Population     #Hams  Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1914   99,111,000     5,000  0.005%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1922 110,049,000   14,179  0.013%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393,353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
1997 267,783,607 678,733  0.253%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2005 296,410,404 662,600  0.224%
2006 299,291,772 657,814  0.220%
2008 303,000,000 658,648  0.217%
2010 310,425,814 694,313  0.224%

The 2010 figures are from the US population clock

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

and ARRL's FCC license counts as of today.

What surprised me was the small number of licenses in the 1960's and 1970's.  I will admit that given the current 10 year license term it is very hard to get a handle on how many dead or abandoned licenses there are in those numbers but I am still surprised.

I make a lot of contacts on the radio each year.  My informal gut feeling is that there is more SSB HF activity on the bands from USA hams since the removal of the code requirement for an HF licensee.   There is also a huge amount of activity from Europe on the HF bands.  Much more activity from Europe than there was in say the 1980's.  During the same time frame there has been a loss of activity from Japan. 

Anyway, just some random thoughts and feelings.

   


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on December 03, 2010, 09:30:55 AM
I think it was W5ESE or maybe N2EY that posted some numbers in one of these threads that I was really surprised to see.  Something I would have never guessed.

Here is one version of that post:

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,70322.msg474445.html#msg474445

Quote
The following numbers have been posted by W5ESE on QRZ.com and elsewhere:
 
Year    Population     #Hams  Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1914   99,111,000     5,000  0.005%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1922 110,049,000   14,179  0.013%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393,353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
1997 267,783,607 678,733  0.253%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2005 296,410,404 662,600  0.224%
2006 299,291,772 657,814  0.220%
2008 303,000,000 658,648  0.217%
2010 310,425,814 694,313  0.224%

The 2010 figures are from the US population clock

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

and ARRL's FCC license counts as of today.

Thank W5ESE for that data, he did the hard work of digging up the historical numbers. I added a few recent numbers but that was easy, just a google or two.

What surprised me was the small number of licenses in the 1960's and 1970's.

Back then ham radio was much more expensive and much more limited than today. And the license requirements were somewhat different...


I will admit that given the current 10 year license term it is very hard to get a handle on how many dead or abandoned licenses there are in those numbers but I am still surprised.

Point is, the numbers *were* shrinking for a bit, but now they're growing again - and *faster* than the US population! Since 2007 we've gotten back to the 2005 percentage.

Some significant-to-US-ham-radio historical events:

1912: Mandatory licensing of all US radio amateurs, 200-meters-and-down rule, 1 kW input limit imposed.

1917: US amateur radio shut down because of WW1

1919: US amateur radio reopened after WW1

1920s: Radio broadcasting boom; amateurs pioneer use of short-waves

1929: New regulations require higher quality transmitters and drastically narrow US ham bands. Stock market crashes

1930s: Great Depression

1941: US amateur radio shut down because of WW2

1945: US amateur radio reopened after WW2

1951: Restructuring doubles number of US license classes, Novice, Technician and Extra created

1957: Sputnik launched

1958: 27 MHz cb authorized

1960s: SSB replaces AM as most-popular voice mode on HF amateur bands

1968-69: Incentive licensing rules enacted

1970s: Novice becomes renewable, experience requirement for Extra eliminated. Repeater boom era.

1984: VEC system replaces FCC office testing. CSCEs created.

1990: Medical waivers for 13 and 20 wpm code tests

1991: Technician loses its code test completely

2000: Restructuring closes off 3 license classes and reduces test requirements (both code and written) for other 3.

2007: Code testing completely eliminated for US amateur licenses.

There are many more events; add your own.

Note how the growth has varied with time, both in percentages and totals. Oddly enough, the period of most-rapid-growth in terms of percentage was the 1930s, when the number of US hams almost tripled, despite the Great Depression.

The 1950s were high-growth time, in part because of the Novice license (started in 1951). This growth is even more remarkable when you consider that the population growth of the 1950s was mostly in the form of the baby boom. 

The 1960s saw very slow growth, but were followed by the faster growth of the 1970s, 1980s and most of the 1990s. The 1970s are particularly interesting because they were a time when the economy was terrible and the full effects of incentive licensing (imposed 1968-1969) were most felt. Yet we had tremendous growth then, and onwards to the mid-1990s.

Since 1997 we've seen ups and downs, and we're still behind where we were in 1997 in terms of hams as a percentage of the population. But the numbers are catching up.

Of course the numbers of licensees only tell part of the story. They don't tell how many licensees are active amateurs, in the form of having a station and getting on the air. They don't tell how many hams use a particular band or mode, or how much they operate, work on projects, etc.

FCC doesn't have age data on all licensees so it's impossible to accurately determine the mean or median age of US amateurs. (When you see "average age" figures tossed around, ask how they were derived.) 

The license term went to 10 years in 1984, which means there were no expirations at all from 1989 to 1994, and that a ham can drop out yet be carried on the license totals for almost a decade. 

There are lots of other factors - housing, economics, sources of population growth (immigration vs. babies), increasing lifespans, cell phones, the internet, and much more.

I became a ham in 1967, and for 43 years I've heard predictions of doom and gloom for amateur radio. Yet it's still here.



73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AA4PB on December 03, 2010, 09:56:52 AM
"What surprised me was the small number of licenses in the 1960's and 1970's."

Unless you had a lot of money, rigs weren't "plug and play" back then. To keep costs down you built a kit or converted surplus. The Morse requirment also kept quit a few otherwise qualified people from going after a license. It wasn't that difficult to learn, but it did require a committment of time for regular practice. Also, CB was fairly new and many thought of it as a way to play with radio without having to take any tests.



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on December 03, 2010, 07:14:54 PM
Unless you had a lot of money, rigs weren't "plug and play" back then. To keep costs down you built a kit or converted surplus.

Or bought used stuff. Ham gear often passed through many owners!

The old rig prices don't look very high until you adjust for inflation, and/or consider how much less people made back-when.

Personally I am amazed that so many hams of previous eras had elaborate (for the time) stations.

For example, when the Collins KWM-2 came out (about 1959 or 1960 IIRC) it cost about $1100 without power supply, mike, or speaker. In those days a lot of folks lived good middle-class lives and raised families on $5000/year, and $10,000/year was considered a very good income. And we're talking gross, not take-home pay!

What you got in the KWM-2 was a very good SSB 100 watt transceiver that covered the pre-WARC bands from 80 through part of 10. But it was really very basic - no RIT, no second VFO, no modes other than SSB or audio-derived CW, no noise blanker, no provision for any filters other than the stock 2.1 kHz SSB mechanical filter. No ATU, no speech processor, no AGC choices other than to turn down the RF gain.

A second VFO and a noise blanker were extra-cost accessories.

The KWM-2 covered only 200 kHz per bandswitch position, so there were several positions for most bands, and you had to do some mental arithmetic to figure out what frequency you were on. For example, if you want to listen to 7212 kHz, you set the bandswitch to 7.2 and the tuning dial to 12. If you then wanted to tune to 7188, you would set the bandswitch to 7.0 and spin the dial to 188. Etc. There were 14 bandswitch positions, but because most bands required several positions, 10 meter coverage was usually sacrificed.

The speaker, power supply and mike were all extras. If you wanted to operate mobile you needed a DC power supply.

And yet it was considered a dream rig!

Compare that to what you can get for $1100 today.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1CJS on December 04, 2010, 05:09:37 AM
Yes, I may be wrong, the percentage is wavering somewhat.  But how about looking at it in another way--by the amount of ACTIVE hams there are.  There is really no way to tell that in any sort of definitive way, but I would wager that there are more 'inactive' ham licenses out there right now than at any other time in the history of ham radio.  Why?  Simply because of the dropping of the morse testing requirement, the availability of low cost rigs, and the proliferation of cheap and plentiful cell phones.  

How many more people have taken the tests just because element 1 is no longer required?  Of those people, how many have gotten their licenses just to find out that ham radio was not what they expected it to be?  Since the ARRL push for emcomm useage of the amateur bands, how many people have gotten their licenses just for that reason--and don't really use them?  

Also, it's obvious that there are a lot more rigs out there that are reasonably priced--yes, and even cheaper than before.  One example--look at the newer rigs now coming from China.  And when you can get a somewhat reliable cell phone for under $30 and service for that phone for $10 or $15 a month, the casual technician licensee who only got into the hobby to have an inexpensive means of personal communications has probably hung up their mike for good too.

Yes, I admit that it's all supposition, but it's supposition based in fact.  Even if it will be another seven or eight years before we can actually see any proof--one way or the other, I'm still of the opinion that the ham radio population is shrinking rather than growing.  

Comments, anyone?


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on December 04, 2010, 05:28:48 AM
Yes, I may be wrong, the percentage is wavering somewhat.  

It's not wavering. For a few years it was falling, now it's climbing. Of course the big question is how long the trend will continue.

But how about looking at it in another way--by the amount of ACTIVE hams there are.  There is really no way to tell that in any sort of definitive way, but I would wager that there are more 'inactive' ham licenses out there right now than at any other time in the history of ham radio.  Why?  Simply because of the dropping of the morse testing requirement, the availability of low cost rigs, and the proliferation of cheap and plentiful cell phones.  

Why would that mean more inactive hams?

You're right that there's no definitive way to determine how many active hams there are. But that's always been the case.

What makes it more of a sporting course is the many options we have today that didn't exist in the past.

For example, when I became a ham there were no WARC bands, no 60 meters, and there was almost no manufactured or kit gear for the bands above 2 meters. The only authorized digital mode besides Morse Code was 60 wpm Baudot 5-level RTTY, which required a lot of extra gear and supplies. Most HF rigs did not cover 160 meters - many only covered 80/40/20. VHF gear was almost all monoband.

So most hams specialized in a relatively few bands and modes. We were mostly packed into 80/75, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6 and 2, running CW, AM or SSB. Most hams could only afford one rig, and didn't operate all bands or anything close to it.

All changed now.

How many more people have taken the tests just because element 1 is no longer required?  Of those people, how many have gotten their licenses just to find out that ham radio was not what they expected it to be?  Since the ARRL push for emcomm useage of the amateur bands, how many people have gotten their licenses just for that reason--and don't really use them?  

Also, it's obvious that there are a lot more rigs out there that are reasonably priced--yes, and even cheaper than before.  One example--look at the newer rigs now coming from China.  And when you can get a somewhat reliable cell phone for under $30 and service for that phone for $10 or $15 a month, the casual technician licensee who only got into the hobby to have an inexpensive means of personal communications has probably hung up their mike for good too.

The only one of those factors I agree with is the last one - what we used to call "honeydew hams" back in the 1980s. Nothing wrong with that sort of thing! But it disappeared when cell phones became cheap and reliable. Which was about 10 years ago!

Yes, I admit that it's all supposition, but it's supposition based in fact.  Even if it will be another seven or eight years before we can actually see any proof--one way or the other, I'm still of the opinion that the ham radio population is shrinking rather than growing.  

The license numbers prove that we're growing in absolute numbers as well as percentage. Maybe there aren't as many hams doing what *you* like, however.

But as you say, there's no definitive way to tell.

As I wrote elsewhere, we're seeing more log submissions for contests and higher scores - despite a long dreary sunspot minimum. That says a lot.

Look up the top scores for the ARRL November Sweepstakes and see how many QSOs the top stations made. In SS, you can only work a station once, so those top QSO totals show a lower bound of how many stations were on the air that weekend for the contest. Those numbers keep growing.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on December 04, 2010, 07:00:21 AM
Yes, I may be wrong, the percentage is wavering somewhat.  But how about looking at it in another way--by the amount of ACTIVE hams there are.   

<snip>

How many more people have taken the tests just because element 1 is no longer required?  Of those people, how many have gotten their licenses just to find out that ham radio was not what they expected it to be?  Since the ARRL push for emcomm useage of the amateur bands, how many people have gotten their licenses just for that reason--and don't really use them?

While I do think it would be worthwhile for the ARRL to present ham radio (and especially CW) as a skilled avocation rather than a quaternary adjunct to emergency services, let's not kid ourselves.  Emcomm pleases the lawmakers and provides a nice 30 second bumper on the nightly news even if hams provide mostly peripheral assistance during a disaster or emergency.   

Yes, there are many inactive Tech licenses.  The high level of inactivity cannot be solely attributed to ARRL's emcomm licensing drive.  I am on the air irregularly (and less and less over the past few years) because of my living and work situation.  I'm always looking for a place to operate occasionally.  Should I count as inactive because I don't have my own station in my residence and my ears and fist are for want of practice?  Perhaps I should -- for now my licenses are paper tigers. 

Also, let's not be so critical of "inactive hams" in a severe recession with an unofficial 15%+ unemployment rate.  Activity will rise and fall with the fortune of the economy and living standards and situations.  Perhaps many formerly inactive hams will pick up the hobby again if/when the dollar crawls its way back to its former value, inflation is stabilized, and more jobs are created.
       
73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1DA on December 04, 2010, 10:15:42 AM
     Work a lot of CW dx or CW contests if you don't know Morse?   Maybe we should "abolish" CW dxing and CW contests  so those "without code" can feel better.  I'm getting a bit of feedback from CW dxers in other countries about "Extra Class" operators in the extra portions of the cw bands who can't do a coherent 5 WPM.  They are still under the assumption that anybody operating there had to do 20wpm at some point. 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K1CJS on December 05, 2010, 12:21:10 PM
Yes, I may be wrong, the percentage is wavering somewhat.  

It's not wavering. For a few years it was falling, now it's climbing. Of course the big question is how long the trend will continue.

I think that is the definition of wavering.  The numbers peaked, then dropped, then peaked again.  Who is to say that tomorrow they won't drop?

But how about looking at it in another way--by the amount of ACTIVE hams there are.  There is really no way to tell that in any sort of definitive way, but I would wager that there are more 'inactive' ham licenses out there right now than at any other time in the history of ham radio.  Why?  Simply because of the dropping of the morse testing requirement, the availability of low cost rigs, and the proliferation of cheap and plentiful cell phones.  

Why would that mean more inactive hams?

Yes, I got turned around here--the last mentioned fact--the cell phone availability--and the availability of FRS in wide numbers is what I meant to say.  In short, simply because there are more alternatives to using ham radio than there ever was before.

How many more people have taken the tests just because element 1 is no longer required?  Of those people, how many have gotten their licenses just to find out that ham radio was not what they expected it to be?  Since the ARRL push for emcomm useage of the amateur bands, how many people have gotten their licenses just for that reason--and don't really use them?  

Also, it's obvious that there are a lot more rigs out there that are reasonably priced--yes, and even cheaper than before.  One example--look at the newer rigs now coming from China.  And when you can get a somewhat reliable cell phone for under $30 and service for that phone for $10 or $15 a month, the casual technician licensee who only got into the hobby to have an inexpensive means of personal communications has probably hung up their mike for good too.

The only one of those factors I agree with is the last one - what we used to call "honeydew hams" back in the 1980s. Nothing wrong with that sort of thing! But it disappeared when cell phones became cheap and reliable. Which was about 10 years ago!

Those aren't really 'factors'--they're questions.  Call them 'possible' factors.  Do you know the answers to them?  Neither do I.  I am just suggesting possible reasons.

Yes, I admit that it's all supposition, but it's supposition based in fact.  Even if it will be another seven or eight years before we can actually see any proof--one way or the other, I'm still of the opinion that the ham radio population is shrinking rather than growing.  

The license numbers prove that we're growing in absolute numbers as well as percentage.

As I said, we'll have to wait and see what the numbers say in seven or eight years.  Also, the numbers for the percentage don't reflect that statement.  That number peaked in 1997 and has been dropping since then.  This year is the first year that shows an increase.  Are you saying the number of hams is growing just because 2010 showed an increase?  You should wait until the increase is really apparant.  That increase could well just be a spike due to some other factor.

Maybe there aren't as many hams doing what *you* like, however.

How in the world does that have any bearing on this discussion???

But as you say, there's no definitive way to tell.

As I wrote elsewhere, we're seeing more log submissions for contests and higher scores - despite a long dreary sunspot minimum. That says a lot.

Look up the top scores for the ARRL November Sweepstakes and see how many QSOs the top stations made. In SS, you can only work a station once, so those top QSO totals show a lower bound of how many stations were on the air that weekend for the contest. Those numbers keep growing.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Technology keeps improving as well, Jim.  Rigs these days are getting better, communications are becoming easier because of that, and just because more hams are getting involved in contesting doesn't mean that there are more hams out there who are active.  It just means that contesting numbers are increasing, and that could well be from hams who are already licensed and are just becoming active in the contesting areas of ham radio.  There is also another possible reason for the increase in contesting numbers.  It could simply be that more and more foreign licensees are interacting more with the hams in this country.  That could also factor into the numbers increase for contesting.  As I said--and you admitted--there is no real way to tell.

And again--I never said that there aren't more hams now than before, I just said that the number of hams as a percentage of the US population isn't really growing.  THAT number is the one that is really wavering after peaking in 1997.  It seems to be on the upsweep now, but that number really indicated the number of ham LICENSES that are on the books, not the number of active hams that there really are.  For that, we'll have to wait on the ten year cycle--and maybe a bit longer--from the dropping of element one testing to be sure of.

73, Chris, K1CJS


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K3NRX on December 07, 2010, 04:23:02 AM
Why is this dead horse being revived again?  Seriously, can we just move on and let it drop?  Please?

 ::) :o :-X

V
KA3NRX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on December 09, 2010, 02:54:43 PM
I think that is the definition of wavering.  The numbers peaked, then dropped, then peaked again.  Who is to say that tomorrow they won't drop?

Nobody knows for sure.

But the current growth trend is stronger, and has gone on longer, than the one from 2000 to 2003. And that's despite low sunspot numbers and terrible economic conditions.

 In short, simply because there are more alternatives to using ham radio than there ever was before.

There are more communications alternatives if you consider only the end result (getting a message from A to B). We used to get a considerable number of new hams who got licensed for personal-communications reasons rather than being interested in "radio for its own sake". That's almost disappeared. Your point is well taken.

Maybe there aren't as many hams doing what *you* like, however.

How in the world does that have any bearing on this discussion???

It's about how things appear to each of us. If the things we like don't seem to be growing, our idea of the total picture may be affected.

For example, there was a time when I thought I was just about the only ham interested in homebrewing tube-type rigs. The current magazines and books of the day didn't say much about them, there didn't seem to be many such rigs on the air, and I got all sorts of deals at hamfests because "nobody wants tube stuff any more" and "nobody builds their own any more".

I thought for years that I was the only one left doing what I was doing. Or even interested in doing it.

Then came the magazine "Electric Radio", made possible in large part by PCs and desktop publishing. All of a sudden those of us into hollow-state found each other. Then came the internet and all heck broke loose.

Technology keeps improving as well, Jim.  Rigs these days are getting better, communications are becoming easier because of that, and just because more hams are getting involved in contesting doesn't mean that there are more hams out there who are active.  It just means that contesting numbers are increasing, and that could well be from hams who are already licensed and are just becoming active in the contesting areas of ham radio.  There is also another possible reason for the increase in contesting numbers.  It could simply be that more and more foreign licensees are interacting more with the hams in this country.  That could also factor into the numbers increase for contesting.  As I said--and you admitted--there is no real way to tell.

Yes, rigs are getting better, but I don't think that alone can explain the rising scores. For one thing, the sunspots are worse, and for another there are more and more hams with less-than-great antennas. Sweepstakes is a US/Canada contest, so the DX factor doesn't get involved.

And again--I never said that there aren't more hams now than before, I just said that the number of hams as a percentage of the US population isn't really growing.  THAT number is the one that is really wavering after peaking in 1997.  It seems to be on the upsweep now, but that number really indicated the number of ham LICENSES that are on the books, not the number of active hams that there really are.  For that, we'll have to wait on the ten year cycle--and maybe a bit longer--from the dropping of element one testing to be sure of.

The point about contesting is that the stations have to be there and on the air in order to be worked.

We've had 10 year license terms for over 25 years now, too. So the lag effects have been with us as well.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N5RWJ on December 09, 2010, 09:28:18 PM
I would think most of use know the future of CW is in the digital modes, along with SDR/standalone Radio and computer/sdr radio. to see what SDR standalone radio is go to
www.sdr-cube.com (http://www.sdr-cube.com)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0AH on December 14, 2010, 03:34:03 PM
Code was, is, and always will be the essance of amateur radio -


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on December 14, 2010, 04:46:48 PM
Code was, is, and always will be the essance of amateur radio -

QSL


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

CW operators hold all the keys


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KH6AQ on December 17, 2010, 01:42:04 PM
If you don't know CW you don't know dit.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K4FH on December 28, 2010, 07:43:26 PM
The whole "CW is dead" topic is basically used for trolling.

I can say this.  If CW had been a requirement when I got licensed in 2007 I would have not even bothered.  I saw CW as a major obstacle that I was unable to surmount.  I got licensed.  I upgraded and then upgraded again.  In 2008 i realized that to really get some enjoyment out of this hobby I needed CW skills.  Low power operation is something that I like and CW is the way to go.  In 2009 a local club offered a 6 week course.  More of a support session where we practice at home.  It was the catalyst I needed.  I'm now a 13-15 wpm op and am having a blast.

In the end CW was not required but there are many of us that choose to do it anyway.  Those are the people you want to have a QSO with.  The ones that enjoy it and do it because they wanted to.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KZ2S on February 09, 2011, 04:41:03 AM
Another thought from a ham just licensed a few weeks ago, granted  my first license is a Extra. After I passed the test I started looking on-line for website to learn code. I will learn code to access that activity, does this mean I am any less a amateur radio operator because I didn't pass the code test? No, because none of you will know the difference unless you look-up my license history.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N5UD on May 30, 2011, 02:07:33 PM
"What surprised me was the small number of licenses in the 1960's and 1970's."

Well this was a long thread. To respond to the above, I submit that the legal CB licensing cut into the Amateur Radio figures. There were a lot of folks with licenses, and radios. Yes TUBE type in their cars back in the early to mid 60's.

I had friends, and their dads with these things. I also had an uncle with a ham radio. There was no comparison as to the decorum between the two. I would get a ham license, and did in 1965. I passed the novice, 5 WPM and not renewable. I also passed the technician which it too was 5 WPM, general theory, and 5 year renewable.

In about a year I had learned enough code to pass the general at the FCC office. In those days you had to pass any code elements before being allowed to take a theory exam. I don't recall writing an essay. I do recall recognizing schematic circuits, and drawing them.

The general allowed all Amateur privileges. Also one could not hold a 1X2 call without being licensed 25 years.

Generally speaking, when you contacted a guy with a 1X2 call back then, he knew something about radio.

Incentive licensing came along. It seems first the advanced, and extra privileges over the general class. Then later about 1976 the ability to get 1X2 call without the 25 year requirement.

Actually I thought keeping the 25 year was a good idea. However others did not and the rush to get a 1x2 call started. I held off until the N block opened up. Thought it might be cool to have a NEW N call. I got the first on my list.

When I became a ham, lots of surplus was still around. Not just gear, but parts. I built my own basic equipment. We were crystal controlled, so a transmitter was not too hard. Even the six meter A.M. rig I had was not too hard. Made the antennas too. My receiver for quite a while was a Halli SX-99.

The point of this rant, not to desparage newbies, is a ham used to be technically proficient. A resource should the nation need it. It was a service. The FCC used to have a higher standard.

The country as a whole used to have higher standards. Has lowering the technical standards improved the service ?   

I thought N2EY was being fair in his original statement. I too am amazed at what some EXTRA holders don't know. Code kept some out. Well I always thought one did not want these privileges very much if you could not learn 5 or 13 WPM.

I was only occasionally active during the past 10 years on HF. Only this past year have I been on HF regularly. I can't believe the change in lowered manners and skills. To be fair, it is not just an American condition.

73 N5UD


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on May 30, 2011, 05:05:52 PM
The following numbers have been posted by W5ESE on QRZ.com and elsewhere:  
Year    Population     #Hams  Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1914   99,111,000     5,000  0.005%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1922 110,049,000   14,179  0.013%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393,353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
1997 267,783,607 678,733  0.253%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2005 296,410,404 662,600  0.224%
2006 299,291,772 657,814  0.220%
2008 303,000,000 658,648  0.217%
2010 310,425,814 694,313  0.224%
2011 311,455,189 698,090  0.224%

The 2010 and 2011 figures are from the US population clock

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

and ARRL's FCC license counts as of May 25.

Note that our numbers are still growing.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on May 30, 2011, 06:02:12 PM
I submit that the legal CB licensing cut into the Amateur Radio figures. There were a lot of folks with licenses, and radios. Yes TUBE type in their cars back in the early to mid 60's.

Yes, cb had its effect in those days, but there were other factors as well:

1) Although hams had been using SSB since the 1930s, it wasn't until the early 1960s that SSB began to really displace AM as the most popular HF amateur radio voice mode. What caused the change was the development of amateur HF SSB transceivers and matched-pair transmitters and receivers that cost less than a similar AM transmitter and receiver. Compact grounded-grid linears with solid-state power supplies appeared about the same time. The result was a lot of hams on the air with high power SSB.

But the typical "short-wave" receiver of the day that was easy to use on AM couldn't receive SSB well, if at all. This closed off what used to be a common introductory path to ham radio: SWLs and others hearing hams on the "short-waves" and wondering what it was all about.

2) From at least the 1930s there had existed the Class C/Conditional license. It gave the same privileges as General but was "by mail" like the Novice and Technician. To qualify for a Conditional, one had to live more than a certain distance from an FCC exam office.

In 1954, the FCC lowered the required distance from 125 to 75 miles. In the ten years that followed, a lot of hams "in the boonies" got Condtional licenses. But in 1964, the distance was increased from 75 to 175 miles and the number of exam offices increased, so that very little of the 48 states was Conditional territory. Those distances were "air line", not driving distances.

The problem created was that getting to an FCC exam office could be a real challenge for folks not near a big city. Exams were held on weekday mornings, so just getting there could be a couple of hours' drive. If you were a kid in school, or had limited funds, it could be a real show-stopper.

3) The 1960s saw the rise of the "counterculture", which rejected much of what "the establishment" valued. Ham radio was definitely a "square" thing in those days! I mean - how many hams were at Woodstock?

4) Even with surplus, used gear, kits, etc., ham radio could be an expensive avocation, in time, effort, money and space required - even for a basic low-power station. OTOH, a ready-made NEW cb setup could be had for relatively little money, time and effort. The antennas were relatively small and the sets were easy to use.

The general allowed all Amateur privileges. Also one could not hold a 1X2 call without being licensed 25 years.

Not only that, but almost all 1x2s held Extras.

Incentive licensing came along. It seems first the advanced, and extra privileges over the general class. Then later about 1976 the ability to get 1X2 call without the 25 year requirement..

Incentive licensing reduced the privileges of Advanceds, Generals and Conditionals all at the same time. Advanceds lost less, however. November 22, 1968.

The point of this rant, not to desparage newbies, is a ham used to be technically proficient. A resource should the nation need it. It was a service. The FCC used to have a higher standard.

The country as a whole used to have higher standards. Has lowering the technical standards improved the service ?

I don't know if things have really changed all that much. Here's why:

Yes, in the bad old days the amateur exams required more in-depth knowledge than today. The equipment also required it; there was very little that was plug-and-play.

OTOH, there wasn't the enormous variety of subjects we have today. I took my exams in 1967, 68 and 70, and they didn't cover satellites, repeaters, digital/data modes except RTTY, ICs, synthesizers, RF exposure, spread spectrum, etc., etc. The questions on things like transistors were pretty basic. The main thing that made the tests "hard" was that we didn't have access to the exact Q&A back then.

As for the country as a whole - I have access to the local public-school curricula. I look at what they teach the kids today in math, science, language arts, civics and many other subjects and am amazed. I was a "first track" (academic) student, but the math I got in 9th grade they're now teaching in middle school. The biology is amazing compared to what we had. Same for a lot of other subjects. And the kids have to know how to use computers to do the assignments, something we never had. IOW, they have more tools but more is expected.

What I think we see a lot of today is that things are much more visible. In the bad old days a ham with a dumb question would only be heard by a few. Today anybody can post a dumb question on the internet for all to see. Does that mean there are more dumb questions? Or are they just more visible?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W3HF on May 30, 2011, 06:10:29 PM
...how many hams were at Woodstock?

At least two, including WA1LOU and WA1CYU (http://www.arrl.org/news/surfin-finding-woodstock).


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on May 30, 2011, 07:23:46 PM
...how many hams were at Woodstock?

At least two, including WA1LOU and WA1CYU (http://www.arrl.org/news/surfin-finding-woodstock).

KEWL!

But that's out of about a half million people.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on May 30, 2011, 07:34:47 PM
An Observation about "Lowered Standards"....

Today I was looking through my old QSTs and came upon two articles. Both were from 1957.

The first one was about questions, complaints and such that rigmakers, kit companies and ARRL HQ had received from hams. Such as the ham who "aligned" his receiver by lifting the lid and "tightening all the loose screws" - which of course were trimmer capacitors and RF inductor cores. Or the one who bought a receiver, hooked up a speaker and antenna, plugged a mike into the PHONES jack, put the SEND-RECEIVE switch in the SEND position, and called CQ.

There were many more.

The second was the first HBR article, by Ted Crosby, W6TC. (It's the HBR-14). In the beginning of the article, he mentions having been a ham for 45 years - which meant he'd started in 1912! Next year I'll have been a ham 45 years....

More important, W6TC says that the reason for the article was that the general opinion of the hams of the day - and for many years before - was that the average ham couldn't homebrew a decent receiver. They were just too complicated. He wanted to prove that was simply not the case. The popularity of the HBR series proved his point.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K2JK on May 30, 2011, 11:24:54 PM
From the NCI bylaws:

"NCI is dedicated to the abolition of the Morse code testing requirement as a prerequisite for any class of Amateur Radio License, in all countries in the world. NCI will lobby various associations, governmental, and administrative officials and Boards of Directors worldwide, to accomplish abolition of Morse Code testing."

They featured articles on their webpage every time a country dropped CW, maybe 24 countries in total.

After the FCC caved in they disbanded their organization, apparently leaving operators in the remaining 300 countries in the world to fend for themselves.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N5UD on May 31, 2011, 06:07:28 AM
"I look at what they teach the kids today in math, science, language arts, civics and many other subjects and am amazed. I was a "first track" (academic) student, but the math I got in 9th grade they're now teaching in middle school. The biology is amazing compared to what we had. Same for a lot of other subjects. And the kids have to know how to use computers"

Well my sister and others I know will disagree. She teaches at a major university. Another good friend I have in a major junior college system. For years they have complained about students being schooled to take a TACS test, but not really know anything. Not every student mind you, but far too many.

I went into university already having had nearly everything a math major has to take. Another odd thing, the engineering school I went to required a foreign language. I also had to write an on-the-spot essay. Subject their choice, and naturally graded for subject, grammar, and spelling.

As for knowing computers, most kids know how to point  and click. Likely know one piece of software well.  How many really know the basic structure ? The real workings of the processor ? A clue that the machine code really runs that thing.

Oh I ramble, but even the academic system now admits that today's test takers aren't up to the 60's standards. Yet today's test takers have study guides. The guides may have been around in the 60's, but I didn't know it.

Actually I started to say this in the first post. There has been a general dumbing down of America since the early 80's.  Once this process is started, those affected won't even be aware of it.

Yes the standards at all levels in America are lower today.

 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0SYA on May 31, 2011, 09:08:54 AM
"Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, wishes he had shot more film at Woodstock. His editor, S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, was at Woodstock, too; she was 2 (her mother took her, and to this day, Khrystyne only remembers four things about the event: It was cold, it was wet, it was loud and it smelled funny)."


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W3HF on May 31, 2011, 11:35:09 AM
"Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, wishes he had shot more film at Woodstock. His editor, S. Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, was at Woodstock, too; she was 2 (her mother took her, and to this day, Khrystyne only remembers four things about the event: It was cold, it was wet, it was loud and it smelled funny)."
But Khrystyne wasn't licensed then (at age 2), so she wasn't a "ham at Woodstock." She attended Woodstock and later became a ham. According to Stan's writeup, WA1LOU and WA1CYU were already licensed at the time. They just didn't operate from Woodstock. (Now that might have been an interesting special event to operate!)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 07, 2011, 04:09:42 PM
The following numbers have been posted by W5ESE on QRZ.com and elsewhere:  
Year    Population     #Hams  Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1914   99,111,000     5,000  0.005%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1922 110,049,000   14,179  0.013%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393,353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
1997 267,783,607 678,733  0.253%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2005 296,410,404 662,600  0.224%
2006 299,291,772 657,814  0.220%
2008 303,000,000 658,648  0.217%
2010 310,425,814 694,313  0.224%
2011 311,455,189 698,090  0.224%

The 2010 and 2011 figures are from the US population clock

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

and ARRL's FCC license counts as of May 25.

Note that our numbers are still growing.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Jim,

Or Service may appear to be "still growing", but according to the exact same demographics you've posted, our numbers as a percentage of the US population as a whole actually PEAKED in 1997.

And there's another thing missing from all the data that you and your buddies like to continually banter about that I believe will eventually prove to be our undoing.

It’s that NOWHERE in the public FCC database does it state the AGE of our current licensees!  

It is also important to remember that, because our licenses are all on a 10-year renewal cycle, the demographics you cite were only completely accurate in 2001.  Who knows how many more of us have died, or have, for whatever reason, chosen to leave the hobby altogether since then?

My own (admittedly, purely anecdotal) evidence that we are on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers comes from my active work as an accredited examiner in both the USA and Canada.  For the last several years, I have been able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of "under twenty somethings" I've administered examinations to for our Service.  I'm also getting the same feelings expressed by a number of other examiners with whom I regularly have contact.

Indeed, most of my candidates for a new license in our Service have been what I call "retreads".  These are folks who may have always wanted to get their ham licenses but, for whatever reason, were unable to obtain one until now.  And, not surprisingly, when asked, the vast majority of these folks say they were kept out of our Service by our collective, ongoing obsession with Morse testing.  

Another large group of people I test held a ham ticket at one time long ago, but life (in the form of job, family or income) prevented them from actively pursuing the hobby until now.  In the interim, they simply let whatever license they may have held lapse.

In both cases, most of the folks I'm administering tests to these days are now well into their mid to late 50s. Some are even well into their 60s or 70s. And the VAST majority of them are now retirees. As I have said, there is rarely an "under twenty something" in the lot.  

Now, don't get me wrong.  I think we should be more than happy to have these folks (back) in the fold.  And I welcome then all with open arms.  

But my own personal experiences are increasingly showing that we simply are NOT attracting enough YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service these days to replace us ever-aging curmudgeons when we (and most of our predominantly older newcomers) are dead and gone.

The bottom line here is that, while our numbers may LOOK like we have "stopped the decline" and are now a robust and growing Service again, the (not-so-hidden) reality is that the (non-club) number of NEW licensees in our Service in the United States peaked in 2007 and has been on its way down ever since.  What's more, based on my recent conversations with the ARRL VEC folks, the median age of newcomers to our Service in the United States tracks pretty closely (around age 50) with those folks who are showing up on MY doorstep to take exams.  

My hunch is that these facts, when combined with (as yet unreported) declines in our ranks from death or lack of interest that are being masked by our ten-year license renewal cycle, our numbers are now poised to start dropping at an ever more increasing rate.  And I predict they will begin dropping like a rock in the out years as our ever increasing "silent key" rate overtakes and then eventually outpaces our "youthful newcomer" rate.  

Oh...and there's one more thing...

As I and others have repeatedly pointed out, when you drill down the distribution of licensees among our various classes in the United States, it appears that more than 342,000 in our ranks now hold nothing more than a Technician license, while only 124,000 or so have "advanced" all the way to Extra Class.  

Or, to put it another way, Technicians now make up a whopping 49 percent...nearly half.... of the non-club whole, while Extra Class operators make up only about 18 percent of the total.

Those who were around in the late 1960s may recall that part of the ARRL's grand "sales job" behind the FCC's so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense back then was to create built-in (largely ego-based) regulatory incentives for ALL of us to feel the strong urge to educate ourselves and "upgrade" all the way to Extra Class.  

It simply hasn't happened, folks.

It would now seem that almost HALF of those in our current ranks have told the FCC to "take a hike" with their stupid "incentive" nonsense. Indeed, for whatever reason, today's Technicians have very clearly shown...by their overwhelming numbers...that they simply aren't interested in "upgrading" AT ALL!

In any other "educational" endeavor, a 18 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure.  Everywhere else, that is, but with the ARRL's and FCC's myopic attempts to turn Amateur Radio into the "No Budding RF Engineer Left Behind" Radio Service.  

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 07, 2011, 06:47:08 PM
The following numbers have been posted by W5ESE on QRZ.com and elsewhere: 
Year    Population     #Hams  Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1914   99,111,000     5,000  0.005%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1922 110,049,000   14,179  0.013%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393,353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
1997 267,783,607 678,733  0.253%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2005 296,410,404 662,600  0.224%
2006 299,291,772 657,814  0.220%
2008 303,000,000 658,648  0.217%
2010 310,425,814 694,313  0.224%
2011 311,455,189 698,090  0.224%

The 2010 and 2011 figures are from the US population clock

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

and ARRL's FCC license counts as of May 25.

Note that our numbers are still growing.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Jim,

Or Service may appear to be "still growing", but according to the exact same demographics you've posted, our numbers as a percentage of the US population as a whole actually PEAKED in 1997.

That's true. And after 1997, the percentage began to drop. But since 2008 it's been on the rise again, as have the totals.

Point is, we now have more US amateurs than ever before. And the numbers just keep growing.

And there's another thing missing from all the data that you and your buddies like to continually banter about that I believe will eventually prove to be our undoing.

It’s that NOWHERE in the public FCC database does it state the AGE of our current licensees!  .

That's because birthdate info hasn't been collected by FCC for many years. Nobody knows the ages of US amateurs to any real degree of accuracy.

It is also important to remember that, because our licenses are all on a 10-year renewal cycle, the demographics you cite were only completely accurate in 2001. .

Why were they only completely accurate in 2001?

Who knows how many more of us have died, or have, for whatever reason, chosen to leave the hobby altogether since then?

Nobody knows - nor did they know in 2001.

We've had 10 year license terms for almost 30 years. The database has always carried a certain number of licensees who were gone from amateur radio in all ways except the license. Nothing new.

My own (admittedly, purely anecdotal) evidence that we are on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers comes from my active work as an accredited examiner in both the USA and Canada.  For the last several years, I have been able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of "under twenty somethings" I've administered examinations to for our Service.  I'm also getting the same feelings expressed by a number of other examiners with whom I regularly have contact.

Why would the relative lack of under-20 newcomers cause us to be on the cusp of a rapid decline?

Indeed, most of my candidates for a new license in our Service have been what I call "retreads".  These are folks who may have always wanted to get their ham licenses but, for whatever reason, were unable to obtain one until now.  And, not surprisingly, when asked, the vast majority of these folks say they were kept out of our Service by our collective, ongoing obsession with Morse testing. 

Another large group of people I test held a ham ticket at one time long ago, but life (in the form of job, family or income) prevented them from actively pursuing the hobby until now.  In the interim, they simply let whatever license they may have held lapse.

In both cases, most of the folks I'm administering tests to these days are now well into their mid to late 50s. Some are even well into their 60s or 70s. And the VAST majority of them are now retirees. As I have said, there is rarely an "under twenty something" in the lot.

So? What's the problem?

Way back in the 1980s I noticed that many newcomers were older than I. Many were empty nesters who finally had the time, space and money for things like ham radio. Others were looking for a personal radio service, and found it in the local repeaters.

Nothing wrong with any of it. A new ham who is 60 will probably be with us at least 20 more years.

In fact we may soon see a real explosion in our numbers as millions of "baby boomers" (those born between 1946 and 1964) reach retirement age.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I think we should be more than happy to have these folks (back) in the fold.  And I welcome then all with open arms. 

But my own personal experiences are increasingly showing that we simply are NOT attracting enough YOUTHFUL newcomers to our Service these days to replace us ever-aging curmudgeons when we (and most of our predominantly older newcomers) are dead and gone.

The bottom line here is that, while our numbers may LOOK like we have "stopped the decline" and are now a robust and growing Service again, the (not-so-hidden) reality is that the (non-club) number of NEW licensees in our Service in the United States peaked in 2007 and has been on its way down ever since.

How do you know the new-license peak was in 2007?

What's more, based on my recent conversations with the ARRL VEC folks, the median age of newcomers to our Service in the United States tracks pretty closely (around age 50) with those folks who are showing up on MY doorstep to take exams.

A 50 year old newcomer will probably be with us at least 30 years. What's the problem?

My hunch is that these facts, when combined with (as yet unreported) declines in our ranks from death or lack of interest that are being masked by our ten-year license renewal cycle, our numbers are now poised to start dropping at an ever more increasing rate.  And I predict they will begin dropping like a rock in the out years as our ever increasing "silent key" rate overtakes and then eventually outpaces our "youthful newcomer" rate.

You've been predicting that doom-and-gloom here for years, Keith. But it simply hasn't happened. The trend is in the other direction.

Of course it would be great if we had a lot more new hams and a lot more younger hams. But the idea that we're on the eve of destruction just isn't borne out by the facts.

Oh...and there's one more thing...

As I and others have repeatedly pointed out, when you drill down the distribution of licensees among our various classes in the United States, it appears that more than 342,000 in our ranks now hold nothing more than a Technician license, while only 124,000 or so have "advanced" all the way to Extra Class. 

Or, to put it another way, Technicians now make up a whopping 49 percent...nearly half.... of the non-club whole, while Extra Class operators make up only about 18 percent of the total.

Those who were around in the late 1960s may recall that part of the ARRL's grand "sales job" behind the FCC's so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense back then was to create built-in (largely ego-based) regulatory incentives for ALL of us to feel the strong urge to educate ourselves and "upgrade" all the way to Extra Class. 

It simply hasn't happened, folks.

It would now seem that almost HALF of those in our current ranks have told the FCC to "take a hike" with their stupid "incentive" nonsense. Indeed, for whatever reason, today's Technicians have very clearly shown...by their overwhelming numbers...that they simply aren't interested in "upgrading" AT ALL!

So? If someone is satisfied with the Technician license, or any other class, why should they upgrade?

If a ham isn't interested in HF/MF, why should s/he bother to go beyond Technican? The only thing an upgrade offers the VHF/UHF ham is a slightly wider choice of vanity calls (Techs can get 1x3 calls) and the ability to be a VE.

If a ham isn't interested in full privileges on 80, 40, 20 and 15, why should s/he bother to go beyond General?

And consider these numbers, all from the ARRL website:

US individual hams as of May 14, 2000:

Novice - 49,329 (7.3%)
Technician - 205,394 (30.4%)
Technician Plus - 128,860 (19.1%)
General - 112,677 (16.7%)
Advanced - 99,782 (14.8%)
Extra - 78,750 (11.7%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 334,254 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 674,792

As of February 22, 2007:

Novice - 22,896 (3.5%)
Technician - 293,508 (44.8%)
Technician Plus - 30,818 (4.7%)
General - 130,138 (19.9%)
Advanced - 69,050 (10.5%)
Extra - 108,270 (16.5%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 324,326 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 654,680

As of May 21, 2011:

Novice: 15,201 (2.2%)
Technician 341,710 (48.9%)
Technician Plus 0 (0.0%)
General 158,017 (22.6%)
Advanced 58,725 (8.4%)
Extra 124,458 (17.8%)

Total 698,111

The percentage of US hams with a Technician or Tech Plus has DROPPED from 49.5% to 48.9% in 11 years. The total number of hams with either of those license classes has increased by less than 8,000 in those years.

Meanwhile, the percentage of US hams with a General has risen from 16.7% to 22.6% in 11 years. The total number of hams with a General has increased by more than 45,000 in those years.

And the percentage of US hams with an Extra has risen from 11.7% to 17.8% in 11 years. The total number of hams with an Extra has increased by more than 45,000 in those years.

The other license classes are shrinking because FCC doesn't issue new licenses in those classes any more.

If you add the Novice numbers to the Tech/Tech Plus totals, the change is even more pronounced.

IOW, what we're seeing is the Tech staying level while the higher classes grow and grow. 

 
In any other "educational" endeavor, a 18 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure.
Really?

What percentage of high school graduates go on to earn a 4 year bachelor's degree?

What percentage of them go on to a master's degree?

What percentage of them go on to a Ph.D. or equivalent?

Is the educational system a dismal failure because everybody doesn't get a Ph.D?

One more data point:
When I got my Extra in 1970 at the age of 16, there were only a few thousand of us with that license. Less than 2% of US hams were Extras in those days. Now, the percentage is closing in on 18% - and rising. Soon there will be more than 700,000 of us.

It's all good.

73 de Jim, N2EY



 




Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KD8DEY on June 07, 2011, 08:06:34 PM
Code/No Code = Dead Issue
Even Japan is dropping code requirements
get over it
You will be much happier


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 07, 2011, 08:24:58 PM
When I got my Extra in 1970 at the age of 16, there were only a few thousand of us with that license. Less than 2% of US hams were Extras in those days. Now, the percentage is closing in on 18% - and rising. Soon there will be more than 700,000 of us.

It's all good.  

Perhaps.

But an awful lot can happen in 10 years.  

And since what you and I are BOTH discussing here is speculation and projections based on past history, only time will tell what the future actually holds for our Service.

As I've said, the one "unknown unknown" in all of this is the impact our now rapidly aging (and dying) ham population will have on our Service.  And while I'll readily admit the imminent demise of ham radio has been predicted over and over (and over again) in the past, the difference this time is that we've never had to account for the fact that the average amateur in our Service is pushing 60 and may even be well North of that number by now.  

The truth is that our hobby simply isn't attracting today's youth in the same numbers that it was when you and I first got our licenses.  And it's those people who now make up the bulk of the population of the hobby.  Clearly, as our generation continues to age and die without also being replaced by youthful "new blood" it will most certainly impact our continuing ability to hang onto our frequencies going forward.  Just how much of an impact that changing demographic will have over time (and when) remains to be seen.  

Unfortunately, when the bureaucrats and politicians who decide such things ultimately decide who gets what access to which parts of the radio spectrum, "quantity" has a "quality" all its own.  And without continued access to our frequencies, the hobby dies.  It's that simple.

So, once again, Jim, I suggest you and I make a date to meet here in 10-15 year's time and see who got it right.  In the meantime, I have absolutely NO intention of playing any more of your silly little "line by line" question games.  

I simply wanted the other readers of this forum to have some other considerations to "chew on" in this discussion that seem to have now gotten lost in all of your cheering.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 08, 2011, 03:24:31 AM
Code/No Code = Dead Issue

Yes, the test is a dead issue. Gone and not coming back. However, the discussion in this thread is now about growth or its lack.

Latest total from ARRL: 698,582

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 08, 2011, 05:34:40 AM
When I got my Extra in 1970 at the age of 16, there were only a few thousand of us with that license. Less than 2% of US hams were Extras in those days. Now, the percentage is closing in on 18% - and rising. Soon there will be more than 700,000 of us.

It's all good.  

Perhaps.

But an awful lot can happen in 10 years.  

It's been more than 40 years since I got the Extra, and more than 43 years since I became a ham. And there have always been the doomsayers who proclaimed that ham radio was dying, and that in 10-20 years it would simply disappear.

The supposed causes changed, but the predictions stayed the same. In the 1960s it was "incentive licensing". In the 1970s it was cb. In the 1980s it was Japanese rigs and computers. In the 1990s it was cell phones and the internet. And lots of other things.

And yet doomsday never came. But just like that preacher who said the end was coming May 21 (or whenever), the predictions of the end don't end.

This doesn't mean we don't have issues or that we can't do more to publicize amateur radio and attract new people. But it does mean we're not on a sinking ship.

And since what you and I are BOTH discussing here is speculation and projections based on past history, only time will tell what the future actually holds for our Service.

As I've said, the one "unknown unknown" in all of this is the impact our now rapidly aging (and dying) ham population will have on our Service.  And while I'll readily admit the imminent demise of ham radio has been predicted over and over (and over again) in the past, the difference this time is that we've never had to account for the fact that the average amateur in our Service is pushing 60 and may even be well North of that number by now.

Nobody knows what "the average age" of a US radio amateur is today. The FCC hasn't collected birthdate data for years. Not only don't we know the "average age", we don't know the trend. Nor do we really know what the "average age" was in the past.   

However, what we DO know is this:

The median age of the US population is rising. This is due to several factors: More people living longer, people having fewer kids and having them later in life, and the aging of the "baby boomers". Last time I looked, the median age of the US population was in the late 30s, and the life expectancy of Americans was in the high 70s.

While there are notable exceptions, very few people under 12 get amateur licenses. So the median age of the amateur population should be at least 12 years older than that of the US population.  Which works out to be somewhere around 50.


The truth is that our hobby simply isn't attracting today's youth in the same numbers that it was when you and I first got our licenses.  And it's those people who now make up the bulk of the population of the hobby.  Clearly, as our generation continues to age and die without also being replaced by youthful "new blood" it will most certainly impact our continuing ability to hang onto our frequencies going forward.  Just how much of an impact that changing demographic will have over time (and when) remains to be seen.

The main point, however, is that our numbers are growing, and have been for several years, despite the drop-outs and die-offs.

Historically, amateur radio has gone through a number of different demographic profiles. Prior to 1951, there were actually very few teenage hams; the typical newcomer was in his/her 20s or older. The creation of the Novice in 1951, coupled with inexpensive WW2 surplus, kits, post-war prosperity and mass migration to the suburbs led to a dramatic increase in the number of newcomers in their teens. The Novice was a big hit from the beginning, bringing in large numbers of new hams for 30+ years. Most of those Novices went on to upgrade to General, as well. They didn't let a couple of tests stop them.

The reasons we have fewer teenage newcomers nowadays have nothing to do with testing. They are the result of other factors, such as equipment cost, antenna constraints, and lack of publicity.

73 de Jim, N2EY





Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 08, 2011, 09:16:28 AM
This doesn't mean we don't have issues or that we can't do more to publicize amateur radio and attract new people. But it does mean we're not on a sinking ship.

....in your opinion.

I see a very different picture.  Our "ship" is not just sinking, Jim, it's now aging and (quite literally) DYING from lack of new, youthful participation.

But, as I've said in numerous other posts in various forums, the collective seeds of our demise were sown long before you and I got our licenses.  So, in that sense, it's only a matter of time now before our numbers really start to "tank" and our ability to hang onto our frequencies becomes increasingly more difficult, if not impossible.

That all may not happen this week, next week, next month, or even next year.  But that day IS most assuredly coming.

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0SYA on June 08, 2011, 04:06:38 PM
Ham radio dying is not the end of the world. and I doubt it will die, untill like a nookular war happens or somesuch. Most kids today in the US care very little for beeping and static, video games and texting are far more popular than beeping and static. If the kids aren't interested in amateur radio, I don't care. If they don't like it, why try to force them to? Why should we promote ham radio at all? Why not simply enjoy ham radio? Better to just get on the air and not worry about the death of ham radio, as if you would ever stop it. Besides, what if the 700k we have right now all got on the air at the same time?


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 08, 2011, 05:05:31 PM
Ham radio dying is not the end of the world. and I doubt it will die, untill like a nookular war happens or somesuch. Most kids today in the US care very little for beeping and static, video games and texting are far more popular than beeping and static. If the kids aren't interested in amateur radio, I don't care. If they don't like it, why try to force them to? Why should we promote ham radio at all? Why not simply enjoy ham radio? Better to just get on the air and not worry about the death of ham radio, as if you would ever stop it. Besides, what if the 700k we have right now all got on the air at the same time?

Sometimes, I'm absolutely amazed at how totally oblivious many hams are to the political and regulatory realities of the world around us.  

Indeed, some of us here STILL seem to arrogantly believe that we live in this little "spectrum bubble" and that our politicians and regulators are forever obligated to provide us frequency spectrum to play in "just because" we're somehow entitled to it.  

Absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth.

I think the words posted on the Radio of Canada's Web site sums this issue up best when they note that, "Amateur Radio exists as a frequency spectrum user because it qualifies as a Service. Its continued existence depends to a great degree not on the service it has performed in the past, or on its simple potential for service, but on what service it is performing now and will continue to perform in the future."

That is, unlike a lot of other hobbies like photography, fishing, collecting old stamps or automobiles, our ham radio hobby ALSO relies almost exclusively on our continued, fee-free access to an ever-more-scarce, shared finite resource called the radio spectrum.  

And, both by the laws of physics as well as by national and international laws and agreements as to how that spectrum is to be allocated and used, that resource has to be shared with not only well-heeled commercial interests, but also by government and military users as well.  ALL of these users (including us) are in constant competition for a bigger slice of the "pie", or failing that, to simply hold on to the access that each of us now has.

This, in turn, means that we have to continually justify our existence to these politicians and regulators.  Unfortunately, a lot of that justification depends on how many of us are not just licensed, but are actually using the spectrum space allocated to our Service.  As I said, when it comes to allocating scarce radio spectrum, "quantity" takes on a "quality" all its own.

It will be interesting to see just how much our rate of growth has slacked off this year (2011) as compared to last year (2010) and the year before that (2009). According to the latest published reports by the ARRL VEC, the largest influx of new hams in the United States in recent memory occurred in 2009.  However, our rate of growth in the United States since that time has started to once again go negative.  And God only knows how many more of us still have licenses but haven't transmitted on the ham bands in a dog's age!

What's more, if all we are now attracting are aging "oldsters"...those persons who "always wanted to be a ham", or were hams at one time who let their licenses lapse, or were waiting for the Morse testing requirement to go away...sooner or later we are eventually going to run out of  people in that demographic to replenish those of us who are now dying in ever-increasing numbers.  

Indeed, that's exactly what the ARRL's "newly licensed ham" demographics seem to now indicate.  The "pent up demand" for new licenses now that the Morse testing nonsense has gone away has largely cleared and our "newly licensed ham" numbers are, once again, on their way back down again.  

If that trend continues, at some point, the number of users in our Service will become so small that we will be unable to justify our continued access to our frequencies.  And once we loose access to our frequencies for lack of use, all these silly arguments over whether (or not) we should be tested for Morse or that only those who construct their equipment from scratch are "real hams" will all become quite moot.

By then, I predict our precious frequencies will have been taken away from us and given over to someone else.  And, without access to our frequencies, our hobby dies.

Now, I certainly hope I'm dead wrong in all of these predictions.  However, unless these trends quickly reverse themselves and we start attracting (and keeping) far greater numbers of youthful newcomers to replace those of us who are now aging and dying in ever-increasing numbers, my fear is that my predictions are probably going to be proven right.

But, like I said, only time will tell.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0SYA on June 08, 2011, 08:12:21 PM
The kids aren't going to save ham radio from politicians. Look at the loss of parts of 220 that mostly go unused by those who stole it from us. Kids didn't rescue us there either. If they (politicians and those who own them) really want the spectrum that bad they will just say we can't be trusted to tx anymore as we might be in contact with "terrorists" or some other fabrication they deem usefull. Or they will come out and say that ham tx are harmfull to the environment. I mean, they (judges and those who own them) just deleted the 4th ammendment to the constitution and you are hoping kids will save ham radio. Either way, I'm not concerned. But you can go and beat the drums of ham radio with my approval, and, oddly enough, best regards.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 09, 2011, 03:37:59 AM
The kids aren't going to save ham radio from politicians. Look at the loss of parts of 220 that mostly go unused by those who stole it from us. Kids didn't rescue us there either. If they (politicians and those who own them) really want the spectrum that bad they will just say we can't be trusted to tx anymore...

Exactly!

But there's more to it. And they're taking a different road.

First, many of our bands are protected by treaty. One big reason we lost 220-222 is that it's not protected by treaty.

Second, nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands. HF is old technology, narrow band and unreliable. A backup at best. Note that even SWBC is dying out. The spectrum wanted by the commercial and government folks is all VHF/UHF.

Third, what really matters is how many *active* hams we have on the air - and what they do on the air.

Fourth, the real threat to ham radio isn't number of hams. It's things like antenna restrictions, BPL, RFI, overly-complicated gear and other stuff that makes it too difficult to get on the air effectively.

When I got started in ham radio, I built a simple receiver and strung a wire out to the apple tree in the back yard. Inexpensive, quick and simple. Not much but it worked, and got me started. How many young people today live in places where they could do that?

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 09, 2011, 06:08:32 AM
Second, nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands. HF is old technology, narrow band and unreliable. A backup at best. Note that even SWBC is dying out. The spectrum wanted by the commercial and government folks is all VHF/UHF.

.....Today.

But what about the future?

Perhaps you and others have forgotten that in the early days of our Service, we hams were "banished" to those "worthless" frequencies below 200 meters.  Over time, we (and others) discovered that those "worthless" frequencies weren't so "worthless" after all.  Once that happened, we had to justify our existence before the US Congress and the military...BIG TIME. Few modern-day hams fully realize how very close we came back then to not having an Amateur Radio Service....at all.

So, while I certainly agree that, "nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands",  I would also add "TODAY" to that phrase. Who knows what yet-to-be-invented communication technologies of the future may once again make our HF frequencies a veritable gold mine and therefore ripe for commercial exploitation down the road?

Quote
The real threat to ham radio isn't number of hams. It's things like antenna restrictions, BPL, RFI, overly-complicated gear and other stuff that makes it too difficult to get on the air effectively.

Horsepucky!

There are any number of ways for hams to pursue the hobby these days in spite of all of these restrictions.  

Clearly, you haven't bothered to keep up-to-date with the whole plethora of magazine columns and other published works regarding the innumerable ways today's hams can operate from tight, deed-restricted spaces.  That is, of course, unless you are one of those people who remain totally wedded to operating old "boat anchors" (you know, all that ancient AM stuff that glows in the dark and that people get a hernia from just trying to pick up)!

The truth is that our modern day HF and VHF/UHF ham equipment has now gotten so lightweight and compact that a whole ham station easily fits into a small suitcase.  Most of it can operate for several hours off of a 12V battery and it can be set up almost anywhere.  

For example, just last weekend, I set my Yaesu FT-857 up on a picnic table in a local park, threw a G5RV dipole antenna over a tree, ran the whole thing off a 12V car charger and had a ball working not only all over North America, but well into Europe and South America as well.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0SYA on June 09, 2011, 06:48:42 AM
The kids aren't going to save ham radio from politicians. Look at the loss of parts of 220 that mostly go unused by those who stole it from us. Kids didn't rescue us there either. If they (politicians and those who own them) really want the spectrum that bad they will just say we can't be trusted to tx anymore...

Exactly!

But there's more to it. And they're taking a different road.

First, many of our bands are protected by treaty. One big reason we lost 220-222 is that it's not protected by treaty.

Second, nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands. HF is old technology, narrow band and unreliable. A backup at best. Note that even SWBC is dying out. The spectrum wanted by the commercial and government folks is all VHF/UHF.

Third, what really matters is how many *active* hams we have on the air - and what they do on the air.

Fourth, the real threat to ham radio isn't number of hams. It's things like antenna restrictions, BPL, RFI, overly-complicated gear and other stuff that makes it too difficult to get on the air effectively.

When I got started in ham radio, I built a simple receiver and strung a wire out to the apple tree in the back yard. Inexpensive, quick and simple. Not much but it worked, and got me started. How many young people today live in places where they could do that?

73 de Jim, N2EY



Yep, the commercial interests who buy politicians want v/uhf for one reason: bandwidth. Hf (fortunately) doesn't have the bw they need to be able to sell their services to the kids who don't care for beeping and static. Surely there are at least some kids who might be interested in beeping and static, but not many. They are truly elites in their time.

"What's that thing?"
"oh this? Just my ham radio... I can talk all over the wor..."
"People still do that?!?"


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AA4PB on June 09, 2011, 08:17:49 AM
The whole HF spectrum contains just 30MHz of bandwidth. For comparison, just one microwave transmission can easily consume 30MHz of bandwidth.

The VHF/UHF spectrum contains 2970MHz of bandwidth.

If you were needing bandwidth for your consumer product, where would you look?  ???



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W5ESE on June 09, 2011, 09:42:11 AM
I just had a thought; pretty soon we're going to run out of Social Security recipients!!! Look at how OOOLD they all are!!! Heck, I'll bet most of them are over 62!!!


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 09, 2011, 11:24:04 AM
Perhaps you and others have forgotten that in the early days of our Service, we hams were "banished" to those "worthless" frequencies below 200 meters.  Over time, we (and others) discovered that those "worthless" frequencies weren't so "worthless" after all.  Once that happened, we had to justify our existence before the US Congress and the military...BIG TIME. Few modern-day hams fully realize how very close we came back then to not having an Amateur Radio Service....at all.

You're actually conflating a couple of events.

Amateurs were banished to 200 Meters And Down in 1912, as part of universal mandatory licensing of transmitting stations and other regulations imposed in the wake of the Titanic disaster.

The big threats to our existence came after WW1. First, there was strong opposition to reopening the spectrum after Armistice Day. This threat was at the national level. In the 1920s, there were several international radio conferences where there were strong attempts to legislate us out of existence by treaty, or to so restrict us as to make amateur radio impractical.

In both cases it was the ARRL who led the fight against those threats, and ultimately won.

So, while I certainly agree that, "nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands",  I would also add "TODAY" to that phrase. Who knows what yet-to-be-invented communication technologies of the future may once again make our HF frequencies a veritable gold mine and therefore ripe for commercial exploitation down the road?

You forget that radio was in its infancy in 1912 and the 1920s. HF was considered worthless then because long-distance propagation by ionospheric refraction hadn't been discovered yet, because the available technologies couldn't use the short-waves efficiently, and because the main commercial use of radio then was for long-distance communication where wires weren't practical.

That's all changed now. The main commercial uses of radio now are for short-range mobile/portable/cordless communications and satellites. HF isn't suited for either; it's a back-up at best. The bandwidth is too small and the antennas are too big. VHF/UHF is the hot property.

The real threat to ham radio isn't number of hams. It's things like antenna restrictions, BPL, RFI, overly-complicated gear and other stuff that makes it too difficult to get on the air effectively.

Horsepucky!

There are any number of ways for hams to pursue the hobby these days in spite of all of these restrictions.  

Clearly, you haven't bothered to keep up-to-date with the whole plethora of magazine columns and other published works regarding the innumerable ways today's hams can operate from tight, deed-restricted spaces.  That is, of course, unless you are one of those people who remain totally wedded to operating old "boat anchors" (you know, all that ancient AM stuff that glows in the dark and that people get a hernia from just trying to pick up)!

The truth is that our modern day HF and VHF/UHF ham equipment has now gotten so lightweight and compact that a whole ham station easily fits into a small suitcase.  Most of it can operate for several hours off of a 12V battery and it can be set up almost anywhere.  

For example, just last weekend, I set my Yaesu FT-857 up on a picnic table in a local park, threw a G5RV dipole antenna over a tree, ran the whole thing off a 12V car charger and had a ball working not only all over North America, but well into Europe and South America as well.

It's not about the size and weight of the equipment. I've operated portable with WW2 surplus ARC-5 equipment, no big deal.

The problem is the antennas and the cost/complexity of the equipment.

Your operation from the park required a manufactured rig costing maybe $1000, an antenna, feedline and ropes, a car and its electrical system, a park and a nice day. Just to make some QSOs.

How many young people today have all those resources? Particularly those who are under the age of 16 or so? How many will invest all that money into something they can only use a few hours a month at most, and which requires all kinds of setup?



73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 10, 2011, 01:59:13 AM
It will be interesting to see just how much our rate of growth has slacked off this year (2011) as compared to last year (2010) and the year before that (2009). According to the latest published reports by the ARRL VEC, the largest influx of new hams in the United States in recent memory occurred in 2009.  However, our rate of growth in the United States since that time has started to once again go negative.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

From ARRL:

Feb 22, 2007: 654,680
Feb 26, 2008: 656,578 +1,892
Feb 22, 2009: 664,841 +8,263
May 8 2010: 690,552 +25,711
Mar 19 2011: 697,118 +6,566

73 de jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 10, 2011, 05:31:18 AM
The problem is the antennas and the cost/complexity of the equipment.

Yet MORE horsepucky!

While most of the time I operate with a wire antenna thrown over at tree, I've also operated portable with a pair of used Hustler mobile antennas arranged as a dipole, all mounted on a TV tripod and a few sections of Radio Shack TV mast.

And when inflation is taken into account, the cost/performance ratio of our equipment today is FAR cheaper than at any time in our history, except perhaps when we hams mounted our spark circuits on pieces of wood.  

Go do the math.

Quote
Your operation from the park required a manufactured rig costing maybe $1000, an antenna, feedline and ropes, a car and its electrical system, a park and a nice day. Just to make some QSOs.

The cost of my equipment...all of it...is significantly less than $500.  And I run it off an an old, used car charger, not the car battery.  

What's more, how many times have you gone fishing in the rain?  Or gone skiing in a blizzard?  Or gone sailing in a hurricane?  All of those other hobbies require reasonably fair weather to pursue.  The truth is, just as with all hobbies, where there's a will, there's a way.

Quote
How many young people today have all those resources? Particularly those who are under the age of 16 or so? How many will invest all that money into something they can only use a few hours a month at most, and which requires all kinds of setup?

A lot more than you'd think.  Young people today think nothing of paying $150 for a pair of Nike shoes, or $700 to $800 for a laptop computer.

And I personally know of a whole group of people in the Detroit area who use their equipment "only a few hours a month". They routinely get together on weekends, seek out a park in town or in the suburbs, put up their portable stations, talk to the world and have a ball.  For them, every fair weather weekend in the summertime is "Field Day".

Once again, as with most of your other posts, you offer newcomers (and potential newcomers) to our hobby nothing but horrifically rigid, 1950s-era, "that's the way we've always done it and that's the way it must continue to be" thinking.

As Robert F. Kennedy once said, "Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies."

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 10, 2011, 05:56:56 AM
It will be interesting to see just how much our rate of growth has slacked off this year (2011) as compared to last year (2010) and the year before that (2009). According to the latest published reports by the ARRL VEC, the largest influx of new hams in the United States in recent memory occurred in 2009.  However, our rate of growth in the United States since that time has started to once again go negative.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

From ARRL:

Feb 22, 2007: 654,680
Feb 26, 2008: 656,578 +1,892
Feb 22, 2009: 664,841 +8,263
May 8 2010: 690,552 +25,711
Mar 19 2011: 697,118 +6,566

73 de jim, N2EY

Once again, Jim, these are simply GROSS numbers of licensees from the FCC database.  

They tell us NOTHING about how many of us have died since 2001 (without those deaths being reported to the FCC) and/or how many of us have since "voted with our feet" and are simply waiting for our 10-year licenses to lapse.

As I noted, the ARRL has previously reported that the number of BRAND NEW licensees to our Service in the USA peaked back in 2007 (no doubt as a result of the elimination of the Morse testing requirement).  And that particular demographic has been headed steadily downward ever since.  

Indeed, your gross numbers do reflect the inescapable fact that our RATE of growth is now once again slowing (having peaked in 2010) most likely as a combination of all of the factors I've outlined above.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KC2UGV on June 10, 2011, 08:47:40 AM
Second, nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands. HF is old technology, narrow band and unreliable. A backup at best. Note that even SWBC is dying out. The spectrum wanted by the commercial and government folks is all VHF/UHF.

.....Today.

But what about the future?

And the possibilities of what one can do with a particular band depends on experimenters with RF.

Guess who the experimenters are?

Quote
Perhaps you and others have forgotten that in the early days of our Service, we hams were "banished" to those "worthless" frequencies below 200 meters.  Over time, we (and others) discovered that those "worthless" frequencies weren't so "worthless" after all.  Once that happened, we had to justify our existence before the US Congress and the military...BIG TIME. Few modern-day hams fully realize how very close we came back then to not having an Amateur Radio Service....at all.

And, amateurs demonstrated the utility of those frequencies, and then they became sought after.  Then, VHF/UHF was thought to be useless, so we got a chunk there.  Then, we demonstrated the utility, and they became sought after.

Do you see the trend?  Amateurs keep getting banished to "useless spectrum" until we show the utility of it?  Ever wonder why they are debating granting amateur usage of sub 500KHz?

Quote
So, while I certainly agree that, "nobody else really wants our HF/MF bands",  I would also add "TODAY" to that phrase. Who knows what yet-to-be-invented communication technologies of the future may once again make our HF frequencies a veritable gold mine and therefore ripe for commercial exploitation down the road?

Then, we'll get banished to some "useless" section of the RF bands...  Until we demonstrate the utility of it.

Quote
Quote
The real threat to ham radio isn't number of hams. It's things like antenna restrictions, BPL, RFI, overly-complicated gear and other stuff that makes it too difficult to get on the air effectively.

Horsepucky!

There are any number of ways for hams to pursue the hobby these days in spite of all of these restrictions.  

Of this, I agree with you.  It's rather easy, and inexpensive to get up and going, even in RFI/BPL/Antenna Restrictions.  Much easier than it was.

Quote
Clearly, you haven't bothered to keep up-to-date with the whole plethora of magazine columns and other published works regarding the innumerable ways today's hams can operate from tight, deed-restricted spaces.  That is, of course, unless you are one of those people who remain totally wedded to operating old "boat anchors" (you know, all that ancient AM stuff that glows in the dark and that people get a hernia from just trying to pick up)!

The truth is that our modern day HF and VHF/UHF ham equipment has now gotten so lightweight and compact that a whole ham station easily fits into a small suitcase.  Most of it can operate for several hours off of a 12V battery and it can be set up almost anywhere.  

For example, just last weekend, I set my Yaesu FT-857 up on a picnic table in a local park, threw a G5RV dipole antenna over a tree, ran the whole thing off a 12V car charger and had a ball working not only all over North America, but well into Europe and South America as well.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

Again, I agree here.  And our experimentation always will secure us something on the RF spectrum :)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 10, 2011, 11:15:32 AM
these are simply GROSS numbers of licensees from the FCC database.  

They tell us NOTHING about how many of us have died since 2001 (without those deaths being reported to the FCC) and/or how many of us have since "voted with our feet" and are simply waiting for our 10-year licenses to lapse.

That's true.

But the 2001 numbers told us NOTHING about how many of us had died since 1991 (without those deaths being reported to the FCC) and/or how many of us had since "voted with our feet" and were simply waiting for our 10-year licenses to lapse.

The database has ALWAYS contained a significant number of inactive-and-will-never-reactivate licensees. We've had 10-year-term licenses for more than 25 years, so it's not a sudden thing.

As I noted, the ARRL has previously reported that the number of BRAND NEW licensees to our Service in the USA peaked back in 2007 (no doubt as a result of the elimination of the Morse testing requirement).  And that particular demographic has been headed steadily downward ever since.

That's to be expected whenever the price of something drops. There are always folks who think "I'll get a flat-screen TV (or whatever) when the old one breaks or  the price gets below $X". With amateur radio, part of the "price" is the testing requirements.

The most important point, however, is that despite all the doom-and-gloom, our numbers continue to grow. It has now been more than 4 years since the rules changed and the license totals keep increasing. And we continue to see increases in the percentage of US hams with General and Extra licenses.

It's all good. 

One license class (Technician Plus) has already disappeared in all but name. (There are a few Tech Pluses in the grace period, but if their holders renew, they'll get Technicians). The Novice license is down to less than 16,000, less than a third of what it was when the rules changed in 2000. Only the Advanced has retained most of its licensees.
  
Indeed, your gross numbers do reflect the inescapable fact that our RATE of growth is now once again slowing (having peaked in 2010) most likely as a combination of all of the factors I've outlined above.

All that has happened is that the "pent-up demand" of those who were waiting for a rules change has been satisfied. Yet the numbers continue to grow.

That's a good thing.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 10, 2011, 01:33:39 PM
The most important point, however, is that despite all the doom-and-gloom, our numbers continue to grow. It has now been more than 4 years since the rules changed and the license totals keep increasing. And we continue to see increases in the percentage of US hams with General and Extra licenses.

It's all good.


"It's all good".....NOW.

But, as I said, and for a whole bunch of reasons that are now starting to come together (the least of which is our rapidly advancing median age) I remain convinced that our Service is now the verge of a very steep decline in our numbers.

So I'll now leave you and your buddies to your ongoing "kabuki dances" while you continue spouting your worn-out mantra that "all is well".  

I (and a whole lot of others) have it on very good authority that our Service is in VERY deep trouble long term.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0SYA on June 11, 2011, 02:22:30 PM
People still organise a dance here locally the way they did in 1776, even dress like it. People still quilt. Grow their own veggies. I doubt if ham radio is going anywhere soon unless death by politician takes place.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 13, 2011, 06:24:57 AM
Any one that needs to be convinced of the requirement for code should go and listen to the 146.64 repeater on the west coast of Florida. CB channel 19 has moved to the 2- meter ham band and now resides there. There is a lot of traffic on the machine from about 5 hams who basically own the frequency, there is music, and a fair amount of jamming. This is EXACTLY why I studied code and theory and passed my exam.... to get away from the crap on CB. As much as I hate to say it, the code requirement seems to have kept these types of operators out and off of the ham bands. No longer is it "run the least amount of power to facilitate the communication"... now its just run full legal limit all the time because we can. Personally I think the FCC should use the CB'ers as a cash cow... all they have to do is monitor the band, track down all the people using illegal amplifiers, and start issuing fines. Might be a way to help generate some revenue for the budget.

Dan KI4AX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 13, 2011, 07:42:04 PM
This is EXACTLY why I studied code and theory and passed my exam.... to get away from the crap on CB. As much as I hate to say it, the code requirement seems to have kept these types of operators out and off of the ham bands.

Dan KI4AX

Sorry, Dan, but in their Report and Order dropping the Morse testing requirement entirely, the Federal Communications Commission unequivocally rejected ALL such bogus "lid filter" arguments for retaining Morse testing, and, in the process, exposed them all as nothing more than elitist snobbery.

And, just so there’s absolutely NO misunderstanding regarding “what the FCC really said”, here are some DIRECT quotes from the FCC’s Report and Order that dropped Mosre testing for you to ponder:

“We nevertheless believe that the public interest is NOT (emphasis mine) served by requiring facility in Morse code when the trend in amateur communications is to use voice and digital technologies for exchanging messages," the FCC said. "Rather, we believe that because the international requirement for telegraphy proficiency has been eliminated, we should treat Morse code telegraphy no differently from other Amateur Service communications techniques."

But, more importantly, in that same Report and Order, the Commission completely repudiated the often repeated, (but clearly bogus) argument that retaining a Morse code testing requirement would keep the “riff-raff” out of the hobby by stating that, "The record is DEVOID (emphasis mine) of a demonstrated nexus between Morse code proficiency and on-the-air conduct." 

The bottom line here is that Ham tests don't keep the "riff raff" out of our Service. They never have and they never will.

On the other hand, I AM convinced that the vast majority of those who choose to break the rules in our Service hail from a small (but yet highly vocal group) of often 20 WPM, FCC-office-examined Extra Class operators who seem to believe they've been around long enough (and have therefore earned the "right") to ignore such rules.

After all, such persons now have their multiple, FCC-issued "badges of honor" plastered all over their shack walls to prove that they have now progressed well beyond the need to adhere to silly "rules".

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 13, 2011, 08:02:21 PM
Any one that needs to be convinced of the requirement for code should go and listen to the 146.64 repeater on the west coast of Florida.

If that repeater is a mess, it's because the repeater owner(s) allow it.

Unlike almost all other amateur operation, repeater owners have the ability to control what goes on by simply shutting the repeater down. If they don't, it's a tacit admission that they don't care.

As for the code test keeping out some bad apples, consider that there's been a no-code-test US amateur license for more than 20 years now, with access to 146.64 from the very beginning.


73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 14, 2011, 05:45:05 AM
You can call it "Elitist Snobbery" or anything you like. In my case, you don't know me; I am about as far from an Elitist or a Snob as you can get. I am only stating my experience. I made a concerted effort with a considerable amount of time, effort, and money to get to a part of the radio spectrum where I didn't have to put up with CB style radio. I know what "Uncle Charlie" has to say and I know that the code requirement kept people out. And the only people that it kept out were the people that were not willing to commit themselves to something that they really wanted; people that were not willing to go the distance; people that wanted instant self gratification. And now we have bands full of those same people that are not willing to go the distance to keep their stations clean, to keep their language clean, and operate their station in a civil manner. It seems like their idea of enjoyment is cursing someone out on the air, running power in order to talk over others, or frequency jamming. Yes, we had some of this in the past.... but since the code requirement was dropped it has become much worse. I know a lot of older hams that are "turned off" by it and will not frequent the local repeater (146.64) because of it.

Your comment about the Extras kinda proves out what I am saying. Since the requirement was dropped we have seen a tremendous growth in the numbers of Extra Class licenses; everybody and his brother is getting his Extra Ticket; people that perhaps are not mature enough to possess this high class of license. What is happening is that all those "no code" licensees are working their way through the system to "Extra". Extra used to be something that not everyone was able to achieve.... now everyone is able to achieve it; it was something special... now it is becoming the common license class.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 14, 2011, 07:58:26 AM
I know what "Uncle Charlie" has to say and I know that the code requirement kept people out. And the only people that it kept out were the people that were not willing to commit themselves to something that they really wanted; people that were not willing to go the distance; people that wanted instant self gratification.

I categorically disagree.

The truth is, Dan, that the Morse testing requirement has kept GENERATIONS of people out of the mainstream of our hobby. And I firmly believe that keeping such an arcane and systemically discriminatory licensing requirement firmly in place for over half a century AFTER it had outlived ANY semblance of usefulness whatsoever will be a major contributor to the eventual demise of our Service.

What’s more, my own personal experiences over the years have shown that your sweeping statements concerning one's ability to learn Morse (to wit: "…the only people that it kept out were the people that were not willing to commit themselves to something that they really wanted") runs completely counter to what I've found in my own formal research and practice.

As an Accredited Examiner (in both the USA and Canada) as well as an Amateur Radio instructor who has helped introduce Ham Radio to literally HUNDREDS of future Hams for more than 20 years, I learned long ago that, for some people, learning Morse is a "snap".  

But, for others, it can be days, weeks, or even years of absolute frustration, resulting in failure after failure.  And the amount of “extra effort” expended by such folks seldom, if ever, makes any real difference in the outcome.  In fact, there are any number of widely recognized, certifiable medical conditions that can make learning Morse nigh on impossible for some otherwise “ordinary” people.

That's because proficiency in Morse is an inherently complex, human psycho-motor skill.  

That means it involves a whole host of both psychological (mental) as well as physiological (motor) skills and abilities, some of which can be "learned", but most of which were NOT AT ALL "learnable" in order for a person to pass an FCC Morse skill test.  

That is, we are either born with these abilities to learn those skills or we aren't.  And that ability to learn those skills can also be further impaired by accident or disease.

Now, certainly, listening for the dots and dashes (or the entire "sound") of a Morse character is a part of that activity.  But, then there's the mental interpretation part of what those sounds mean, as well as the brain's ability to send the proper neural messages to one's hands and fingers to write down the letters and words on a piece of paper or a typewriter.  The latter activity also involves one's ability to see as well as to hear…not to mention one's ability to properly form recognizable characters on a page and/or finding the correct key to depress on a typewriter.  At least ONE of those additional skills are required in order to pass such skill tests.

And, much like those things that can interfere with an RF signal traveling down a piece of coax (like broken shielding, water in the cable, bad connectors, or a mismatched antenna), there are any number of psycho-motor issues that can distort or even prevent the sound of the Morse character from being properly heard, interpreted and then correctly written down at the other end of that process.

As I said, because it IS such a complex, human psycho-motor activity, the ease of learning Morse varies widely throughout the population based on that long list of inherently human factors I've noted, many of which are completely beyond our control to change.  

My guess is that these two facts (along with the fact that there is no longer an international requirement that they do so) were probably among the most compelling reasons why the FCC (finally!) dropped Morse testing for our Service entirely.  

Call it genetics, the “way we are born" or what have you, but the simple truth is that we are NOT all put together exactly alike.  But, unfortunately, since learning Morse is a singular activity, it is horrifically easy to judge another person's ability (or inability) to learn and use it based on our own (narrow) experiences.

Or, to put it another way, those who arrogantly declare that, "I learned it and so can you" are simply basing those assumptions (and the arrogant assertions that result from such assumptions) on a sample size of ONE...that is, their own, horrifically narrow experiences.

Now, clearly, there ARE many people in our hobby who are well capable of doing so, but are just too lazy to get up off their finals to learn Morse. And that is certainly their choice.

But, for the “Morse testing forever” crowd to now lay that same judgment on folks who absolutely CAN’T learn Morse no matter how much "extra effort" they put into doing so is disingenuous at best and downright discriminatory at worst.  

The bottom line here is that, as much as the left-brained, engineer-types in our hobby obsessively seem to believe otherwise, we humans AREN’T all put together like our Amateur Radio transceivers that come off the assembly line with the same parts list, the same knobs on our “front panels” or the exact same genetic programming (psycho-motor skills and abilities) uploaded into our “boot ROMs”.

Quote
And now we have bands full of those same people that are not willing to go the distance to keep their stations clean, to keep their language clean, and operate their station in a civil manner.

Once again, Dan, would you please tell us exactly how a person's (largely innate) ability to copy dots and dashes and write them down on a piece of paper directly relates to their ability to "go the distance to keep their stations clean, their language clean and to operate their stations in a civil manner"?

Quote
Yes, we had some of this in the past.... but since the code requirement was dropped it has become much worse.

How so?  

It is painfully apparent that you haven't been poking about on the CW bands as of late.  By any measure, there are now MORE people using Morse on our bands (albeit at slower speeds) than at any time in recent memory.  

Perhaps that's because (to the abject horror of the "Morse testing kept the riff-raff out" crowd) the people who are using Morse now WANT to learn and use Morse rather than being forced into it in order to get a license with full HF privileges.

Indeed, if we were to use your logic, if a knowledge of Morse among the general ham population is increasing, it would seem to me that the "bad behavior" you are observing would be decreasing as well.

Quote
Extra used to be something that not everyone was able to achieve.... now everyone is able to achieve it; it was something special... now it is becoming the common license class.

All of which appears to be very upsetting to you.  

Yet you claim you are "about as far from an Elitist or a Snob as you can get."

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N8JAF on June 14, 2011, 08:59:02 AM
I want to comment on the notion that things have "gotten worse" since the dropping of the code requirement.

I walked away from radio over 15 years ago. I recently (6 months ago) decide to become involved again. I had no contact with HAM radio for all of those year. It wasn't something I had any interest in. I happened to come across an article in the mainstream media about some of the digital modes and it sparked an interest.

So now I am back on the air and things sound pretty much the same they did 15 years ago. Most people behaving themselves and enjoying radio. I still hear the trouble makers like in the past but no more so. I just ignore them and move on.

As far as learning Morse code, I had no trouble making it to 13wpm for the General but never could get the 20 for Extra. It was not for lack of trying. I spent more hours than I care to admit listening to tapes. Countless hours on HF working CW. After a couple of years I decided that I just was not capable of making it to 20wpm. It was not for lack of trying, I actually enjoyed working CW but never could build the speed.

I also taught classes and ran across a couple of students that have massive amounts of trouble making it to 5wpm . I knew they would be nothing but good HAMS but getting past the code was a real issue for them. It seemed silly at the time to exclude these people from the hobby because of the inability to do code.  On the other hand I had students that picked the code up faster than the theory. Everyone is different.

I don't think dropping the code has caused any damage (my opinion) and I do think HAM radio as we know it may be in trouble. I went to Dayton Hamvention this year for the first time since the mid 90s. I have never been someplace where I felt so young (I am 54) . Sure there were a few young people and this is just a single data point but we seem to be getting old as a group.

Steve N8JAF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 14, 2011, 09:13:40 AM
here are some DIRECT quotes from the FCC’s Report and Order that dropped Mosre testing for you to ponder:

“We nevertheless believe that the public interest is NOT (emphasis mine) served by requiring facility in Morse code when the trend in amateur communications is to use voice and digital technologies for exchanging messages," the FCC said. "Rather, we believe that because the international requirement for telegraphy proficiency has been eliminated, we should treat Morse code telegraphy no differently from other Amateur Service communications techniques."

Yep, that's what they said. But just because FCC says something doesn't make it true. FCC makes the rules, not the reality.

In any event it's a moot point.

In US amateur radio, FCC-administered "secret" written exams went away more than 27 years ago, Morse testing for VHF/UHF went away more than 20 years ago, and Morse testing for HF/MF went away more than 4 years ago. And there's no sign any of it will come back. 

But, more importantly, in that same Report and Order, the Commission completely repudiated the often repeated, (but clearly bogus) argument that retaining a Morse code testing requirement would keep the “riff-raff” out of the hobby by stating that, "The record is DEVOID (emphasis mine) of a demonstrated nexus between Morse code proficiency and on-the-air conduct." 

The bottom line here is that Ham tests don't keep the "riff raff" out of our Service. They never have and they never will.

How do you know?

If the tests make no difference in keeping out the bad apples, why was Amateur Radio so well behaved during the CB boom (1960s to 1980s) while CB was (and still is) such a mess?

The point being made was that if someone has a considerable personal investment in something, they usually (not always, but usually) are more protective of it and better behaved than if they don't have such an investment. In the case of amateur radio, the personal investment is partly in the form of what it took to get the license.

On the other hand, I AM convinced that the vast majority of those who choose to break the rules in our Service hail from a small (but yet highly vocal group) of often 20 WPM, FCC-office-examined Extra Class operators who seem to believe they've been around long enough (and have therefore earned the "right") to ignore such rules.

How do you know that "the vast majority of those who choose to break the rules" are "20 WPM, FCC-office-examined Extra Class operators"?

An examination of the FCC enforcement letters shows that violators are from all license classes, and that Extras are not "the vast majority" of them. Extras of all kinds aren't even a majority of them.

For someone to be a "20 WPM, FCC-office-examined Extra Class operator" requires that they earned the license more than 28 years ago. There's no way to know that from the database.

So what led you to be "convinced"? It certainly wasn't the facts.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 14, 2011, 10:40:45 AM
In any event it's a moot point.

Jim, it's ALL a "moot point".....including these conversations!

The world is what it is.  And the only constant in that world is change.

That also means that ham radio as we see it today is what it is.  And what happens to ham radio going forward will happen, REGARDLESS of what you or I (or anyone else posting here) has to say about it.

So, in that sense, perhaps we should once again simply agree to disagree on these issues. Doing so would then allow each of us to stop wasting our life's remaining precious moments sitting in front of a stupid computer engaging in behavior that can only be described as the modern-day equivalent of "chasing windmills".

Indeed, as the noted physicist Albert Einstein once wrote, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 14, 2011, 04:29:39 PM
Keith,

Again, you don't really know me and you are making some assumptions which just are not true. And believe it or not I agree with some of what you say. Yes, there are conditions and illnesses that would prevent someone from learning code.... I agree. But, for the vast majority of us that is just not true. Learning code, as I am sure you already know, is much like learning a language... and even people with I.Q.s below the average can learn to speak. And for those that have a documented condition or illness, that prevents them from learning code, exceptions could be made. Why could we not have a codeless license for people with "documented" problems that "prevents" them from learning code? I will never buy the argument that no one is capable of learning code. If someone wants something bad enough they will do what it takes to achieve it. I will be the first to admit that learning code is not easy for some people... it certainly was not easy for me. But I did it and it is not impossible to do just like it is not impossible for others.... just frustrating because it is not instant gratification. Sometimes you must work for what you want. Just out of curiosity... theory and math is not easy for some and down right impossible for others. My wife can not get her ticket, not even novice, because she does not understand theory and is not good at math. Shall we create a theory-less test so that those people can get their ticket? That would be the natural progression following your logic.

Again, this is my opinion and you know what they say about those.

This is not upsetting to me. What is upsetting to me is the FCC's lack of enforcement. What better way to generate revenue to plug budget shortfalls than to catch and fine a bunch of illegal CBers. You want to stimulate people onto the ham bands... start cracking down on skip shooters on the CB bands. Make it so that the only place to shoot skip legally is on the ham bands.


Dan KI4AX



 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 14, 2011, 07:32:56 PM
But, for the vast majority of us that is just not true. Learning code, as I am sure you already know, is much like learning a language... and even people with I.Q.s below the average can learn to speak.

Again, Dan, I categorically disagree.  

As I have very clearly shown, it is NOT just a simple matter of "learning a language!"

Quote
And for those that have a documented condition or illness, that prevents them from learning code, exceptions could be made. Why could we not have a codeless license for people with "documented" problems that "prevents" them from learning code?

As Jim has so eloquently pointed out, we already do "have a codeless license"  

In fact, we now have three of them.  But, just in case you missed it, Dan, Morse testing for all classes of licenses in the USA went the way of the dinosaur back in 2007.

Quote
I will never buy the argument that no one is capable of learning code. If someone wants something bad enough they will do what it takes to achieve it.

So, if we follow your logic, if someone has been blind since birth and have been clinically diagnosed as such, but now want to see bad enough "then they will do what it takes" to regain their sight, right?

Quote
I will be the first to admit that learning code is not easy for some people... it certainly was not easy for me. But I did it and it is not impossible to do just like it is not impossible for others.... just frustrating because it is not instant gratification.

Once again, you are falling into the "sample size of one" trap.  

Learning Morse was not easy for YOU, but YOU still did it.  But, as I have said, what worked for YOU doesn't necessarily work for everyone else.

Quote
Sometimes you must work for what you want. Just out of curiosity... theory and math is not easy for some and down right impossible for others. My wife can not get her ticket, not even novice, because she does not understand theory and is not good at math.

This is actually a superb illustration of my point.  

Like your wife, not everyone in the world has the same basic skills and abilities that you do.  Therefore, such persons may not be capable of accomplishing what you have accomplished no matter how much they "work" for it.  

And, by the way, just in case you also missed it, tests for the Novice license went the way of the dinosaur back in the year 2000.

Quote
Shall we create a theory-less test so that those people can get their ticket? That would be the natural progression following your logic.

The International (ITU) regulations say we all must be both tested and licensed in order to operate in our Service.  However, nowhere is it written in the ITU regulations to what level we are to be tested in order to be granted a license in our Service.  

In my opinion, the content and comprehensiveness of our current licensing scheme in the USA is not comprehensive ENOUGH at the beginner level to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe or to reasonably prevent such beginners from creating a nuisance to other hams or other services.  

On the other hand, our Extra Class license serves absolutely no useful regulatory purpose because the meager handful of additional operating privileges it grants in no way directly relates to the content and comprehensiveness of the exam one has to take to obtain it.  In many cases, the content of that exam relates to privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees.

The FCC knows all this is happening and has known it for decades.  Yet, with the possible exception of dropping the Morse testing requirement, precious little has fundamentally changed in the way we are licensed and regulated in our Service in the United States of America since the 1960s.

Quote
What is upsetting to me is the FCC's lack of enforcement. What better way to generate revenue to plug budget shortfalls than to catch and fine a bunch of illegal CBers. You want to stimulate people onto the ham bands... start cracking down on skip shooters on the CB bands. Make it so that the only place to shoot skip legally is on the ham bands.

Dan, there have always been scofflaws on our bands and there always will be.  

As I noted to Jim in my note above, ham radio is what it is, and what it becomes in the future is quite out of our hands.  And for us to continually look to someone else (i.e. "big brother FCC") to "take care of us" is a fool's errand.  It simply ain't gonna happen.  

The FCC now has FAR bigger issues to deal with than policing a bunch of ever-aging old farts, particularly when we continually show them by our actions (such as demanding the return and indefinite retention of such arcane things as Morse tests) that we have absolutely no interest or intention of moving ourselves out of the sociological and technological "dark ages".  

That is, if our collective antics cause harm to no other radio service but our own and we continually show (by our actions) that we really don't care about moving our Service forward, then why should we now expect the FCC to give a care what we do amongst ourselves?

My hunch is that they have already written our Service off as quite hopeless.  It's now only a matter of time before our frequencies are taken from us and given over to someone else who will put them to far better use for mankind.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 15, 2011, 05:47:16 AM
As Jim has so eloquently pointed out, we already do "have a codeless license"  

No, we don't.

What I wrote was that we have a *no-code-test* licenses. All US amateurs can use Morse Code if the want to; they just don't have to pass Morse Code test(s) to get a license any more.



73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 15, 2011, 06:04:00 AM
What is upsetting to me is the FCC's lack of enforcement. What better way to generate revenue to plug budget shortfalls than to catch and fine...

I agree that there should be more FCC enforcement of the rules, both Part 97 and elsewhere.

The problem is funding.

When the FCC wins an enforcement case, and actually collects a fine, the money doesn't go to FCC. It goes to the General Fund. Yet FCC has to pay for the enforcement work out of its own budget, which is quite limited. Often the fine is less than what the enforcement action cost.

From what I read and hear, a lot of hams don't know the history of FCC funding.

The FCC used to have somewhat-adequate funding, and did more enforcement work. But the Reagan Administration, as part of its promise to "get the government off your back", cut FCC funding. Succeeding administrations have seen FCC as a legacy agency and have continued the pattern.

Meanwhile, all sorts of new communications technologies have arisen that need regulations, so FCC is focused on them. The content of broadcasting is another focus for FCC. Hams, as a "legacy service", don't get much.

Funding cuts are why FCC closed their exam offices and created the VEC/QPC system. Most of the exam work that used to be done by FCC staffers is now done by unpaid volunteers. Big savings.

Funding cuts are why FCC went from 5 to 10 year license terms. Half as much renewal paperwork to deal with - and when you have 700,000 US hams, that's a savings of about 70,000 renewals a year!

Funding cuts are why FCC simplified the license structure from 6 to 3 license classes. Less upgrade paperwork.

All that said, I think most US hams would gladly pay a couple of dollars a year for their licenses IF the money were spent ONLY on enforcement. If each of us paid $5 a year, FCC would have $3.5 million to spend on enforcement!

But the system doesn't work that way.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 15, 2011, 07:46:23 AM
As Jim has so eloquently pointed out, we already do "have a codeless license"  

No, we don't.

What I wrote was that we have a *no-code-test* licenses. All US amateurs can use Morse Code if the want to; they just don't have to pass Morse Code test(s) to get a license any more.

73 de Jim, N2EY

I stand corrected.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 15, 2011, 08:06:57 AM

The point being made was that if someone has a considerable personal investment in something, they usually (not always, but usually) are more protective of it and better behaved than if they don't have such an investment. In the case of amateur radio, the personal investment is partly in the form of what it took to get the license.

Unfortunately, Jim, it's this "protectionism" that is killing the hobby.  

As I've said, amateur radio has now turned into a hobby that is largely "of, by and for" ever-aging geezers.  

And largely as a result of that reality (or maybe because of it) since the late 1960s, we've continued to block necessary regulatory and technological progress in our Service at every turn.  Instead, we continue to obsessively cling to the old ways of doing things, viewing anything "new" (be it regulatory reform or a new way of communicating) as a dreadful threat to the status quo.

I also find it ironic that we continue to demand the same old, tired and totally worn-out "protective" approaches to regulating and licensing for our Service that might (?) have worked in the 1950s (but which have now become horrifically out of date) and then in the same breath wonder why we aren't attracting enough youthful newcomers to our ranks to carry on when the rest of us "old geezers" are dead and gone.  

Trying to myopically apply yesterday's social norms and yesterday's regulations along with half-century old (not to mention LONG since outdated!) approaches to licensing in our Service at a time when EVERYTHING we touch is increasingly modular, "plug and play" (spelled: "digital") and Internet-based makes absolutely no sense to me at all.  

Likewise, obsessively expecting today's increasingly instant-communication-savvy youth to "salute smartly" and then blindly comply with such abject foolishness from a bygone era (such as "lid filters" and multi-tiered "achievement tests" over increasingly irrelevant technical material that goes WELL beyond what's minimally required for a license in our Service internationally) is just nuts.  

It is, according to Einstein's definition, "insane behavior".  

We simply can't continue to persistently hold up 1950s era technology and social norms as the "gold standard" by which all progress and change must be measured in our Service and still have any hope of attracting the numbers of youthful newcomers it is going to take for our hobby to continue to survive beyond the next few decades.

Sadly, and as I've noted in other posts in other forums, it will probably take at least another generation or two for the last vestiges of the “We're turning into CB" paranoia and the "I had to do it and so should they" elitism that is clearly evident in many of these posts (and still all too prevalent in our Service as whole) to completely disappear.  

In fact, as I've said on numerous occasions, I firmly believe that the aging and eventual death the older generation of hams will be an essential element in the further progress of our hobby…that is…IF we can manage to hang on to our frequencies and continue to exist as a separate radio service for that long.  

That's because death very effectively takes care of all the "crusty curmudgeons" from a previous generation who remain absolutely petrified to let go of old, fallacious ideas (like Morse testing along with all the other bogus “lid filters” that, with precious few exceptions, are largely still intact in our licensing and regulatory structure) that were never really based in any operational need under the international rules, let alone reality.  

As you also know, I've frequently quoted Max Planck, one of the greatest physicists of the Twentieth century, who once commented that, “Innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents. What usually happens is that its opponents gradually die out, and the growing generation is familiarized with the new, innovative ideas right from the beginning.”  

Thankfully, there's a whole new generation of leaders in organizations like the ARRL who have, as of late, been desperately trying to undo the systemically discriminatory mess their predecessors (both at the ARRL and the FCC) created of our licensing system back in the 1950s and 60s.  

However, judging from all the alarmist blather still being posted here and elsewhere over the demise of Morse testing and the "dumbing down" of the examination system (a system that I say was needlessly "dumbed up" in the late 1950s and 60s), it would appear that what little progress these organizations have managed to enact to date is very much tweaking the noses of the still highly vocal 1950s and 60's era "techno-snob" contingent who bought into all that elitist nonsense.  

As a result, there are still FAR too many people in Amateur Radio who are fighting tooth and nail to keep all that Government-enabled, "I'm-better-than-you-because-I-have-an-Extra-Class-license" snobbery firmly in place. And, so far at least, this crowd continues to "rule the roost".

Indeed, judging from some of the remarks still being posted in forums like these, it appears such people remain totally oblivious to the notion (or, more likely, could selfishly care less) that their continued collective, elitism-fueled refusal to let go of the past is what's now helping to make our Service increasingly unattractive to today's youth… the lifeblood of our Service going forward.

So, as I see it, the only question now remaining is whether (or not) such ongoing de-regulation and systemic change will happen quickly enough in our Service to also reverse the predicted hemorrhaging of our ranks due to our increasing death rate (and the resulting silence on our bands) before the commercial interests completely hijack our frequencies for lack of use.

In short, we need to either quickly evolve…or we will eventually die as a separate radio service.

But, unfortunately, most likely THIS "old geezer" (I just turned 60) will be LONG dead before any of us posting here learn whether (or not) any of these ongoing efforts to turn this mess around will have been successful.

Right now, I'm not holding out much hope.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 15, 2011, 09:13:39 AM
Hey Kieth, how much jamming do you get in the AMSAT service? I'm sure it is coming if it is not already there.

I have held an Advanced class ticket for quite a while now and I sure would like to upgrade to Extra. But I just don't understand all that theory stuff so well... it is so difficult I don't know if I will ever be able to pass the test. If they would just change the test and make it easier. Stupid old test. Who needs all that theory stuff anyway. Its so old and out dated... no body uses that stuff anymore. If I want a radio or antenna I will just go down to the radio store and buy it; with my credit card of course. And when it breaks or  doesn't sound good or operates out of band (that is if anyone tells me) then I will go down to the radio shop and have it fixed. Why not make the test totally on operation... I already know how to do that. Or better yet, why don't just change the rules so that I can gradfather into Extra and that way I won't have to take a test at all. They can just give it to me. I have become so old and dumb I don't think I am capeable of passing anymore. Just because I can't pass the test is it fair that everyone else gets their Extra ticket and I don't? That ain't right!

Dan KI4AX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 15, 2011, 06:23:30 PM
Hey Kieth, how much jamming do you get in the AMSAT service? I'm sure it is coming if it is not already there.

Actually, on the Low Earth birds, our biggest interference problem is from taxicab drivers in Central and South America who illegally use our 2m and 440 Mhz ham band satellite unlink frequencies for their work.  And they aren't hams.

Quote
I have held an Advanced class ticket for quite a while now and I sure would like to upgrade to Extra. But I just don't understand all that theory stuff so well... it is so difficult I don't know if I will ever be able to pass the test.

Dan, if you wait long enough, my hunch is that the Extra Class license will eventually be history anyway.  Either that, or Generals and Advanced Class operators will all be "grandfathered" to Extra.

That is, of course, unless the whole Service dies first.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 16, 2011, 04:50:53 AM
Stupid old test. Who needs all that theory stuff anyway. Its so old and out dated... no body uses that stuff anymore. If I want a radio or antenna I will just go down to the radio store and buy it; with my credit card of course. And when it breaks or  doesn't sound good or operates out of band (that is if anyone tells me) then I will go down to the radio shop and have it fixed.

As I noted earlier, it will probably take at least another generation or two for the last vestiges of the “We're turning into CB" paranoia and the "I had to do it and so should they" elitism (clearly evident in posts such as the one above) to completely disappear from our Service.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 16, 2011, 05:49:49 AM
Why not just give it to me? That's what they used to do on the CB bands. Heck, why not just do away with any licence or testing requirements at all. That's basically where its headed anyway. Like I said in my previous post... who needs all that theory stuff anyway? I can, if I want to, get by with with out it... I just buy everything I need already put together. Isn't this your argument about code? And, coupled with the fact that the FCC doesn't do much enforcement any longer, I don't see why there isn't more unlicensed operators out there... like the freebanders in the 10m section of the HAM BANDS. Why worry about taking a test in the first place. Just get a radio and start calling CQ or BREAK or QSK or what ever the colloquialism is on that particular band. Heck, from what I have read lately this is already beginning to happen right here in the U.S. Forget the Mexicans. And in so far as the FCC and the fines being levied not covering the cost of prosecution etc. This is an easy fix... make the fines bigger!

Kieth, you know the result of deregulation... its called a free for all. I know we need new people in the hobby; I don't argue that point. But if you keep deregulating and keep making it easier for people to get on the bands there will come a point where those coming onto the bands will be destroying the very thing they came there for in the first place.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 16, 2011, 06:28:57 AM
Here is a couple of other points for you Keith...

You say that "It's protectionism that's killing the hobby." I beg to differ with you on this point. It is not protectionism that is killling the hobby... it is lack of interest. It is a disinterested public. Kids, and grown ups to an extent, would rather play video games or chat on the internet than play with the radio. I am sure there are a lot of kids, and grown ups, out there that don't even know what ham radio is. They have no clue as to the enjoyment and excitement that can come from ham radio. There is no "want" for ham radio. If you ask me there should be a Amateur Radio station at every high school just like there is a gym at every high school. When someone dies and the wife wants to donate the equipment why don't we, as a group, get this stuff to the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts in an effort to stimulate the young people to become interested. I don't see much of this type of thing going on... at least were I live.

Also, let's talk elitist. I can see from your QRZ.com page that you appear to be an Elitist. I bet you got all kinds of certificates, qsl cards, and awards hanging on your shack walls. Your a past president, vice president, treasurer, and board member of AMSAT corp. I see you have not one but two radio stations. You are into AMSAT, RTTY, SSTV, PS31 and I see, for some odd reason, that you like CW. You have had five different call signs and you are a retired military officer. And you write articles for magazines and for the AMSAT journal. Talk about Elitest! I think if we were to look up the definition of elitist in the dictionary we would see your picture. And since you founded KCB Associates, a management consulting firm that assisted corporate clients throughout North America with complex human management challenges I would think you were very familiar with human behavior. So you know, professionally, that it is not impossible for people to learn code!

It is clearly discernible to me who the elitist is.

Dan KI4AX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AE4RV on June 16, 2011, 06:55:00 AM
Doesn't elite mean "good"? What's wrong with that?


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 16, 2011, 08:54:21 AM
It is not protectionism that is killling the hobby... it is lack of interest. It is a disinterested public. Kids, and grown ups to an extent, would rather play video games or chat on the internet than play with the radio. I am sure there are a lot of kids, and grown ups, out there that don't even know what ham radio is. They have no clue as to the enjoyment and excitement that can come from ham radio. There is no "want" for ham radio. If you ask me there should be a Amateur Radio station at every high school just like there is a gym at every high school. When someone dies and the wife wants to donate the equipment why don't we, as a group, get this stuff to the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts in an effort to stimulate the young people to become interested. I don't see much of this type of thing going on... at least were I live.

Couple of points....

1) If people don't know about ham radio, that's a publicity problem, not an interest problem.
2) Ham radio has always been a niche thing that appeals to a small percentage of the population. I graduated high school in 1972, and in a school of 2500+ boys we had maybe 6 licensed hams at the peak. The girl's school next door had none. 5000 kids in a middle class suburb of Philadelphia and 0.12% of them hams.
3) The problem with school clubs and similar is that there needs to be a knowledgeable moderator to run the thing and provide continuity.

The big thing is that ham radio is "radio for its own sake" and most people just aren't interested in that.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: W5ESE on June 16, 2011, 10:32:38 AM
The big thing is that ham radio is "radio for its own sake" and most people just aren't interested in that.

I agree with this 100%.

73
Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 16, 2011, 05:10:20 PM
You say that "It's protectionism that's killing the hobby." I beg to differ with you on this point. It is not protectionism that is killling (sic) the hobby... it is lack of interest. It is a disinterested public. Kids, and grown ups to an extent, would rather play video games or chat on the internet than play with the radio. I am sure there are a lot of kids, and grown ups, out there that don't even know what ham radio is. They have no clue as to the enjoyment and excitement that can come from ham radio. There is no "want" for ham radio.

Perhaps, to a certain extent, this may well be true.

But could this long "laundry list" of reasons why young people are no longer interested in ham radio simply be the result of our collective failure to keep up with sociological and technological progress rather than the cause?

As I have said, had we not been so collectively paranoid about keeping the "CB riff raff" out of our hobby for so many years by turning ourselves into the "Good Old Boy's Radio Club" (where only a select few are allowed to enter) perhaps our numbers would now be into the millions (or several millions) rather than a measly 700,000 or so.

It is absolutely no secret that the ranks of amateur radio were growing by leaps and bounds in the United States just prior to the FCC's imposition of the ARRL's stupid (and I say illegal under the international rules) "incentive licensing" nonsense back in the late 1960s.  At that point our growth all but stopped and several (up to that time) well-known US ham radio manufacturers (with names like Hammarlund, World Radio Labs, Swan and Hallicrafters) went "belly up".  

Indeed, our ITU regulators absolutely never intended (nor did they make any provisions for) our amateur radio exams being used to measure anything else, particularly in assessing one's largely innate ability for "future learning".

Unfortunately, the FCC's perpetuation of that unmitigated fraud well into the 21st Century has now all but institutionalized the absolutely baseless belief that it's the FCC's sole responsibility to make sure such people not only have the necessary qualifications to operate their amateur radio stations safely and courteously, but to also force feed "learning" down people's throats in an effort to turn every US ham operator into a potential "radio professional".  

This is probably why the FCC added all that nonsense about "expanding the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts" into part 97.1 of their FCC rules as a basis and purpose for our Service in the United States.  

As I've said, all such verbiage is completely absent from the international definition of the Amateur Radio Service!

And, just in case you haven't read it lately, Dan, that ITU definition says that we are to simply be "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs (emphasis mine), that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.  

So, would you (or someone else) please tell me where, in that international definition, it says anything about expanding a "reservoir of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts" or turning us all into "professionals"?  

Sadly, many of the unwitting proponents of incentive licensing who also bought the FCC/ARRL’s fraudulent bill of "professional" goods years ago are STILL trying their level best to hang onto that dying dream. This fact is evidenced by all the passionate comments expressed here and elsewhere about the horrible “dumbing down” of our FCC tests and the abolition of the Morse exam.  

As it has oft been said, requiring proficiency in the Morse Code in order to obtain a Ham Radio license was much like having to demonstrate how to shoe a horse in order to get a driver’s license. But, keeping that horrifically discriminatory license requirement alive well into the 21st Century was nothing more than a meaningless government-sponsored "hazing ritual".  

And, speaking of a driver’s license, why is it that I STILL don’t need to know how the fuel injectors, transmission and brake lights all work on my car in order to obtain one?  

Maybe that’s because my automobile driver’s license, along with all the other, non-commercial, government-issued, licenses (such as my Private Pilot's License) that I’ve carried in my pocket over the years, have had licensing structures that were ALL set up to simply measure basic competencies.  

That is, these license structures simply required me to demonstrate to a competent government authority that I wouldn't become a hazard (or a nuisance) to either others or myself while exercising the privileges of my license.  Indeed, the whole idea behind these other licensing systems is that the real learning associated with such pursuits comes much later, usually with years and years of actual on the road or…in the case of my Private Pilot's license…“in the air” experience.

I’ve also found it fascinating that most of these other license structures didn't require me to go back and take yet another "achievement test" in order for me to be allowed to drive my vehicle farther away from home, for example.  Granted, state and provincial driver license structures all require another series of tests if I want to drive a larger vehicle, for example, or one for commercial purposes.  But, even here, the requirement for another test is for safety reasons…not for increased knowledge for knowledge’s sake.  

Think about it!  Who has ever heard of an Extra Class Driver’s License to drive a passenger car?

Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?  

In fact, it’s about as ludicrous as requiring that I have an Extra Class Amateur Radio License in order to have full privileges to operate anywhere I want to on the Ham Bands!

I think Rich Moseson, W2VU, in his “Zero Bias” editorial in the January, 2006 CQ Magazine illustrated this point quite clearly. He talked about the “University of Ham Radio” as a college of sorts where learning goes on every single day.  

However, in this “university", there are no grades, no tests, no papers, and no deadlines.  If a “course” doesn’t suit you, you can “drop” it at anytime without penalty.  If you want to declare a “major” you can do so, simply by delving into a particular aspect of ham radio with gusto, sometimes becoming a leading expert in the field.  

Others (like me) are happy to simply learn a little bit about a lot of things.  

This, Dan, is how real learning takes place in our Amateur Radio Service.  It certainly doesn’t come from cramming for yet another stupid FCC test!

The truth is that those of us who REALLY want to learn more about electronics and RF theory are going to do so, regardless of the “easiness” or “hardness” (i.e. the "comprehensiveness") of the test(s) we have to take to get our Amateur Radio licenses.

Indeed, I’ve often wondered how many of those persons in our ranks who continually look down their upturned noses because a newcomer asks what they perceive is a "stupid" question are the same ones would be hard pressed to correctly answer a question from one of those same newcomers about some of today's advanced digital communication or computer technologies.  

Or, how many of those "old timers" who are still obsessively pining to bring drawing schematics from memory back into the testing structure couldn’t now draw a schematic from scratch to save their soul?  

And how many more of those same people would also be willing to honestly admit that, while studying for their own exams, they simply learned enough about electronics and RF theory to pass the test(s) and then promptly forgot it all?  

My hunch is that, on all counts, there are FAR more of us who are guilty of such "sins" than there are persons publicly willing to admit it.  But that still doesn't dissuade some of us for finding such fault in others.

And while it certainly is true that amateur radio has launched careers, I believe that those with a passionate interest in electronics and RF theory will always find a way to advance those interests regardless of what they are forced to learn to pass a stupid FCC test.  That’s because, as Rich so eloquently noted in his editorial, a passionate desire to learn and master such things ultimately has to come from within.  

Unfortunately, all the FCC's stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense has really done for amateur radio in the United States over the last five decades has been to firmly institutionalize a “caste-like" system of "mine is better than yours" within the hobby, a system that, even to this day, is still chock full of meaningless government-sponsored "hazing rituals" and largely bogus achievement tests that have absolutely nothing to do with the operating privileges they grant, let alone measuring our real learning about such things.  

That is, beyond the basic exams, all these “incentive” tests have ever measured is one’s innate ability to decipher a series of dots and dashes by ear, and/or one's innate ability to memorize ever more complicated formulas and information for an exam.

Period.  

Put another way, over the years, all this "incentive licensing" nonsense has really succeeded in doing has been to separate us from ourselves.

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Also, let's talk elitist. I can see from your QRZ.com page that you appear to be an Elitist. I bet you got all kinds of certificates, qsl cards, and awards hanging on your shack walls. Your a past president, vice president, treasurer, and board member of AMSAT corp. I see you have not one but two radio stations. You are into AMSAT, RTTY, SSTV, PS31 and I see, for some odd reason, that you like CW. You have had five different call signs and you are a retired military officer. And you write articles for magazines and for the AMSAT journal. Talk about Elitest!

The difference, Dan, is that, unlike you, I'm not advocating that someone absolutely needs to demonstrate their proficiency in any of the pursuits that I happen to enjoy (particularly Morse code) to some Government bureaucrat (or another group of elitist snobs within our hobby) in order for such persons to be found "worthy enough" to enter into the mainstream of what we do.

Indeed, I find it interesting that I didn't have to take an  "SSB Voice Test", a "Satellite Operating Test", or demonstrate proficiency in copying RTTY, Packet, PSK31 or SSTV chirps "by ear" in order to be allowed access to the frequencies where such operation happens.

The bottom line here is that, most everywhere else on the planet, a ham ticket is simply a "license to learn".  It is NOT meant to be a series of government issued "Badges of Honor" that serve no useful regulatory purpose other than to further stroke the already overinflated egos of our "I'm better than you" crowd.

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I think if we were to look up the definition of elitist in the dictionary we would see your picture. And since you founded KCB Associates, a management consulting firm that assisted corporate clients throughout North America with complex human management challenges I would think you were very familiar with human behavior. So you know, professionally, that it is not impossible for people to learn code!

To the contrary, Dan, and as I thought I explained earlier, it is my professional opinion that it IS often impossible for some people to learn Morse based on the reasons I outlined.

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It is clearly discernible to me who the elitist is.

Indeed.

I suggest you might now want to have a look in the mirror.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 16, 2011, 08:03:45 PM
And, sadly, all the FCC's stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense has really done for amateur radio in the United States over the last five decades has been to firmly institutionalize a “caste-like" system of "mine is better than yours" within the hobby, a system that, even to this day, is still chock full of meaningless government-sponsored "hazing rituals" and largely bogus achievement tests that have absolutely nothing to do with the operating privileges they grant, let alone measuring our real learning about such things

This really blows my mind…

You would think that a guy, with your back ground and training, would really be a better judge of human nature and have some faith in humanity. I have been a ham for at least 25 years and I have never encountered an institutionalized “caste-like” system of “mine is better than yours.” I’m not sure where you are coming up with this stuff but I have known many hams of many license levels and they were all a great bunch of guys. Never once have I ever heard any of them say or do anything that made me feel as though there was a “caste-like” system or that theirs was better than mine. They were all willing to help you or anyone else, with or with out a license, as long as you had an interest in ham radio. Unfortunately I am seeing less and less of this every day…. Is it because all the old timers are dying off or is it all of the new timers coming on to the bands? And I don’t think the answer has anything to do with the number of operators on the bands.

 It seems to me that some where along line, in your ham radio past, someone has done something to scar you emotionally. Perhaps you had difficulty passing the exam(s) and you felt it was holding you back and/or that it wasn’t fair. Perhaps it is the government that you are angry with.  I, personally, have never met anyone associated with ham radio that was anything but helpful; regardless of which ticket they held. I’m not saying it doesn’t go on somewhere. And in fact I would like to hear other’s experiences in this respect. I can only comment about my own experience.  

Based on the quoted paragraph above it appears that it is not just the code portion of the test that you have a problem with. It looks like you have a problem even with the theory part. This is why you refer to “meaningless government-sponsored hazing rituals” and achievement tests that are “largely bogus.” Again, I am surprised to hear this coming from a person with your education and training. Based on what you said in you last post…

That is, I believe that am ticket should simply be a "license to learn"...NOT some government issued "proof" that a person has successfully achieved a passing mark on an (increasingly meaningless) series of largely achievement-based "hazing rituals".

It looks like you would advocate giving the operator the license first and then, because he/she has a license, the operator will start learning. I agree with learning part to an extent but a person needs to know the basics before they just go out on their own. Did they just give you the pilot’s license first?  And then let you go out and try to fly, on you own, in order to learn how to fly? And I don’t know of any other thing that people do, that requires a license or certificate, where there isn’t some kind of “stupid test” as you refer to them as.

And these tests are not bogus achievement tests any more than exams at college are bogus achievement tests. You would be surprise how much stuff is NOT forgotten after the test. Do you really believe that if you give someone their license first that they will then set out on a course of study to learn theory? And even the learning that takes place, after one receives his ticket, is all based in and on the theory that he/she had to study to get the ticket in the first place. I liken it to giving a learner’s driver permit to someone with out, at least, a rudimentary knowledge of the road signs and speed limits or how to operate the gas, brake, and gear shifter. Perhaps we should license Engineers before they learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide?

 Like anything else in life, as YOU out of anyone out there should know, that the basics are the foundation of any endeavor. With out the basics, especially in ham radio, you will have a (more) difficult time learning the rest of  what you need to know; like how not to be dangerous to yourself and others, where and how to operate so as not to interfere with others in your service or any other service on the bands. I know ohm’s law is kind of dry and boring but if someone wants to get into radio, as a hobby, with out taking a “stupid test” or without learning the basics first there are bands and modes specifically for those people. It is called CB, FRS, and GMRS. I just don’t agree with giving people their ham ticket just to get people on the bands. We need to get people interested in the hobby, keep it technical, and find a way to keep the undesired element out as much as possible for the sake of everyone’s enjoyment. If that means tests then so be it. If it means more enforcement, bigger fines and more jail time for violators then so be it. There is learned mastery and there is learned helplessness.


I have said my piece and that’s all I’m going to say.

Dan KI4AX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 17, 2011, 05:11:09 AM

But could this long "laundry list" of reasons why young people are no longer interested in ham radio simply be the result of our collective failure to keep up with sociological and technological progress rather than the cause?

No.

The idea that "young people are no longer interested in ham radio" is simply mistaken. The truth is that ham radio has ALWAYS been a niche activity that the vast majority of young people had no interest in.

It may seem that there was a Golden Age when there were teenage hams all over the place. But it only seems that way in retrospect.

As I have said, had we not been so collectively paranoid about keeping the "CB riff raff" out of our hobby for so many years by turning ourselves into the "Good Old Boy's Radio Club" (where only a select few are allowed to enter) perhaps our numbers would now be into the millions (or several millions) rather than a measly 700,000 or so.

No. What we'd have is a mess. And maybe no ham radio at all.

The CB experience clearly shows what happens when the entry requirements are too low. 11 meters started out as a well-behaved service in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but then deteriorated into anarchic chaos. It became a fad, and then began to die out when the fad ended.

Would you like ham radio to become like CB?

It is absolutely no secret that the ranks of amateur radio were growing by leaps and bounds in the United States just prior to the FCC's imposition of the ARRL's stupid (and I say illegal under the international rules) "incentive licensing" nonsense back in the late 1960s.  At that point our growth all but stopped and several (up to that time) well-known US ham radio manufacturers (with names like Hammarlund, World Radio Labs, Swan and Hallicrafters) went "belly up".  

No, that's not true at all.

There was rapid growth in US amateur radio from the end of WW2 (when there were about 60,000 US hams) to the very early 1960s (when there were about 250,000 US hams). And then, about 1963 or so, the growth slowed waaaaay down. The changes known as incentive licensing didn't go into effect until November 1968 - more than 5 years later. The growth slowed down FIRST.

What happened was this:

First, 11 meter CB really began to take off in the early 1960s. Because the equipment was cheap and easy to use, the antennas were small and mobile operation was easy, they sold lots of sets. Plus no-license 100 milliwatt walkie-talkies that were popular with kids. And there was no license test at all - if someone even bothered with a license. By 1964 there were about a million CB licenses in the USA.

Second, the 1960s were a time of social upheaval in the USA. Vietnam, hippies, counterculture, rock-and-roll. Ham radio in those times was considered extremely "square", and was NOT part of the "turn on, tune in, drop out" culture. How many hams went to Woodstock? I know of exactly 1.

Third, in the early 1960s US hams using HF voice were rapidly converting to SSB. This was a good thing in many ways but it shut off a major way that people discovered ham radio - hearing us on "short wave" receivers designed for AM only.

Fourth, prior to 1964 the Conditional class license could be earned by anyone living more than 75 miles "air-line" from an FCC quarterly exam point - and there were relatively few of them. But in 1964 the distance was increased to 175 miles and the number of exam points increased, so that almost all of CONUS was no longer Conditional territory. Which meant that a lot of people were faced with a very long trip just to take an amateur radio test. This greatly increased the dropout rate of new Novices.

The slowdown in growth was such that by 1968-69 we still hadn't reached 300,000 US hams. Then the incentive licensing changes went into effect. And a funny thing happened: growth started up. All through the 1970s and 1980s we had fast growth, reaching a half-million by the late 1980s.

US radio manufacturers that went "belly up" did so for several reasons:

1) They did not handle the transition to SSB and/or solid-state very well.
2) They could not compete with imports from companies such as Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu
3) They were companies run by their founders, and when the founder died, retired or sold out, the product line went away.

Note that in those days ALL US "consumer" radio manufacturers were stressed, and many did not survive. Those that did often survived in name only, with their products being rebranded imports.

The idea that "incentive licensing" killed growth and US manufacturers is simply false. It confuses cause and effect. How could rules changes in late 1968 stop growth 5 years earlier?

I was a ham then, licensed in 1967 and involved for a few years earlier. I saw what actually happened.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 17, 2011, 05:25:07 AM
I have been a ham for at least 25 years and I have never encountered an institutionalized “caste-like” system of “mine is better than yours.” I’m not sure where you are coming up with this stuff but I have known many hams of many license levels and they were all a great bunch of guys. Never once have I ever heard any of them say or do anything that made me feel as though there was a “caste-like” system or that theirs was better than mine.

Perhaps that's because you have been one among them.

In fact, I’m now convinced that arguing such points with the Morse-testing-and-incentive-licensing-forever crowd is a lot like wrestling a pig in mud—after a while you begin to think they actually like it!

However, despite all their lofty sounding rhetoric about preserving the “traditions” of Amateur Radio and that tests for Morse and ever-more-irrelevant radio theory should still be required as an “essential” part of our hobby, it is now clear to me, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the principal, underlying goal of such persons is to indefinitely perpetuate the multi-tiered “caste system” that has existed within our Service in the United States for at least the last half century.  

Or, to put it more bluntly, what far too many of these folks now call “tradition” or “keeping the standards up” is simply their poorly disguised cover for a far different collective agenda: Indefinitely perpetuating systemic discrimination within the Amateur Service.

And the continued, quixotic attempts by this shrinking (but still highly vocal) minority to cling to these highly discriminatory “rights of passage” only confirms that such discrimination still, in fact, exists within our ranks.  

Sadly, the Amateur Radio Service in the United States is now reaping the rewards of the ARRL’s and FCC’s decades-long underwriting of such "caste-like" garbage via their continued, highly discriminatory regulatory approaches to licensing in our Amateur Radio Service.

For, in their desperate attempts to keep the “riff raff” out of the hobby, the Morse-testing-and-incentive-licensing-forever crowd has successfully lobbied their willing partners in the ARRL and the FCC over the years to continue using Part 97’s blatantly discriminatory “incentive licensing” foolishness to turn off (and then turn away) thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of newcomers…the very lifeblood of our service.  

These are the newcomers who may have tried jumping through some (or all) the FCC’s stupid “incentive” hoops, but who, for many years, only managed to succeed in getting a codeless license….if that.  

And what did these new folks find when (or if) they finally got on the air?  

Far too many were greeted with arrogant, condescending rants from big-mouthed OFs who’ve made it their life’s work to make absolutely sure such “lazy low life” fully understand they could NEVER be “real Hams” unless and until they also passed a stupid Morse test and then “upgraded” their licenses to something that was at least comparable in class (a.k.a.“caste”) to their own.  

Quite naturally, many of these new folks responded by simply "voting with their feet", never to be heard from again.  

And then there were the tens (hundreds?) of thousands more who listened to (or read) some of the vitriol spewing forth from the mouths and keyboards of this crowd and simply elected not to even try getting a license in a so-called "public" radio service whose arcane advancement requirements have, for going on fifty years now, clearly enabled such blatant bigotry.  

Unfortunately, we’ll never know just how many otherwise well-qualified people our resident regulatory fundamentalists have managed to run off as a direct result of their arrogant, condescending rants.  However, all we need do is look at the advancing age of the licensees now left in our Service to see the overall (sad) results of their handiwork.  

As I've noted previously, several years ago (prior to such information being withheld from the public) the average licensed ham in the USA was approaching 60 years old.  It is most likely well north of that number by now. And, according to the ARRL, the average age of our newcomers these days is still up around 50.

What’s more, while the number of licensees in the FCC's database has been growing modestly as of late, my hunch is that the actual number of active Hams has been steadily shrinking.  With the possible exception of 75 Meters (or during a few contest weekends) our bands are now virtually empty from end to end.  

As a result of all this, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Amateur Radio in the United States is now dying a slow death from lack of activity and youthful growth.  

And, I firmly believe that a leading cause of that lack of activity is the decades long regulatory efforts of the FCC and the ARRL to keep Amateur Radio a closed, country-club-like radio service where ordinary (spelled “non-technical”) people of average intelligence and ability need not apply.

Indeed, in the extremely small minds of our resident regulatory fundamentalists various “hazing rituals” (like Morse tests and "incentive licensing" schemes) needed to be perpetuated in our Service to make absolutely certain that only gifted people like themselves…that is…persons who possess far-above-average intelligence and who can also regurgitate increasingly irrelevant knowledge of complex radio theory (most of which now goes well beyond what’s minimally required for safe and courteous operation in our Service)…got to be “real hams”.  

But, in my mind, what is absolutely inexcusable is the fact that the ARRL and the FCC have been advocating and then underwriting all this garbage for decades by continually falling back on their same, old, worn-out excuse that they (the ARRL and the FCC) are only advocating and then enabling ”what we Hams really want” when it comes to licensing and regulating our Service.

Unfortunately, what the FCC is hearing comes from the ARRL membership, which has traditionally been made up of only a fraction (today it's about 25%) of all licensed US hams. And (also unfortunately) it would now appear that both the ARRL and the FCC very conveniently forgot back in 1967 that the Amateur Radio Service isn't just some private "country club" funded by member donations!

Rather, the Amateur Service in the United States is administered by a US Government agency (the FCC) that’s publicly funded with tax dollars!  And the frequency spectrum they administer (and which we hams now freely use) belongs to all of us, whether we’re licensed to use it or not.  

That fact also makes the FCC’s rules and regulations for our Service now subject to a whole set of 1990s-era federal equal access laws…some of which (like the Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995 as amended and the Rehabilitation Act) now expressly prohibit federal agencies from perpetuating blatantly discriminatory access requirements to federally controlled resources…like the ham bands.  

Clearly, the ARRL and FCC got away with foisting all their “incentive licensing” foolishness on the Amateur Service back in the 1950s because laws granting far more open access to publicly funded services like ours to persons with multiple learning or other disabilities weren’t even on the radar screen at that point, let alone the law of the land as they are now.  

And the dirty little secret (which I'm sure the FCC's lawyers would rather we not discuss in public) is that the application of these laws has since become a mandatory federal requirement that must now be reflected in the rules that regulate all federal activities…including those rules that regulate our Amateur Radio Service.

By now, those same FCC lawyers are probably well aware that even a mediocre class-action law firm could make an open-and-shut case that the thoroughly entrenched way the FCC still regulates and grants access to frequencies in our Service (by license class and operating mode) has now become patently illegal under these new laws.

Specifically, those class action lawyers would (I believe successfully) argue that the entire 1950’s-era FCC "incentive licensing" system for the Amateur Service is now legally systemically discriminatory because it forces all applicants (disabled or otherwise) who desire even minimal access to the mainstream (HF) frequencies and modes of our ITU allotted spectrum to demonstrate skills and knowledge that are either long since outdated or that go well beyond the minimal required knowledge (as spelled out by the ITU) for safety or courteous operation in a Service whose licensees now almost exclusively use commercially built equipment of modern, 21st Century technical design.  

That is, continuing to test for complex electronic construction theory simply to “keep the standards up” (or the "riff-raff" out) has now become legally discriminatory under the US Code.  That’s because, under these new laws, there has to be an absolutely clear and demonstrable operational reason for every single test question placed on every single exam.  

And, because of this requirement, I also believe that leaving it all up to unpaid (and therefore “uncontrolled”) volunteers (i.e. the VECs) to collectively decide what gets put on which FCC Amateur Radio Service exam (and what doesn’t) isn’t going to fly any longer in the face of these new anti-discriminatory laws either.  

So, as I've said, unless and until these things quickly change, I believe those pesky class-action lawyers will also be able to (successfully) argue that the current way the FCC allows such discriminatory written theory examinations for full and equal access to all of our publicly-owned spectrum are anything BUT fair and equally applied across the board.  

Again, this is something these new US equal access laws also now clearly require.

Needless to say, I remain hopeful that when the most vocal of the "Morse-testing-and-incentive-licensing-forever" crowd finally die off, and/or the FCC does an immediate overhaul of their current incentive licensing structure, and/or someone with deep enough pockets finally successfully brings a long-overdue class-action lawsuit against the FCC’s arcane and clearly discriminatory licensing practices for the Amateur Service, perhaps things will change.  

But, regardless, I fear these long-overdue changes (if they do, in fact, come) will be far too little and way too late to amount to much because the mortal damage to the growth of our Service over the years at the hands of these self-serving regulatory fundamentalists has already been largely done.

Indeed, the FCC’s former Special Counsel for Enforcement, Riley Hollingsworth, speaking at a recent Dayton Hamvention put it most succinctly when he stated, “If there’s a downfall in Amateur Radio, it won’t be caused by the no-code Technicians or codeless anything else,” he said.  “It will be caused by the microphone---no doubt in my mind.”

And, unfortunately, there are still far too many self-serving, arrogant, FCC-enabled, "exclusive clubbers" in our ranks who, via their microphones (and keyboards), have all too frequently managed to drive away thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of budding young hams with their arrogant and condescending vitriol.

That's because, such persons STILL firmly believe that people who…for any reason…were (or are) unable to pass a stupid Morse test or regurgitate reams of obscure (and therefore largely irrelevant) facts about complex radio theory are all “lazy low life” and certainly not worthy of full and complete access to their ostensibly “private” little slice of the public radio spectrum.  

Sadly, as a direct result of the all-too successful work of such persons (and their willing accomplices in the ARRL and the FCC over the years) it would now appear we are well on our way to “exclusive clubbing” ourselves right out of existence.  

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 17, 2011, 06:11:37 AM

The idea that "incentive licensing" killed growth and US manufacturers is simply false. It confuses cause and effect.

Jim,

Once again, your obsessive need to always have the last word in all of these licensing discussions is clearly on display.  

I, on the other hand, have now more than made my points and more than said my piece.

Obviously, I'm not about to dissuade our resident "true believers" from their steadfast worship of (and undying belief in) the one true, FCC and ARRL-espoused, systemically discriminatory "gospel" that was unnecessarily foisted on Amateur Radio over a half-decade ago.

Clearly, it's now time for me to move on to more productive pursuits.  

That's because I have far better things to do with my life's remaining precious moments than to endlessly argue with those who absolutely will not see truth when it is placed in front of their upturned noses.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 17, 2011, 07:06:30 AM

The idea that "incentive licensing" killed growth and US manufacturers is simply false. It confuses cause and effect.

Jim,

Once again, your obsessive need to always have the last word in all of these licensing discussions is clearly on display.  

It's not about me, Keith. Nor about having the last word.

It's about getting the facts and the history right. Anyone who looks at what actually happened will see that what I wrote is an accurate account of the history.

I was there. I saw the changes, and what actually happened. As an Advanced in 1968, I had full privileges for a few weeks, then lost them on November 22, 1968.

I, on the other hand, have now more than made my points and more than said my piece.

Nobody is telling you to shut up, Keith. Least of all me.

But if you post something in an online forum, others have the right to comment on it. Including proving it to be false.

Obviously, I'm not about to dissuade our resident "true believers" from their steadfast worship of (and undying belief in) the one true, FCC and ARRL-espoused, systemically discriminatory "gospel" that was unnecessarily foisted on Amateur Radio over a half-decade ago.

Clearly, it's now time for me to move on to more productive pursuits.  

Whether the changes of 1968-69 were "systemically discriminatory" or "unnecessarily foisted" is an opinion question. I think incentive licensing was a good idea but they went about it the wrong way.

What I said at the time, and what I have maintained all along, is that existing hams should never have lost privileges they already had. That's what really burned a lot of hams' bacon back then, not the idea of multiple license levels.   

I think what should have been done was to give Advanceds and Extras additional privileges. Vanity calls, power beyond 1000 watts, access to the DX 'phone subbands, use of new modes, etc. Nobody would lose anything they already had, and Generals/Conditionals would still have access to all frequencies at 1000 watts power.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KI4AX on June 17, 2011, 07:30:00 AM
First, I don't know where you are getting all this stuff. The ham bands and amateur radio has always been for people with a more intense interest in radio as a hobby. As I said in my last post there is plenty of spectrum for those people that do not wish to learn theory and take tests. It is called CB, FRS, and GMRS. It is almost as if you think the ham bands are the only frequencies available and that the hams have exclusive use of them. That just simply not the case. The last time I was on GMRS the bands weren’t full there either… there is plenty of room. It is becoming apparent to me that you have a very active imagination. I would attribute a lot of the dead air on the HF bands to a couple of things, in addition to falling numbers, like the economy and umm maybe propagation. You know we are just now coming out of the low part of a solar cycle. I would, as an experienced ham operator, expect the HF bands to be dead as a result.

Second, I would really like to hear from other hams about whether they think or feel that there is a “caste-like” system of “mine is better than yours” and if they think that the system is “chock full of meaningless government-sponsored hazing rituals” with “largely bogus achievement tests that have absolutely nothing to do with the operating privileges they grant.” Like I said, I don’t know where you are getting this stuff. This sounds a lot like the sensational liberalized crap that is commonly seen on the 6:00 news and your comment about the FCC being funded with tax dollars and “the frequency spectrum they administer (and which we hams now freely use) belongs to all of us, whether we’re licensed to use it or not” is proof. Yes, the frequencies belong to all of us but does this mean there should be anarchy? Anyone and everyone can, and does, use the ham bands. All you need is the license and your there! What you seem to really have the difficulty with is the fact that there are some rules to follow and the fact that these rules come from the government. Instead of being concerned with LID and or unlicensed operators, who intentionally or unintentionally cause interference, that earn licensed well intended hobbyist a bad name and reputation, you are concerned with what YOU perceive as overbearing government intervention. Rules, and enforcement, are what keeps it from becoming anarchy.

Third, I can not say that I have never heard “vitrol spewing fourth from mouths and key boards’ as you put it. But I can say that it is most definitely not a common thing. Yes, it happens. But, please consider where most of it comes from. If you will just go down to channel 19 on the CB band you will hear lots of it. Every day, every night, every morning there is vial crap spewing. Some guy, at 7:00 AM, telling another guy how he going to come over there and F him in the A and so on; where the F word is common usage. And now it is your intention to open the ham bands up with no regard for rule and licensing so that we can have some of that too. If that is what you like then I suggest you sell you ham gear and buy CB gear. Personally I do not care for that style of radio and that is why I studied theory and code and took my FCC test to get away from that. And if that is what ham radio is going to come to then I’m going to get out. Perhaps if the FCC would tighten up on enforcement the rest of us would not have to put up with the crap. I suggest you buy a CB radio, put up an antenna, and spend some time on the CB band. Perhaps YOU will like it. I wonder how all those hams that contributed to putting up satellites, for use in the AMSAT service, would feel about opening those satellites up to everyone with or without license? I wonder how they would feel about one of the people in charge of managing that service advocating those satellites being opened up to CBers?

Like I said, I would like to hear from other hams on whether they feel as though there is a “caste-like system”.

Dan KI4AX


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AE6ZW on June 17, 2011, 11:17:46 AM
I think it is good that they have dropped Morse Code requirement.  I personally like to have people use Morse Code , and make it requirement.  but, for general public benefit and goods.  I think Morse Code should not be required.
however,  I like to make higher class such as Extra class 's theory much more difficult , at least to level taught in 4 year university as electrical engineering level.   and perhaps to re-test extra class every so often to keep their theory up to date.  and make licensing differential based on power level like it is UK, but not based on Frequencies.  because higher the power , it is more likely to interfere and cause TVI, RFI , etc, so require higher license class and more electronics knowledge. 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on June 18, 2011, 05:27:50 AM
It's not about me, Keith. Nor about having the last word.

Then, what's this?  Sure looks like a "last word" to me.

Quote
It's about getting the facts and the history right. Anyone who looks at what actually happened will see that what I wrote is an accurate account of the history.

Please pardon me for once again forgetting that you remain the sole source of all amateur radio historical knowledge.

But, unfortunately, what you have once again expressed is your OPINION.  Numerous other historical accounts from a number of highly informed "anyones" very much agree with MY assessment of what actually happened during that period.

Quote
I was there. I saw the changes, and what actually happened. As an Advanced in 1968, I had full privileges for a few weeks, then lost them on November 22, 1968.

There were a whole lot of others who were also "there" during that time, Jim.  

And they tell a very different story of those events....particularly as it relates to the utter decimation of the American ham radio manufacturing industry that was a direct result of the ARRL's and FCC's "incentive licensing" chicanery.

Quote
But if you post something in an online forum, others have the right to comment on it. Including proving it to be false.

As usual, your "proof" is nothing but yet more of your (highly pontificated) beliefs and wishes.  For, as Julius Caesar once wrote: “Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.”  

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AE4RV on June 18, 2011, 07:11:02 AM
It's not about me, Keith. Nor about having the last word.

Then, what's this?  Sure looks like the "last word" to me.


Not anymore.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N3QE on June 19, 2011, 04:21:27 AM
It would now seem that almost HALF of those in our current ranks have told the FCC to "take a hike" with their stupid "incentive" nonsense. Indeed, for whatever reason, today's Technicians have very clearly shown...by their overwhelming numbers...that they simply aren't interested in "upgrading" AT ALL!

You might want to go back and look at QST's from the 50's and 60's and see how hams have been griping for HALF A CENTURY about incentive licensing.

Yet it's still around (although some precepts have certainly changed over the years.)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on June 19, 2011, 05:50:51 AM
You might want to go back and look at QST's from the 50's and 60's and see how hams have been griping for HALF A CENTURY about incentive licensing.

Yet it's still around (although some precepts have certainly changed over the years.)

IMHO, the big issue with IL was that a lot of hams lost privileges. Not because of technical reasons (such as requiring cleaner signals) nor because of regulatory reasons (band was reallocated to another service) but for other reasons. That just didn't sit well.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: K7NNG on July 24, 2011, 10:27:09 AM
YES.
It's the challenge of it all...
A personal PRIDE thingy, something not around nowadays


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N0YXB on July 24, 2011, 04:57:49 PM
This thread reminds me of a solution looking for a problem.  It's interesting when when someone labels others posts as "opinion" and then goes on yet another overly verbose rant comprised of their "opinion".

I do not believe there is a caste system in amateur radio.  When I decide to become an Extra I'll buy a study guide, study, take the exam, pass, and become an Extra.  Doesn't sound so bad to me.  Meanwhile I am a General and I'm okay with that too.

To also quote Shakespeare, this thread is, "Much ado about nothing".

 


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KB1SF on July 26, 2011, 05:11:01 AM
To also quote Shakespeare, this thread is, "Much ado about nothing".

Perhaps.

However, it would appear that even the ARRL is now starting to agree with me on these issues.  In a recent mailing they noted, "Next to the protection of our Amateur Radio frequencies, there is no more important concern than the future source of new radio amateurs."

Indeed, someday, when some well-heeled commercial interest takes access to YOUR favorite frequencies away from you because lobby organizations like the ARRL were no longer able to justify ham radio's continued access to our spectrum (as a direct result of our "Radio Amish" ways and lack of necessary growth) perhaps you'll think differently.

But, then again, I suppose you can always take solace in the fact that, when that happens, you and your like thinking buddies will still be able to use your radio equipment to talk to yourselves on your dummy loads.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on July 26, 2011, 03:28:23 PM
However, it would appear that even the ARRL is now starting to agree with me on these issues.  In a recent mailing they noted, "Next to the protection of our Amateur Radio frequencies, there is no more important concern than the future source of new radio amateurs."

How does that express agreement with you?

I don't see anything in that statement about eliminating license classes or subbands-by-mode.

Indeed, someday, when some well-heeled commercial interest takes access to YOUR favorite frequencies away from you because lobby organizations like the ARRL were no longer able to justify ham radio's continued access to our spectrum (as a direct result of our "Radio Amish" ways and lack of necessary growth) perhaps you'll think differently.

The frequencies most likely to be reallocated are VHF/UHF. HF/MF is of almost no commercial interest any more; the antennas are too big and the bandwidth too small.

What, precisely, does "Radio Amish" mean? The Amish are good, hardworking people with excellent moral values. They do quality work. They value quality over quantity, community and cooperation over competition and accumulation.

What would you have the Amish change?

What would you have radio amateurs change?

Should we stop using certain modes just because they're old? Should we stop using certain technologies because they're old? Should we discard certain values (such as following the rules) just because they're old?

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AE6ZW on September 11, 2011, 04:50:58 AM
if we ham want to keep the ham band, we need to have more hams using ham bands.  which means, we need to increase number of hams.  we probably should have entry level license class, where person can take exam on online with open book, allow up to 100 wts or so , 50 MHz and up.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on September 11, 2011, 09:24:06 AM
if we ham want to keep the ham band, we need to have more hams using ham bands.  which means, we need to increase number of hams. 

No.

It means we must increase the number of *active* hams.

we probably should have entry level license class, where person can take exam on online with open book, allow up to 100 wts or so , 50 MHz and up.

No.

If there is a problem with the number of active hams, it's not due to the difficulty of the entry-level license requirements.

The real issues are:

1) Lack of Publicity for amateur radio

2) Lack of how-to knowledge about setting up a station and getting on the air (just look at some of the questions on eham)

3) Antenna restrictions and other constraints.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: AB2T on September 13, 2011, 12:23:58 AM
if we ham want to keep the ham band, we need to have more hams using ham bands.  which means, we need to increase number of hams.  we probably should have entry level license class, where person can take exam on online with open book, allow up to 100 wts or so , 50 MHz and up.

While I don't agree with your proposal, I do think that the Technician test needs to be expanded by 10 -- 15 questions or so.  The exam would still be closed book and administered as usual.  The following additional topics should be examined in greater detail:

1) the structure and role of ARES/RACES
2) the ethical and legal relationship between amateur radio emergency communications and professional emergency communications
3) an amateur radio operator's ethical and legal boundaries during emergency radio communications
4) the ethics and law of operating amateur radio (part 97) equipment on behalf of an employer

Perhaps this could be included after the Part 97 and FCC band/mode plan regulatory section.

Let's face it. A fair minority of persons sit for the Tech exam not because they are interested in ham radio, but because their employer "asked" them to do so.  While I have ethical qualms about the practice, it is legal so long as ham radio is not a substitute for licensed business communications in non-emergency situations.  The Tech test needs to address ethical questions about emergency and business communications since this is the sole reason some persons sit for the exam.

It means we must increase the number of *active* hams.

I agree Jim.  However, so long as some employers coerce their employees to get ham licenses as a backup emcomm system, the ham community must grapple with the fact that the Tech has to examine the ethics of collaboration with business (including non-profit or non-for-profit institutions).  I wish this weren't the case.  Still, commercial interests have influenced ham radio to the detriment of the service.  This, I am afraid, cannot be stopped or mitigated.  However, it must be examined.

The recruitment of new, active, hobbyist hams is another issue altogether.  Neither phenomenon should be ignored.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: NO6L on September 13, 2011, 04:36:53 AM
On the subject of the caste/incentive licensing debacle, I'm of the opinion it contributed, but was not the largest contributor to the decline of the radio/electronics hobbies and Amateur Radio. In my view, all are correct to some extent. As for the ridiculous, dare I say stupid current system of deviding up the classes  by band segments, listen, just go and listen to the complete "ghost town" that is the 75/80M Extra & Advanced sub-bands any evening. Everyone is on the General sub-band. Talk about a waste of spectrum. On the other hand, it seems every Tom, Dick & Harry has a repeater on VHF and up, and no one uses them. Yet more waste! How are they related? Simple, we allow every Tech class licensee to have the privilege to set up a repeater no one will use as some kind of status symble. My cure is simple. Instead of dividing up spectrum into some kind of "Officers Country" sub-bands, divide up the classes into what kind of equipment they can deploy and maybe power they can use. For example, if you are not an Advanced or Extra, you don't get to deploy a repeater or be a trustee for one. You fix two problems in this example; You get more "life" on otherwise dead bands and you release a whole gob of repeater pares to people that may actually use them. I know this will send repeater owners that have their machines as a status symble into an apaplectic rage, but that's too bad. Now really, what's wrong with a ruling that states that a Tech can operate any band, but at ony 200W, for example? And I mean any band, not this STUPID current scheme of 1500W on VHF and up but only 200 on HF. Oh, and tell the Novices to upgrade or lose their licenses entirely.

There's my take and I'm not changing it.
73


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on October 11, 2011, 03:39:15 PM
While we are on this line of thinking, why do people who passed a 13wpm CW test (Advanced class licenses) get FEWER CW frequencies than those who passed no CW test at all (the current extra requirements)?
73s John AA5JG


QSL!!! (great question)
i'll bite: Because the code requirement was dropped as a way to cut costs, not as a way to make amateur licensing more resonant.

What the FCC should have done was put morse code questions in multiple choice format -- that way the FCC could still dispense with the separate morse code testing part of amateur examinations and not worry about ADA considerations either.  "The following morse code message:  __ __ . __         . . .        . __ . .     conveys what?

A. QRP
B. QSY
C. QRX
D. QSL
E. OMG


unfortunately the FCC changed the code requirement when I was inactive and unaware LOL
btw, I want code to be required because I think it enhances the quality of amateur operators and their communicating skills.
(by learning code protocols, one learns efficient, effective practices that were vetted over decades of communication where brevity and skill were quite important.)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KG4NEL on October 11, 2011, 04:59:24 PM
What the FCC should have done was put morse code questions in multiple choice format -- that way the FCC could still dispense with the separate morse code testing part of amateur examinations and not worry about ADA considerations either.  "The following morse code message:  __ __ . __         . . .        . __ . .     conveys what?

A. QRP
B. QSY
C. QRX
D. QSL
E. OMG

You'd probably have more people howling over that, because it forces people to memorize CW by sight and not sound.

As for the Advanced Class disparity - it's simple. Because the IARU said so  :P


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KG4NEL on October 11, 2011, 05:14:27 PM
On the subject of the caste/incentive licensing debacle, I'm of the opinion it contributed, but was not the largest contributor to the decline of the radio/electronics hobbies and Amateur Radio. In my view, all are correct to some extent. As for the ridiculous, dare I say stupid current system of deviding up the classes  by band segments, listen, just go and listen to the complete "ghost town" that is the 75/80M Extra & Advanced sub-bands any evening.

I'm workin' on it! Once I get a real outdoor antenna up, I'll have a chance at the lower bands. I need a lot of states on 75 phone anyway for 5BWAS :)

Quote
On the other hand, it seems every Tom, Dick & Harry has a repeater on VHF and up, and no one uses them. Yet more waste! How are they related? Simple, we allow every Tech class licensee to have the privilege to set up a repeater no one will use as some kind of status symble. My cure is simple. Instead of dividing up spectrum into some kind of "Officers Country" sub-bands, divide up the classes into what kind of equipment they can deploy and maybe power they can use. For example, if you are not an Advanced or Extra, you don't get to deploy a repeater or be a trustee for one. You fix two problems in this example; You get more "life" on otherwise dead bands and you release a whole gob of repeater pares to people that may actually use them.

Do that many Techs really own/are trustees for repeaters? I think the ebb and flow of site availability and funding plays a much larger factor than what the class of the owner is. I use maybe 4-5 machines on 6, 2, and 70cm, and only know the license class of the trustee for one :p


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on October 11, 2011, 08:32:43 PM

What the FCC should have done was put morse code questions in multiple choice format -- that way the FCC could still dispense with the separate morse code testing part of amateur examinations and not worry about ADA considerations either.  "The following morse code message:  __ __ . __         . . .        . __ . .     conveys what?

A. QRP
B. QSY
C. QRX
D. QSL
E. OMG

You'd probably have more people howling over that, because it forces people to memorize CW by sight and not sound.

It forces no such thing!  Learning by sound is still easier unless one is deaf -- I am pretty sure my brain translates the sight into sound and then knows the answer  ;)

As for the Advanced Class disparity - it's simple. Because the IARU said so  :P

 ::)


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N2EY on October 12, 2011, 07:31:07 PM
As for the Advanced Class disparity - it's simple. Because the IARU said so  :P

No, IARU had nothing to do with it. That was all FCC.

What happened is that the FCC decided to phase out the Advanced back in 1998-1999. Small government, deregulation and all that. They stopped issuing new Advanceds, Novices and Tech Pluses in April 2000.

The FCC's view is that if an Advanced wants more privileges, all s/he has to do is pass the Extra written.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: KO3D on October 16, 2011, 12:10:38 PM
I hear so many "code" extras on 75m who can probably build a amplifier out of an old television but are the rudest operators I have ever heard. Code does not make a competent operator. When I'm trying to work DX and a guy is using 1500w and a speech processor to talk one state away about his colostomy, I don't care if he can copy PSK31 by hand, he's a bad operator.


N2LWE:

Congratulations on achieving your extra class license.  Unfortunately, there are some folks who feel insecure and have a need to try to raise themselves up by belittling others.  Ignore them.

"Real hams" get on the air and enjoy their radios.  I hope you will find enjoyment with yours.  Most of the folks spouting ignorant crap on the repeaters couldn't make an HF QSO if their life depended on it. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N4MJG on October 16, 2011, 08:23:29 PM
I took code test just before they drop the code ! how sad is that ? i enjoy the code, now since i work long hour, i need to relearn again :(


73
Jackie
N4MJG


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N3OX on October 17, 2011, 10:16:55 AM
While we are on this line of thinking, why do people who passed a 13wpm CW test (Advanced class licenses) get FEWER CW frequencies than those who passed no CW test at all (the current extra requirements)?

Because they never got their Extra, that's why.


Title: RE: Code/No Code CW-Do we need it?
Post by: N9KX on October 25, 2011, 05:30:01 PM
While we are on this line of thinking, why do people who passed a 13wpm CW test (Advanced class licenses) get FEWER CW frequencies than those who passed no CW test at all (the current extra requirements)?

Because they never got their Extra, that's why.

 >:(  if u put it like that, I am forced to work on getting it. I also realized that even if I upgrade to Extra it is not like I never passed the Advanced at an FCC office in 1977... (I also am tired of DXpeditions staying well below 21.025, 14.025, 7.025 and 3.525...)   Now that it gets dark early and is colder, I should be able to find some time to study  :P   wish me luck  ;D