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Talk To Me

Gil G. (AK4YH) on February 12, 2017
View comments about this article!

Sitting at the helm I couldn't help wonder at the flying fish gliding a foot above the water avoiding wave crests with the deftness of a bird. He was probably fighting for his life trying to escape a predator. The Atlantic is of such a deep blue you never notice from shore. A splash of cold salty water breaking over the bow hit me in the face, pulling me from my reverie. That's when I saw it, a straight line ahead on the surface. There are no straight lines on the sea. The realization felt like I had been dunked in the icy waters, a floating container! With all my might I pulled on the tiller, but a heavy full keel boat doesn't turn on a dime. The shock sent me flying forward and had it not be for my harness I would have kept going. I went below to check for damages. To my horror, I stepped in a foot of water. There was just enough time to place a mayday call. I switched on Drifty, my homebuilt CW radio on 20 meters. I heard the end of a transmission, “TEST.” Thank God! Someone is listening. “SOS SOS SOS DE AK4YH AT SEA SINKING K” - “AK4YH UR 59 73” Nooooo!

I woke up in a cold sweat. Drifty was still on, not quite on 14.060 anymore but close enough to sputter “TEST TEST 59 73...” That's what happens when you fall asleep in your chair the night before a contest weekend. I switched off the radio, disgusted. Can't people communicate anymore?

We are so lonely. It seems the more people around us, the less we talk to them. A huge amount of information is exchanged every second of every day but how much is actually communicating? We often don't even know our neighbors. Texting has replaced many phone conversations. Where are we heading, as humans?

The radio landscape must have been very different when glowing tubes warmed ham shacks. I wasn't born then, but maybe some old timers here could let us know if you heard the 59-73 sort of QSOs back then? Maybe I have a romantic notion of what radio used to be. The fact remains that today rag-chews are rare. There are even digital modes that do not allow chatting. What are we doing? Aren't we supposed to “enhance international goodwill,” make friends and talk to each other? Wouldn't that be nice...

How are we to attract new radio amateurs if all they hear is robotic heartless exchanges on the bands? We'll end-up with a bunch of social outcasts only interested in technical conversations. No wonder there are so few women among us.

I want to know what your cat's name is, if you have kids, what your hobbies are, anything. I want to talk to you! I want to get used to hear words in Morse, not call signs and pro-signs. HF is losing its humanity. I am not condemning contesting or DX’ing so much as I want to urge you to talk to each other on the radio. Talk to me!

Member Comments:
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Talk To Me  
by ONAIR on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Years ago, conversations were the norm! You couldn't wait to see who was out there, where they were located, what equipment they were using, etc. Life didn't just revolve around hunting DX, because in the time before repeaters, every contact (even the local ones) was a challenge. It was even exiting to hear who was in your area, and strike up conversations with people less than 50 miles away! They were close enough that you could get to meet them, and even establish many new friendships with them off the air.
Talk To Me  
by N4OI on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
You all must be listening to a parallel electromagnetic spectrum somewhere... Check out the CWOps QTX scores... (number of rag chews 20 minutes or more duration)... One member posted nearly 1,000 in 2016 alone! So some folks are out there pounding some brass... (and it's fun!)

Talk To Me  
by WD4HXG on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
In 1972 when I first pulled a Novice ticket 80, 40
and 15 were jammed with new ops 24/7. The AM & SSB
bands were jammed 24/7 with ops on voice and cw
reveling in their station antenna and equipment.
I wonder how much of the gloss loss now is the
ability to buy your gear vs build it?

In the late 60's in high school I worked in a
television repair shop. The owner was an amateur
and built 90% of his gear. His amp was a one tube
4-400. His receiver was built around an old
television turret tuner using the famous Eddystone
dial. And it worked well. His transmitter was
homebuilt and used a Heathkit SB-10 for SSB. His
shack was magical for a 16 year old kid. His wife
sent me to their home one day to pick up their
empty pop bottles for return to the store next
door to the shop. She told me her husband was in
the radio room and would be late arriving as a ham
band was open and he was glued to that #&$* radio
again. I knocked on the door and heard him shout,
"Come on in". Upon entering I could see him grinning
from ear to ear motioning for me to approach his desk
position. Listening revealed he was engaged in a
technical chat with an op located in South Florida.
Between my uncle who was an amateur and the old man
who ran the shop I learned that was the norm. Today,
well it does not so much seem to be the case. COTS
(Commercial off the shelf) has taken over,and even in
antennae COTS seems to be the norm. Conversations
today seem more political or surround the animus of
League Supporters and Non-Supporters. You find an
occasion conversation between two ops that is technical
but it is the exception it seems.

Maybe I am just older, more exposed to everyday
amateur activities, and jaded but it would be nice
to find the fun again with that first Novice ticket.
The Smart Phone just does not do it for me.
Talk To Me  
by AK4YH on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I should point out that I live in France now (F4WBY), and that the problem is even more pronounced in Europe. We have many languages here and OMs do not always speak a second one, or not well. I had already noticed the trend however when I lived in Florida.

RE: Talk To Me  
by KF4HR on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I started hamming in the 60's. Communications was considerably different back then. My first exposure to amateur communications was CW, and mobile communications on 6M and 2M AM. There were no VHF/UHF FM repeaters back then. Communications was challenging and exciting, so when you managed to link up with another ham, you'd want to talk awhile. Now with repeaters and VoIP assisted communications, while the technical challenges are higher, the actual communications aspect is considerably less challenging. It seems the better our equipment and communications networks get, and the easier communications become, the less real communications content actually takes place.

I don't consider contests, qso parties and the like, real communications. These events basically involve an operator becoming 59-73 robot for a number of hours to obtain a score. There were contests back in the 60's too but I don't remember them being nearly as numerous. Now it seems contests and qso parties are conjured up for any reason. I'm not against contesting in general but I'd like to see fewer HF contests and the majority of contesting efforts shifted towards the higher frequency bands and modes which rarely get used (6M, 2M, 1-1/4M, 70cm, 33cm, 23cm and up, CW/SSB/Digital). If one really wants a contest challenge, why not use bands and modes where communications are actually challenging?

AK4YH asks, where are we heading? For newer hams, this is it. Today is, what they see.. and what it is. But for those of us that have been around for several decades and have seen the changes take place, many of us would like to see certain aspects of the old days return, such as when hams had extreme pride in their communications procedures and their license, and ragchews were the norm, rather than the exception.

RE: Talk To Me  
by K6UJ on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

Great article. It brings back memories of the many enjoyable hours of rag chewing I used to have on 75 in the 60's. When I was fairly new to rag chewing in my teens I remember being in a round table and after passing it on to the next ham they would pass it right back to me explaining that I had only talked for one minute ! :-)
It is good the D-104 mike had a slide on the shank
to keep it on, I would lose my grip after awhile :-)

RE: Talk To Me  
by W4XKE on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Most of my contacts seem to either be in a hurry or else perhaps they're only interested the the hi/bye quick conversation that's over as quickly as it began. Once in a while I'll strike up a good ragchew and really enjoy the exchange of experiences that we have to share.

Eventually we'll usually a hear somebody toss a call between or transmissions and we invite him in. It usually starts out...

"I've been listening to you fellows for a while and I just couldn't stand it any longer and wanted to join you when you guys started talking about your hunting trip and the part about the decoys."

The new guy introduces himself and shares his bit with a lot of exuberance and so we reply back to his comments to welcome him into our fray. Often as not, more calls are tossed in and we find out that there have been several listening but were afraid to ask if they could participate - for fear of being lambasted as so often happens these days.

"Well it looks like we've got some more stations coming in so let's make this a roundtable, unless somebbody wants to be our net control... "

Or perhaps the band goes long and we just can't carry on any longer but we're glad for a good exchange for as long as it lasted. It happens. Contests often make it difficult to carry on a conversation. It seems that if the League doesn't have one up, then CQ Mag or somebody else does and that precludes a lot of opportunity for spontaneous ragchews.

But just like the 'rare one' in other circles, that makes those infrequent spontaneous ragchews all the more memorable.

Talk To Me  
by WC4R on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for an insightful and obvious article Gil.
You are not alone in your observation. When I hear comments from way too many operators (myself included) that say "I spend most of my operating time listening", it paints a bleak picture. I feel that the quick and instant response type contact (can't call it a QSO), reflects our cultural changes affecting the ham radio hobby. Instant gratification. Sad.
RE: Talk To Me  
by VE6ND on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Sure do!
In Calgary we have nets as informal as they are on 146.52, 902.100, 222, 440 and sometimes on 6 meters.
Occasionally we get on 10 meters, we talk about all sorts of things from antennas, radios to the next BBQ.
The best part is that we have fun and have inspired new hams to get on VHF more.
Some amateur's not in our group only like to talk to others with similar interests such as model railroads etc.
These I find detract from the true nature of our hobby and in some cases livelihood.

Amateur radio for me has never been better.

Glenn, VE6ND
RE: Talk To Me  
by KB6QXM on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ragchewing is all I do. I even call CQ on 80 meters. What a concept.

Call me unique, but to me contests are the cancer of amateur radio that are pushed by an organization that will go unmentioned.

My attraction to radio started at the age of 11. Back in those days people had actual intellectual conversations and debate no matter from what country that they were from. There was no political correct filter back then. You could actually carry on a nice technical conversation back then. You were not held back by HOAs and CC&Rs and visual impact studies.

There were mentors (elmers) and technical demonstrations of the hobby everywhere.

Yes, the amateur radio numbers are up, but to anyone who works with or understands statistics, you can play with the numbers to match your narrative.

I would like to see a database of ALL of the amateur radio operators with the following known.

1) Numbers per country
2) The age of each and every ham
3) # of new licensees and the age of that ham
4) This number would require polling. % of that number that are actually active on any band.

1) With this data you could do a statistical plot of age demographics and determine the mean average age.
2) You can look at the new hams over a certain time constraint and the average age of the new hams.
3) Next, look at the radio of new hams versus the ones becoming SK.
4) Determine the average lifespan of the hams per the country and with all of this you can extrapolate where the hobby will be in 20 years.

In my opinion, the trend is scary where we will be in 20-25 years from now as a hobby.

Here is what I see:

1) The hobby is greying.

2) The impression of the hobby to the new generation. (Millennials and Gen Z) is that the hobby is for old people.

3) Young people (Millennials, Gen Z and some of the Gen X generation) are part of the instant gratification generation. They do not want to take the time to study for a test, put up an antenna, if the area that they live in allows it, and that is starting do shrink due to "planned communities and high density housing"

4) I do not see anyone from the Silent Generation or Baby Boomers looking to bridge our technology with their technology.

5) If the younger generation looks at any of our websites that explain our hobby, they are either outdated or look like they were made in the days of Windows 3.1. Now a days, with the advent of Wordpress and all of the plug-ins that come with Wordpress, there is an easy path to modernize the websites. HTML 5 etc.

6) There has to be an actual outreach to the younger generation with the platforms that they use to get them interested. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. All of the social media or else in 20-30 years we can only guess where the hobby will be.

I work with Millennials and I work in the technology capitol of he world so therefore I believe that my comments are valid.

I will rag chew when I can on 160 and 80 meters when I have time if I am not met with jammers, now that the FCC does not enforce their bands as they did in the past.
Talk To Me  
by K7ZOV on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Got my Novice in 1963. Yes the bands were loaded with CW signals because it was forced upon us (world wide). AM was busy and I do remember some Donald Ducks (SSB). With no internet and QRZ.COM people had to give more info which lead to longer QSO's and yes rag chewing. I have been in out of ham radio many times do to work and home life. I have seen ham radio morph more then change to what it is today. If you want to just collect calls and DX for your logbook or wallpaper, you can do it with JT-65/JT9, PSK31 and ton of other digital modes. I have found a lot of rag chewing with PSK31, but Olivia is the one that seems to have people who like to express themselves.

CW is dead... WRONG... It just sleeps a lot. Tune to the bands during a major CW contest and it sounds like 1960's all over again. The problem, as I see it, is more often then not the new CW hams are all QRS and are ignored. Kind of hard to get your speed up and rag chew when others feel you are below them and won't contact you.

SSB on 40 meters I have no problem finding long winded people like me who can talk on any subject and kill a hour easily. I do it weekly by answering CQ's and yes I do call CQ and also land nice qso's. But each band is different. 40, 17, 15 meters you will find people who just like a nice qso. 20, 10 meters mostly hit and run, at least in my experience. 75 meters is our version of high power CB. If you are part of the crowd you can babble for hours and maybe even hear a call sign once in a while. That said I have called CQ with only 100 watts and have landed some really good conversation.

I have seen a lot of changes, but more like morphing do to technology and more options then ever before from the 59/73, MACRO qso, and yes real old fashion long winded fun qso's. I do it all. I am now experimenting with WSJT-X..Yes it is slow and almost like watch grass grow, but 10 watts on 80 meters with wire and contacts across the country can be fun. 40 meters and 20 meters PSK31 and Olivia. 40 meters rag chewing. 20 meters and the rest whatever that day has to offer. You get out of the hobby anything you want, if your try. That goes for fishing or taking photos.
Talk To Me  
by N9LCD on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio.

I mean, has anybody looked at the cost of a all-new, bare-minimum station today?

The XYL told me "Take some money and buy yourself your radio stuff. BUT MAKE IT ALL NEW. I'm tired of listening to your complaining about getting stuff fixed."

So I did as directed. An all new 100-watt station easily runs about $2,000 with a horizontal "wire" antenna. If you go to a vertical, multi-band antenna, the cost starts creeping up to $3,000.


Today's young 'uns simply can not afford amateur radio with vocational education/college loans and the cost of maintaining a family.

No, I'm not a "young 'un". I'm a retired professional.
In a month or so, I'll be eligible for the QCWA. And in a few more months, it'll be the big 7 -- 0!

But HF ham radio, FORGET IT! I'm not laying out $3,000 plus for a all-new station.

And, don't tell me to buy used (BARFFF!) gear. All you're doing is taking somebody's crap off their hands. I've been burnt THREE TIMES last year with used crap!

RE: Talk To Me  
by VK3YE on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio."

This a myth that we need to dispel. Radio gear has never been cheaper relative to incomes than now.

And we're not just talking about Baofeng handhelds.

Consider a basic BitX40 preassembled kit, battery and dipole or end-fed antenna. The all inclusive cost is approx $100. This gives a basic 40m SSB station capable of making contacts up to 2000 km or more.

A review is at

It's not talking as we know it but if one wants to play with WSPR one can transmit worldwide for even less.

When I was a beginner in the 1980s you could buy a 3.5 MHz CW kit for approximately $75. SSB was way more expensive to build. Now one can get on 7 MHz SSB for less. And with a prebuilt / prealigned kit so it's easier than ever before.

I discuss more on good and bad buys in amateur radio at
Talk To Me  
by W5GNB on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Tune in and listen in around the "Digital" frequencies, you will hear COMPUTERS talking to one another just like WE did Fifty years ago......But NO HUMANS, Just Computers ..... LOL !!!
Talk To Me  
by K4EQ on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
If over 56 years in this hobby qualifies me as an old-timer, then that's what I am. My old-timer memory of my early hamming days apparently differs from others on this tread. I recall many hams ragchewing on the bands, but I also recall that there were many others who preferred other aspects of this great and diverse hobby, such as DXing, contesting, and award hunting. The same is true today. In my opinion, there never has been any particular virtue in being a ragchewer on the ham bands. If you enjoy it, do it; if you don't, don't! It would be nice if devotees of one particular aspect of ham radio would cease complaining about others who find greater enjoyment doing something else in the hobby.
Talk To Me  
by K5UJ on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>The radio landscape must have been very different when glowing tubes warmed ham shacks.

The author of this op-ed piece must reside in a parallel ham universe.

"glowing tubes" are all over the place in my shack. Receivers, transmitters, VFOs, audio amps, oscilloscopes and SB610, even my CW keyer is a tube keyer ... this time of year I'm operating phone on 1880 kc and all I do is ragchew.
Talk To Me  
by K9CTB on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, Gil ... we could form a club!!! You could even be President!!! Totally agree. I really miss ragchewing. Something besides the Medicare Nets on 75 .... or state hunting here in the US ... not that either of them are bad, but ... the last real ragchew I had on the low bands was on 40 meter PSK31 .. about 2 years ago. I had been on the band about an hour listening and making a few of what I call "name, rank and serial number" QSOs with some hams in South America ... when suddenly I heard a W5 in Texas. Called him and we chatted for almost an hour about all kindza stuff ... Turned out he is a Pastor at a local church and his signal was stellar for the whole time .... it was a great respite and gave me that olde-tymie warm feeling about ham radio .... and then it was off to more "name, rank and serial number" exchanges ... Sure was fun ... sure would like to have more of those!!

RE: Talk To Me  
by KK5JY on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>> "Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio."

>> "This a myth that we need to dispel. Radio gear has never been cheaper relative to incomes than now."

Well, maybe, but when income has fallen (and cost of living increased) so far that people can no longer save at all, ham radio really isn't affordable:

Maybe you all in VK-land are doing better than the folks in the US?

I have known a number of hams in my age range (early 40's), and none of them had the money or the time until recently, and some still don't (they just hide what they spend on radio from their XYLs). I'm an exception because I don't have any family commitments -- not even a pet.

I suspect the number of 30-year-old head-of-households who can afford a typical mid-range ham setup in the US is about the same percentage as the number of people who are hams in the US. I know a lot of folks in my age range, and most of them run a net monthly balance really close to zero. The ones that don't either live on beans and rice, or they have three incomes (mom, dad, and ex paying child support).
Talk To Me  
by KK5JY on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
>> HF is losing its humanity. I am not condemning contesting or DX’ing so much as I want to urge you to talk to each other on the radio. <<

I don't disagree. I think people in general need to re-learn the art of making conversation.

That said, I believe this is why contesting and DXing are so wildly popular, compared to other on-air activities. Working a contest lets a guy fill his log with calls, without having to come up with something interesting to talk about. Not everybody (75m notwithstanding) wants to get on the air and talk about their life challenges, or even their life at all. They just want to make contacts to new or interesting places, and escape for a little while.

599 State
599 Serial
599 Grid
599 First Name + State

That's plenty for many people. They know where you are, and what your name is. They know you have a mega-station that has already made 3000 contacts so far in the contest.

More importantly, they contacted a human in a far-away place. That satisfies many folks. Some people are just tickled pink that their antenna (still) works. That's all they needed to have a happy ham experience for the day. And they didn't have to talk about the kids screaming in the next room, or the dog relieving itself on the far side of the shack door.

I enjoy ragchews, but I also enjoy putting a few dozen contest contacts in my log. After a couple of hours of contesting, I can often honestly say, "I worked all four corners of the US, plus Hawaii and (some random other places)." Some days, that's all I need to get my ham fix for the week.

Then other days, I'm all about chatting with people about the details of their situation.

There's a place for both.
RE: Talk To Me  
by AC7CW on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
In the 1950's when AM was the norm the way I remember it was there was a lot of conversations going on. When the sunspots are hot I like FM on 10 meters. Good voice quality and people to talk to all over the world. Maybe the "fiddlyness" of SSB makes conversations less attractive? AM and FM have good sound quality even if you are not tuned exactly and to me they are more conducive to conversations.
RE: Talk To Me  
by KC5JPZ on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
My last radio cost 20$. I know that there are people who hate Baofeng but I have a good experience with it now that it is programmed. I am on the two meter band and the 70 centimeter band. Now I need a DMR radio so I can listen in on the digital activity on two meters and 70 centimeters. I never even listen to the little sliver bands below 30 MHz. Maybe someday I will listen and hear something that I am interested in. I guess that the little sliver bands are more difficult and expensive to transmit on. Try VHF/UHF.
Talk To Me  
by AA5TB on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, things have changed in ham radio like they always have. However, I just had an hour long rag chew on 40 m CW after midnight last night with my used $200 HB-1B. I have many rag chews but I like to contest and work DX too. There are still a lot of folks out there that like to rag chew. Probably not as many as "back in the day" but they are still out there. Being a prolific CQer helps a lot.

Steve - AA5TB
RE: Talk To Me  
by K5TED on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Young people can "afford" to pay $40 or more per month to have a smartphone with all the trimmings.
Talk To Me  
by WA7SGS on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio is like fishing, hunting and gold mining. You don't know what you will find, if anything, but when you do find something, there might just be a treasure or pleasure that came your way! Sometimes I do wind up with other operators who can chat away and it makes for a fun QSO.

When I called CQ and got an amateur out of Odessa TX, it gave me a chance to learn about the Permian Basin plus it turned out the OM was a "REAL" OM since he got his ticket the year after I was born (1955 for me, 1956 for him). Now there's a person I would be very pleased to meet in person!

When opportunity knocks, answer the door. If no one is knocking, then go out and do some on your own! That is how good memories can be created and since this is radio instead of smartphones (ugh!), what you get is as random as it gets, which makes the game of "Seek You" a real blast!

RE: Talk To Me  
by N4KC on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

Good grief!

If all the folks who take the time to complain about and comment on the lack of ragchewing on the ham bands would simply get on the air and call CQ, there would be little room left for all the resulting QSOs. (I had three nice ones today and hardly had to look for them. Oh, and a short but very nice chat with a fellow who was actually in the midst of participating in a contest at the time!)

If you don't like "59 73" contest contacts, don't make 'em! But don't put down those who enjoy the heck out of it.

To another poster: you are seriously misinformed if you believe the hobby is more expensive now than back in the last century when we all started. Take up fishing, hunting or golfing if you want to drop some dinero. If you can't find a fine transceiver for much, much less than two kilo-dollars, one that would run circles around anything Heathkit or Drake or Collins or you ever built, then you haven't been looking. And if you are spending hundreds of bucks on wire antennas then boy do I have some books for you!

And to the OM who urged us to ignore the "sliver bands" (?!?) and tread only above 144 have no idea what you are missing. And, by the way, those who never emit RF above 30 mhz are in the same deprived boat.

Look, enjoy what you enjoy and I'll enjoy what I enjoy. Don't knock what I enjoy just because you don't necessarily enjoy it.


Don N4KC

Chewing The Ol' Rag...  
by VE3CUI on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Way back some 46 years ago now, what do you think my very first "…suitable-for-framing" award was…? A membership certificate attesting to my being inducted into the ARRL's "Rag Chewer's Club," of course…! It was even signed at the bottom by none other than "…The Old Sock."

Acceptance into this hallowed group wasn't particularly easy: you had to have a QSO with somebody of at least a half hour's duration (was it with an already inducted member of the RCC…? I can't remember now), then send in details of the contact to 225 Main Street in order to qualify. Shortly thereafter, your certificate was in the mail.

I can recall reading in QST some years ago that the league was discontinuing the time honoured RCC --- and I thought what a denial to future generations of Hams such a move would be. Looks like my suspicions were correct, too, as rag chewing has become a lost art for the most part...

Talk To Me  
by VK4FFAB on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Rag chew? What is the point? On the odd chance you find someone random who is not boring and start to have a conversation with them about things you are mutually interested in, you have 20 people break in wanting antenna checks, mic checks, signal reports, and all manner of other stupidities just because they can hear you because the poor clown is too scared to call CQ for themselves and find someone to do their tests with. Or worse yet, you have some uber expert want to come and show you just how expert he is about a topic he has no clue about.

I am not really interested in your antenna, your tower height, your power, what ICYAEWOOD you are running, your audio fool mic and outboard processing gear. If you worked 1 ICYAEWOOD you have worked them all. How deep your pockets are just does not impress me.

However, if your rig is homebrew or built from a kit, or is 40 years old and you had to rebuild it from the ground up because you found it in a barn with the internals having been eaten by rats, then by all means tell me about it. Or if you are working on a project tell be about it and not the boring black box you might be using, these are things that make you unique and interesting everyone has an IC7300 who cares, but 2w from a Michigan Mighty Mite now thats freaken cool.

If you want to rag chew, at least be interesting. For everything else there is the telephone.
RE: Talk To Me  
by VK4FFAB on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
by N9LCD on February 12, 2017
Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio.

I mean, has anybody looked at the cost of a all-new, bare-minimum station today?

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again. You can put a pretty decent but limited single band HF station on the air for about $200.

And with cheap modules out of china you can make a rather fine multiband 10w Novice Station for about $100. Its never been easier to build rock solid rigs thanks to cheap DDS and PLL Synths eliminating the need to build a drifty oscillator ever.
RE: Talk To Me  
by K9MHZ on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio."

False. Rigs are priced better today than ever. A new 7300, dipole, transmatch (if desired) and coax costs almost nothing.

RE: Talk To Me  
by W1PJE on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The BitX40 is $59 from India (2-3 week delivery time), requires only a bit of assembly - circuit board is SMD already done, and delivers 5-7W SSB at 40 meters. Even cheaper. DDS control and digital display. "Work the world on 40 meters."

RE: Talk To Me  
by W1PJE on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Forgot to add that if you are saying "no QRP, I need 100 W", then Chinese linear amplifiers come into the picture - quality would need to be checked, but ePay has a $32 100 W linear amplifier.

Yes, you have to build these yourself, but for < $100 by combining the BitX40 with this, you could have a 40 meter radio with 100 W capability.

If you don't want to build anything, you are asking for an impossible solution of the statement:

Good, Cheap, Low Effort - pick two.

RE: Talk To Me  
by WX4SNO on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I am unfortunately considered a "millennial" due to the date of my birth...but I hate being associated with that group! I don't have a Facebook account...the only social media I have is Twitter and I don't use that often. But I enjoy merging computers with ham radio so that's why I am 99% of the time on the digital modes. Olivia is my favorite, but doesn't seem like it is as popular as PSK-31 or JT-65 which are good for quick contacts and exchanges. Even though I'm of the younger generation, I do enjoy chatting with folks no matter their age! I seem to relate more to the older folks than people my age or younger, which probably isn't a bad thing, hihi. But it seems folks my age don't enjoy the same thing the old timers like, so as the author points out...until someone bridges the gulf, and soon, there are going to be fewer and fewer folks on HF to ACTUALLY communicate with. I don't think the threat though will be too few players in the future, but there may be new regulations and laws passed that limit ham radio further and further until there is nothing left for us...either through state/federal/international laws, or from the private sector wanting our bandwidth, or via HOA's ever-extending reach over our lives.

If you ask me though, social media has been a curse rather than a blessing...can I get an amen!?
RE: Talk To Me  
by K8QV on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Times change. Nobody writes letters. Nobody sends telegrams. We have Skype, Messenger, E-mail, smartphones and web communities for chatting. Small talk has plenty of venues more reliable than HF propagation, I use my radio to see if some rare DX or faraway operator can hear me. Chatting on HF seems redundant these days. I don't get milk delivered to my door either. Times change.
RE: Talk To Me  
by K9MHZ on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
SNO, you brought up some really good points. As a dad who's writing the big checks to the bursar office of a major university noted for its STEM majors, I think some millenials are the brightest, most driven young people I've ever known.....way, way more so than we were in college studying engineering. Others however, are the issue....and they have really fallen off the into the deep end. Lots of fantasy (Facebook image, gamers, even those Furry losers) and pretending that we didn't experience while growing up. I completely agree with you about social's very consuming, and so many have morphed into experience creatures instead of traditional hard workers looking for a tangible reward at the end.

Anecdotally, the military members of today are saddled with far more deployed commitments than ever before. True, the greatest generation soldiers experienced carnage that we can only imagine, but that was essentially for four years. We've been in the Middle East since Saddam invaded Kuwait, and remember that the Balkans were just before 9/11. Many, many Gen Ys, millenials, etc have done so much for so long, with so little thanks. (Been there, saw it.)

So, to your point.....Millenials are absolutely a different breed, and some are just plain terrific people.
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by WD4ELG on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

I thought ragchews were dead until I joined SKCC. Now I hang out around 7055 each night and have LOTS of other hams there who rag chew at length!
Digital ops ragchew  
by WB4M on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, last article complained about WHAT people talked about. Can't talk about your weather, health, family, certainly don't tell anyone about your station, or how long you've been a ham. Who cares what your job is, if you're retired or not. I operated 95% digital modes mainly due to ragchews, but even there you have the macro QSO's. Some times you just have to ask questions or be the one to stimulate a conversation.
RE: Talk To Me  
by W3TTT on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"...I thought ragchews were dead until I joined SKCC. Now I hang out around 7055 each night and have LOTS of other hams there who rag chew at length!"

Thanks for the TIP!

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by N2UJN on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I am fairly new to HF and Amateur Radio. However, I prefer rag chew, and, easily find good conversations on SSB and PSK-31 routinely.

On big contest weekends, I join in. Why not get some good DX? It really helped me get DXCC.

So, everything is out there for those looking.
RE: Talk To Me  
by K5NOK on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
While hams complain about what is wrong with the hobby, the millennial generation is getting on with the technology of the day

I think a lot of attention has been paid to the "snowflake" subset of the Millennial generation but not all Millennials are snowflakes.
My son is at a major university studying to be an Electrical Engineer.
He is currently playing with various ARM processors, Pi's, Arduinos and experimental ARMs from Kickstarter.
He has helped me put antenna wires in, over and around trees and we have talked about basic formulas for resonant antennas.
He has been on the air and has gone over the Technician study book.
I have asked him about being a part of this radio thing.

He has said that he does not want to join a group of people that think vacuum tubes are neat technology.

What do hams talk about?
Better yet. What does the curious non ham see us talking about on this site?
Why would a Millennial have a compelling reason to be a ham?
RE: Talk To Me  
by VK4FFAB on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
by K5NOK on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
While hams complain about what is wrong with the hobby, the millennial generation is getting on with the technology of the day

I agree, I have 2 daughters in their 20's, in their words the big black icom on the bench is Gay and a waste of money.

However, my homebrew receivers and transmitters and other paraphernalia they find very interesting, especially that I would take the time to educate myself to the point of having a pretty good understanding of how things actually work and can explain it to them.

Kids these days think the $10,000 old man stations are a joke, they have device in their pockets that costs less, does more and is very reliable. But they cannot go down to Radio Shack and buy the parts to make a smart phone.

So anyone who wants to engage today's crop of 20 year olds in radio, that is how to do it, from the makers perspective.
RE: Talk To Me  
by N7FFO on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There used to be a rag chewers club. My Elmer was Bart Davison who lived on Pierpont Blvd. in Ventura, Ca. His call was WA6EZA.

He was the real deal. He had a big, tube-warmed transmitter and receiver, both made by Hammerlund if memory serves correctly, and he flipped a switch to go from transmitting to receive it.

It was awesome to watch him sit down at his bench, turn on his radio and wait for the tubes to warm up. He narrow wide desk was cluttered with a wide array of interesting devices, the likes of which I had never seen. Then he would key his mike, call CQ, pause and respond to a voice from the ether. It all seemed so magical.

He had a wide wall full of these things called QSL cards as well as certificates for various organizations he had joined - including the rag chewers club. I thought that name was funny and descriptive. At the age of 12, I could imagine all these HAMs chewing on rags as they talked to each other. For what seemed like hours.

Mr. Davidson was a unique individual and loved sharing this unusual hobby from which he derived so much enjoyment. And he did it all out of a small apartment with his wife yelling, BAARRRT!" In the background to get his attention so he would turn off his radios and get to work on a project around the house. They were a loving and warm couple.

His QSL cards were simply art to me that caused my imagination to roam the world and consider all Mr. Davidson had done to speak with each of those foreign HAMs and US ops in states far and wide. It was a time when you felt the international outreach between HAMs truly was making the world a better place as a result of all the rag chewing they were doing.

Thanks for such a great subject! And God Bless you Mr. and Mrs. Davidson!
RE: Talk To Me  
by ONAIR on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting! Maybe we should create another "Rag Chewers Club"?
RE: Talk To Me  
by N4UM on February 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been doing this stuff on a fairly regular basis for 62 years. True, there does seem to be less ragchewing these days than back in the Jurassic era but I seldom have difficulty finding someone to have a conversation with...usually on CW. Sometimes all it takes is making a comment upon a remark made by the other station or asking a question. You need to take at least some responsibility for initiating a bit of conversational foreplay. If you operate the digital modes call "CQ RAGCHEW - MACRO BORES NEED NOT REPLY." That'll work! On CW Calling "CQ RC" might catch on as a way of letting other stations know you're not looking for a quickie. And... when you do hear someone who is obviously just trying to pile up log entries...don't waste your time going back to him unless you want to play his game... PERIOD.
RE: Talk To Me  
by ONAIR on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good point! And DON'T just say "listening" when coming onto a repeater! Always be proactive and ask for a radio check. I found that radio check requests get 5 times more responses than when you just say "listening". Seems that many hams just love to help other hams out! :)
Talk To Me  
by W9TAM on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Young people today CAN NOT AFFORD ham radio."

They can if they want. Everyone has priorities in life. When you have tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, as many young people do, that will take precedence over any hobby. Most of my friends would also rather hang out with their other friends at concerts, movies, bars, etc. instead of spending hours in a basement playing radio. I do these things too but I find a way to balance it. Priorities.

"Young people can 'afford' to pay $40 or more per month to have a smartphone with all the trimmings."

Priorities again. When a smartphone keeps you in contact with your local friends, of course that'll be a priority.

Under the headline on the front page: "Does anyone ragchew anymore?"

Yes. Next question.
RE: Talk To Me  
by N4KZ on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Changes that many of us have noticed in the ham bands -- such as some people reluctant to talk to anyone for more than about 10 minutes -- reflect general changes in American society. People are more guarded about their personal lives these days -- hesitant to reveal too much. Contacts that in past years might have run 30 minutes or longer are now often over in 10 minutes. As soon as the weather report, signal report and rig/antenna roundup is completed, time to move on to the next QSO. That's another reason why some digital modes, such as JT65HF, have become popular. Easy to make QSOs without actually conversing with anyone. That and the fact digital modes are perfect for people stuck with attic dipoles and short verticals hanging off the balcony. Me? I'm glad I'm older, with an enjoyment for the art of conversation and blessed with tall trees, acreage and no antenna restrictions.
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by W4HM on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe some of you guys need better rigs and antennas if you aren't hearing rag chews on HF. I hear them by the dozens on 160-17 meters every time I turn on my rig.

And I participate in rag chews regularly, especially on 160 and 80 meters.

Thomas W4HM
RE: Talk To Me  
by N3HEE on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Plenty of SSB ragchewing on 160 and 80 meters every single night. That's all they do on those bands. Not so much on CW though.
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by W3TTT on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
You can google "ragchew club". Dozens of hits.

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by N3XF on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Some things never change. When I first was licensed in 1965, there was a well known W1 curmudgeon on 75 meters who would call CQ with the comment, "No lids, no kids, no space cadets". Then as now, the hobby was what you made of it. I never have a problem finding someone to talk with whenever I find the time to rag chew. I may have to check various bands or modes, but there are plenty of people out there. I have had some wonderful random discussions on 2 meter SSB, and many on 40 CW. I do agree, more folks need to try calling CQ. Let others know you are looking for a contact. Stations will come out of the woodwork. As an avid contester, I am always working to improve my station. Many of the best ideas have come from people in casual conversations.
RE: Talk To Me  
by N4KZ on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
When it comes to ragchewing, I do that on the higher bands. Twenty meters and up. Talking to the same people night after night after night after night is not my thing.
RE: Talk To Me  
by AD5VM on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
KC5JPZ you are absolutely right. Nothing worthwhile down below 30 MHz on the sliver bands. There is no point in you ever acquiring the equipment to listen, or a license to transmit on HF. And yes, a Chinese HT is all the radio you need.
Talk To Me  
by VE6BGM on February 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I am one of those that enjoy sand bagging. Radio was far from my profession so I could not afford elaborate radio systems and multi beam, multi band antennas. I enjoyed use of repeaters but more and more I hear hams saying that repeaters shouldn't be used for rag chewing. I have a real problem with simplex as with no real antenna system, I'm tired of hearing one sided conversations or trying to pull someone out of the noise [now I'm not talking about DX here but local simplex use]. I would sooner sit in the weeds and listen to people that I can clearly hear all operators rag chewing.
RE: Talk To Me  
by KW4JX on February 15, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
It must be contagious - my name is Gil too. I am ex-G3LBS and I think we need a ham Brexit. I suggest practical, experimental work for ham entry - like build a crystal set or solder two pieces of wire together. Be sure not to forget, as we do now, training in safeguards on High Voltage. Abolish so-called 'incentive' licensing - believe it or not, all hams are equal.
Now I have written this, I've just remembered I have an urgent appointment for a few days. 73 (not 73's)
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by N7YO on February 15, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article! I agree there needs to be more rag chewing on the bands. However, as many others have said, we need to find ways to bring in new younger hams as well.

Several here have said that it's hard for the younger crowd to become hams because of the expense. That is simply a bunch of hogwash!!! What ever happened to beg, borrowing, and stealing? Well maybe not stealing but when I became a ham in the late 70's I was in my late teens, I had precious little money. But what I did have was a pretty good network of ham friends and the drive to get on the air. I acquired equipment form what ever source I could. My first radio HF was a bottom of the line Tempo One. I built my own VHF Yagi built from the antenna handbook that I used on the very first VHF radio I purchased from money I scraped together. From a friend I acquired a triband Yagi, rotator, and coax for HF that I put up on a push up pole. Strung wire antennas for the other low bands.

My point to all of this is that I could not have done any of this without the help from my Ham Elmers. Yes we need more indepth communications, but what we really need is more Elmers to go out and get the younger generation to listen to us in anyway we can to get the dialogue started. If we don't there won't be anyone left to have a ragchew with..... So, let's get off our collective butts and do something!!!

73's Hope to hear you on the air!!!

Jim N7YO
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by K9PLK on February 15, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
OMG ! There is so much rag chew on 80 meters it so much fun! I been a Ham since 1972 couple of years after I came home from Viet Nam. I let my license expire till 1990 and got back into I got the bug listening to a Trac 24 on a hilltop in country! I said man when I get back to the world I want to be RADIO OP! Well back in those days in the 70's wasn't a lot of modern gear but rag chews were plenty on cw ! Later after having a family got back into it and wow what a eye opener! Still a lot of raging chewing but you have to pick the right band and the right time! I will say today there is a lot of rag chewing but again its the time and the bands to be picked! 17 meters is great during the day and so is 20 along with 40 ! Night time 80 is the place and winter 160 is hot too! What is disappointing is 2 meters and 440 not a lot of rag chew their! So keep listing and you will see there are a lot of us out there till 4 and 5 am in the morning. Keep and ear out 73's 'KB9FMV
RE: Talk To Me  
by N4LQ on February 15, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thus the point.... CWOPS - even your rag chews are part of a contest!

The vast majority of rag chews are done by SSB now. CW has become constant contest, hunting, accumulating and scoring. Contesters now blanket the most common rag chew spectrum.

We were told to get our Extra so we could work "juicy DX" in the "sub bands" Now the DX is calling CQ in the General bands, 7030khz etc. then using split thus occupying up to 10khz for one station. DX police guard his frequency and one tap of the key or QRL? results in a barrage of up up up lid up up lid,,, and various profane words.
Talk To Me  
by AK4YH on February 16, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Here is an interesting video for people who think amateur radio is expensive:

Talk To Me  
by W2UIS on February 16, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Try DStar.
RE: Talk To Me  
by W7ASA on February 17, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I totally agree with Gil. We held a conversational sked for years in Morse and he's an interesting person and fine conversationalist, in more than one language too; by the way.

Morse is >GREAT< for conversations! CW is narrow band, high reliability at low power/weak signal conditions and frankly - quite relaxing to pass the time getting to know the fellow on the other end. You ALREADY share ham radio as a hobby, so ask about OTHER things they like to do when not on the radio. My (long neglected) love of fly fishing and tying was recently reignited by a great conversation with 'Don' from the opposite corner of the State, whilst on 80m. This happened BECAUSE Don and I asked about what the other fellow likes to do both in front of and away from the radio. Morse is where I spend my time and love it, BECAUSE of the conversations like that one.

Unfortunately, TV and other social anesthetics have created socially stunted people, far less skilled in conversation than in the past. In my experience, those who actually >DO< things with their lives: go, teach, travel, brew beer, tame lions (OK, that's a bit much) sail, camp and more - are generally quite interesting, sociable and drawn thoughts, rather than mere 'amusement' - this translates into fuel for conversation.

OTOH - I had a friend who could not go and do in the conventional sense, because of blindness since birth. Yet, he was VERY well read (braille and audio books) and had spent a lifetime THINKING about what he has learned. He didn't own a TV - (moving pictures ? What for?) , so he developed great social & conversational skills with PEOPLE he met on the bus and a noble use for ham radio as his way to 'get out' to meet new people outside of his immediate circle.

Each ham arrives on frequency with half of a conversation - they key is putting those halves together for a whole one.

73 de Ray ..._ ._

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by VK3BL on February 17, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Those of you see me round the forums know I'm not short of a few words, and the same goes for my time on air.

Whilst I must admit to being a pretty keen DXer, and I do even enjoy being on the receiving end of a pileup (XU7AGA was a blast), AND I enjoy the odd contest even if my station isn't competitive (I like practicing my ability to use my rig and computer at the same time), I do harbour a dark secret.


When life permits, I am found on 40M SSB. I haven't quite gotten into AM yet, but I have tried it a few times, and I think I'll get there one day because AM rigs are easier to home brew.

And guess what? Almost all my rag chews start with ME calling CQ! Thats right, I CALL CQ!

Having put the effort to call CQ in, I've made a great group of friends on 40M who will come back to me and have a chat. They include all licence classes, and we're a cordial bunch and often chat away in a group for 2-3 hours if not more! We talk about antennas, we talk about life, and we of course talk about new toys in the shack.

If by chance someone I haven't spoken to comes back to me, or is brave enough to break in (I know some hams are shy), we include them straight away, and I always let them know that "my group" of friends values them.

Every first time contact is re-assured that whenever they hear me on air, no matter who I am talking to, they should feel absolutely welcome to break in.

So in the spirit of things, let me take this opportunity to thank some of my 'regulars' that make 40M SSB Ragchewing so enjoyable.

They are (in no order):
VK2QA, VK1MTS, VK7FRJG, VK3FCMC, VK2WOW, VK3AWO, VK3QD, VK3FEVT and many more I am sure I have missed.

You guys make radio enjoyable, and I feel privileged every time you return my CQ call and have a chat with me on SSB Phone.

My advice to those that think rag chewing is dead is simple:
Put up an Inverted-V 'Cloudburner' for 40M, tune the linear for full smoke, setup your station for nice communications audio and call CQ!

The easier you are to copy, the more frequently and longer people will wish to talk to you. Oh, and don't be an ass.

Talk To Me  
by K7NSW on February 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
In my 52 years of experience I am not able to agree that the folks who homebrew their gear are the best rag chewers. I know several homebrewers who do not have the ability to carry on a conversation with anyone. I do agree that of those who can make their gear and carry on a conversation usually have the most interesting rag chews. The rag chewers that I tune away from are the aches and pain crowd. I find little interest in who is taking what medications, who hurts where, and who is going to the VA today for their latest appointment. But you know what? The hobby and the bands are open to all. Everyone has as much right as I do to pursue any topic theyI want - all except the foul mouth gang.
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by KE4ZHN on February 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
If none of my friends are on the air I simply find an open spot on whichever band I want to work and just call CQ. I've had some excellent rag chews with fellow hams just answering my CQ. It's like won't catch one if you don't cast the line.
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by W3SCA on February 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Its funny, two weekends ago was our OMISS QSO party contest and it turned out I enjoyed rag chewing with each station vise just exchanging numbers and moving on. It was funny, one more than one occasion, the other station would say, "don't you want to get back to the contest?" That made me laugh. I really enjoyed just talking with our fellow HAMs and I had a blast. Yes I didn't get the total count I could have, but after a full day of contesting, I really enjoyed the conversations I had and learned if I ever was invited on a DXpedition, I would probably be the engineering help and not one of the top operators. I just couldn't imagine sitting there for days just working hour after hour exchanging only calls and signal reports....
RE: Talk To Me  
by W3WN on February 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The rant is summed up in one sentence:

"How are we to attract new radio amateurs if all they hear is robotic heartless exchanges on the bands?"

Yeah, right. Blame contesters for the perceived problem.

So this rant basically translates to:

"People were enjoying operating a contest, but I didn't like it"

RE: Talk To Me  
by W7ASA on February 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ditto here. The only contest I've ready participate in was Field Day. // Yes, I've heard the argument that it's not a contest, though they count points to determine who wins...//

The main contacts I enjoyed during a Field Day were conversations about where they were located, how they were set-up and 'critical operational details' such as how many BBQs and hammocks were on-site. This has become increasingly rare during field day, as it becomes "ARRL RadioSPort" rather than communication, but there are still plenty of hams able to say more than '599'.

Conversation is becoming a lost art in more than just the radio realm, but on the air, I do find much more of it in CW than I do in other modes - in general. I have had some fine conversations in the few times I've been on SSB, during the middle of the day, when it's all locals on HF NVIS.

73 de Ray ..._ ._
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by K0IC on February 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I used to ragchew on 80 meter CW until the alleged QRM got too much of a problem.

The other day I thought I heard someone say one is at risk of a citation to tune a rig. My experience with my noise bridges are they can be wrong at 100-watts.

Unless there is commonsense on the bands, it is not worth the trouble to fool with.
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by KC4BW on March 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I started life as a ham in 1971 with a Technician license on 6m SSB, 40 watts PEP output, and a 6 element yagi at 40 feet. At the time I was 22 years old and lived in Western Kentucky near Paducah. The radio I had was an old refurbished Clegg Venus 6m transceiver.
My first SSB QSO was with a ham in St. Louis, Missouri, about 120 miles NW of my location. I can't remember his name or call right now but what a thrill it was to actually make contact with someone after calling my first CQ on 6! After that introduction I found out there were around 7 hams on 6 in the St. Louis area, and since I could talk to them ground wave, I always had someone to talk with no matter the time of day or night. And some of the QSO's lasted 1 to 2 hours. We ragchewed about a lot of different subjects, some radio-related and some not. I really miss those days, they seem to have drifted off into the ether.
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by N4FBZ on March 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I first got my ticket in 1980, after being exposed to ham radio by my landlord. I used his radio for a while, and finally got my own 2m rig (HT) about a year later (shortly after that I picked up a used homebrew 6 AM rig).

I didn't get onto SSB until years later, as I couldn't afford the prices being asked for gear. I did some CW, but (as I learned later) I have a health issue that makes copying very frustrating - one minute I can copy 25 WPM in my head, the next I can't copy 5 without writing down every letter (and I'd miss some of them). Practice practice practice didn't (and doesn't) help... and it's unpredictable. So voice or digital are the options left. I had some AM gear, but all I heard was hostility and disparagement towards AM.

I'd tried to get in on 6m (AM) back then with that homebuilt rig, but by then people weren't interested - I only heard ONE callsign the whole time I listened and tried to make contacts.

I then got involved in 2m packet, and had a blast with a friend node-running (seeing how far we could get and then having a conversation through the paths we worked out). That eventually died out as the system changed.

I went inactive for several years, and then got back into it. I love homebrewing, ragchewing, and don't care for contests (or political/religious rants). The things I'm interested in - 2m SSB, 6m AM, and exotic stuff (like softrocks and so on) - don't seem to be popular in this area. Everything seems to be CW or contesting - and most are "Big guns" with KWs... I rarely run more than 20w.

It's not fun sitting all night and not hearing a thing (or getting a reply to a call) - or hearing a thousand stations all in the same frequency range at the same time with net control stations running you off of any frequency near the one they're using.

People tend to thing Amateur Radio is moribund, but I would disagree. I remember hearing that back in the early 80s, and from this conversation it sounds like things have gotten better (for a few years, all you'd ever hear on the radio was old codgers griping about their health).

If "they" want to get more younger people involved, go after the engineering students and show how amateur radio can lend itself to their plans - that for instance SDR is a big thing these days and they could help with developing new programs or applications for our frequencies. I would also argue that there is still plenty of things to discover - like aspects of HF propagation, or efficent-and-clean radio designs!

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by KJ7WT on March 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been licensed since 1969, and started as a Technician, as I wanted to use voice, not CW. After 5 years (4 of which were spent in the USCG), and a SINGLE 20 second QSO on 6m AM, I was going to call it quits with ham radio. What changed my mind was finding a couple of hams at my workplace. They introduced me to 2m and 70cm repeaters, and I found it interesting again. Our company also had a pretty complete Yaesu station with decent antennas, and I reluctantly tried my hand at CW on HF, and found that, while I wasn't really ready to do a lot of rag-chewing, it was cool to work DX when the bands were hot. In 1983, we had moved to a new area of the country, and I decided that I really wanted a General ticket, so I got a Radio Shack code practice record. I eventually got my speed up to about 15 WPM, went to the FCC office in Reno and passed the code test. Since I already had a Tech, that's all I needed to get my General. I never used CW again. I wanted to be able to talk to people; ask about where they lived and what they did for a living. I had some very interesting QSO's with WW2 vets, tugboat captains, and a US Navy surveillance ship. Nowadays, the noise level at my house is so high (typically S7-S9 on 80/40/20) HF contacts are very difficult. I have found that JT65 can usually be used, and sometimes PSK31. JT65 is NOT QSO friendly. PSK31 can be, but most used canned macros. I've had a few rag-chewing sessions with PSK31, but I miss just talking with another ham. My time for radio work is very limited, but I do get some contacts in occasionally. I also use DMR a bit, but it is surprising ow little local activity there is, even on that mode. I suppose it is a societal symptom, and may in fact be a result of the ease with which a person can get a license, but I can't say for sure.
RE: Talk To Me  
by KJ7WT on March 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I must respectfully disagree. There are several low-cost rigs available new, some "appliances" some kits, and some semi-kits. My OCF diode cost about $30 in materials, and I put it up myself.
My total expenditure for my HF ham equipment was about $550. That was a brand-new Icom IC-718, a power supply, and the OCF dipole (I bought the wire, the balun, and the coax. $3000??? I'd LOVE to have 3K to spend on a station!
Talk To Me  
by KC8MWG on March 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Ragchewing is my favorite thing to do, as well. I really don't like to talk to the "DX hunters" and contesters trying to make the maximum number of contacts in the minimum amount of time. For those of you who think ham radio equipment has to be expensive, check out the BitX radios developed by Ashar Farhan. A 40 meter SSB semi-kit, complete with an Arduino based VFO, is available for around $60 from Pacific Antenna sells kits for the 20 meter version, at a higher cost. Mr. Farhan is currently developing a multi-band version called the uBitX ("Micro BitX"). Might not work for the "appliance operators", but the 40 meter version, is advertised as being able to assemble and get it on the air in an evening (the board is pre-assembled and tested before shipping, but needs to have the final connections made to jacks and the VFO). If CW is your thing, QRPKits (and others) carry variations on the simple crystal-controlled mini-trancesivers ("Tuna Tin", "Forty-Niner", "Pixie", etc.). Ham radio does NOT have to be expensive, you just need a bit of ambition and a desire to get off your dead butt and BUILD SOMETHING! In the process you will LEARN how your equipment works, you will be able to repair it yourself, you will have the satisfaction of making contacts on something you've built yourself...get the picture? That's one thing I think the CW tests did for the hobby - it weeded out the unmotivated. Granted, I never used CW again after I passed my test, but, as I said at the top of this post, I like to TALK to people - and I WAS motivated enough to learn it in order to ultimately expand my ability to make VOICE contacts with more people.
RE: Talk To Me  
by K3UIM on March 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I got a chuckle out of your note! I remember that knucklehead!! I worked only 40 cw, but had to check him out for myself after hearing the locals laughing about it.

I received my ticket in 62 and my first rig was homebrewed. I later found a bc459 Command transmitter and , thanks to the "Novices' bible", Understanding Amateur Radio, (UAR) converted it to 12 volts. I loved that unit!!

I used it to work 46 of the 48 states and was able to get my RCC award from ARRL.

I left hamming due to what I call "ham radio widowing" in the early 90's. After we both retired she agreed that I needed a hobby so went back to radio in early 2016.

The one thing I've noticed and lament on today, is the lack of home-brewers. The bulk of hamming seems to be 2 meters. I hope I'm wrong and only time will tell.

We joined the hobby in its' hayday I believe. I remember the thrill of hearing cw on my first rig. Wow! It works!!! Hi hi. Kids today probably get that same feeling with their first kill on their x-box. ... sigh ...

We OT's have memories they'll never equal.

(Born March 8, 1934)
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