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Author Topic: What killed Ham Radio???  (Read 8412 times)
KB2FCV
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« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2009, 12:32:07 PM »

Got cut off...

I defintely don't think cost is an issue. You can get into this hobby for a few hundred or less. Radios today are packing more and more features crammed in for lower prices.

If anything, people should be concerned with keeping people coming into the hobby and keeping them 'hooked' and interested. We have several hundred thousand hams in the US. How many are active? I'll bet most are off the air.
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K9FON
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« Reply #46 on: August 04, 2009, 09:44:15 AM »

Why on earth would anyone want to use packet? Nobody uses that crap anymore. Get a soundcard! Oh wait! I forgot that most hams are obsessed with outdated crap thats superceded by new technologys.
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N7DM
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« Reply #47 on: August 06, 2009, 09:08:38 PM »

I think The End started when electronics progressed to printed circuit boards. Prior to that any of us could throw projects together, made with point to point wiring, using a wealth of cheap, plentiful WW2 surplus parts. '807' tubes... 12 volt filament variety [1625]... were Two Bits. I bought a whole tank surplus receiver that tuned ten meters for $10.  'Hollow State' was easy and forgiving; 'Solid State' was difficult and burned out quicker than solder smoke!

With that part of the Hobby fading, nothing really was left but being an Applicance Operator, which is not a particularly 'holding' thing...gets bored fast.

It's not dead, but "Jeeves" IS 'very, very old'.... sadly.

DM
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KC0SHZ
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« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2009, 11:05:32 AM »

The earlier post about the cost factor used Packet as an example.  APRS could also be used as an example.

The thing is, most people who are in their 20's and 30's are just starting out or are starting families and as we all remember, the babies come and the spending money goes.

We need to consider what we can do to attract people to the hobby that will cost them some free time or effort, but not a lot of cash.

Club stations, the EMCOMM infrastructure, SATERN stations are all examples of what could be used to get people; who can afford the time and the $15 to get a license, but can't afford a radio, to get into the hobby.

How many of us live in towns where the club station is dark 90% of the time?  How about the EMCOMM radios?  Are any of us getting so many QSO's from EMCOMM stations that we are getting tired of it yet?

These are existing infrastructure that is underused and could be used to give kids and young adults a chance to get on the air.  Get them licensed and in the organizations and get them on the air.
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N7DM
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« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2009, 12:52:19 PM »

YES! And your comment fits perfectly [to me] with my observation. When Hollow State was the Only State, the cost of becoming a functional ham was well within the very meager means of a Not-Regularly-Employed KID! An outright 'snap' for any adult so inclined. The things I learned...HAD to learn, to be On-Air...were only possible when the wisps of smoke or 'red plates' cost almost nothing. It is difficult to discuss without falling into Old-Timer-itis {which I hate}, but the facts remain. I understand Radio Shack is planning to change it's name to The Shack, 'cuz 'radio' is archaic! And what do we do when THEY are gone, for parts? My junk box is already full of resistors with just enough left to solder to!

VY 73
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KC0SHZ
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« Reply #50 on: August 10, 2009, 03:06:52 PM »

Could be that tube radio was inherently cheaper.  I became a ham way to recently to know.  

The thing we need to keep in mind in the finance argument is that the value money is not absolute in this case as we are talking about several kinds of people.

For a guy who knows for sure that he wants a Vibroplex keyer, $150 is a reasonable sum to pay.  For a guy who heard of a Vibroplex keyer, but has not been "bitten by the bug", $150 seems steep for a CW key.

Same with radio in general, for something you know you can use a lot, you don't mind dropping the bucks, but for something that you don't know you will be using in 6 mmonths, you kind of hate to spend a lot of money.

By using the various club stations and other Ham infrastructure as a venue for getting new people into the hobby, you can provide a means of getting the guy (or gal) fired up about Ham radio and they can go about building their own station.
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N3OX
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« Reply #51 on: August 10, 2009, 06:01:36 PM »

"Could be that tube radio was inherently cheaper. I became a ham way to recently to know. "

It's not inherently cheaper.  Ham radio today is just inherently more complicated in the way that we get started in it.

N7DM, do you want to share your first station with us?  I suspect it was something like a simple receiver and crystal controlled transmitter built from scrounged parts?  

The thing is today that I don't see very many hams who would be happy with that.  

The other thing in comparing days of yore to now is INFLATION.  Let's not talk dollars.  Let's talk hours of work at teenager wages if we're going to talk what was possible "back then" vs. what's possible now. Or convert dollars.

A FT-857D which gets you on all bands is 97 minimum wage hours right now.  It's like $125 in 1970 dollars.

A BITX20 kit from Hendricks QRP that you can add a scrounged case and microphone to and get on 20m QRP SSB is only $90... that's only 12 minimum wage hours.  Even after taxes and other expenses, that's affordable in real terms for many folks, teenagers, people who have young families, etc.  You have to add the expense of tools, etc...

Now, who's going to go out and buy a QRP 20m only SSB radio kit for their first HF rig?  I doubt very many would, but that's because for 6 or 7 times that price you can get 12 times the bands and 10 times the watts.

But when there are sub $100 (1970 sub $20) complete kits available, I have a hard time seeing that pure cost is an issue.

The BITX20 was designed by an Indian ham to be really, really cheap so that new Indian hams would have a chance to get on the air.  If you build the ORIGINAL, it apparently costs about seven bucks in parts.  

I think cheap ham radio still exists... it's just not a popular way to get started in the United States.

Fortunately, we do have designers who are focusing on practical really, really cheap rigs.  Yes, you've got five or ten watts on a single band, but pair that with a home-made 20m dipole or quarter wave ground plane vertical and you're on the air, on HF, on SSB,
and able to work a little bit of DX even.  

Cost is not the fundamental reason why a BITX20 and a homemade half wave dipole are not the entry level station for the brand new General class operator in 2009.  

73
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N7DM
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« Reply #52 on: August 11, 2009, 07:18:56 AM »

Well, Dan... you are correct about my First Rig! In fact, I evolved from Xtal Rcvr through a couple Regen Rcvrs, until somebody felt pity on me and gave me a Commercial Rcvr, 'EchoPhone EC-1A', which was like an ugly version of a Hallicrafters S-38! The EC-1A was 'adequate' for 80 meters, and became a Tunable IF strip for a couple Xtal Converters in the following few years. The Rig itself WAS 'Rock Bound' [until I ripped the VFO out of a command Xmtr]...around 30 watts, later converted to Ancient Modulation by the insertion of a carbon mike into the cathode lead of the 6L6 'final'.

So much for The Museum.

But the point is... it was do-able. I'm not up to speed on bread-boarding of solid state stuff, I've only seen some test type 'boards. Nothing you could be able to throw together and use, for a while.

Even my 'modern' solid state Ten-Tec Corsair circuit boards...though 'work-on-able'... are not easy, for an experienced technician. My Ranger was easy!

No, I doubt anyone would want to go down my path today, although they would probably enjoy it and find that immense satisfaction 'we' did.  But the subject of this thread is What Killed Ham Radio, and I'm only trying to express my idea of The Culprit!

73 dm
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N3OX
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« Reply #53 on: August 11, 2009, 09:13:01 AM »

"But the point is... it was do-able. I'm not up to speed on bread-boarding of solid state stuff, I've only seen some test type 'boards. Nothing you could be able to throw together and use, for a while. "

It would be harder for a new ham to modify quite the way you did, but if you buy a BITX20 kit you get a circuit board and a bag of parts and all you have to do is solder them together.

And you *can* add buildable things later... a power amp, etc.

It's not going to necessarily be as tweakable but to be honest, your rig was incrementally improved because you *started very simple*

The BITX20 is a transceiver, so it's packing a lot onto the board by comparison.  But it's a kit, so you just have to follow the instructions to get it working.  There's not going to be a lot of trial and error if you're careful with your craftsmanship.

I think the thing is this:  you started with a single frequency on RX and TX and you're still here.  Not even a band.  And then you worked for a while with a tunable RX but still one frequency on transmit.

What I see today is that hams find it very important to get a full coverage HF rig and some antenna that the manufacturer says covers all the HF bands.  They don't really understand the pitfalls you can encounter in all-band antennas, and they spend $150 on a poor antenna and $800 on a radio, $150 on a power supply... if you've got the thousand bucks to spend just to see if you like ham radio, fine.

But the problem is that a lot of the $150 antennas are kind of mediocre, and end up being installed in really terrible ways because of neighborhood restrictions or whatever.

So the new guy who spends $1000 to put a G5RV six feet off the ground on the back privacy fence is getting all excited about working a KP4 and spends most of his time yakking on 75m.

And maybe he talks to another, poorer, new guy who dreams in DX, wants to talk to Siberia and Japan, not make domestic and close-in DX contacts...  and the new guy who wants some real DX thinks "if the guy with $1000 in the hobby can't work real DX, and I only have $300, forget it"

I think it's kind of important that sometime early on in the hobby you discover that you can do a lot with a limited station if you focus on making that the best it can be instead of having some nagging voice in the back of your head that you MUST have a *more expensive* station before you can do anything worthwhile.

Do I think there's going to be a massive revolution of new Generals soldering together BITX20 kits and stringing up 20m dipoles?  No, not really.  But the option is there.

"But the subject of this thread is What Killed Ham Radio, and I'm only trying to express my idea of The Culprit! "

Well I'm not convinced that we've established that it's dead ;-)

73
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N7DM
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« Reply #54 on: August 11, 2009, 09:47:34 AM »

I think you have it nailed, Dan. And I do suffer from overly emotional feelings. I don't have much today that didn't come THROUGH Ham Radio; I owe The Hobby far more than I could ever repay.

Alas, I fear some may not make it far enough to realize that the real Ham Station is out there, up in the air.... This junk on the table is simply useful accessory !!

dm
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K5END
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« Reply #55 on: August 11, 2009, 01:37:27 PM »

.
.
.
Well, this thread seems to have tripped a lot of triggers.

Try a contest weekend and see how dead you think the hobby is. During NAQP CW I heard two brave souls trying to have a reqular QSO. I could hear "rig is" through the "test."



Gone is the day of the red-and-black-flannel-shirt-wearing, pipe-smoking, flat-top-haircut, Norman-Rockwellian figure with a soldering iron peering over an array of tube sockets, chokes and caps with Ed Sullivan on the TV set in the back ground.



He has been replaced by the guy using his wireless laptop to send an email to his club reflector expressing his excitement that he just worked another continent with the Boat Anchor he just restored using parts he finally was able to find on ebay, after having been given the old rig from his OM--the guy wearing the flannel shirt--sitting in the background watching his middle-aged son with the same pride he had when the "kid" first learned to ride a bicycle.



73
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N7DM
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« Reply #56 on: August 11, 2009, 02:40:30 PM »

'Nuther thing, Dan, before I go QRT. I have a high school ham pal that 'made good' and is the holder of a 'Piled Higher and Deeper'  ticket in Astro-Physics. I was lamenting to him that I had not remembered a longer 'pit' in The Cycle. He said I had observed correctly, and this particular Dark Period *is* the longest in something like a hundred years. In point of fact, I can remember 20 being open THROUGH the night. For YEARS now, from here in the extreme N/W of Seven-Land, the ONLY path in daylight is Mid-USA...with S2 sigs from 1 and 2 land.  Old Sol couldn't have held out on us at a worse time, I'm thinking...

 C U
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N3OX
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« Reply #57 on: August 11, 2009, 07:10:03 PM »

Well we'll just have to move down to a BITX40 if the 'spots never come back ;-)

You get low enough in frequency we can probably start thinking about designing really efficient high power amplifiers from cheap devices to counteract the fact that you need a bit more juice down there.

Not sure there's a class E SSB amp that works yet but maybe soon we can build a single band 80m LSB rig that would do 100W off a 10A 12V power supply...

73
Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
K4DPK
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« Reply #58 on: August 11, 2009, 07:33:33 PM »

I just read back over your original post.

On reading again, I see things I only skimmed over the first time, and I have a different view now.

I will assume English is your second language and not comment on the wording and grammar of the text.  You do well with our language if that is the case.

If anything is killing ham radio, it's people like yourself.  Your attitude is negative, yet you offer up a meaningless post without any possible hope for a positive outcome, and then excuse it with "no harm intended".

What good could you possibly hope would result in your post?  And why?  What possible motive could you have for asking that question, and what do you propose as a cure if we were able to identify some reason other than the one already mentioned?

Jeez.

Phil C. Sr.
k4dpk
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N2EY
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« Reply #59 on: August 12, 2009, 04:16:03 AM »

K5END writes: "Gone is the day of the red-and-black-flannel-shirt-wearing, pipe-smoking, flat-top-haircut, Norman-Rockwellian figure with a soldering iron peering over an array of tube sockets, chokes and caps with Ed Sullivan on the TV set in the back ground."

Well, I don't smoke, don't have a TV in the shack, and my haircut is a bit different.  

But you just described me pretty well there....

I'm not gone yet.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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