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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?

Craig Jungers (K7EXJ) on June 4, 2019
View comments about this article!

In this age of Internet, smartphones, tablets, and instant gratification is there still a place for something you have to actually learn? Does amateur radio offer anything to the modern young person that they cannot get from another, easier, less complicated hobby?

Many hams my age formed careers out of their early interest in ham radio. I, myself, found adventure as well as career.

Consider these points.

1. There is a LOT of activity in experimenting with ham radio, electronics and computers and it's reflected on Facebook and in Podcasts. The "Ham Radio Workbench" podcast (https://hamradioworkbench.com) is a bi-weekly deep-dive into technical subjects presented in an easy-to-listen-to manner. They're also on FB and Twitter. This is not to be missed. Jeremy and George are both interested in every facet of ham radio and they - and their guests - spend 2 hours every two weeks explaining the details of all of them. If you’re interested in technology and experimenting, the Workbench podcast has something for you.

2. Digital voice radio combines radios and the Internet to allow hams to talk over thousands of miles using only a hand held transceiver. DMR is one easy and cheap way to get into digital voice radio with only a Technician Class license. The fastest growing segment of digital voice is "DMR" with hand held radios that cost less than US$100 and the ability to use local DMR repeaters (or your own "hotspot") to chat with like-minded hams the world over. DMR is best explained in this two-part podcast (you can listen on your computer or smart phone): https://www.hamradioworkbench.com/podcast/archives/03-2018

3. Digital voice is not limited to local repeaters. With MMDVM "hotspots" going for $50 on eBay and the free download of "Pi- Star" a Raspberry Pi micro-computer ($35) along with an Internet connection can let a Technician Class ham talk all over the world. You have to learn a little but that's half the fun and there is a lot of help out there. A DMR handie-talkie for under $100 means that for less than $200 you get entry into the fastest-growing world-wide ham radio networks available.

But wait! There's more!!!

4. If you have a Technician license and do not understand HF operations and see no reason to upgrade to expensive gear, consider this. Cheap SSB operations on HF is a $65 payment away if you use a BitX40 (http://www.hfsignals.com/). This is a 40M SSB transceiver with VFO and about 5W output. It is a "kit" in the easiest possible way... the transceiver is on a circuit board and complete. All you have to do is wire up 12vdc power, a speaker, a microphone, and an antenna and you are on HF. And it will do FT8!

5. The BitX40 is also a pathway to the "maker" group of hams. Facebook, Yahoo and other forums are populated with talented amateurs who have modified their BitX40 into amazing transceivers with 3d-printed cases, CW capability, increased power, all bands.... and more. Cheap entry into technical amateur radio on HF. Listen to this Workbench podcast for more: https://www.hamradioworkbench.com/podcast/archives/09-2017

6. KITS! Everything from WSPR (Google it) to antenna analyzers to transceivers to Morse code paddles is available in kit form.

7. 3D printing. With 3d printers on eBay and Amazon for under $200 there are a lot of hams who think that having a 3D printer is as important as your radio in a modern ham shack. Web sites are out there with 3D designs include cases for the BitX40 (see number, cases for your digital voice hotspot and your Raspberry Pi, balun mounts for your 40-meter dipole, and more.

8. Digital HF modes. Combine your computer with your HF SSB transceiver and you can enter the new world of digital low-power long-distance communications. Chat with hams on PSK31. Try RTTY (Radio Teletype). FLdigi http://www.w1hkj.com/) is a free ham radio application that will do all of this and can actually take control of many transceivers and present a visual waterfall of the activity (and what they are saying for many). Or see how far you can get with 100mw of power and WSPR (http://wsprnet.org/drupal/) or FT8 using WSJT-X (https://www.wsjtx.net/home/ft8-mode.html)

9. Portable operations in the field.... any field. Or at the beach. Or on a mountain summit. See how many summits you can operate from or how many islands, or how many community parks. Amateur radio has been called a “hobby of a thousand hobbies” and activating a summit, an island or a park is just one part. With some hams it’s the excitement of getting outside, operating for a few hours and then setting up camp in a pristine (and less “noisy”) environment. With others it’s communicating with them from their home radio equipment. With at least one ham it’s the fun of having his friends Rooster and Peanut (both goats carrying part of his gear and nibbling on feed lines) come along with him (search for “WG0AT” on YouTube). Lightweight camping gear along with lightweight transceivers, antennas and batteries are important. If operating ham radio while sitting on a rock ledge with your legs dangling over a steep drop of a couple thousand feet is your idea of true adventure, then you might just enjoy SOTA operations (Summits On The Air).

10. And, finally, the genesis of long distance communication by both wire and radio: Morse Code. Morse operators were highly respected and well-paid professionals for over 100 years and it's still the simplest, most efficient (in terms of equipment needed, electrical power consumed for the most data communicated) and, yes, easiest (in terms of least complex) ham radio mode there is. The radios are cheap, small, light, and draw as little as 15mA of electricity while receiving. No computer needed. Just a key (basically a make-contact, break-contact switch), ear buds, a transceiver (costing anywhere from $7 to $500), an antenna (a length of wire, basically) and your own skill in sending and receiving Morse code will let you join the ranks of the radio operators who answered the SOS calls from the Titanic. If you want a challenge greater than something that can be operated with a remote control, this is it! And you can use 80, 40, 15, and 10-meter CW as a Technician! (Check the rules!)

Is there a lot to offer and challenge the modern person in amateur radio? After over 60 years as a ham, I certainly think so. And I'm still learning new things and having fun.

73 de K7EXJ�

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KJ4DGE on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Nice overlay of all that can be done. I am still learning as well. Perhaps that is the true meaning of HAM radio in 2019. Never too old to learn something new:)
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KB2DHG on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
YES, HAM RADIO still has so much to offer and to me is still very interesting and enjoyable after all my years in this hobby... I do not think the hobby itself is going away in fact it has more to offer than ever.

 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by N8AUC on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
The only reason this article was so short, is that the web site only has so much storage available. Ham radio offers all the above, and so much more. It can take you places, and offer you things you can only begin to imagine.

73 de N8AUC
Eric
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KC1VY on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well said, it certainly does !

Just the thrill of tuning around the HF bands, SWL, MW AM Broadcast band,even the LF and VLF bands.

PSK31, RTTY, SSTV ("Slow Scan TeleVision" ) WWV and CHU time and frequency reference stations, propagation mysteries, SSB, Morse code, exotic music from around the world,strange signals and even occasional lightning showing up on the spectrum analyzer. And much,much more ! Been enjoying it for over 40 years !
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AC2RY on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
HAM radio like many other hobbies is a way to challenge yourself. This includes overcoming natural (poor propagation) and artificial (antenna restrictions and power limits) obstacles. I am almost sure that number of those who are in this hobby will dwindle (and I can experience this every day on the air when I hear today all the same call signs I recall from several years ago). But like in any hobby, technical or not, there will be hard core players.

Of cause there are new opportunities created by digitization of radio (AREDN is a good example), so new fields are opening too.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KT0F on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Here is another way to look at it. No man can live long enough to master the vast many subjects under the 'ham radio' title.

The stewardship, mentoring, engineering, education, ethics and community provided by the hobby can likely find no superlative comparison. Ever.

When you come to that conclusion, you realize the jewel and gift that represents amateur radio.

Best regards
John, KT0F
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KA3JLW on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
At a more cerebral level, it offers a myriad of benefits:

- Camaraderie & Friendships
- Goal Accomplishment
- Lifelong Learning & Wonderment
- Exploration
- Happiness & Fulfillment
- Respect & Tradition
- Technological Advancement & Achievement

Different activities within ham radio focus more or less in these different outcomes - but these ultimately are the fuel for many of our fires. It is a very complete, diverse hobby, which explains its long term success. There are other hobbies that fit that bill, but not many.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KA3JLW on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
....my post is pretty close to KT0F's. And I'd add "Thrills" to my list, as shown by KC1VY. Lots of fun, and even if I step away for a few weeks or months, ham radio has always been fun to return to.

73 de W3MMM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by N8FVJ on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
The thrill of communicating directly to another station never gets dull.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by W1RKW on June 4, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Good post, Craig.

You stopped at top 10. I'm sure many reply's can make a top 100 if not more.

Thanks for some of the links you posted too. It got me to exploring some new interests.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KJ3LR on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Radio always fascinated me. As a young boy, to presently an old man. Still so much to learn. Ham radio is a great passion of mine.
de KJ3LR
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by N1FDX on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Never a dull moment here and you can enjoy the hobby with a small investment.
Beside all the new digital modes on HF and digital voice on the higher frequencies there is also satellite,
there are 4 FM birds up there that you can work with a home brew beam and an HT, tracking software is free.
Been a ham for over 30 years and never been close to bored. It's never been less than a great hobby.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by W6SWO on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
There's so much to do in this hobby, that you can't possibly do it ALL in a lifetime! This article just scratches the surface. I recently read "Ham Radio Is Alive and Well" by Gary L. Drasch (K9DJT), and he gives an even longer list of all the things you can wade into if you want to go beyond talking on local repeaters. I highly recommend the book, and there's a Kindle version too.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AB4KA on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. While the digital arts don't interest me, if it interests somebody and that somebody has or gets a license, then good. It took me a long time to figure out that just because I'm still stuck on HF cw and ssb, and analog fm, that doesn't mean that everyone else is wrong lol
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KJ3P on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Whoa!! Reason Number 4: Technician licensees operating SSB and FT8 on 40 meters?? I don't think so!


CW only! (until the FCC changes the rules)

--jim KJ3P
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AC2RY on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It's long overdue to make narrow band digital equal CW (actually CW IS a kind of narrow band digital mode).
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K6CRC on June 5, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, make a good case for why Ham Radio offers many reasons to continue experimenting and learning.
The other issue is the state of all hobbies. They are on the decline in general. Many may not survive the loss of the Baby Boom generation. Stamps, coin collecting, antiques, depression glass, etc, for instance, are dying as fast as the 'Greatest Generation', WWII vets. Resto-mod hot rods are a very expensive hobby that seems to only attract men over 50. Last show i when to had very few younger owner/builders

Likely, we will see continual mutations of Ham radio to keep the hobby alive. I am all for changes proposed in the Tech license, and frankly see little reason to even have a General or Extra. ANY license should have a compete test on FCC rules and regualtions, basic electronics, RF safety, and basic rig/antenna operation.
How about just drop 2M license requirments to an online test and an afidavate from a licensed ham. That could add hikers, etc into the fold of hams and a chance for new recruits.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by W9YW on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
11. Look up--- amateur satellites a-plenty in every thinkable mode.
12. Understanding emergency communications and new scanner techniques (trunking, multi-service, GPS locus, etc.) aids in amateur radio's services to emcomm
13. SDRs, even websdrs, bring new clarity to signal identification and communications
14. Along with digital modes are the myriad ways of making ARES work, down to sending text messages and email through gateways (if at slow speeds)
15. Fractal antenna research is shrinking antenna footprints, allowing efficient design evolutions
16. Bridging ham radio and IoT becomes a revolution in what was once called RC.
17. Analog/digital mode bridging brings in and widens audiences
18. Although AREDN meshes have started, they're just in their infancy, and may prove critical in emergency communications support, bridging, and gateways for messaging.
19. Even more sensitive modes are on their way; FT-8 & FT-4 are just a start, as we combine receiver sensitivity with faster and more selective signals.
20. AI-based signal identification-- see the signal in a waterfall identified as to its type, origin, and perhaps an audio transcription or digital demodulation into its native text. It's coming soon.

I'm sure someone has the next ten-- or as mentioned above, 100+!!!!
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by ONAIR on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
EchoLink? www.EchoLink.org
 
Yes! Ham Radio-- It does Offer alot!!  
by AA7LX on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well written article ! Well researched... I wish that every person curious about, What is Amateur Radio? Would read an article packed with this much information for the beginner. '73, AA7LX
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KM6ZYC on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I got started with a $50 QRP Labs QCX 5 watt transceiver kit on 40 meters. I had no license AND didn’t even know CW. It was an impulse buy, I was just looking for something to build. I chose 40 m because you only need a Technician license. I have tried several different home brew antennas and am now using an end-fed half wave wire and homebrew 49:1 UNUN. It works very well. I’ve made 12 QSOs so far and had a couple of 1 hr+ rag chews. But I spend 99% of my time just listening and am now starting to hear words and am just becoming able to head copy at around 10-12 WPM. Best $50 I ever spent. I hope to move up to an Elecraft K2 soon. I am hooked on CW because it is so efficient with very little power.
 
RE: Yes! Ham Radio-- It does Offer alot!!  
by KJ4DGE on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
W9YW has a point. The hobby will evolve and morph long after the baby boom generation is gone. Just like AI and robotics are changing the job landscape and drones will change transportation. I say no to a online tech license though. Part of the point to take the test is to meet "people" F2F and other HAMs. There still needs to be a personal interaction in HAM radio as that is what makes it more human than just collecting something. The maker folks are another great group connected to the hobby. Innovation and self reliance, building something with your hands versus buying it online Creating something of value to if not others a pride within yourself at building from scratch.

The hobby will survive the others because communications will always be a part of our world in one form or another.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by NA4IT on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
When I got into amateur radio, I did so for the service aspect of it, and the hobby. I enjoy working on stuff. But it seemed the more I served and tried to help the local club the more other members complained. I am disabled and had lots of time to keep repeaters on the air and do other maintenance type things.

And then someone for reasons unknown, tried to claim I did something illegal. Well, I proved them wrong, but it killed the spirit of amateur radio within me. I sold everything I had and got out, and still have no desire to be back in it. I'll keep my license active, but who knows if I will ever get the desire again.

Moral of the story... don't kill amateurs that love to serve...
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KC3JV on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
You forgot antennas. I love experimenting with antennas. Some work and some are just no good. It is not very expensive and even an antenna analyzer is not that much.

Antenna modeling is also interesting and a lot of fun. You don't have to waste time building and you can try the idea out in a model. Yes, it takes a little learning but once you get the hang of it it is also a lot of fun.

Mark KC3JV
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K8QV on June 6, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I discovered radio in the ninth grade. I built several transmitters and antennas. I am, like most of us, from a different era. Sure, there are some new developments in radio (though most of those rely on a computer rather than just a radio) and those with an interest in radio already often explore the new technology there. But we have to stop trying to make our antiquated hobby relevant to people who grew up with Internet and cell phones rather than crystal radios and Dick Tracy walkie talkies. With the advent of photography people stopped getting portraits painted in oils. Times changed. They always do. If you get enjoyment and satisfaction pursuing an activity whose heyday ended in the 1950s, then by all means do so. Those weaned on current technology are naturally more interested in designing phone apps or higher resolution graphics. Anything amateur radio can do can be done more easily, faster and cheaper by other means. There's nothing wrong with that any more than people who still enjoy riding on a horse instead of a car, painting a picture rather than photographing it or fiddling with radios rather than Internet video chats. Just do what you enjoy and stop expecting others to share your enthusiasm.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KW4JX on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
It would offer a lot more if hams spoke slowly and clearly, giving full call-signs.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
To some extent, you are preaching to the converted when posting here - most, if not all, readers will already be radio amateurs. Once you have your licence and some equipment, it is easy to find some aspect of amateur radio that will appeal to you - the problem is how to attract young newcomers to the hobby who will keep it alive for the next hundred years.

I got hooked on amateur radio when I was about 14 years old - and don't ask me how long ago that was! We lived next door but one to a guy in his early twenties who was a very active ham operator. His garden was full of antennae and, when he had the window open, I could hear the sound of CW and exotic accents on SSB drifting across the garden. I expressed interest, he showed me his station in operation, I got hooked and joined the local radio club and the rest is history.

Wind forward twenty-odd years and my son was growing up in a house with an active amateur radio station. I rather assumed that he, too, would get hooked and was surprised that he did not express more interest.

Eventually, the reason became clear. When I was 14, many houses didn't have a telephone - people still went to the call box at the end of the street. Televisions were black and white and communications satellites were just beginning. Being able to turn on the rig, find a free channel, put out a CQ and have a good chance of talking to someone on the far side of the world was exotic and exciting. When my son was a similar age, he carried around a full duplex digital mode transceiver in his pocket - he called it a phone. Any time, day or night, he could dial a number and immediately be having a reasonably hifi conversation with another person anywhere in the world. He looked at my desk in the shack covered with equipment costing thousands of pounds, hooked up to antennae that filled the garden and saw me calling CQ repeatedly in the hope of having a two minute conversation with someone in Australia which was going to be crackly at best and probably lost in QSB before we had finished. Not too surprisingly, he was seriously underwhelmed.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K7EXJ on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Dear G8FXC.

Yup... my son was not interested in amateur radio even though he spent years living on a cruising sailboat in which both his parents were hams and we used HF SSB and CW every day.

Nor was he interested in Linux because it didn't do games. He wasn't impressed with skiing but became a snowboard instructor.

He was kind of interested in gliders and airplanes but not enough to get his license. I'm a pilot rated in both glider and power.

You know, not all children of hams in 1955 didn't become hams. In fact, not many of them did.

You can't reach all of them. We never could reach all of them.

But preaching that ham radio is antiquated and useless won't do it either. It's changing and evolving and some hate that while some accept it. But every day there are new hams on the Facebook amateur groups. So maybe we'll be okay.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KC6RWI on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Good Post G8fxc,
Maybe ham radio is being presented in the wrong way. How about telling students that there are radio waves all around us already and all you need a mathematical equation to process those waves and get the information. Not only that you can make you own waves that can be heard in distant places. You don't need the establishment's network, you can produce your own signals and talk to like minded individuals.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
757819 U.S. amateurs as of 7 June, and we’re trying to outdo each other with anecdotes of what we need to do to keep the hobby alive, or fretting over whether or not the hobby has anything to offer anymore?

Good grief.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
http://www.arrl.org/news/us-amateur-radio-numbers-continue-to-soar
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KD0YTE on June 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I am not a youngster anymore but your 10 items could also be 10 reasons ham radio is the greatest hobby ever. And there are many more. Having a blast in retirement with ham radio.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
@K9MHZ - the interesting data which that ARRL report does not give is the demographic of the new entrants to the amateur radio hobby. I don't know what that is in the US but, on this side of the pond, we are an aging hobby.

When I started out, it was a youngster's hobby - the radio club had a few "elmers" as you guys call them, but the majority of members were in their twenties or thirties. My bet is that many of the new entrants to the hobby are "baby boomers" now retiring with some cash in their pockets, perhaps feeling lonely due to divorce or the death of a partner and viewing amateur radio as an alternative social network.

I often take part in a VHF net close to where we keep our boat. Of the regular participants, I believe that there is just one of working age - on a novice licence. At my 64 years, I am the second youngest!
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by SM0AOM on June 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
"I don't know what that is in the US but, on this side of the pond, we are an aging hobby.

When I started out, it was a youngster's hobby - the radio club had a few "elmers" as you guys call them, but the majority of members were in their twenties or thirties. My bet is that many of the new entrants to the hobby are "baby boomers" now retiring with some cash in their pockets"

I believe statistics entirely support your observation.

For several decades, since the 40s to the 80s, the average age was in the late 20s and maybe the early 30s.

Then something happened. The average age started to creep upward, with an average of 0.9 years per calendar year, until reaching the about 65 (and rising) which it is today.

The influx of 15-25 y/o which helped to keep the average ages down in yesteryear has for all practical purposes stopped entirely.

Recent statistics, taken from the 60 new amateurs that passed their exams in SM last year, is that their average age was 49, 10 % were below 30 and 25% were 60 and older.

Also, very few of the new actually become active.

The general age profile is that about 1/3 of the population is 70 and older, and less than 10% are 40 or younger.

It is up to the reader to decide if this is sustainable or not.

 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AA4PB on June 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
In spite of living with an amateur station in the house for their whole childhood, none of my three kids ever showed any interest. My son, however, did end up with a EE degree. I think that was more a realization that there was decent money in it rather than a compelling interest in electronics. I think most of the EEs that I worked with were that way. Few of us were crazy enough to work with electronics all day and then go home at night and play with it some more. :-)
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AC7CW on June 10, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
My daughter was sort of interested in radio, i had her penciled in to take a class but then I left my scanner on and she heard some CB'ers with terrible language and she cancelled the whole thing on lack of interest. I'd like to have a sailboat really, when that happens I'll let her take it for vacation but only if she gets her license :) There's always a way...
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 10, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
To our euro friends above ^^^, I don’t doubt your observations at all. I just don’t think it’s evidence of doom, at least not here. At Dayton, I did notice many “young”, new hams buying equipment, participating in forums, engaging others in their ham social groups, etc. It seems that as we get so understandably frustrated in not connecting well with the very young, and the average age of entry into the hobby has gotten older (I’ll submit middle age), the numbers are definitely there. And in the context of the OP’s topic, they seem very accepting of modern technologies in the hobby, and aren’t as fazed or affected by the curmudgeon elements that get wildly overblown here on these discussions.

I really do think it’s generally positive, not won’t argue with you at all that it bears watching over time.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 10, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
@K9MHZ - I am prepared to believe that things are rather different on your side of the pond - and glad to hear it!

You guys do have a rather different view of the world to us here in Europe - probably because of the sheer size of the US and your history. It's visible in things like emergency comms and MARS - we do have an EM Comms contingent, but I think it is safe to say that the majority of people don't take them very seriously. But European countries are small and genuine emergencies are virtually unheard of - the police radio networks and the cell phone network very seldom need assistence from the amateur radio world here. In the states, you have vast open spaces and every year you have to cope with at least a few serious hurricanes.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 10, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
sm0aom: With sadness I am reminded of the millions of babies not allowed to get to the "hobby" age. Nuff sed.
Charlie, K3UIM
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by N1KWW on June 11, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Advent of internet interrupted growth but spurred growth in different directions. The "hay-days" of the 90's, with 2 meter popularity and field "daze", are but memories. Progress has a way of ruining a good thing. Is "fox" hunting still practiced? I say "ruining", as if its a bad thing, but dang it, made some good friendships. There's a song about "changes in altitudes, changes in attitude" by Jimmy Buffett, where one letter makes a big difference. Internet and cell phones made a big difference. How many can recall call signs from years ago yet do not have their friends phone number on the tip of their tongue! Approaching my eightieth year makes one nostalgic! 73 N1KWW
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K4EMF on June 11, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Great piece Craig
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 11, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
KWW... I think it’s: “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,” and he’s referring to going to the lower latitudes in the tropics, islands, etc, and slowing down and unwinding.

I guess you might make the case for a dxpedition down there, and play cool Buffet songs while sipping mai tais or something.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G3SEA on June 12, 2019 Mail this to a friend!

Change is the only Constant so we deal with it.

IRLP,Echolink have been around for many moons and offer World Wide Comms with a cheap Analog HT.

IMHO Fully modulated Analog NBFM sounds more natural than digital and without the delay.

G3SEA/KH6


 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VK2ICJ on June 12, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well said.. We need new people and it's our job to encourage them.

73
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VE3WGO on June 16, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
In the last century, maybe up until the late 1970s, hardware home-brewing was a popular pastime, not just for ham radio, but also for audiophiles, and hobbyists. I guess it was due to the availability of easy to get parts from old TV and radio sets, as well as the fact that nearly every town had a few repair shops with parts, and there was always a "drug store" tube tester and tube source or two nearby.

The early days of solid state circuits using transistors and simple ICs were good too, but it didn't last. Once complex ICs took over consumer electronics by the late 1980s era, parts became much harder to get, local electronics repair shops gradually disappeared, and people seemed to drift away from the construction hobby along with these changes.

Hardware-centric ham radio magazines and books meanwhile, also disappeared one after the other (73, Ham Radio, ATV, Radio Handbook, etc).

The test equipment required to test more complicated integrated circuit and digital projects became priced out of reach of many hobbyists, compared to the Eico's and Heathkits of yesteryear...

So the modern version of the Ham Radio hobby is more about assembling building blocks with commercial radio gear, computers, software programs, and less about building hardware. Sure, there are several sources for ordering parts, but they aren't local and you can't get as many parts from an old discarded TV or radio anymore to get your project started the way the previous generation could.

We still have antennas to experiment with, but even that has changed, with the disappearance of TV antenna towers and masts to hang our ham radio antennas from. But that's about all there is left for the hardware-inclined.

And so the hobby has changed. The attraction to young people has changed along with it. Any young people who like to actually build hardware stuff, rather than software program somebody else's design, are likely less interested in what the hobby can do for them these days. Just like audiophiles, who are in the same boat as hams.

73, Ed
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 17, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
WGO: I joined the ranks in 62 or 63, (old age/bad memory) and I had a ball!! I built, repaired or modified just about everything I wanted. The supply houses were all over the place. The military surplus places were close enough to travel to, etc. It was a ham's Heaven. Then I left the hobby for 25 years.

After we became empty nesters and retired from work, we decided it would be great to get back into the ring. Alas! Now I have to almost retake my Novice test again. Hi It's all over but the crying for builders, tinkerers and modifiers.

I gave a shout to the locals and realized I'd have to check out eBay for a couple of female BNC chassis mount connectors. Aarrgghh!

The times, they are changing! Do I have the guts, or the time, to start all over??? Hi. <hidden text> Sound of sobbing heard in background <end text> LOL

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 20, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ed,
Along the same lines, I went to our local ham club the other day and took a much modified and mounted regenerative receiver with me, kind of like a "show and tell". One member looked at it and said something nice about it, otherwise, not much interest.

I had mounted it into a very nice metal box with a handle. Like a little suitcase about 8 cubic inches. A lot of work was involved.

The experience led me to understand that, if I want to hear about how well our club's repeater is functioning, or how many operators will be needed for the next local bicycle run, or etc, etc. then I'll be continuing to attend the monthly meetings.

Otherwise, I'm not too sure I have very much in common with today's hamming interests. Gone are the days where, at the meetings, our latest project was discussed with the pros and the cons, the possible modifications, etc. And if you beep "hi" on the car horn today, nobody notices.

I feel like an old dinosaur at a youth rally. Where do I sit? LOL

My old W1FB books will continue to keep me building and smiling. (I'm making myself get depressed. Hi.)

Time marches on!

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 21, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
@ Charlie - I have to say that I was never a great fan of homebrew - it was hard work and the results were pretty much always disappointing compared with the performance of a Yaesu, Trio, or Collins equivalent. But, hey, each to their own - I came into amateur radio to talk to people, you came into it to design and build things - both aspects of the hobby seem to be disappearing these days. The majority of transmissions these days seem to be computers talking to each other over FT8 - I'm not certain that the owners are even present in the shack. At the same time, all the major manufacturers are bringing out DSP rigs that offer spectacular performance for £1000 - you have to be a very dedicated homebrewer to be able to justify spending any significant amount of time or money building a regen receiver.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 21, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Martin,

I was getting bored with nothing to do electronically so decided to find something. Anything! Hi

I found an ad with several "radios" and jumped right in. Several of them were regens and since I was familiar with that type from my 50's experiences, I got them to hopefully work with them. (I was able to get busy again!) Hi.

Regens are on the bottom of my "to do" list, but, ah, finally, the smell of hot rosin! LOL

Desperate needs draw desperate results. (I guess we all have our addictions!) I have to admit that I really miss the days of ham comraderies though, while, at the same time, I'm also thankful for the memories of those glory days of hamming, building, experimenting and learning from experiencing. I guess I have to kind of step aside and just watch the hobby change, hoping the newcomers find the same happiness I found "way back when". (smiley)

Charlie, K3UIM
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VE3WGO on June 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I guess what is missing is that in those "old" home-brewing days, the voice a ham projected into the ether was often his or her own creation. Whether it was a CW transmitter or a voice type, the RST or RS feedback given by the ham at the other end of the QSO was a source of pride to the ham who made their own gear if the feedback was good (and perhaps a little shame if it wasn't so good). 59 or 599 meant that you had succeeded in crafting a nice sounding rig and antenna system that "got out".

Nowadays, that voice that we project is most often manufactured by someone else.

I still like to tinker with hardware.... tubes and transistors, op amps, and logic chips too. It's a good thing I kept all of my junk box parts (much to my parents' and later, my partner's annoyance). Yep I still have my original bunch of tubes, transistors, switches, transformers, partly mod'ed war surplus stuff, etc, from my earliest hobby days starting around 1970. And it is of course still growing a bit, even now. I add to it when I go to hamfests... I can't help it.

But as you say, the hobby is changing, and so are we.

73, Ed
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by AA4MB on June 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
“The experience led me to understand that, if I want to hear about how well our club's repeater is functioning, or how many operators will be needed for the next local bicycle run, or etc, etc. then I'll be continuing to attend the monthly meetings.”

Yep. Very true - at least for me. I do remember not having a place to sit at club meetings on several occasions years ago. 50-75 people in the room and presentations on ham radio topics abounded. Now ... not so much. Watching meetings degenerate into debate societies about topics with only passing applicability into amateur radio topics has just about erased my interest in club meetings.

Not that my interest in ham radio has diminished whatsoever: I patiently wait for - and, usually find - folks on the air who have the same interests. We’ve always done that to a certain extent, if you think about it. It’s just a touch more difficult with not quite as much HF activity and VHF/UHF activity being a shell of its former heyday.

- Matt
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Yes Charlie, time does march on. People lash out at change, especially change that they don't understand. It's human nature. Nobody says that there is anything wrong with longing for the old days, so long as you keep it in perspective.....the old days are indeed old and long gone. Collins gear is plummeting in pricing, and the guys manning the Collins Collectors Assoc. booth at Dayton were very seasoned. Nothing wrong there, either....just don't lament or lash out at others who want to move on with new technologies, or those might have a totally different ham radio world view than you do.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 22, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
"just don't lament or lash out at others who want to move on with new technologies, or those might have a totally different ham radio world view than you do."

I don't Brad. I don't. I just hope that the "screen watching hams" can get as great a feeling of accomplishment as we OF's did back then, though I cannot believe they possibly do.

What a thrill it was hearing that sound on a totally home-brewed from scratch receiver. (Probably the real reason they invented padded underwear.) LOL

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K0UA on June 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Charlie why don't you become one of us "screen watching hams"? Have you tried to interface your computer to your radio? How do you know you wouldn't enjoy it if you haven't tried it? You might need something a little more modern than a regen receiver though. :)

You do know that when you attended a club meeting with your regen receiver project that was just like attending a club dedicated to building automotive racing engines with a buggy whip don't you? Some of the gearheads might have looked at your ancient "go fast horse encouragement device" and realized that there was a slight connection to to a direct fuel injected dual overhead cam engine, but the connection was remote and faint at best.
There are still plenty of people involved in making things, it is called the "maker community" for example. Many of us are learning new techniques. For instance I have learned how to work on Surface mount devices to some extent in the last couple of years even at my advanced age. And even though I am "seasoned" I have very little interest in ancient technology except in a museum and as a reminder at how far we have come. I have no interest in a homebrew regen receiver using tube technology built on a pine board or even a fancy box, but I might give it a look if it used all SMD devices and was smaller than a postage stamp. I have no interest in Collins radio products from my childhood and why should I? Products from a company that no longer exists, and technology that is no longer relevant?

Some smart fella once said: "get busy living or get busy dying", Well it looks to me like you might be busy doing the latter. You do know that as you walk along the trial if you stop to constantly look back your forward progress will be greatly reduced. No, for me when fate does catch up with me, I want to go working on the latest nano-technology and staring at my latest I/O device not lamenting that all of the Collins collectors members are now dead or that no one is interested in my spark gap or crystal set. Well, I have said enough for now, I think I better go shake up the iron filings in my coherer. :) 73 and always keep looking forward. James K0UA
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
James,
Undeniable words of wisdom that only a fool would not agree with.

I guess I remember only too well the thrills of my 25 years in hamming, where so many wonderful things came to me. I, like everyone else, don't want those moments to be gone forever. We can all remember the first girlfriend, the first date, the first kiss, etc. To many it was a copied incident, and for some it was a "forever" thing that was a memory taken to the grave.

We naturally wish that "first" feeling for everyone, knowing that to some it was only a means to get as much of it as was humanly possible, ever moving on to something or someone better, newer, or fancier. (Reminds me of my half brother that went to his grave dodging angry husbands. LOL)

I guess I'm just a romantic that truly enjoyed the smell of hot rosin smoke and cannot understand the catnip effect not affecting all of the ham kingdom. Perhaps someone messed with the world's supply of rosin??? hi.

My regen receiver was my way of "getting back to the past" and enjoying it. It was a desperation move on my part that worked … for a while.)

I must get into the "maker" community you mentioned, although the SMD thingies are too tiny for my 85 year old eyeballs. LOL

Well, good luck with your shaking and I might suggest using the movements of "The King," Elvis, but if you're near my age, be gentle while doing it. LOL

God Bless.

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K9MHZ on June 24, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
UA....great antenna setup, congrats! Family loves Branson too, especially that Big Cedar Lodge area.
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K0UA on June 25, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Rgr thank you. 73 James K0UA
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 26, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
@ James - I was a fairly enthusiastic "screen watcher" for many years - until FT8 became popular really. Modes like RTTY and the various PSKs still required a fair amount of operator skill and you did have "proper" QSOs in which you exchanged a range of information. FT8 seems to have largely killed screen watching - RTTY and PSK activity seems to have fallen away close to zero. FT8 has formalised the QSO format right down to the bare bones - really just an exchange of callsigns and signal reports - and made it so rigid that the computers at each end can take over and cut out the human operator.

Now, I know that DX has long been the objective of most hams, and it is indisputable that FT8 achieves DX communications that would be effectively impossible with almost any other mode - but at what cost to the hobby? You can only really claim it as an achievement if there was a significant component of human skill involved. With careful design of the transmission protocols, incredible ranges can be achieved by automated systems with zero human input - the Voyager spacecraft are currently well over ten billion miles away and Nasa regularly communicates with them with power levels of a few tens of watts - the operators don't claim DX awards - it's all done by computers!
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 26, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
FXC: I have finally realized that the hamming I so dearly love is gone.

It has become a hobby, not of rag chewers, tinkerers, or experimenters, but of appliance operators. Not totally yet, but it is soon upon us.

It seems that the easier it is to get a license, the less it comes to being a playground for those of us that love the smell of hot rosin.

I guess I have surrendered to the inevitableness of the progress of our "dumbed down" system. "If it's easy, grab it!"

Hamming was so wonderful when our underpowered, and usually cobbled together or highly modified, rigs gave us the thrill of an answering call. WOW! Hi.

It gets a bit disconcerting if we let it.... sigh … Hi.

I do understand the comparison between the model A and today's Fords. There will always be those that look back on the sound of the older ones as a bit of nostalgia and those that laugh at the "OF's" soon-to-be dead memories.

Long live rosin core solder!! Hi.

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by W4KVU on June 27, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ditto-----------
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VK5CQ on June 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
You'll see an important part of What Ham Radio provides during floods, wind storms, earthquakes, tsunami, or telco and/or power Outages

In Luzerne Co., PA, Tropical Storm Agnes flooded the Wyoming Valley (incl telco switching facilities, Civil Defense's EOC (in the basement of the County Court House - likely planned & build during the Cold War?), etc.

We'd lived in the Flood Plane, but had moved to the foothills of the Appalachian Mts, some decades earlier.

My recently constructed High School was equipped with an HF & VHF comms station in its basement, for contact with the EOC, but had no PBX phone on its desk.

(First to arrive to "activate" that station had to bring a phone & run a wire-pair to a nearby PBX distribution panel, to be able to receive or make phone calls.)

This was before the arrival of mobile phones....

We put-up some family members in our home, so they wouldn't have to queue for an Army cot (sic) in the High School's gym, along with hundreds of other Flood Plane evacuees.

As the High School was equipped with a good size professional kitchen (normally used to make kids' lunches, to be distributed to the Districts other schools), it was well-suited to making meals for the evacuees, staying in the School's gym.

Ham Radio helped coordinate the flow of resources, to & between shelters, behind the scenes, as well as enabled folks, who needed to work in the Flood Plane, choose best roads to their assigned workplaces.

More recent disasters have seen outages of OR (eg, near 9-11 activity) overwhelming traffic loads on mobile cells.

How much LESS comms would have gotten through WITHOUT Ham Radio?
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CQ: Reading your note makes me realize that not only are we losing the experimenters, tinkerers and home-brewers, but we are gaining many more of the "new" ones that have their handhelds ready, willing and able.

I fear for ham radio's future when we OF's leave the scene.

Yes! Let's make the tests easier! … sigh …

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
CQ: Reading your note makes me realize that not only are we losing the experimenters, tinkerers and home-brewers, but we are gaining many more of the "new" ones that have their handhelds ready, willing and able.

I fear for ham radio's future when we OF's leave the scene.

Yes! Let's make the tests easier! … sigh …

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by G8FXC on June 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
@ Charlie - I don't think you can blame easier tests for the disappearance of "serious" ham radio. The bands are not overcrowded - the presence of lightly trained beginners is not forcing serious hams out. And someone who is interested in "serious ham radio" is not inhibited from doing it simply because they got their licence by just ticking a few boxes on an exam paper. The trouble is that there simply are not that many people with the interest in advanced technical radio communications any more.

Making the exams more difficult, or reintroducing the morse test will not magically create a lot of new "old school hams" queuing up to get on the air - but it might accelerate the loss of frequency allocations for the rest of us as the ITU see bands falling into disuse.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VE3WGO on June 28, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
FXC, I agree with your statement to a point... "The trouble is that there simply are not that many people with the interest in advanced technical radio communications any more. "

But I have doubts that it is a world-wide phenomenon. The telecoms company I work for has R&D offices in many countries including China. One unique thing about the locations there is that the numbers of interested Hardware designers is about the same as software designers, unlike the European and North American sites where interested Software designers far outnumber everyone else. By interested I mean ease of hiring staff, enthusiasm, skill level, availability of good co-op and summer students, etc.

The "West" has apparently become software-centric in education and expertise while China has somehow remained a little more balanced shall we say.

eBay has a seemingly endless list of small companies offering radio kits and assembled ham products from Chinese vendors, locally designed and produced, including SDRs, transceivers, QRP kits, etc. They are putting up new ham radio satellites (some even with bleeding edge modulation techniques) faster than the rest of the world's hams all put together. Something unique is happening there to make them enthusiastic about building and communicating.

(the current Chinese ham population is 150k, according to Wikipedia.)

Is there something underlying that can be learned from this? Maybe.

73, Ed
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on June 29, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ed, I didn't necessarily mean that ham radio was only "weakening" because of the new and easier, non-technical testing, but also the rise (craze??) of the phones and texting capabilities of our generation.

If it continues to progress, what will be the necessity for ham radios? Even today, anyone can talk or text to anyone, anywhere in the world. It seems to me that any emergency that might arise can be handled with a cell phone, or even a CB set. … sigh … lol

My love for the hobby will always be there, no matter what, but I can see the FCC deciding that we are an unnecessary burden on the frequencies sometime in the future. At my age I do not believe I'll be around to see it happen, at least I hope not.

With the way technology is progressing, perhaps one day we'll hear the bugle of the approaching Cavalry coming to save our hobby. One can only hope.

Charlie, K3UIM


 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VE3WGO on July 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Charlie, I'm on your page.

I prefer building stuff and operating cw and voice. I like bending aluminum chassis, making front panels, I like making transistor circuits work, tubes work, I know how the internals of op amps work, how to design and build a bandpass filter, etc, but software just isn't my interest. I don't even know how to computer control my radio, and I have never used a digital mode! Never sent a packet over the air. Never used DMR or any other digital mode to "DX" to some far off land using a handheld to access the wired internet. So I probably don't fit the mold of a "modern" ham.

I design 5G wireless communications systems, use software and analysis tools and simulators, send emails, digital files, and texts all day long at work, I use Skype to digitally talk people all over the world at our international offices. I get paid for doing those things. But I just can't seem to get interested to do them for my HOBBY as well!

But I do understand how the hobby is changing. I just wonder if there will be enough constructors in 10 years from now to keep the parts supply alive, and ops who will still want to connect by cw or voice.

73, Ed
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on July 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ed, I'm on your page.

"I prefer building stuff and operating cw and voice. I like bending aluminum chassis, making front panels, I like making transistor circuits work, tubes work,and I have never used a digital mode! Never sent a packet over the air. Never used DMR or any other digital mode to "DX" to some far off land using a handheld to access the wired internet. So I probably don't fit the mold of a "modern" ham."

Ditto!

"I prefer building stuff and operating cw and voice. I like bending aluminum chassis, making front panels, I like making transistor circuits work, tubes work,"

Ditto!

"I don't even know how to computer control my radio, and I have never used a digital mode! Never sent a packet over the air. Never used DMR or any other digital mode to "DX" to some far off land using a handheld to access the wired internet. So I probably don't fit the mold of a "modern" ham. But I just can't seem to get interested to do them for my HOBBY as well!"

Ditto!

"But I do understand how the hobby is changing. I just wonder if there will be enough constructors in 10 years from now to keep the parts supply alive, and ops who will still want to connect by cw or voice."

My thoughts/fears also. I suppose the builders, modifiers and experimentalists will be working on cell phones, laughing about when there used to be tubes, transistors, and all that dinosaur stuff in phones and now we just put this little gismo in, close it up and contact someone in Arctic America.

Ah, progress, thou hast a stinger. ... sigh ... LOL

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on July 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Ed, I'm on your page.

"I prefer building stuff and operating cw and voice. I like bending aluminum chassis, making front panels, I like making transistor circuits work, tubes work,and I have never used a digital mode! Never sent a packet over the air. Never used DMR or any other digital mode to "DX" to some far off land using a handheld to access the wired internet. So I probably don't fit the mold of a "modern" ham."

Ditto!

"I prefer building stuff and operating cw and voice. I like bending aluminum chassis, making front panels, I like making transistor circuits work, tubes work,"

Ditto!

"I don't even know how to computer control my radio, and I have never used a digital mode! Never sent a packet over the air. Never used DMR or any other digital mode to "DX" to some far off land using a handheld to access the wired internet. So I probably don't fit the mold of a "modern" ham. But I just can't seem to get interested to do them for my HOBBY as well!"

Ditto!

"But I do understand how the hobby is changing. I just wonder if there will be enough constructors in 10 years from now to keep the parts supply alive, and ops who will still want to connect by cw or voice."

My thoughts/fears also. I suppose the builders, modifiers and experimentalists will be working on cell phones, laughing about when there used to be tubes, transistors, and all that dinosaur stuff in phones and now we just put this little gismo in, close it up and contact someone in Arctic America.

Ah, progress, thou hast a stinger. ... sigh ... LOL

Charlie, K3UIM
 
RE: Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K3UIM on July 1, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Oops!!! Mr. Administer man, could you delete my doubling? Sorry!
Charlie, K3UIM
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by K4EMF on July 8, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Well done CRAIG
 
Don't Forget the Human Side!  
by DL4NO on July 9, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Naturally, ham radio is a technical hobby. But here also is a very important human side! We call it "ham spirit".

Only a few examples:

Where can you meet a Nobel laureate where he is a normal person and calmly answers many silly questions that you can with Google in seconds? K1JT obviously loves to travel. So I met him in Munich, Germany.

For my job I travel a lot and stay there for weeks or months. Even before I get there I look for the local DARC chapters. Our German club has more that 1,000 of them and nearly everyone of them meets at least once a month. I go there and say "Hi, I'm Alexander, DL4NO". Then I am part of their community. Wonderful things happen in these communities. Not only drinking beer together and chatting about the hobby,

When you drive around a lot, radio gets boring. So I do my own programming and chat with other hams 50 miles around or even much further away.

Even if you meet another ham the first time, you often feel the ham spirit: A very open and positive feeling. When I was new to ham radio, several OMs took me under their wings. These days I pay back that debt.

From the early days of ham radio, nations have relied on the knowledge of radio amateurs. In WW 1, quite some hams worked in the US military. After WW 2, GIs in Germany who were ham were asked to contact the local signal corps. And in GB, many hams wrote down coded German telegrams and sent them to Bletchley Park.

Or, a few sizes smaller: There are corporations and other bodies, where a ham call is quite important. Ham spirit makes it possible to easily cross borders within these organizations. I know of such "wormholes" that made otherwise impossible things work.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by KB8VUL on July 20, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
No ham radio has nothing to offer that a cell phone doesn't and the cell phone can do things that a ham radio can't and never will be able to do.

At one point in history, wireless communication was black magic. It was done by men that were revered. And someone in almost every neighborhood was an electronics hobbyist and the guy to know if your tube television was giving you fits. He may have even had a room with gleaming chrome and hammer tone finished radios and a big tower with huge antennas hanging from the top. A wall had funny looking post cards on it from all over the world. And he could talk to those places, FOR FREE, Ma Bell was a buck a minute to call across the country, never mind calling overseas. There were no cell phones, no Internet and you had between 2 and 4 channels on the TV to watch.

Now we have free long distance, email, texting, video chat, Facebook and all the rest.
And that guy has the same huge, old heavy radios with gleaming chrome and worn hammer tone paint. The HOA forced him to remove the eyesore tower. His new smart phone with hands free will allow him to have conference calls with his old ham buddies and the only time he gets on the radio, he discusses his and his wife's medical history including a detailed description of her OB/GYN appointment findings and his latest colonoscopy. Gone are the discussions of radio technology, the local analog repeaters have fallen silent, only IDing once in a while. Occasionally, someone will throw their call out there, but no one responds. Down the street one odd kid, with him DMR radio and DMR hotspot connected to the Internet is having a QSO. His total distance of RF communication is 12 feet from radio to repeater. As he asks for a signal report???.

And the ham radio hobby isn't the only two way radio service that is falling by the wayside. CB radio is dying too. In it's prime, there was a CB radio in 70% of all cars on the road. It was offered as an option by the big three in everything from the Nova to the Cadillac. No over the road truck was without a CB and channel 19 was the meeting place for truckers for traffic and bear reports. Now maybe 50% of trucks have a CB. And you would be hard pressed to find a car in a large football stadium's parking lot on game day with a CB antenna. (Lots of cars, no antenna's).

What do we bring to the table? EMCOMM? Maybe in certain situations. But do the folks that show up for that have any real technical abilities or are they just radio operators, converting coffee into urine while holding down a chair in the EOC while operating on equipment that was installed in a console connected to an antenna that is on the same tower as the rest of the EOC's communication system?

Beyond that, we got nothing. Old technology that no one is really interested in for the pure enjoyment of the technology. Sure there are many of us that like ham radio, and are technically savvy. We enjoy talking all over the world to new people and places. And for us it's cool. But trying to interest a kid in this, who refuses to even have a conversation on the phone, instead texting and posting to his Twitter account where it can be seen by millions, we just don't have anything that competes with that in their eyes.
 
Does Ham Radio Offer Anything Anymore?  
by VE3WGO on July 20, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
and to make matters worse, the latest modes (FTx, JTx) that are all the rage in hamdom are just plain text modes that are 1/10 the length of tweets and 100 times slower than tweets, and involve only small amounts of human action to occur. Now that's really going to attract the young maker crowd isn't it?

not.

73, Ed


the net result of all of this is that there is less and less need for all that valuable spectrum allocated to ham radio. the competition must be taking note of it ....
 
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