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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody

from Don Keith, N4KC on November 16, 2010
View comments about this article!

Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody

By Don Keith, N4KC
http://www.n4kc.com/
http://www.donkeith.com/

See if you agree with this statement: it is a good thing to promote our wonderful hobby to as many people as possible and do everything we can to continue to grow our ranks.

Hard to disagree with that one, isn’t it? We love our hobby and want every man, woman and child to join in on the fun. At least most of us feel that way. Adding to our ranks brings new perspectives, new people for us to get to know, new interests to broaden the appeal of the hobby. It also helps justify all those valuable swatches of frequency spectrum that other services continue to eye greedily.

Come on in! The water’s fine!

But hold on a second. Maybe a lyric from a Jimmy Buffet song is more appropriate: “The weather is here. Wish you were beautiful.”

In addition to writing books and cluttering up the ham bands, I make money to support my hobby by working in marketing. And one of the first things marketers do is decide who our target is for whatever product it is that we will try to market to them. Successful marketers do product development and design to meet the needs of a particular group of potential customers. Does the product already exist in some form? Is there competition? Can we differentiate ourselves enough to create demand? Can we manufacture it and distribute it at a price point where we’ll make a profit? Do enough people want this product that we can sell sufficient units to make some money? Paint me a picture of our potential customer and convince me that he or she will want what we produce. Arrange to distribute that product in a way that it is readily available to that target group so they can buy it if they want to. Plan and purchase advertising so it efficiently reaches that target group with our message. And make sure the message in that advertising is directly aimed at the potential customers for that product.

And finally, we marketers want to be sure we have a clear goal. Is it to make them buy the product? Maybe, at least in the long run. But often that is not the primary action we seek. We might just want them to recognize our product on the shelf among all the other boxes. That’s called brand awareness. Or we want to inspire them to go to a web site and learn more. Or submit a form for a brochure. If they buy based on our message, fine, but everything we say and do—and all that money we spend—may be aimed at simply creating awareness. Then the customer can decide for himself if he wants to take the next step.

Find out what people want. Give them what they want. Tell them you are giving them what they want. There it is. Marketing 101 in three short sentences!

Targeting: It sounds sort of sinister, calculating. But equate it to using a Yagi. A vertical is a perfectly good HF antenna, but it sends precious RF hurtling off in all directions equally. That multi-element Yagi concentrates the RF into one point on the compass, making it stronger and easier for the DX station to understand. Of course, you have to know in which direction that DX station is and what sort of reply he likely expects. Aim so the station is off the side of the beam and, well, good luck! Send him a burst of PSK31 when he is expecting SSB and see if he responds to you.

Believe me, I am totally in favor of showing amateur radio to lots of people. Doing a special event station, inviting the public to Field Day, doing presentations at schools, retirement homes, civic clubs—all great ways to acquaint people with our hobby. Those sorts of efforts should be designed to impress interested folks among the crowd, inspiring them to learn more. It might also buy us a bit of sympathy if our station is klutzing up their TV picture or our antennas are not in congruence with their sense of acceptable landscaping.

In marketing, we call this “shotgunning.” “Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.” Like the vertical, it has some advantages, but it is not nearly as efficient as the Yagi in targeting our message.

How many people walking their puppy past your Field Day setup might coincidentally be interested in learning enough about electronics to get a ham license? If you crowbar your way into a Chamber of Commerce meeting, how many in the crowd are buying what you are selling? What if you set up that same type operation inside the local science museum? Or gave a talk about solar activity and propagation to the astronomy club at a local college? Or invited a storm-spotter group to observe your club’s Simulated Emergency Test activities? Or allowed a high school Spanish class to talk with a station in Costa Rica?

Does your club have Power Point presentations aimed specifically at different groups? One for elementary school-aged kids with lots of whiz-bang (including Morse code…let a youngster hear his name in Morse and watch his or her face light up), one for high school kids with emphasis on computers, SDRs, ISS, Echolink and the like (show them an Altoids-tin QRP radio and the more technical-minded will be fascinated), and one for retirement or senior citizen groups with emphasis on creating friendships around the world, even if they are physically challenged.

Who would you think the most likely target would be to accept amateur radio and want to learn more? Kids? I think so. Forget all that “they are only interested in cell phones and texting” noise. Make it cool and present it in a cool way and kids—some, not all—will get curious. Teens? Every generation maintains the upcoming flock of young people is taking our civilization to hell in a handbasket. We’ve all turned out pretty well, though. How many of you first got the radio bug in your teens? Even if you waited thirty years to do anything about it. I rest my case.

Messaging: I’m not talking about the National Traffic System and your section CW net. I’m talking about what you tell people that might cause them to do what you want them to do.

I maintain that none of us—you, me, your club, the ARRL—has the money, expertise, or time to sell ham radio as a hobby en masse to a wide, diverse audience. What we all can do is target an effective message to the proper audience in such a way that we can cause people to investigate us. Then they can decide if they want to join the club.

Messaging: Our goal should be to entice some of them—the more the merrier—to get just enough of a whim that they will seek out information. It is much easier today. When I started, back when Lincoln was president, interest in amateur radio came mostly by word-of-mouth. If a local ham (W4OXU, now SK) had not started a class at the high school, I wonder if I would have ever pursued my interest in things radio. And turned it into a 22-year career in broadcasting.

Now, with the Internet, I can Google and Wiki and get the skinny with ease. Those who denigrate the ARRL for this or that should at least look at their offerings for would-be hams and make constructive comments. I’m no fan of the new needlessly-complicated and unintuitive website, but there are a bunch of materials there if someone is interested. I wish they were a tad easier to access and download, but I understand they are working on that.

I do think much of the League material hits the right notes: cutting-edge technology, emergency communications, radio-sport, worldwide friendships. Something in there should spark some interest in our most likely suspects.

I submit that you have little hope of selling somebody completely on becoming a ham at Field Day or during a program at a civic club. Not unless they have been pretty much sold already. Instead, give enough information that those who are interested will go to the web, to the ARRL site or your club pages. (You do have a “Getting started in ham radio” page on the club site, don’t you?) Or maybe they will take you up on your invitation to come to a meeting where you will make them welcome. You will, won’t you? Make them feel welcome, that is. Plant the seed. Target the message. Don’t make them drink from a fire hose or scare them away with jargon and inside stuff. This is not an initiation to test their commitment. It is a sales pitch, trying to convince them to learn more. Fan the spark!

Here’s an idea: when presenting to high school groups, talk about technical careers. You think juniors and seniors in high school are not already thinking about what they will do for a living? Despite what you may hear, many of them—male and female—have a technical bent, too. Amateur radio is a great way to follow a technical hobby and prepare for a career as an engineer or scientist. Mention the Nobel Prize winner who is a ham and developed many of our digital modes. Talk about all the early computer innovators who just happened to be hams. Mention the astronauts on the International Space Station who routinely chat from orbit with hams back on the home planet. Have a copy of the editorial from the October 2010 issue of CQ Magazine handy. It talks about previous recipients of the “Young Ham of the Year” award—an engineer who owns his own software consulting company, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, a Shakespearean actress. A recent winner is pursuing a degree at Georgia Tech in aerospace engineering and another is a software design engineer.

Competition? Anything that captures the imagination of people is competition for amateur radio as a hobby. That and inertia—turning off “Dancing with the Stars,” getting off the couch, and learning enough basic electricity to pass a test. What makes our hobby different? Worth the effort? What do we offer that people can’t find in other avocations? Why should I spend my hard-earned money on a transceiver and a tower instead of on a ski boat or tennis lessons? Show the wide range of interests that can be pursued in our hobby. Explore the possibilities of combining other hobbies and interests with ham radio. How about camping, RVing, radio-controlled models, history, stamp collecting, weather-watching? I bet you can think of plenty more.

Action: What do we want that bright-eyed prospective ham to do? No article about spreading the gospel of amateur radio would be complete without mentioning Elmering. I know. I don’t especially like the term “Elmer” either, and I certainly would not use it when evangelizing about the hobby. But I am proud to be called an Elmer. I love the spirit of it. I’m delighted when I run into some of the people that I helped get started in the hobby and have them tell me how much they appreciate it.

If you see a twinkle in someone’s eye during a presentation, or if a young person sticks around a little longer than his buddies when you operate from a Boy Scout camp, take advantage of that opportunity. Set the hook. You don’t have to make him a ham that red-hot minute. But you can certainly say and do the right things to make him go home and Google “amateur radio.” Or email you later and come by and watch you operate your station.

At the same time, don’t make some of the mistakes I see being made all the time. Shave for a public event or a presentation. Wear deodorant. Dress comfortably but leave the antenna-erecting togs at home. If you are an introvert, have someone there who is comfortable talking with strangers. Let guys who are better at public speaking do the presentations. Rely on Power Point but don’t read the slides to the audience. Have some toys there. Raising somebody across town on a two-meter FM repeater may not be all that impressive but to some, it might. Don’t be too technical. Keep it upbeat, interesting. Have a stack of flyers, even if they are generic stuff downloaded from arrl.net. Add the club web site address even if you just write it in.

You may not realize it, but many people’s perception of ham radio is that odd, funny-smelling uncle who hid out in the basement with all those noisy radios. Or the geek next door that comes in on the stereo. Don’t confirm the stereotype!

One final suggestion: if we want to attract people to our hobby, we need to be more welcoming. There. I said it.

Whether it is at club meetings, on the air, or in posts on forums or web sites, consider that would-be amateurs are judging our ranks by what they see, hear and read. I’ll give you a quick example.

In a recent discussion forum, someone with a 2-by-1 callsign commented on the CW capabilities of a new transceiver recently put on the market. Someone else—and I’ll resist calling him a jerk, though that was exactly what he was—chastised the poster mightily, and even included a copy/paste from the FCC database that indicated that the 2-by-1 fellow was a relatively new ham who passed the Extra exam without benefit of having passed a code test. Basically, he told the fellow he had no right to talk about CW since he was a no-code Extra, and, for that reason, he would never be “a real ham.”

I believe strongly in freedom of speech, and discussion forums are intended to allow people to express their opinions. However, had I been someone considering pursuing the hobby and I saw such tripe, I might reconsider whether I really wanted to attempt to join this particular curmudgeonly fraternity.

You get my point. We have a hobby that almost sells itself, but it is not for everyone. Besides, nowadays it has more competition than ever before. That means we need to target a strong message at the right prospective amateurs. Show them enough of what the hobby has to offer and that will convince those with a true interest to consider learning more. Then be there to show them more, not chase them off.

If we do these things, we will get the new, young blood into our hobby that will keep it vibrant and alive for all of us.

Member Comments:
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for most everybody?  
by NL7SX on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
There are many different kinds of hams, some enjoying camaraderie more than others. Most would probably not enjoy living next door to ne another......but they do enjoy each others company from time to time, via radio sometimes, field day, maybe at public service events, or sharing specialized interests. So a general friendliness in public settings followed by limited exposure to the different forms of amateur radio is most likely to succeed.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W1ZI on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I guess that I was always interested in things "mechanical." I took apart old alarm clocks, old lawn-mower motors, made model airplanes, and so on. That inclination, together with a demonstration of communications capability by a friend (KL7CM), set the hook. Our town (Fairbanks, AK) was rife with Elmers from the CAA, and they set up code classes for us. Learning the code was hard work compared to the theory part of the Class B exam, but many of us (probably 60%) in the code class went on to pass the exam and become amateurs. I received my Class B in 1946 as KL7PM and my Class A ticket in 1947 at the ages of 13 and 14, just in time to enjoy the sunspot maximum of those years.

Having the Class A license opened a variety of part-time jobs for me, and when I moved to the States (Alaska was a "Territory" in those days) to attend UC Berkeley, I immediately got employment at Cal building and repairing instruments that enabled me to work my way through to a degree in 1954. But the significant part of this was that my degree was not in EE or some related field, but in Chemistry. The hobby knowledge from amateur radio led, aided, and sustained me in my profession for all the years 'til my retirement in 1998. Now it is helping me remain abreast of technology and to make new friends.

I think that it is this subsidiary technical benefit of the hobby that strikes me as vitally important. Other hobbies have similar pay-outs...stamp and coin collecting in revealing history, and so on. But the radio hobby is magnificently in tune with the technological nature of our society, even though it may be somewhat tangential to ones primary goals.

The Article "Amateur Radio: ..." hits this point precisely on the head.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K1CJS on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
"We have a hobby that almost sells itself, but it is not for everyone."

Right there, you have hit the nail on the head. Ham radio is NOT for everyone--but it could well be for many more people--if only.....

"In a recent discussion forum, someone with a 2-by-1 callsign commented on the CW capabilities of a new transceiver recently put on the market. Someone else—and I’ll resist calling him a jerk, though that was exactly what he was—chastised the poster mightily, and even included a copy/paste from the FCC database that indicated that the 2-by-1 fellow was a relatively new ham who passed the Extra exam without benefit of having passed a code test. Basically, he told the fellow he had no right to talk about CW since he was a no-code Extra, and, for that reason, he would never be “a real ham.”

I believe strongly in freedom of speech, and discussion forums are intended to allow people to express their opinions. However, had I been someone considering pursuing the hobby and I saw such tripe, I might reconsider whether I really wanted to attempt to join this particular curmudgeonly fraternity."

And right there, you've hit on the one reason that many who are considering joining this hobby finally decide not to get involved with it. The ham that refuses to go with changing times and fresh ideas, who literally will not welcome newcomers unless they succumb to the pressures of "doing it like it has ALWAYS been done."

There are too many long time hams who refuse to accept that times change and that ham radio can be so much more than their limited view of it. They are our worst enemy. They either don't realize it, or they KNOW it--and they still refuse to accept change, just do they can have their own idea of what this hobby is supposed to be.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KB2DHG on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Very well put, YES not for everyone but neither are alot of hobbies or interest that are out there... Amateur Radio is a very verse hobby and to me one of the most rewarding. I think the ARRL needs to hire you to help them promote the hobby. They don't seem to get it right in this department.

 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K7NNG on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Today it appears that ham radio is a transistional hobby for CB ops. I listen on the bands and I hear folks who apparently have NO education talking about what ever, cussing, swearing..etc...and why oh why do they always have a 4 or 8 call??
I hear folks on 14.275 who act like they are the only ones in ham radio, thus must do us all a big favor, and broadcast their hate and discontent onto other folks with tickets.
ham radio is evolving into a garbage pit of bad habits and vulgar lanquage just as CB radio did.
We the people who entered Amateur radio for experimentation of radio, the fun of operating CW, working on radio equipment just don't seem to have a chance to enjoy today.
I am so sad.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K0BG on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
One basic problem Don; not everyone is willing to do their part, at least not in the way that's constructive. The curmudgeonly amateur you mentioned is a good example. There are thousands more examples right here on eham.net.

All one has to do to prove this point, is read through the various forums. Seemingly, there are a select group whose self-chosen lot in life is to add to the misery of their fellow man. Thankfully, there are many more who take their time to explain the ins and out to the neophytes among us.

The situation is bad enough as it is, but when well-meaning folks try to out-best the curmudgeons, we end up exacerbating the issue at hand. It is best to remember this little adage:

"Never argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience".

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by N8BOA on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Well....Let me tell you about a small group (Abt 10 ops) who all got there tech ticket so they could provide Communication to a yearly biking event (Michigander) =. They have all had no experience and no desire to play Ham Radio they just wanted to support the biking event and by the way doing a great job. I happen onto them since I was participating in the with the bicycle activities. Now remember this entire group stuff there radios away and never used them again until the next year event. I was perplex that one could take the time to get there ticket not for Hamming but for supporting a signal event. Then one year one of them was sitting by his tent with a QRP HF radio banging away at CW code at a good 18 wpm. He was playing Ham Radio and loving it. From Bike to Ham, that’s pretty cool. 10% well take it
 
One on one  
by AI2IA on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
There is a surefire, time proven way to recruit new hams. It is simply by being a friendly, outgoing ham. Look at the technician test. In one respect it is like all the other tests over the years. It asks questions where you need to know the frequencies of the different ham bands. Yes you could memorize them, but it is better if you are familiar with them. So how does a perspective ham become familiar with them?

Ah! He has been hanging around hams!

So, you show folks your hobby. If they show an interest, maybe you invite them over whenever they like to try it. If they show greater interest, maybe you lend them an amateur radio receiver and help them set up a simple antenna.

The best marketer for ham radio is an easy going, friendly Elmer.

End of message.
 
RE: for most everybody?  
by KE7FD on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Well said Don. The following statement needs to be taken to heart:

"You may not realize it, but many people’s perception of ham radio is that odd, funny-smelling uncle who hid out in the basement with all those noisy radios. Or the geek next door that comes in on the stereo. Don’t confirm the stereotype!"

So yes, put on a clean unwrinkled shirt and comb your hair too guys. The Elmers who got us high school guys interested and into the hobby were retired engineers from other parts of the country. These men presented themselves and thus the hobby in such a way that many people were drawn to it.

Thanks Don.

Glen - KE7FD
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K7LA on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for the article.

If a new ham's experience is limited to a "shack on a belt" FM handheld, he'll soon tire of it and become inactive, unless he is with a volunteer group of some sort.

A great activity for new hams with HF privileges is contesting with elmers. Their eyes light up when they can work stations over a wide geographic area, especially when they are shown how to do it both fixed and portable (i.e. Field Day) ops. It really opens a whole new world for them, and motivates them to upgrade their stations.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WB2WIK on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, and I agree.

I've never tried to convince "everyone" they should become hams -- ridiculous.

Those who are interested will seek out what they need to achieve their goal. In "recruiting," our job is to only expose people to the hobby, show them what it might be like. I'd say "most" won't be interested at all.

Those who are will pursue it.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by 2E0OZI on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Quite a pertinant article for me - as I am about to take my exam for the Foundation level in the UK next Monday. I have to say that I too am sort of an ex-CB person (last time operated was in 2000 in Australia) but for me the AM stuff was never what attracted me, it was always LSB and channel 16 and waiting for that voice to come though the aether from hundreds or thousands of miles away - it was brilliant! Then if they heard ME, well it made my day... I also was an avid SWL, and Utilities + ham listener with a FRG7700 + a 300 foot wire strung over the trees in the orchard. To me radio was always rather special.

So when I had a chance to study for the Foundation here in Plymouth - I jumped at it! Hopefully in a few months (no gear yet - but looking at an IC718) I will hear you on air and say hello. I'm even interested in CW.

So about 30 years after conceiving the idea of being a ham, I may finally become one. I'm hoping it will be fun, I've been waiting 30 years!

all the best

Scotty - Wembury UK.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WB6RXG on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
NY7Q Said "Today it appears that ham radio is a transistional hobby for CB ops."

So? This is another attitude that needs to go away. Many CB ops are excellent operators and technical people. They got into CB either because they had no idea how to get an amateur radio license, or they couldn't afford the expense of HF equipment. For the most part they still share a basic love of radio. This was the path for me. I was a CB operator in the mid 70's. I was part of a group of young people that hung out on channel 14 in our area. We had a great many technical discussions. Even though the adults picked on the "kiddie" channel I later learned that many of them followed our discussions. We all got our Ham tickets and so did several of the adults. Most of us "kids" ended up with technical professions and most of us still hold our Ham licenses and are active on the ham bands.

It's been 34 years since that novice ticket showed up in the mail. I've had a blast on the ham bands. I have never regretted my time as a CBer as it kept the passion for radio alive. Oh and by the way, some of the people behaving badly on the ham bands were never CBers.

73,
Stuart
WB6RXG
 
If not a ham, at least a sympathetic friend  
by WB8WOR on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Central Division Director W9GIG once remarked about the need for people who are sympathetic to amateur radio.

The scenario is this: you talk to a group of kids about ham radio, maybe do an activity with them like building a crystal set. Later on, some ham is embroiled in a CC&A or zoning dispute, and that same kid, now grown up, remembers the friendly ham who got a radio working for him.

He may not even be involved in anything technical, but he may understand at least that hams are not monsters.

As for who we should be recruiting, I agree. I would look at the Basis and Purpose, and the Radio Amateurs Code for guidance.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by G0GQK on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
As you state amateur radio is not a hobby for everyone, and why should it be? Our American friends are always saying that more people should be encouraged to join our happy band but why ? People must have heard about too much of anything causing chaos, too much rain, too much wind, too much lack of rain, too much heat etc.

If there were twice as many people trying to squeeze themselves on to any band there would be many more angry people at the weekends. In fact if all the people who have entries in any call book all decided to start calling CQ on the same day there would be total chaos wouldn't there ?

Can't say I agree with your comment about a yagi delivering a message better than a vertical. If its a decent yagi it only fires properly in one direction where a vertical broadcasts 360 degrees,eg I contact Moscow on one call, then new York a few minutes later

Mel G0GQK
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by NK6Q on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
What a joy to read a well-written piece! You certainly deserve your stripes as a professional writer! I'm routinely appalled at the quality of writing on the ham websites.

I don't care what it is you're selling, I'll buy it!

Bill in Pasadena, NK6Q
(who knows when to use "your" or "you're" in sentences)
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by OLLIEOXEN27 on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The problem is there arn't any honest hams anymore. Everytime I buy a used rig sold as working perfectly it's seriously not that way.

oli

 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by AB2T on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks Don for the great article. I want to thank you for your reminder to be tolerant of new hams that have entered the ranks after 2007. Hams that operate CW should be glad that a new ham is very interested in the mode! Knocking the ham down for his or her interest just because of licensing date is precisely the wrong way to get hams on code.

I also want to note a phenomenon I have observed on ham boards. I don't operate phone much, so perhaps I shouldn't comment. Still, many phone ops have noted that more hams on HF are operating outside of their phone privileges or without phone privileges at all (i.e. Techs.) I suggest that the solution lies in Elmering and good example, and not anger or ostracization. Sure, there will always be hams that push their luck or disregard sub-bands altogether. However, some new hams might be ignorant of the law or not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Patience and discretion are key.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K0IZ on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article. Great points about targetting, method of presentation.

Members of our club, WØERH, have conducted classes and licensed over 600 new hams in the last three years. Started out with Tech classes, now General, and Extra Class. WHen done right, ham radio grows.

John.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W8AAZ on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I dont think everyone is cut out to be a ham radio recruiter, some of the ones I see at the big hamfests would frighten just about anyone away!
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KG4YMC on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Don, I seem to be in an opinion mood so here goes. I like what you said about marketing. When I first got interested in radio it was reading the ads for the shortwave radio kits from heath and knighkit and eico. The radios had cool names to, like space ranger, globlistener or tranaoceanic or whatever. The sales ad would talk about " hear a ham in south pole give a weather report, hear news as its happeining ect. marketing, did it work? well I brought the eico space ranger, got hooked on turning the " donald duck" into ham conversation I could understand, except sometimes I would use the bfo and they would be speaking in spanish and still couldln't understand them , darn . But marketing , stiring the imagination, heck , I didn't know what a 'q mutiplier was , but the kit radio had that feature and input for , so knew I would have to get the radio , and a q mutiplier someday . The same when cb antenna companeys would promote the " super magnum antenna, cbsers would claim the little bottom loadeed antennas would work better than there longer whip antennas , all advetizing hype. Anyway, you make good points, just don't invite the spanish class over to talk to a station when all anybody wants is a single report and contact, Oops here we go again, the infighting has to stop, cw vs no code, I grew up with film photography , and yes I can look down on digital , but it is new tec, I will buy an new digital nikon somday and adjust , focus is still focus, composition is still composition , move on change evolve learn something new. will the hobby survive? I thinnk so , welcome new hams, actually I hate that term " newbey "I am dateing myself but it sounds like Mrs nancys romper room do bee's cannot we just call them new hams. Get on the air , enjoy welcome new hams , be patient with avoide the cuseing and we will attract new people. by the way , the girl that writes a kids colum in cq, britney ? does a great job and ideas. sorry to ramble but the hobby will surive. just don't shoot ourselves in the foot , the way christians do if one makes a mistakes if we argu among ourselves we will be our worse enemy , ok enought of this 73 I"m gonna go play radio now 73 kg4ymc
 
What It's Really All About  
by N2EY on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, Don - as usual!

Just one comment: We hams aren't all that clear about what ham radio is really all about. We do a lot of description of what we do, but not why we do it.

The short answer is that Amateur Radio is really all about "Radio for its own sake". (Dan, N3OX, uses the phrase "Radio for Radio's sake", which is pretty much the same thing). Radio as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.

IOW, it's not so much about the destination as it is about the journey.

That's the key ingredient which makes Amateur Radio unique. It's why we'll go to all sorts of trouble to build a station, when we could just call people on the phone or send emails.

Most people aren't interested in "radio for its own sake". Our task is to find the few who are.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WM9V on November 16, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
"Not a hobby for everybody".
After listening to the morons on the 20 meter flame freqs
one realizes that threats of suing someone for their homeowners insurance
and letters to the FCC begging enforcement should be taken seriously .
Federal court requires a lot of money and lawyers.
Read the FCC enforcement actions.
The trend indicates no new licensees and the sport is quickly becoming...
"a liability for everyone".
If it's not safe for adults who are licensed,
then why on earth would anyone let their kids on the air?
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KF5AHV on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Five nine reports and qsl'ing for dollars should be explained to the new hf ham. A new op hearing Japan or Europe for the first time may be amazed when he realizes they do not actualy want to talk with anybody longer than a second or two. They may have a better chance making DX friends on echolink.

 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K9YNF on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Don Keith for president!

As a ham celebrating his Golden Anniversary in Amateur Radio this year, I totally think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head, Don. And you have the courage to call out some of the buggy things that have held back the growth of this finest of all hobbies. Thank you!

I, too, am a marketing guy who just happens to be a ham. I am not a rocket scientist, an RF engineer, nor do I derive my living from electronics. I am a professional writer like you, Don.

One observation I have is that Amateur Radio is a microcosm of the society at large. In our midst are good guys and bad guys. We even have a few women in there, too (I remember when there were many more women in this hobby).

The good guys offered to help a young boy like me get on the air, those precious fifty years ago. The bad guys tried to dampen my enthusiasm with elitist rhetoric and self-fulfilling negativity, moaning about the supposed death of ham radio.

The good guys (like you, Don) are people of positive, forward-thinking action. Not willing to play the cronyism card nor to bash the novices among us who might not know the secret handshake some hams try to hold over them.

The good guys enjoy the inevitability of change in their lives. They are part of the solution. The bad guys moan about how the good old days are gone forever. They are part of the problem.

The good guys really know what's happening in this most exciting of avocations. They support and read the ham magazines, contribute to them, and know full well that ham radio is comprised of niches, or hobbies within the hobby, like DXing, contesting, and the like. The bad guys want everyone to be like them, and they have no tolerance for anyone that is unlike them.

The good guys know the power of building bridges, using tools of diplomacy, fair-mindedness, and the power of well-chosen words, and, being professional listeners, they also know when NOT to speak. The bad guys tear down what is not in their image, use hate and devisiveness, and then hide behind their computer screens. They are professional pot-stirrers and born QRM-ers. And, sadly, they will go to their graves not knowing the joy of mastering the written and spoken word of their own country.

Yes, Amateur Radio is all of these things. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And we, as a segment of the American citizenry, of the world at large, can use our free will to make things better or let things slide into chaos. The choice is ours.

No, as you so deftly put it, Don, Amateur Radio is NOT a hobby for everybody. It is a special hobby for those rare individuals who have that "fire in the belly" to reach out with childlike enthusiasm to their brothers and sisters around the globe through the magic of radio and say:

"It's a small world (after all)."

 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KE6BOL on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
How about a more simple and direct approach? Find a kid that seems to have an interest in technology, and give him an old "boat anchor"? That's how I got started; someone gave me an old shortwave receiver, and I was hooked! Then I found out that with just a little study (and a valid license), I could make myself heard around the world. So the next time you're trying to decide what to do with some old rig that was state-of-the-art in your daddy's day, consider giving it to a kid who would otherwise be playing video games, and then teach him (or her) to use it.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KE7FD on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
G0GQK said:

"If there were twice as many people trying to squeeze themselves on to any band there would be many more angry people at the weekends. In fact if all the people who have entries in any call book all decided to start calling CQ on the same day there would be total chaos wouldn't there?..."

You know, he makes a good point too.

Glen - KE7FD
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W0FM on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Another brilliantly constructed and presented article, Don. I never tire of reading your stuff. Spot on, my friend, spot on!

73,

Terry, WØFM
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by 2E0OZI on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
KE6BOL thats EXACTLY what got me into the whole radio hobby in about 1975 when I was 9 years old. My parents had a radiogramme and I noticed you could turn it to a "SW" setting, and not only that the glass had names like Moscow, Weldenroep, Kiev, Tokyo etc on it. I tried that and found Radio New Zealand - just across the Tasman Sea but exciting enough!

I take my test for Foundation Licence next Monday. I should do OK, fingers crossed (to me as an ex SWLer it seems a pretty easy exam). I have no radio gear as yet and failed to win an Ebay bid on a IC706...but did some searching and noticed a Realistic DX302 for £15 so I bid on that with the idea of at least listening while I saved up.

There must be hundreds/thousands of the old Realistic DX302s floating about as cheap as anything - maybe we all should buy one for peanuts and then if we do meet some kid thats showing an interest - lend it out to them and tell them where to look and what to look for. Might hook a few, like it did me 35+ years ago.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by N0AH on November 17, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
It is if you love to type any where you feel like it on the bands no matter the band plans digital devices are suppose to be (silly band plans, ah heck!) that go 5-15KHz wide.....yuor in the right hobby!!!! Let's rock, or should we say, let's:

irrrk,,,,geeeeaaaazzzooo.....ecckkkkkkk......goooooop......veeeshhhhh....yezzzzzzzaaaahhooooowaztozi! Saying the same thing over and over

And just think, a lot of small makers of of equipment we use are drop shipping all your digital "junk" from distributors who jack up prices- all for taking your call on a product that sales itself in many cases!!!!

And thus, middlemen profit while not having to invintory a darn thing or really know much about what they are doing!!! ! Is the internet great or what!!!!

Thanks Al Gore!!! Thx Texas- and thank you all (-:

73 and xxx ooo

Paul N0AH

Trolling by N0AH...on sale now at your local ham Radio Store and 7-11
 
"Sizzle" sells.  
by WB9YCJ on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
You are at a restaurant, hungry and give your order to the waiter.

Minutes later, you see the waiter walking toward your table with a tray of hot "sizzling" food.
You lick your chops in anticipation. You are "sold".
The waiter walks past your table. You are so hungry you would have taken what was sizzling on that plate.

"Sizzle" sells.
When you got into ham radio, something about it had that "sizzle". To many new people, Ham Radio has "sizzle". The key is providing or offering them a chance to see or find that sizzle so they can pursue it. Then, the sizzle can last a lifetime.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K7FD on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Warm and fuzzy article but doesn't change the fact Ham Radio isn't what it once was for a lot of us...

...especially those darn sunspots!

73 John K7FD
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K1BXI on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
"Warm and fuzzy article but doesn't change the fact Ham Radio isn't what it once was for a lot of us..."

Nothing is what it once was for anybody....the arrow of time only points in one direction...forward.

Enjoy the present and explore the bleeding edge of radio technology that will be the future of "radio for radio's sake"

The desire to explore the wonders of radio technology that many of us started with is not dead. It is human nature to wonder and explore, it's just speaks louder in some than others. This next generation will have those few that hear it loudly...just as ours did.

John

 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KF4HR on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
With approximately 350 million citizens in the US, and approximately 750,000 hams, the title of this thread is pretty obvious. We can look at this two ways; 1) people don't know what their missing, or 2) the vast majority of people have better things to do.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KW4JX on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article!
Bury the word 'ham'.
Bury incentive licensing (it's dis-incentive licensing). Kids don't want exams in their hobby - they have enough at school.
Institute experimental entry course to the hobby - no in-essential theory and absolutely no SSB.
The ARRL and RSGB should also be doing what the author suggests.
W2/G3LBS
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W8AAZ on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Gotta say the marvels of wireless communications just do not have the sparkle or mystery that they once had. Pick up a tiny little device from your pocket and send text or voice or pictures wherever to whomever you want, now, with nary a second thought of the processes. And it is not so much of an advantage when seeking employment anymore either. With throwaways of those same said wonder devices versus repairs and not much demand for radio-TV repairmen. The drawback of rapid technology changes is that you become obsolete before you can finish out a career and end up retraining at inopportune times to something totally unrelated or end up living in a trailer, retired.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by AC5WO on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
"You may not realize it, but many people’s perception of ham radio is that odd, funny-smelling uncle who hid out in the basement with all those noisy radios. Or the geek next door that comes in on the stereo. Don’t confirm the stereotype!"

The median age for the US population is about 37 years. I would guess that the median age for hams is about 20 years older than the general population. The perception and the reality is that most hams have advanced to the "don't care what others think" stage of life where appearance doesn't matter as much. Don't expect the younger half of the population in the "still trying really hard to attract members of the opposite sex" stage of life to have the same perception of porcupine mobile antenna farms, HTs that look and kind of sound like a police radio, long on-air conversations about health problems, chasing DX and collecting QSL cards, etc.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W7ETA on November 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Great prose--well constructed article.

I heard a rumor that marketing types find an area to test market their plan. Some times they define their objectives and measure the results to see if their marketing plan works.

Until then, they have an interesting theory about what might work.

One time, someone familiar with business advertising pointed out three things can happen with a marking campaign:

1) sales increase
2) sales decrease
3) sales remain the same

Numbers 2 and 3 outcomes "not so good!"
Number 1 outcome, depending up it's cost, " pretty good".

Measuring the outcome of the marketing campaign is sorta important to prevent 2 and 3.

Show me campaign with measured results, and I become a believer.

73
Bob
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by 2E0OZI on November 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I see ham radio a bit like some of the other things I do; kneeboard surfing, playing the bagpipes and riding a motorcycle. For probably 10 years I was pretty "evangelistic" regarding motorcycle riding, as getting my road licence in 1996 was a turning point in MY life, so why not for others? I was dissapointed when others I nurtured in the arts of touring, going to rallies, going to the races, and just generally riding gave up and turned away from it. WHY? Well it probably wasn't really for them in the first place - just like ham is not for everyone.

Its not like watching the idiot box, its a hobby that involves you- and if it doesn't you will probably find something else......

Scotty
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by BHARDIMON on November 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
If you're thinking you're going to get younger kids involved, you're living on another planet(which seems to apply to most hams). Yes, an occasion young geek will get involved in radio but they are few and far between. I would say in 20-30 years when most of the current hams are either dead or in a home, the ham bands will be quiet, kind of like CB radio...gone for good, and guess what, not a single person will care.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KG4YMC on November 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
;noah had to be a troll, he spells as bad as I do. Isn't noah a call sign belonging to Gordon West?KG4ymc.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KW4JX on November 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Years ago at a hobbies exhibition in London, a panel was installed at the entrance. It was full of knobs and meters. The knobs were twiddled millions of times. There was nothing behind the panel.
Give the kids a crystal set kit.
Motivation is the key to learning.
Bring back the knobs.
W2/G3LBS
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by 2E0OZI on November 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
That so right!!! I was browsing an article here and some bloke said "Whats so special about a tuning knob - we should get rid of them and have direct frequency entry". I was flabbergasted! What no TWIDDLING???? A cup of coffee and a good twiddle can be the answer the worries of the world......
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W5SU on November 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I've seen a tendency to show off our toys all at once at some public events. If we put ourselves in the position of the person who's uninitiated to ham radio, this can be intimidating, confusing, and suggest that ham radio is complex and expensive. Although new state-of-the-art equipment makes our eyes light up, it's often confusing to non-hams who cannot relate to it.

At Field Day several years ago, I remember the novice CW station operated off of a battery that generated more public interest than the elaborate contest grade SSB station.

Let's not scare off our audience. Perhaps it's better to keep it simple with just a couple pieces of basic equipment, and maybe even something older/used, to illustrate how it's possible to put together an effective station for less than the cost of a laptop computer.

'73!

Carl - W5SU
Dallas TX
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KD8NGE on November 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Well written and most worth reading.
I'm looking forward to reading more of your work in future!
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by N2UGB on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The title of the piece is " Amateur Radio. Not a Hobby for Everyone" That says it all, no more paragraphs necessary! It isn't for everyone, period. Nor is stamp collectiong, bird-watching, photography, fly-fishing, etc.

If you think the FCC will keep ham radio as a serious consideration when thinking of selling frequencies, think again. There could be millions of amateur ops out there, but if the goverment wants to sell space to the highest bidder, it will.

I don't think that is an HF scenario, but VHF and higher, watch out.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by OE5AKM on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
In bygone days amateur radio was proud to be a hobby for kings as well as laborers. Today a radio amateur has to be an "engineer"... :-(

73, Alfred, OE5AKM
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KD7YVV on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
It all starts out with a question.
Some people never experience the shortwave bands.
Some may get one of the small shortwave receivers for
Christmas and use it for AM/FM and never tune into the
shortwave bands. Then there are others who will tune in,
hear broadcasts from around the world and are hooked.
Some will hear ham operators describing their station
setups and the curiosity level will go up.
Now, I've heard a lot of things on the bands from hams
describing their latest prostate exam to the size of
the new antenna they put up. As in all life, you'll find
a large diversity of people. If an older ham is going to
chastise someone for not learning code and becoming a
"real" ham, then they should step up and offer to elmer.
Ham radio has many modes. A lot of the newer digital
stuff I don't quite understand, but that doesn't mean
I'm unwilling to learn. So? A new ham doesn't know CW.
Does that exclude him from technical discussions on the
air? I think if you're going to chastise someone for
a lack of knowledge, then you should step up to the
plate and offer to impart the knowledge they lack.
One good rule is treat people how you wish to be
treated, both on and off the air.

--KD7YVV, Kirkland ARES
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by VE4BDF on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
This was an interesting article, thanks for the targeted point of view. I am a new amateur radio operator, and today is my first anniversary in HF. When I was 16, and home with pneumonia, I was pretty bored with my time, flopping around the house with little to do. I asked Dad if he was going to build that Heathkit HR-1680 thing that was still in the box? He said "go right ahead, I don't have the time." So, since I was trying to get better I was inhaling solder smoke for the next two weeks, and it was great... I took on a challenge that I thought would break me, it did... The receiver never worked, never got tuned till 25 years later. It sits here in the shack and works great, an Elmer tuned it up for me and I hooked up a long wire and made it receive... This set the hook, even though I had been nibbling at the hobby for over 25 years. I now needed another challenge, the Basic exam, and I expected it to be another leap that was going to take me to task. I self studied and went to two amateur radio classes, self studied some more and sat the exam... I passed the basic level in 1998 and received the call VE4BDF, (very energetic for bare dry feet). So I played above 30mhz for a number of years being held back by the next challenge, code, and was sandbagged. Later, someone said that the no-code was in effect, and I sat there hawing at the fact that I now had privileges to go below 30 mhz and I was being silly by not taking advantage of my license. All I needed was a transceiver. Well at this stage (40's) the challenge was to get a rig... "Just do it, do it, you can figure out the money part later." was the ring in my head. An new challenge became the task, and it was pretty daunting, getting on the air. the Rig arrived, now what?. Get an antenna someone on 2 meters says, get a G5RV... Ok, So I googled it, built it and then some one said you need a tuner... Jeeze. You get the point. All of these experiences have been challenges, great ones, not so great ones. Since then I have built up my station to incorporate QRP kits and boatanchor amplifier rebuilds, 7 different antenna projects and some rig failures, with smoke. I always have a new challenge. This hobby appealed to me because it tested my levels of experience, all the way along and that is what grabbed me. The areas of this hobby always felt out or reach and one step beyond.
I believe that in this day and age, with technology, the challenge is removed, things are done because they are easy, newcomers don't get it, that this hobby is great because of the HARD challenges that are faced. Code or no code, this hobby is hard, it is a challenge, you got to get into the books, research on the Internet, look at countless antenna plans and more. Homework has to be done even when you have passed the recent or next level exam. Sure this hobby is not for everyone, it's for someone wanting to take up the challenge, to do the hard stuff...

"When the Apprentice is ready, the Master will appear."

The Masters, if willing, will find that apprentice but the experienced have to be willing to mentor.

When I was READY, the masters appeared, plenty of them, all helpful at different times and degrees of assistance. Some much more than others and all offered what I needed at that time and level of challenge. I thank them all...

There was plenty of negative assistance but I recognized that, that sort of personality was not a mentor for me at that time and that was ok, the right person who helped me solve the current challenge was not far away.

I now am ready to help others, and when the time is right, I will find the apprentice, one that demonstrates the signs that he is working on things way out of his level. Like I demonstrated, when I wanted to build an amp from scratch, from the pages of the 1989 Amateur Radio Handbook. I was set on the correct path by another local Elmer.

Am I done learning about this hobby? Nope. I look at those fantastic antenna farms that have an antenna on each corner of the lot and am amazed at the challenge of making those systems work out.

Look for the beginners that can take the challenge.

I dare you...

73
VE4BDF







 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by XE1GXG on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to add my two pesos' worth.

I do believe most of us involved in ham radio have in general been attracted to electronics or mechanics or other scientific or technical pursuits or avocations.

Some -such as myself- come from an Arts and Humanities background. We are often forced to keep our traps shut when opinions and ideas that are really contrary to the Quadrivium are expressed, passively or actively.

Here is where I feel that certain hams are a bit unwelcoming: there is an element of close-mindedness, anti-liberal behaviour and reaction in a good many amateurs, throughout the world.

Not all hams are interested in Homeland Security and a sort of xenophobic view of reality. Thank God (of your choice)!

To attract new hams, a non-resentful, less grumpy attitude is in order.

An excellent "target group" is people in their 30s and 40s, RATHER than teens and scouts. Why? Solvency, economic and other.

In any case, it is a privilege and honour to be able to learn from the engineers and technical sorts in this great hobby.

...73
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KD7QDG on November 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Great article!

You really capture alot of information for those of us who would aspire to bring others into the fold. I would like to make a comment on my recent experience inducting my older brother into our fine hobby.

I had been a ham for many years, and my brother was always interested. He loved to play with my new and old rigs, scanners, whatever. We had both been into CB Radio in our youth. He still was, but after getting my ticket I never looked back.

Finally, this year he got serious. So to inspire and ecourage him I printed the Tech question pool and told him to study! Read articles, get involved. If all else fails read the question pool 10 times! He did not put as much effort in as I would have liked, and I also found HE LEARNED DIFFERENTLY THAN I DID. What a stumbling block that was. I certainly could not force him to study and be dedicated as much as I wanted to. I knew this would turn him off. So I just kept encouraging.

Well, test day came this past Saturday, and I got my Extra and he got his Tech. I credit myself with drilling him until 4:00am the previous night, going over exam questions and than going over WHY the answer was what it was. He admitted that final "CRAM" was what helped him the most. He had a tough time on the test but he got it.

My point is it took YEARS of me poking and prodding his interest. Not being overbearing but showing him how I operated, then at the end letting him help me build antennas, match them, tune them, check them. I think the hands on is a big part. Anyway - that is my two cents.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by NB1R on November 22, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Amen, Stuart - from a fellow ham who also came to this wonderful hobby in part through the CB bands in the 70s too!

>Many CB ops are excellent operators and technical
>people. They got into CB either because they had no
>idea how to get an amateur radio license, or they
>couldn't afford the expense of HF equipment. For the
>most part they still share a basic love of radio.
>73,
>Stuart
>WB6RXG
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WA1UFO on November 23, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
A 2 by 1 callsign can go back many years! I wonder where this guy got his information? I have been a ham for 25 years and my Elmer was AG1Z and he was licensed way before that! Go figure.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WD4MSM on November 24, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Don has provided an excellent blueprint for any local club to follow when promoting the hobby.

Using the expertise of a marketer, we probably ought to attempt to get the correct (i.e., designed for a particular group) message to the highest opportunity targets.

Don's comments about where to find these high opportunity targets is interesting as well.

Thanks Don!
 
HAPPY THANKSGIVING  
by PLANKEYE on November 24, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
AI2IA on November 16, 2010

There is a surefire, time proven way to recruit new hams. It is simply by being a friendly, outgoing ham. Look at the technician test. In one respect it is like all the other tests over the years. It asks questions where you need to know the frequencies of the different ham bands. Yes you could memorize them, but it is better if you are familiar with them. So how does a perspective ham become familiar with them?

Ah! He has been hanging around hams!

So, you show folks your hobby. If they show an interest, maybe you invite them over whenever they like to try it. If they show greater interest, maybe you lend them an amateur radio receiver and help them set up a simple antenna.

The best marketer for ham radio is an easy going, friendly Elmer.

End of message.


__________________________________________________


THIS IS PLANKEYE:

Good for you Ray, your starting to understand and apply what I spoke to you about.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless!!

PLANKEYE


 
RE: HAPPY THANKSGIVING  
by N0SOY on November 26, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with most of the article. One other thing that needs to be done is once someone gets interested is to keep them. The ham clubs on college campuses are gone or dying. I work on the campus of a well known engineering school and there are almost 5000 potential hams pursuing engineering and science degrees. In one department I worked in there are no hams at all. The other (the larger one) there is one and he is finishing this may. There is a club on campus and it is barely hanging on. The 2m repeater is working but no one is ever on it. The Town has a club that is active but it is unknown on the campus and it is not very interested in bringing in outsiders.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by W4DXL on December 5, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
There is a problem besides getting new blood into the hobby, that is keeping existing hams interested and involved. In my community there seems to be quite a few inactive hams. People who let their radios sit and collect dust. I have no idea why this happens, hopefully the interest will be renewed someday.

Another observation, there isn't as much tinkering with electronics as there used to be. Nobody thinks of fixing their TV's and radios because it's not as easy as it once was, parts are hard to find. In most large cities the number of TV repair shops has dropped dramatically. We have been a throw away society for some time now.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by STARUSER on December 10, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Everyone!

I am a fairly new ham. Got my ticket almost 3years ago and I am having alot of fun with it.

I upgraded to Extra Class last year and have made many great DX contacts.

When I first got my ticket a bunch of the local hams I meet kept trying to sell me all their old beat-up equipment that did not work properly. I bought some of it and was a little upset at them for awhile.

This is not a good way to start someone in the hobby IMO.

For a old ham to take advantage of a new ham in this way is a little disgusting.

But I am over it now and I try to help new hams I meet in a better way and be more honest with them.

73
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by NB1R on December 10, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Well, a lot (but certainly not all) old timers seem to have it in for us newbies - we're extra light after all...

Have patience, more and more old timers go SK each month and someday we'll be the old timers and we can pick on the newbies!

Glad you're aboard the hobby.
73 de NB1R
James
Lexington, MA


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

RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody Reply
by STARUSER on December 10, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Everyone!

I am a fairly new ham. Got my ticket almost 3years ago and I am having alot of fun with it.

I upgraded to Extra Class last year and have made many great DX contacts.

When I first got my ticket a bunch of the local hams I meet kept trying to sell me all their old beat-up equipment that did not work properly. I bought some of it and was a little upset at them for awhile.

This is not a good way to start someone in the hobby IMO.

For a old ham to take advantage of a new ham in this way is a little disgusting.

But I am over it now and I try to help new hams I meet in a better way and be more honest with them.

73
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by WA9RHD on December 12, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I know its not a hobby for everyone because not a lot of people have any idea what you are talking about especially these days with the other technogies that we have

I know because I've tried talking to many people about the hobby -- so unless they are in the field already its got to be very targeted

Had I not been interested in my youth -- first in being a SWL and then getting my novice ticket I don't think I'd be involved today

although I always like to say that its a hobby where "you never know who you may talk to and never know if you will ever talk to them again"

and I still think that incentive licensing is off track -- its just a hobby why do I need to be an EE and get an extra class license to have all the operating priviledges? and code was a non-issue -- you can learn if you put in the effort

I do agree that being a friendly Elmer and making the hobby relevant to all is the way to -- I just want to know where they have all gone -- I could use one from time to time

DX stations generally don't rag chew -- so I hope someone else does -- otherwise I'm not sure what we are left with for our investment









 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by KI4SDY on December 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
The biggest problem to attracting new hams are the bullies in the hobby! Let's go through the list shall we?

CW Bullies:
For some reason, these people believe that if your aren't using a key it isn't real ham radio and you aren't a real ham. No matter that the majority of communications on ham radio are made in other modes. Rather than attract new keyers, they run them off because they didn't have to know CW to get their ham license. If it wasn't a requirement, they can't possibly learn or enjoy it. If you can't send and receive 50 WPM, get off the air!

Techno Bullies:
These self-appointed experts force their views on anyone they can corner. If you aren't drilling holes in your new car and strapping a telephone pole size antenna to your Miata that looks like an outdoor circular clothesline, you don't know what you are doing. Those thousands of contacts you made on your G5RV over the years? Impossible! They can't be valid because your antenna isn't efficient and they can prove it with computer models and math. If you didn't do it their way, your wrong!

E-Comm Bullies:
If you are the volunteer type that wants to use your new ham radio hobby to help your community in a disaster, think again. The E-comm Bullies will belittle you and make fun of you for even thinking about helping your fellow man, all from the comfort of their armchair. For some reason these people are convinced that only the government can save them from a disaster. Katrina was a good example of that. 10,000 people died! Only ham morons wear orange vests!

Snob Bullies:
If you didn't spend $10,000 on your rig, erect a $10,000 mile high tower with $10,000 worth of antennas on top of your private lair in the mountains, how can you possibly expect to make a contact or enjoy the hobby? According to them, if their oscilliscope shows that you have a hint of "splatter" you are in violation of their clear transmission rules and must cease any and all transmitting until you spend enough money to get it fixed. That includes buying a string of $325 Heil studio mikes so your shack looks like a broadcast station. Get your cheap junk off the air!

If you recognized yourself on this list, maybe some soul searching and improvement in your human relations skills are in order. We need to attract new hams instead of running them off. Otherwise, there will be no one to communicate with on the airways in the future.
 
Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by K3ROJ on December 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I have been a ham for man years and have taught Morse Code to a few hams who are on the air. My biggest challenge was getting my 12 year old Grandson interested. He comes over to use my high speed computer and internet to play some sort of game called "War of Worlds"? I am usually on the air using CW and he had commented on how difficult it would be to learn the code. Well, that comment was all I needed and I told him if he learns the code and obtains a ham license that I would buy him a gaming PC, 2 Monitors etc. Well, I never thought he would would bite but that same day, he learned a few letters and within a month was able to copy at 5 WPM. Then of course it was time for him to begin hitting the books along with hands on soldering, learning about transistors and of course the math. Our school systems in the USA are lacking in teaching math and soon he was learning Algebra my way. Once I explained that the speed of light (2pi) determines how many ham radio formulas work, not only for antennas but for resonance using capacitance, inductance and length, he grabbed it quickly. His CW speed increased to 18 WPM and even though it wasn't required in getting his General license, he is now able to "get in there" with any ham operator. He now seldom uses his new PC for gaming and uses it for PSK31 instead which fascinates him since we chat often on 10 meter PSK31. So, if you know a youngster who you want to save from future Carpal Tunneling, teach him or her ham radio.
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by JOSEYWALES on December 21, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
As a potential new ham, I posted a question regarding emergency comm, asking for advice on strategy, equipment, etc. I do not have my license, but explained that I was in the proces. Instead of getting valid information from well over 100 folks who read it. One guy responded about how I need to use the equipment regularly, in order to be prepared for an emergency. Ok...what equipment??? Try addressing the question, along with any outside advice you have.

I believe in being prepared and have other areas, such as firearms, water, first aid, etc. taken care of and ecomm is the next phase. Probably should have been more of a priority, but most the others came more "natrally". Could I be a troll, just looking to tap this braintrust and run an illegal radio, absolutely. But from what I've learned in the past couple months, this hobby needs to cater to anyone who is interested.

In the time since I posted my question, I have purchased the exam workbook and CD, a Radio Shack Electronics Lab, a used handheld and a mobile 2 meter unit, and a CB. I am well into my 40s and have a renewed interesed in electronics, as well as shortwave.

BTW, the HH and the mobile units I bought from a current ham and the HH would not work. I figured out that the DC charging jack is faulty and when I wedge a paperclip in, it works (the unit believes the charge is plugged in, which prevents the unit from powering up). I might order a replacement and fix it. It's an older unit, but we'll see. Right now, I'm soldering my Lionel ZW transformer.

So, after my intial experience on this forum and some googling of thoughts on Hams, I'm now thinking of a CB/SSB, with 10 meter capability. Not sure I want to spend my nights listening to elitist...we'll see.

Anyway, a good approach with folks asking questions is to be nice, until it's time not to be nice. (Road House, I know, but it fits).
 
RE: Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody  
by N3SSL on December 23, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
A quote from n3xxh:
"Recruit aggressively recruit selectivity"







 
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