Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Non-renewable Technician?  (Read 8865 times)
AB2T
Member

Posts: 246




Ignore
« on: December 03, 2011, 07:33:12 PM »

I have a very controversial but potentially beneficial licensing what if.

Make the Technician a ten year, non-renewable license.  All other license classes will retain their ten-year indefinitely renewable terms. 

I would prefer a five-year non-renewable Tech, but that's a bit drastic.  It's also out of step with the current renewal cycles of the other classes.

I suspect (but don't know for certain) that many Techs aren't motivated to upgrade because of the indefinite renewal policy on the license.  Maybe the knowledge that the Technician is not intended to be a terminal license will encourage more to upgrade to General or drop out of the hobby.

Many who got the Tech for emcomm or because their employer "asked" them to do so will probably not renew anyway.  Under this plan, Techs who become interested in active operation will become more motivated to become Generals.  Non-renewability will just give new ops an added impetus to upgrade.  Don't operate HF?  The General has the same 50 MHz+ privileges as the Tech.  Who knows?  Maybe some V/UHF ops might get the General and become interested in HF later.

After reading Jim's periodic license demographic postings, I'm realizing that the American ham population is roughly self-stratifying into a 50% Tech / 20% General / 20% Extra / 10% legacy pattern.  I realize that the League likes the 700k ham license demographic.  How many are active, however?  I'd like to see a 30% Tech / 40% General / 25% Extra / 5% legacy spread a decade from now.  

Numbers are good.  We also need interested operators.

73, Jordan  
Logged
WD4HXG
Member

Posts: 182




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 08:38:29 PM »

Way back in the 1960's the FCC went from two license
classes to Novice, Technician, Conditional, General, Advanced
and Extra. The flap it generated made the squawk over the
removal of the code requirement look like a pip on big screen.

The simple fact is radio is no longer the glamorous "IN Thing"
like it was in the 50's and 60's. Computers and hacking now
hold that crown. Thus the fight to gain new blood which is
typically youth has to provide an attraction that tops the
computer craze.

A James Bond flick where the spies and MI-5 use Morse
Code for their communications just might do it. Every
kid would buy a telegraph key, at least for a few months.
Logged
KG4NEL
Member

Posts: 373




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 08:50:17 PM »

Maybe they just don't feel that HF offers anything they'd like?

I was inactive on HF for a long time even when I was upgrading, but I wanted to get the Extra because I liked DXing and knew I'd eventually get on the air. But I can respect someone's opinion if they try out HF and decide they can stay on VHF/UHF and be satisfied with that.
Logged
AB2T
Member

Posts: 246




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 09:04:25 PM »

Maybe they just don't feel that HF offers anything they'd like?

I was inactive on HF for a long time even when I was upgrading, but I wanted to get the Extra because I liked DXing and knew I'd eventually get on the air. But I can respect someone's opinion if they try out HF and decide they can stay on VHF/UHF and be satisfied with that.

You're right.  There are Technicians who aren't interested in HF.  That's fine.  There are hams who still have renewable Novices and are happy operating CW within the old Novice bands.    

What concerns me, and has concerned me for a long time, is the entropy within the Technician class.  Sure, there are some Techs who want to remain Techs.  There are many who get the Tech and simply drop out -- there will always be some attrition.  Even if the Tech remains an indefinitely renewable license, how do we get inactive Techs interested in doing something related to RF?  Also, wouldn't a current active Technician prefer to be a General at some point?  Everything that can be done with a Tech can be done with the General.  The General's just a 35-question, half-hour test that gives a ham privileges on every HF band, even for occasional use.

Many might think that a "forced upgrade", like the old Novice, is extreme.  The consensus is that the Technician is not temporary like the old Novice but a full-fledged license.  Still, the Tech is for all intents the new Novice and the entry point for most new hams.  If the General Class is truly the "general", the normative class, then there should be some incentive to earn this ticket eventually.  Why call the General Class "general" if only a quarter of American hams hold this license?  License class demographics should resemble a bell curve, and not a pyramid as the current demographics depict.

73, Jordan    
Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3879




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2011, 04:44:23 AM »

Way back in the 1960's the FCC went from two license
classes to Novice, Technician, Conditional, General, Advanced
and Extra.

No, that's not true. Not at all.

What actually happened was this:

From before WW2 until mid-1951, there were three US amateur radio license classes: A, B and C. The big difference between classes was that Class A allowed 'phone on the ham bands between 2.5 and 25 MHz, and Classes B and C didn't. B & C hams could only use phone on 160, 11 (it was a ham band until 1958), 10 and VHF/UHF.

In 1951 there was a major restructuring in which the three existing classes were renamed and three new classes added. Old Class A became Advanced, old Class B became General, and old Class C became Conditional.

The new classes were:

Novice, a one-year nonrenewable "learner's permit" for new hams,

Technician, a VHF/UHF only license for experimenters above 220 MHz,

Extra, a new license with higher-level test requirements, meant to replace the Adsvanced/Class A as the top license.

Only Advanceds and Extras had full HF 'phone privileges. Generals and Condtionals had the limited phone privileges mentioned above. Techs could only operate above 220 MHz and Novices were limited to a few narrow slices of HF, plus some of 2 meters.

The FCC announced that no new Advanceds would be issued after the end of 1952, and thatexisting Advanceds could renew or modify their licenses indefinitely.

IOW, the bar for full HF 'phone was being raised.

But just before the end of 1952, FCC changed their mind. They announced that effective February 16, 1953, Generals and Conditionals would get the same privileges as Advanceds and Extras.

So while there were still six license classes, there were essentially only three levels of privileges.

There was no longer much reason to go beyond General or Condtional. And very few hams did, until the late 1960s.

The usual path of a new ham back then was to get a Novice license, then operate and study like the dickens in order to upgrade to General or Conditional before the one year Novice ran out. Once that General or Conditional license was earned, the ham could relax, bthinking that they were fully qualified and had full privileges forever.

So the idea of losing privileges and taking more tests didn't sit well with some folks.

The flap it generated made the squawk over the
removal of the code requirement look like a pip on big screen.

The changes referred to are called "incentive licensing". The real problem was that many hams of the time lost privieges - in some case, privileges they'd had for years. Getting them back required taking more tests.

It should be realized that, in the 1960s, more than half of all US hams had been licensed after 1953. They had never experienced any system in which Generals and Conditionals didn't have full privileges.  


The simple fact is radio is no longer the glamorous "IN Thing"
like it was in the 50's and 60's.

It never was. Maybe in the 1930s...

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the percentage of Americans with ham licenses was much lower than today.
 
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%

Currently we're over 701,000 US hams.

But while you may not have the historical facts right, you are 100% correct about the idea. Any license changes which result in large numbers of hams losing existing privileges without getting new ones in return is going to be so strongly opposed as to be a non-starter. That the changes of 1968 and 1969 have an effect even today proves it.

There's also the question of how to administer a nonrenewable license in practice. For example - could the licensee take the tests again and get another 10 years? If so, what's the point of the license being nonrenewable?

If the license is a one-time thing, as the old Novice was before the mid-1970s, the FCC and VECs would have to maintain a database of those who had used up their one-chance and couldn't get another. Think they want more admin work? I don't!

Note too that the percentage of hams with Techs is falling. Peaked at 49.5%, now down to 48.8%. Meanwhile the General and Extra percentages keep growing, particularly Extra.

73 de Jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 05:07:05 AM by N2EY » Logged
N3OX
Member

Posts: 8847


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 08:37:20 AM »

 Even if the Tech remains an indefinitely renewable license, how do we get inactive Techs interested in doing something related to RF?  Also, wouldn't a current active Technician prefer to be a General at some point?  Everything that can be done with a Tech can be done with the General.  The General's just a 35-question, half-hour test that gives a ham privileges on every HF band, even for occasional use.

What if the licensee doesn't care at all about HF?  Telecommand and telemetry (edge of space balloons, for example), wireless networking, local EMCOMM, Moonbounce, Troposcatter... these are all things you can do with a tech and for which HF privileges are not a main priority or not needed at all. 

There are other issues to HF operation that I think are more serious than licensing.  HF antennas are big and difficult to erect in the modern U.S. People don't even have TREES in their newly-built subdivision homes, much less permission from nosy neighbors and HOA's to string wires in them.  Cheap electronic gadgets with the EMI suppression stripped out to save money and aging power lines are drowning the HF bands in so much noise that HF can be nearly useless.

HF radios are on the order of a thousand bucks if you just take a casual look at the catalogs... people are struggling to pay their mortgage and stay employed... doesn't really matter if the cost in REAL percentage of earnings is smaller than ever, and doesn't really matter if you can get a deal on a used rig (eBay +  scammers make used purchasing require more time and energy). Dropping $1k on a hobby is not really an option for many people.

Quote
 The consensus is that the Technician is not temporary like the old Novice but a full-fledged license.  Still, the Tech is for all intents the new Novice and the entry point for most new hams.  

That's a different issue from whether or not the Tech should be a permanent license.  The Technician license is a stupid entry point, but it's an excellent license for certain tasks.

I could see the utility in a more meaningful "starter" license with introductory HF privileges and a limited term, but at the same time I think the challenges in getting new people interested and new hams active in ANY aspect of the hobby go far beyond the licensing structure. 

You can mess with the licenses to re-distribute the license class names among the 700,000 all you want, maybe dropping or adding to the total in the process; I don't think it's going to change who's active on what bands and is just going to cause administrative costs and bad feelings.
Logged

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

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
AB2T
Member

Posts: 246




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2011, 01:52:37 PM »

There's also the question of how to administer a nonrenewable license in practice. For example - could the licensee take the tests again and get another 10 years? If so, what's the point of the license being nonrenewable?

If the license is a one-time thing, as the old Novice was before the mid-1970s, the FCC and VECs would have to maintain a database of those who had used up their one-chance and couldn't get another. Think they want more admin work? I don't!

Even if the Tech were non-renewable but able to be earned again, wouldn't it be easier just to take the General?  Heck, nowadays with restructuring, why not take the Tech and General back to back?  60 questions in a sitting is not a very long test, especially one that's not timed.  (Then again, when I earned my licenses, I did each written test at at separate sitting; perhaps I shouldn't speak.)  How long was the Advanced anyway?  Can't remember ...  

Note too that the percentage of hams with Techs is falling. Peaked at 49.5%, now down to 48.8%. Meanwhile the General and Extra percentages keep growing, particularly Extra.

A less than 1% drop in the Tech does not portend a greater number of upgrades.  Even if the Tech remains a full term indefinitely renewable license (which it will), the ham population will probably be parked at 45% ~ 50% Tech for the foreseeable future.  I'm happy to see the Extra growing -- the number of Extras has doubled from when I got my Extra 16 years ago or so, and probably tripled from when you got yours.  Progress is slow, I suppose.

There are other issues to HF operation that I think are more serious than licensing.  HF antennas are big and difficult to erect in the modern U.S. People don't even have TREES in their newly-built subdivision homes, much less permission from nosy neighbors and HOA's to string wires in them.  Cheap electronic gadgets with the EMI suppression stripped out to save money and aging power lines are drowning the HF bands in so much noise that HF can be nearly useless.

I agree that HOAs, limited home antenna supports, and cheap electronics are barriers to HF operation.  What about TVI in the 50s?  Hams survived early TV sets with very little shielding. My American location is not HOA, but there are nosy neighbors.  There are resilient wires that are not that visible, and feedline options that aren't that obtrusive.  New hams should get a hot soldering gun and get creative, and not just order an antenna from a catalogue.  

HF radios are on the order of a thousand bucks if you just take a casual look at the catalogs... people are struggling to pay their mortgage and stay employed... doesn't really matter if the cost in REAL percentage of earnings is smaller than ever, and doesn't really matter if you can get a deal on a used rig (eBay +  scammers make used purchasing require more time and energy). Dropping $1k on a hobby is not really an option for many people.

I completely disagree that a prospective ham needs $1,000+ for a starter station.  What more experienced hams should emphasize is the fact that no ham needs a store bought station!  I've been licensed for almost 20 years, and I'm still broke (finishing my PhD).  I have a hybrid rig, paddles, a homebrew keyer, and plenty of scrap antenna wire.  I'll go to a hamfest, find a tuner, even resolder it if necessary, string that antenna, buy ground rods and hammer them in myself, and get on the air! The real problem is the lack of Elmers today.  This is partially my fault because I don't particularly like ham clubs, but perhaps I should join just to help new hams. Still, more experienced hams should help newer hams make informed purchasing decisions at hamfests.

It costs more money to have a sideband station.  That is true.  More experienced hams should not make sideband out to be the goal and CW the consolation prize.  Many hams have been dedicated CW ops for decades regardless of income. I've operated CW exclusively (when I can operate) for almost 20 years now.  There are hams who have operated CW exclusively for twice or three times longer. Now that new hams don't have to operate CW exclusively for the first few years to get their upgrades, maybe it's time to remarket CW as the "mode for stealth operation".              

73, Jordan
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 02:05:35 PM by AB2T » Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3879




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2011, 07:07:39 PM »

There's also the question of how to administer a nonrenewable license in practice. For example - could the licensee take the tests again and get another 10 years? If so, what's the point of the license being nonrenewable?

If the license is a one-time thing, as the old Novice was before the mid-1970s, the FCC and VECs would have to maintain a database of those who had used up their one-chance and couldn't get another. Think they want more admin work? I don't!

Even if the Tech were non-renewable but able to be earned again, wouldn't it be easier just to take the General?

For you or me, maybe. For others, maybe not. Not everyone has the same background.

  Heck, nowadays with restructuring, why not take the Tech and General back to back?  60 questions in a sitting is not a very long test, especially one that's not timed.  (Then again, when I earned my licenses, I did each written test at at separate sitting; perhaps I shouldn't speak.)  How long was the Advanced anyway?  Can't remember ...

The Tech and General tests are 35 questions each.

How long the old tests were depends on when you took them. The last version of the Advanced was 50 questions IIRC.

But it's not just the number of questions; there's the issue of how much is covered and in how much depth.
 

Note too that the percentage of hams with Techs is falling. Peaked at 49.5%, now down to 48.8%. Meanwhile the General and Extra percentages keep growing, particularly Extra.

A less than 1% drop in the Tech does not portend a greater number of upgrades.

We don't really know without a lot of analysis. For example:

- Since April 2000, the Novice has been closed to new issues. Since then, all new US hams have had to start with the Tech, General or Extra.

- From April 2000 to Feb 2007, upgrading from Tech Plus to General or Extra required no additional code testing, and upgrading from Tech to those classes required only 5 wpm code test (and of course the writtens).

- Since Feb 2007, upgrading from Tech required only written tests.

IOW, it makes sense that a lot of Techs have upgraded in the past 11 years, and been replaced by new hams.

  Even if the Tech remains a full term indefinitely renewable license (which it will), the ham population will probably be parked at 45% ~ 50% Tech for the foreseeable future.

Maybe - or maybe not. There are so many Techs that it takes a lot of upgrades to make a difference of even 1%.

  I'm happy to see the Extra growing -- the number of Extras has doubled from when I got my Extra 16 years ago or so, and probably tripled from when you got yours.

Tripled? HAW!

When I got my Extra, there were about 5000, out of over 250,000 US hams. Now there are over 126,000 Extras - more than 25 times as many as when I got mine.

The percentage of Extras has grown from less than 2% to almost 18% in that time.

The real questions I see are:

1) If someone is satisfied with the license class they hold, what's the problem if they don't upgrade? The Technician, for example, permits just about any amateur activity above 30 MHz - satellites, meteor scatter, tropo and much more. If that's where a ham's focus is, there is little reason for them to upgrade. Plus a Tech can get a 1x3 vanity call.

2) What should the entry-level license be like to get the maximum number and highest quality of new hams? Should the Technician be replaced by something else (with existing Techs not losing anything, of course)?



73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
AB2T
Member

Posts: 246




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2011, 10:12:36 PM »

We don't really know without a lot of analysis. For example:

- Since April 2000, the Novice has been closed to new issues. Since then, all new US hams have had to start with the Tech, General or Extra.

- From April 2000 to Feb 2007, upgrading from Tech Plus to General or Extra required no additional code testing, and upgrading from Tech to those classes required only 5 wpm code test (and of course the writtens).

- Since Feb 2007, upgrading from Tech required only written tests.

IOW, it makes sense that a lot of Techs have upgraded in the past 11 years, and been replaced by new hams.

Maybe - or maybe not. There are so many Techs that it takes a lot of upgrades to make a difference of even 1%.

Good points.  However, the 2000 -2007 transitional period during which many hams with at least Element 1 upgraded to General or Extra was anomalous.  It'll be interesting to see if that momentum will continue now that code testing has been abolished and the second phase of restructuring has been finalized.  My guess is that the upgrade momentum will reach a rough equilibrium with new entrants.  I don't foresee a time when Techs will be anything but >=40% of the US ham population.  This could be simply because of the sheer number of new entrants continually swelling the Technician ranks. 

The real questions I see are:

1) If someone is satisfied with the license class they hold, what's the problem if they don't upgrade? The Technician, for example, permits just about any amateur activity above 30 MHz - satellites, meteor scatter, tropo and much more. If that's where a ham's focus is, there is little reason for them to upgrade. Plus a Tech can get a 1x3 vanity call.

The new League recruitment campaign is titled The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio.  The campaign focuses on getting "DIY" enthusiasts interested in ham radio.  DIY isn't homebrew as most current hams know it -- check out the Arduino website for information on the small programmable boards.  Almost all of the projects displayed in the ARRL campaign are for Technician spectrum.  If one were to become a ham just to invent small, microprocessor controlled devices for ham radio, he or she might never have the desire to use HF. 

Part of my problem is one of perception.  I have thought for a long time that anything above six meters is mostly FM repeaters and rather uninteresting.  The League is trying to change that perception for newcomers, despite the prejudices of more experienced hams.  I would not be surprised if other hams perceive HF as the place where "real ham radio" takes place.  The ARRL campaign is not only designed to attract newcomers but also to perhaps shake the stodgy perceptions of older operators.

2) What should the entry-level license be like to get the maximum number and highest quality of new hams? Should the Technician be replaced by something else (with existing Techs not losing anything, of course)?

Now that there is no more code testing, there is no need for a license designed to help new hams learn code. 

As I have written in a previous post, I am not at all convinced that a new ham needs $1000 or more to get on HF.  Even so, I should not have been as sanguine about HF as I was in the previous post.  If a new ham doesn't have someone to show him or her how to homebrew for HF, it might well be difficult to get on the air for less.  Also, CW isn't for everyone, despite what we older prophets might think.  V/UHF is a good ham radio starting and ending point for many people, particularly experimenters.  Perhaps my prejudices stem from nostalgia, as I was part of the last generation of hams to start their career on HF. 

73, Jordan
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 10:16:20 PM by AB2T » Logged
2E0OZI
Member

Posts: 270




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 02:18:23 AM »

Jordan is right - you have got to watch out for your own predjudices and not try and get every new ham to fit them. I'm pretty new, but as I was an SWL  before getting my ticket I was of the mind that "HF is the REAL ham radio". However one year down the track, and having read Radcomm for a year I realise there are experimenters in VHF and UHF and lots of fun to be had there, and its just as real as any other part of radio. In fact 2M DXing might be the next thing I get into, as a supplement (but never replacing my love for) HF.
Logged

Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3879




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 02:38:39 AM »


2) What should the entry-level license be like to get the maximum number and highest quality of new hams? Should the Technician be replaced by something else (with existing Techs not losing anything, of course)?

Now that there is no more code testing, there is no need for a license designed to help new hams learn code. 


The old Novice wasn't just about getting new hams to learn code.


Before the Novice license was invented, getting started in ham radio meant learning to send and receive 13 wpm code and learning theory and regulations at the General level. Which was a pretty considerable level back then, particularly given the average new ham's educational level.

IOW, the first step on the licensing ladder was a very big one.

The Novice was meant as a way for folks to get started without that big first step, then learn code and theory by doing.

73 de Jim, n2EY
Logged
KA5N
Member

Posts: 4380




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 03:55:56 PM »

I fail to see how the renewability or lack thereof of a praticular license clasconcerns anyone with any other license class.  As I understand the original purpose of the tech license was to allow those with interest in ONLY  VHF and UHF a chance to specialize in the art and science of the upper bands. 
Over the years all the manipulation with license grades, and testing etc.  has done
little except cause upsets and argument in the ranks.  Things are working pretty well
as they are today.  Leave well enough alone.

Allen
Logged
AB2T
Member

Posts: 246




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 05:28:58 AM »

The Novice was meant as a way for folks to get started without that big first step, then learn code and theory by doing.

Correspond with older British hams, and they'll tell you the amount of preparation that went into the one-class system.  Many prospective hams in Britain were very envious of the Novice, as it provided a way to learn on the air.  Prospective British ops at one time had to take what is now the Advanced class and do moderate speed code all at once.  All older British hams that I have met in forums are very supportive of the new British three tier system.

That would definitely be a true statement if it had been written before 1991.

There's really no point in arguing about the no-code Tech.  The plans for such a license were already on the table at the FCC in the mid-70s. It was just a matter of time.

My only concern with the end of CW testing is that many new Generals will become frustrated if their 100w dipole station doesn't get out well on sideband.  10m is doing great now, but luck on 10m comes and goes.  Many new hams are taking up CW anyway.  Still, I wonder how more experienced hams are going to keep those Generals in the hobby who give up when they've had enough shouting into the mic.

73, Jordan
Logged
AE6ZW
Member

Posts: 100


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 12:55:49 AM »

I like to see , new novice license, limits less than 100 wts.  same frequency privilege as tech, which include some CW HF band, and 10 mtr SSB.    perhaps new novice exam can be done on web site. 
Logged
W7ETA
Member

Posts: 2527




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 03:50:29 PM »

You can send your "better ideas" for licenses to the FCC.

If I remember correctly the FCC received a few proposals before they dropped the code requirement.

73
Bob
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!