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Author Topic: Are these hams not wanted?  (Read 14244 times)

Posts: 50

« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2014, 07:08:15 AM »

The inevitable next step after lowering license requirements this far is to eliminate them completely. Yeah, sounds like a great solution. It's inclusive, builds faux self esteem, and requires nothing of anyone.

Why do disaster buffs want to pretend to be amateur radio operators anyway?

Posts: 25

« Reply #31 on: June 29, 2014, 05:04:41 AM »

I didn't go through all the posts because it seems to really bother me about the titile of the thread and then changing the subject to the OP's wife's inability to pass a very simple test.

There has been lively discussion of ham quality with regard to education in the amateur radio domain. Disappointment on one hand, that the dumbed-down questions produce appliance operators, vs. support of easier tests (e.g., dropping code requirement) to keep licensee numbers up. Both sides make valid points.

The code dropping was part of the rest of the world's lead. It doesn't stop anyone from learning CW and using it.

Then there’s a third side: the newly licensed hams. Some have helpful and supportive backgrounds and want to use their skills to be more than just operators. Others don’t have that benefit and—at least initially—don’t ever want to build rigs or gear, never want to develop new or refine existing modes, never will have more than an HT and the stock rubber duck: hams that only want to operate their HT when nothing else works due to the earthquake/storm/flood/other that could come any day where they live. Why do those hams need to know what a product detector is? Or that unit 1 in that block diagram is an oscillator and nothing else? Or what a transistor looks like on a circuit diagram?

Learning the basics should be the requirement, otherwise this moves to a CB type mood of communications.

If a ham doesn't want to do a thing with his license, that's his privilege and out of all the licensed hams, I am thinking this is the minority.

My XYL belongs to that underprivileged category. She is a relentless learner, tough and not quick to give up on hard tasks. Yet she failed on two attempts to pass the Technician license test, with tears in her eyes because she was not able to even understand some of the questions, let alone the answers. She has two (non-technical) PhDs, is very involved as a volunteer with the local organizations, is CERT certified, a graduate of the Citizen Police Academy, Mobile Watch certified, Neighborhood Watch certified. So as a ham, she would be an asset to these organizations. And while she is allowed to use her HT in emergencies without an FCC license, she cannot be part of the local communicator team at the parade, help out with support during the marathon, hike up Mt. Timpanogos to assist TERT with radioing in medical support for distressed hikers, etc.

Actually she isn't a ham, she is a person who failed to be one. Not trying to be disrespectful, but if she has a PhD or two, there is no reason why she can't sit for all three exams, let alone just the tech exam.

Where is the sense in that, and is it really to our benefit? Should there be a lower entry-level (operator-only) license? It is very acceptable that one needs a license to use the airwaves. So, let an entry exam focus more on operation and conduct. What would be so detrimental about that? If one also wants to be involved in the technical/electronic aspects, fine. Let them take the more demanding license tests.

No there is no benefit to us, there shouldn't be even a consideration of a lower entry level license. It really should be a little more than it is, more technical and more questions about operations.

Disclosure: this ham carries an Amateur Extra license but has not much of a clue about how things work. All he needs is the privilege to use the bands for his hobby, being a QRP CW operator, and not much more.

I too am an extra, but I use my education that got me to pass the exams as much as I can.

Posts: 108


« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2014, 06:44:31 AM »

No offense to your wife, but my wife is only a PCA Patient Care Assistant. And doesn't even have an associates degree and she passed both her tech and general on the first try. Her motivation was way back in the early 90 when we still had harder tests and CW she passed her tests because thats the only way she could keep in contact with me. Before cell phones were small and affordable I always and to this day still carry an HT so she can get a hold of me.


Posts: 689

« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2014, 01:37:35 PM »

Sorry, I'm coming into this discussion so late...(but a friend just e-mailed me the link to this thread, today...)
I'm sure that your wife will get it sooner or later!!

Please let me state publically, that I've been a ham for 70% of my years on this planet, and I don't care if someone was licensed yesterday, or decades before I was born, we are all equals, and I treat everyone the same!!
Yes, I do make some assumptions, such as that my fellow old timers should know more (more experience = more knowledge / expertise), and that newer hams may need to be politely informed of some details, taught, etc....
{This translates to:  If you've been a ham for years/decades, I don't cut you much slack....but I'm very understanding of new hams! Smiley }

So, to all those "new hams" that have been insulted, or even just intimidated, by us old timers, PLEASE accept  my apology for them all!!
We are NOT all like that!!  Smiley

My response was going to simply be exactly what Robert, AA4PB, I agree with this 100%!  But, then I sort of got on-a-roll!!

Part 97.1

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

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

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

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

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

(b), (c), and (d) would need to be changed if we were to have an "operator" class of license. As it stands now, hams are responsible for ensuring that their equipment is performing in accordance with FCC rules. An "operator" class would probably require the person to have a higher class licensee do an annual inspection of the station to make sure all is okay and to do any repairs or maintenance.

And, I do not see now, nor have I ever seen, that (b), (c), and (d), are in any way "optional" at all...

Perhaps there are some who "market" ham radio as a 'alternative" to costly/unreliable cell phones, etc. but those who study for, and pass, the license exams, should understand that all 5 of the above ARE requirements of the Amateur Radio Service....whether or not they've grasped all of the minutia of the science / technology involved, these 5 basic principles / reasons are right there, up front, for EVERYONE to read/understand...

Arno, your words here (and many others' words, as well) do point out one unfortunate fact...[ "...has not much of a clue about how things work. All he needs is the privilege to use the bands for his hobby, being a QRP CW operator, and not much more." ]....that you (and unfortunately many others) see the Amateur Radio Service as a "hobby" rather than a "Service"...

Arno, please understand that I intend nothing derogatory at all here, my friend!!!

I'm just respectfully discussing / pointing out, that we approach "ham radio" differently....

I think that it is a "service" and your words show that you think it is a "hobby"...
{I joined the ARRL in early 1974, and started studying for my license then....took me a few years, as girls/cars/etc. took priority, but after a few years, I finally got around to it...and have been a fairly active licensed ham now for 35 of my 53 years!  Have a look at my bio on for some details...

When I was a teenager, my favorite aunt was visiting from up north and one day she asked me what I was doing....when I replied that I was studying for my ham radio license she asked "what is 'ham radio?'"....and of course I explained that was just a silly nick-name /  moniker, and what it was really called was "The Amateur Radio Service" this was the mid-1970's and while, as a teenager, I was getting a decent education, I had never taken Latin, but my aunt had back in the 1930's!!
She asked me if I knew why they called it "Amateur" Radio Service, to which I replied the standard "because they do not get paid / they are all non-professionals" which she smiled and said that it's obvious I hadn't taken Latin!!
She went on to teach me something about Amateur Radio Service that was NOT in the license manuals, nor the ARRL Handbook....

And this was that our English word amateur has its origins in the Latin word "amatorem" (meaning "lover of"), and comes from the Latin root "Ama" (meaning "Love")....  
She went on to explain that obviously the "Amateur Radio Service" was established for those who "love" radio communications, rather than for those who just "need to talk", nor for those who desire to use radio communications for work/commerce/profit, etc..
Now, understand that my aunt Edith was my favorite aunt, and she was always a happy and pleasant lady, to everyone....but she had absolutely NO technical knowledge or ability at all!

So, when I read her these 5 basic reasons for the Amateur Radio Service, she smiled and said, "A Ha, it IS for those that 'love' radio!"}

This above is a 100% true story from my youth while I was studying for my licenses!!!

And, I think this highlights one of the basic differences that I have with some of my fellow hams....I do NOT discriminate!!!  I treat everyone the same!!
We are ALL equal, and ALL must be respected and treated as equals (aside from the various differences in operating privileges with different license classes, of course...)
But, it seems that many hams do not actually see the Amateur Radio Service as a "Service", but rather as a "hobby"....

Understand that I believe there is room in the Amateur Radio Service for everyone....
Yes, EVERYONE.....

Those that wish to tinker with electronic circuits / radio systems, advancing/perfecting them;  those that wish to experiment with various exotic modes of communication;  those that wish to hone their operating skills by contesting/dx'ing;  those who perfect regional networks and/or NVIS comms, especially for public service/emergency use;  those that are especially adept at promoting international goodwill;  those interested in education / research / advancements in technology and radio communications, as well as radio operating techniques, etc.;  The lists goes on and on...

Without hams such as those, there would not be many engineering schools anymore, nor would there be "packet switching" systems (the basis for what we now call "IP"), nor would there be cellular phones, nor text messaging, nor advances in satellite / space communications, etc...nor would there be "CERT" teams, nor ARES/RACES....nor coordinated repeater systems, nor linked/networked systems....
Nor would there be many hams who could set-up their radio equipment "in-the-field" and establish contact with many others, from 10-20 miles away, up to 1000's of miles away, on various modes/frequencies....
Knowing about radio wave propagation, the radio art, training of operators, continuation of technological/radio communications advances, as well as promotion of international goodwill, etc. are ALL vital to the Amateur Radio Service.....and without them, we would simply be "guys yackin' on the radio", which can be accomplished via other forms of communications....

If some folks have no interest in these 5 basic tenants / principles / reasons for the Amateur Radio Service, and/or have no intention of participating in / abiding by them....then, in my opinion, they have only 2 or 3 choices....
1)  Choose an alternative form of communications...(there are many, and some are FREE)
2)  Petition both the FCC and the ITU (and UN) for changes to the Amateur Radio Service...

--- or ---

3)  Choose to change their mind, join us hams, and accept the Amateur Radio Service for what it is...a proud "Service" to all mankind!

Finally, for the record, I do NOT wish to see any further degradation of the Amateur Radio Service, nor any relaxing of any license requirements at all!!!
To the contrary, I'm in favor of strengthening the licensing requirements, AND increasing the score for obtaining a passing grade to 85% - 90%, AND only "grandfathering in" existing licensee's until their current license expires, then they would have to take the new tests (with lots of new/harder questions, and the increased passing grade score requirements....and maybe even a Morse exam?), just like everyone else desiring to join the Amateur Radio Service!! (NO free passes to anyone!!)

Heck, I'm still disappointed that they got rid of the Morse requirements....I mean, at least they could've left it in place for the Extra!!
But, oh must accept and move forward!!  

Now, Adam here is correct that "shamming" new hams is NOT a good idea (and again, I never do this)....and perhaps some adjustments to the tests (% of questions on different topics) would be a good idea.....
Or, even a better idea, also increase the number of questions for all the exams (perhaps doubling the number of questions?), and strengthening the license requirements....maybe make 85% or 90% a passing grade?

But I think we need to put some of the "technical aspects" into "perspective", yes?
....Expecting a new ham--who probably doesn't have a background in electrical engineering--to have a functional understanding of that level of complex electrical circuitry is just unrealistic. Shaming new hams with slurs like "appliance operator" will only serve to discourage newbie participation.

In the 1970's, I was 12 years old when I started studying for my Novice license, took me a few years, but I got it, and eventually passed my Tech, General, and Extra (getting 100% scores on Novice, Tech and General, but missing ONE question on my Extra exam...."How long after cessation of operation of a space station, do you have to notify the FCC of such termination of transmission?"...still frustrates me that I got that one wrong!  For the record, it is 3 months, unless ordered to terminate these transmissions by the FCC, which would then require notification/confirmation in 24 hours!....I incorrectly answered 7 days, as this is the "in-space" notification period for initiation of transmissions.  I think I'll remember this rule for the rest of my life!)
And many, many "new hams" these days are just kids as well....and regardless of what some's perception is, most hams do NOT a background in engineering...

The facts are that today's entry-level exam (for the Technician Class license), is very basic, and all of the material needed to learn/understand these basic concepts has been published in many, many books/manuals, as well as being available on-line (for free or at minimal cost), so I respectfully disagree that it is unrealistic to expect someone to learn the basics....rather I believe it is a normal part of human life, to learn....the more you know, the more you want to know, and the better life gets!!  (at least that is my opinion, based on my life experiences as well as ham radio!!)

(And, please remember, that there was a "communicator's license" proposal about 20 some years ago, which was thoroughly vetted....and finally voted down by the FCC...)

And, specifically on point to your situation Arno....
Help her!!....get her the license manuals, enroll her in a class, get her involved with your (and other's) on-air activities, etc...and I think she'll do fine...
But, either she learns what she needs to know to pass the tests, or she doesn't...I'm afraid in my opinion, it is rather a "black or white" real grey areas here for me...

Sorry to be blunt, but I am being polite and respectful in my bluntness....
And, am also smiling! Smiley  Smiley

I just now read thru all the rest of the new posts and see that she passed!!
Congrats to her!!
Although, I am a bit confused, as you originally wrote that she failed twice (with tears in her eyes)?
In the bigger scheme of things, it really matters not....
Again, Congrats to her!!

And, while I philosophically agree with Tom, WI8P....I do think that Arno CAN teach her what she needs to know to pass the, whether she should be a ham or not?  
Hmmm, that's a whole further discussion...

I'm going against the grain a bit here.  While there can be no question that Arno's wife is intelligent, it's a scientific fact that no human can do all things.  Some people just can't grasp electronics, and it has nothing to do with their intelligence.  I wish I could play a musical instrument - especially a guitar or piano, but I lack the dexterity to do so.  Some people are cut out to be hams, and others are not.  It doesn't make them any better or any worse.  Changing the licensing criteria on a system that is based on one's desire to know and/or learn about things electronics to allow those who can't fulfill that basis is a bit disingenuous to me.

Now, I realize that I've come into this discussion 6 months late....and maybe everyone is done with this topic....if so, well just ignore what I wrote here... Smiley

But, I hope I've added at least a little bit of something, to the discussion....

Fair winds.

John,  KA4WJA
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 02:06:54 PM by KA4WJA » Logged
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