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Author Topic: Goodbye tubes.  (Read 6831 times)
SM0AOM
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Posts: 256




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« Reply #150 on: August 18, 2019, 08:08:06 AM »

I am not kidding.

Morse qualified radio amateurs have shown to have much higher quality over the years than the "no-coders", which have wrecked our reputation with the regulators here.

They consider current amateur radio in general to be of low quality, being under-qualified in comparison to the privileges, and as a mostly irrelevant nuisance. If there was a simple way to reduce the number of radio amateurs to a more palatable level, the regulators would have implemented it long ago.

But in view of our irrelevance in the larger schemes of things, they are just waiting for the "attrition solution" of their problem.

And I am quite convinced that the views of the Swedish regulator are shared in more or less extent among the international spectrum management community.

In my opinion, the way of survival for amateur radio is along the path of quality before quantity, as we are supposed to form an elite among radio hobbyists.

We tried quantity, but it did not work.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #151 on: August 18, 2019, 08:20:51 AM »

I don't have a degree, Karl-Arne. But I can do Morse and I am a Senior Member of IEEE, with 16 now expired patents.  I have been paid to lecture to university short courses on RF, been a consultant to what was then the UK Dept of Trade and industry and a consultant in the RF field - including to a Swedish company. Degrees aren't everything.....My XYL has a licence, can do 18 wpm CW, has an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering  and is a Chartered Engineer and MIET: her forte is in digital IC design, which isn't that applicable to RF problems.

Drawing up the ladder doesn't always help. What I find sad is the number of complaints of the shortage of RF engineers and yet amateur radio just isn't pushed as a way to get people into the field.
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K4EMF
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« Reply #152 on: August 18, 2019, 08:48:29 AM »

Morse code?  You MUST be kidding.  It has no purpose at all in modern communications.

You do realize that this is a hobby? Specifically "amateur" radio.  Based on my observations it would appear 10's of thousands of our fellow hams did not get your memo.
 
Quote
Even POWs didn't use it to communicate between cells (they used "Tap Codes"). 


Interesting, did they make up the code on sight or is this something they learned in survival school.   Do these "tap codes" survive today?
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K6BSU
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #153 on: August 18, 2019, 09:15:37 AM »

Proficiency in Morse has no relation to competence in electronics knowledge or proficiency. 

The so-called "dumbing-down" of amateur radio has more to blame than the elimination of Morse in licensing.  Instead, blame the written exams, which can be passed with only a marginal electronics knowledge.

I am an Extra class amateur (since 1952), with military Morse experience (35 WPM) and a BS in Electronics engineering. Yet, hands-on experience has taught me more about ham radio than any of my college classes.
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SM0AOM
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« Reply #154 on: August 18, 2019, 09:22:45 AM »

Drawing up the ladder doesn't always help. What I find sad is the number of complaints of the shortage of RF engineers and yet amateur radio just isn't pushed as a way to get people into the field.

So do I.

There is a major obstacle to find younger students that are interested in RF in general and HF in particular.

When trying to introduce grammar school pupils to amateur radio, they give "blank stares" back. Amateur radio lives up to its description of a "faintly embarrassing hobby" that it got in Time Magazine some decade ago.

The median age of newcomers here during the last year was about 55, and the fraction of "youngsters" around 10 %. "Yesteryear" their fraction was almost 40%.

But the major problem here has become the lack of quality, and the general "dumbing-down". People that have the patience to learn Morse, also have the patience to learn other subjects.

Earlier, amateur radio had a certain standing in the public eye, but during the last 20 years or so, the relevance of amateur radio has eroded considerably. We are now mostly considered as "weirdos".

This has not improved when certain elements started to pick fights with the regulators, leading to an almost complete distancing from amateur radio matters by them.
There will no longer be any support in the CEPT and ITU.
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KM1H
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« Reply #155 on: August 18, 2019, 09:28:37 AM »

Quote
I don't have a degree, Karl-Arne. But I can do Morse and I am a Senior Member of IEEE, with 16 now expired patents.  I have been paid to lecture to university short courses on RF, been a consultant to what was then the UK Dept of Trade and industry and a consultant in the RF field - including to a Swedish company. Degrees aren't everything.....My XYL has a licence, can do 18 wpm CW, has an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering  and is a Chartered Engineer and MIET: her forte is in digital IC design, which isn't that applicable to RF problems.

What I find most disturbing are those who flaunt their degrees, patents, and "accomplishments" whenever some one questions their posting accuracy. To me that is an immediate Red Flag. Having a public biography easily visible gives the first level of weeding out the phoneys and poseurs and QRZ.com is the most often viewed site.

As an Engineering Manager and also Sr Engineer in an EE R&D group I found how easy it was for some job applicants to pass the generally useless HR weenies interviews, get past the also useless (Promote incompetence syndrome) hiring manager, and foist the results on needy group heads.

Ive dismissed outright or sent back upstairs to be moved to where "Do No Harm" slots were opened. Some of the worst were Piled Higher & Deepers who arrived fully arrogant, had no experience outside of academia, refused to take direction, had the group in an uproar and stunk to high heaven as the final insult Shocked. These were always from less than top rated engineering schools.

In academia and some companies the number of patents filed is part of the game and often means little in the end results.

Deadwood (dismissed without comments available) often wind up as consultants which really disturbs me as those who hire them have no business being in that position and the cycle continues.

Carl
« Last Edit: August 18, 2019, 09:33:07 AM by KM1H » Logged
K4EMF
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #156 on: August 18, 2019, 09:36:28 AM »

I have not purchased an amplifier yet.   But I have been looking at what's available vs ham reviews and what not.

Given the large number of tube models still available.  I have surmised the reports of the death tubes have been greatly exaggerated.

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N2SR
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« Reply #157 on: August 18, 2019, 10:45:42 AM »

Proficiency in Morse has no relation to competence in electronics knowledge or proficiency. 

The so-called "dumbing-down" of amateur radio has more to blame than the elimination of Morse in licensing.  Instead, blame the written exams, which can be passed with only a marginal electronics knowledge.

I am an Extra class amateur (since 1952), with military Morse experience (35 WPM) and a BS in Electronics engineering. Yet, hands-on experience has taught me more about ham radio than any of my college classes.

So if the exams are "dumbed down," and with all that experience, you should be able to pass the Extra exam without studying one iota and get every question correct.  Please let us know when you plan to do that, and let us know what the result is. 
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If no one is doing it that way, there is a probably a very good reason.
VK6HP
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Posts: 525




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« Reply #158 on: August 18, 2019, 11:49:23 AM »

Karl-Arne (SM0AOM)

Thanks for an interesting commentary, including the opinion on licensing.  I share many of your sentiments although I don't believe that degree level qualification is the answer for two main reasons.  The positive one is that I have seen many motivated and intelligent hams, most usually qualified under earlier and stricter regimes, learn a great deal of solid RF theory and practice. Less positively, with a career in R&D and the real world, I've occasionally seen the irrelevance of formal education to good practice and even commonsense.  I do understand very well your comments about effective intake filters especially with national amateur bodies hopelessly conflicted between membership ambitions and standard setting, and national regulators being killed in the rush to abrogate their standard-setting duties.  It's certainly tempting to look for external filters such as formal qualifications and, in a weird way, the idea might indeed play to the current refrain of many western governments where, it seems, nothing is their "core responsibility" anymore and if something can be outsourced or privatised, they do so.

Unfortunately, outsourcing to conflicted bodies usually fails as most energy and resources get devoted to the bums on seats mission, at the expense of proficiency and standards.  Interestingly, I've also seen this in Australian recreational aviation, which is an almost exact parallel of the amateur radio case.  The difference is that the failings of the self-interested aviation administrating body, and the lazy and increasingly technically inept regulator, occasionally become all too publicly obvious as, for example, aircraft engines fail at more than an order of magnitude the established rate, or aircraft fly into ferris wheels, or....I could go on, but you get the point.

Fortunately, the failings of amateur radio standards are usually less severe, although they are certainly obvious to listeners and other operators.  They are pretty obvious on the internet forums, too.  For example, how is it that the US Extra class can admit folks who can run a 1.5 kW amplifier but have no clue how to hook up the keying circuit?  Why can a General licensee not do an Ohms Law calculation for filament voltage and current?  How do you get a licence without being able to work out the correct position of the antenna tuner relative to the exciter and amplifier?  OK, I'll again stop with the examples.

I wish I could say things were better in Australia, but they're not.  Reading a current discussion paper from the regulator (the ACMA) it's clear that they can't wait to shed any real responsibility for amateur radio as soon as possible.  It's goodbye to incentive licensing, and effectively open slather on bands and modes.  About the only thing they are worried about, in the fashion of the day, is whether hams cook themselves or anyone else with RF. One thing is sure: there won't be any serious national or international advocacy for ham radio forthcoming from them.

In my line of R&D I've actually been pretty successful in attracting very good RF and antenna people, including students, principally because of the challenges on offer.  A few of these people see the promise of ham radio as an experimental platform but, in truth, some are turned off by the lowest common denominator aspect of the hobby.  That tension has always been around of course but it seems to me that the top end of the hobby is now being invigorated at too low a rate.  About all I can think of as a counter-argument is that numbers are not the sole metric; it's who you attract and what they achieve.  That makes it worth continuing to try.

73, Peter.





 
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SM0AOM
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« Reply #159 on: August 18, 2019, 12:32:39 PM »

"It is difficult to predict, especially regarding the future"

The ACMA is probably as fed up with radio amateurs as are most other administrations, and you will end up in real trouble if and when they decide to "hand off" amateur radio matters to the power-hungry control freaks that run the national societies, preferably without transparency.

Some years ago, I became appointed to a working party that was tasked by the regulator to find ways to make the amateur radio examinations more in line with the intentions in the ITU Radio Regulations and the CEPT guidelines for competence.
This turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

From day one, the work was solidly obstructed by the national society that had one single objective; quantity over quality.

After a year and a half of continuous obstruction, including a smear campaign aimed at the official in charge intended to discredit him in the eyes of his superiors, the regulator finally lost patience, disbanded the working party and made up the new exams by themselves.

In a way the silent wishes of the regulator to reduce the number of radio amateurs may have been fulfilled, as the newly licensed numbers have dropped to an all-time-low.

The reasons for this are not clearly evident, but as amateur radio classes at the clubs often have to be cancelled due to lack of participants, a general lack of interest may be one of the main causes.

Back to the original topic.

The market for amateur radio amplifiers may be diminishing in general. Ageing population, EMC problems and a general lack of knowledge of how to operate and service an amplifier properly may contribute. Often, EMC problems with the neighbours start in earnest when the 200-300 W levels are reached. In countries like Germany, you also have to file a notice of EMF compliance with the Authorities, which may put off some prospective amplifier buyers.

Also, power tubes will only become more and more expensive for each year, as the markets are shrinking to just the "audiophools" and the older and older amateur radio users.

When the turning point will be is beyond my judgement, but as modern SS technology will become progressively cheaper, it is likely that we will achieve
a lower "watt per $" ratio for SS compared to the tube case within the next few years.

Younger radio amateurs are usually clueless of how to tune a "classic tube PA", which often results in them sitting unused in club stations. A friend of mine tried to teach proper tuning and loading practices to the preciously few 25-30 y/o that were present in his local club, but there were no interest. They simply did not want to learn.

If there will be any chance of selling amplfiers, regardless if they are tube or SS, to the few younger newcomers in amateur radio, the use of servo-tuning or automatic antenna matchers like our professional brethren started to use already in the 80s, or broad-band antennas likely will be required.

Any manual involvement of tuning and matching the antenna probably is way over the heads of the new-comers.



« Last Edit: August 18, 2019, 12:52:40 PM by SM0AOM » Logged
KM1H
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Posts: 5281




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« Reply #160 on: August 18, 2019, 12:55:21 PM »

Quote
Given the large number of tube models still available.  I have surmised the reports of the death tubes have been greatly exaggerated.

Wishful thinking from the chattering class.

If you dont want to learn how to service/update them as serious high voltage is involved there is likely someone close by that can help.

While some amplifier tubes will become unobtainium/very expensive there are very few if any that attract the audiophools. Adapting other tubes has been going on for decades.

Stay far away from sweep tube amps.

The Ameritron AL-811/811H have poor reliability due to overstressed tubes and engineering issues.

Carl
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G3RZP
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« Reply #161 on: August 18, 2019, 02:08:47 PM »

Karl-Arne and Peter,

It does appear to me that in my 20 odd years of dealing with Administrations at CEPT, iTU, the European Commission (probably the worst of the lot!) and ETSI that the dumbing down is by no means limited to the amateur radio world, but also to the technical ability of the majority of the younger people (<50 years old) in Administrations.

Which explains to some extent the apparent antipathy to amateur radio - a degree of jealousy that there are amateurs who are more technically competent that the so called porfessional administrators. Except when they want something, as was the case for 2012 Olympic games in London where they were appealing for suitably qualified amateurs to assist in checking gear being brought into the country.....
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K6BRN
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Posts: 1293




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« Reply #162 on: August 18, 2019, 05:12:25 PM »

Hi Jay (K4EMF):

Quote
Morse code?  You MUST be kidding.  It has no purpose at all in modern communications.

You do realize that this is a hobby? Specifically "amateur" radio.  Based on my observations it would appear 10's of thousands of our fellow hams did not get your memo.

Yes, I do realize this is a hobby and (almost) anything goes in a hobby.  But it's not by any means modern communications.  More of an affectation to a commercially and militarily dead mode.  I get it, you like it.  But it's just not used in the "real" world anymore, for some very good reasons (there are MANY better modes).
 

Quote
Even POWs didn't use it to communicate between cells (they used "Tap Codes").

Interesting, did they make up the code on sight or is this something they learned in survival school.   Do these "tap codes" survive today?

Yes, tap codes live on.  See this for a basic background:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tap_code

Hi Floyd (K6BSU):

Quote
The so-called "dumbing-down" of amateur radio has more to blame than the elimination of Morse in licensing.  Instead, blame the written exams, which can be passed with only a marginal electronics knowledge.  I am an Extra class amateur (since 1952), with military Morse experience (35 WPM) and a BS in Electronics engineering. Yet, hands-on experience has taught me more about ham radio than any of my college classes.

The current amateur radio exams are more excercises in memorization rather than in technology and were made that way as an attempt to breath new life into a dying hobby by opening the door to more amateurs.  Can't have it both ways, right now.  Way too much competition from other forms of amusement and technical hobbies.  Even high schools have turned away from amateur radio in favor of robotics, which seems more relevant to them today.  It's a pity, too.  Instant communications is what "makes our society go" right now.  But it's also killing ham radio.  If anybody has a good solution to this problem, let's hear it.  Because it would be SOOOO easy for the ITU to strip the really teeny/tiny ham bands aways from us - because to them, we have only nusiance value.

Regarding learning more in your career than in school...  I HOPE so!  An undergraduate degree teaches you the basics AND to a smart student demonstrates how much you will have to learn in the future, which is why its called a Bachelor's Degree (safe to practice without close supervision).  A 30+ year career will only add to fill out basic knowledge.  A Master's degree adds advance learning to that, and the title speaks for itself.  But without the Bachelor's degree and the basics, you really do not know what you do not know, and this is a very well known and major disadvantage in the workplace.

Hi Carl (KM1H):

Quote
What I find most disturbing are those who flaunt their degrees, patents, and "accomplishments" whenever some one questions their posting accuracy. To me that is an immediate Red Flag. Having a public biography easily visible gives the first level of weeding out the phoneys and poseurs and QRZ.com is the most often viewed site.

Actually, the most viewed professional site is LinkedIn, not QRZ, which is an amateur hobby site that no company offering a serious professional job really cares about.  And people who were unable to make the grade, do the work and actually get a degree from an accredited professional program at a university are usually the ones most resentful of those that actually have degrees and are successful.  And you are RIGHT in what you imply, that there are a number of very good non-degreed people doing engineering.  Don't hear much from them because they just do what they do and usually have to work 5x as hard to get ahead because they have not passed that very critical quality test of actually getting a degree.  They have to really, really prove themselves to any prospective employer and have a VERY hard time moving up.  The more motivated ones earn the degrees(s) they need to move forward, after work.  The ones that don't tend to stagnate.  There are always exceptions, but on the average, that's the way it is.

Regarding red flags - in a work environment, the inability to work on a team and contribute when and where needed without constantly putting down fellow workers is the primary red flag.

Hi Peter (G3RZP):

Quote
My XYL has a licence, can do 18 wpm CW, has an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering  and is a Chartered Engineer and MIET: her forte is in digital IC design, which isn't that applicable to RF problems.

Sounds like one smart lady with a great earning potential.  Definitely a keeper!

Quote
It does appear to me that in my 20 odd years of dealing with Administrations at CEPT, iTU, the European Commission (probably the worst of the lot!) and ETSI that the dumbing down is by no means limited to the amateur radio world, but also to the technical ability of the majority of the younger people (<50 years old) in Administrations.

Newly graduating engineers from good programs in good schools are as good as they've ever been, IMHO.  I work with and mentor them every day.  However, the western business world has definitely decided to cut corners by placing unqualified, minimum wage personnel in improbable positions they are unqualified for, sometimes with comical or tragic results.  Data breaches are often driven by this.  Recent issues in the aircraft industry smell of this problem as well.

In addition, the venerable "5-year" plan for company, technology and product development seems to have been discarded in favor of A 1-year plan at many firms, leading to a crash and burn of their core technical competentcy, with GE being a reasonable example - as well as the previously mentioned aircraft businesses.  This is driven by the need to show a positive cash flow from technology and product development almost immediately, which means skipping much of the core engineering, testing and analysis that is required to produce a good, safe product.  Not a good trend at all and one we have to work hard to reverse.  In this, we are bucking the demands of major investment blocks (funds, money managers, etc.) whose decision cycles are now measured in milliseconds and spend less time looking ahead.  Not always, but very, very often.

Hmmm.  Think I'm caught up on this thread, now.

Best Regards,

Brian - K6BRN



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K6AER
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« Reply #163 on: August 18, 2019, 05:49:58 PM »

Morse code?  You MUST be kidding.  It has no purpose at all in modern communications.

You do realize that this is a hobby? Specifically "amateur" radio.  Based on my observations it would appear 10's of thousands of our fellow hams did not get your memo.
 
Quote
Even POWs didn't use it to communicate between cells (they used "Tap Codes").  


Interesting, did they make up the code on sight or is this something they learned in survival school.   Do these "tap codes" survive today?

Tap code is the rhythm of old-fashioned Morse code. I will bet 40% of the hams know CQ without a tone.

All pilots from WWII to current pilots are required to know Morse code. The VOR (VHF108-118 MHz.)  navigation aids are identified in Morse code. LAX, SFO, and my home airport CMA.
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W9IQ
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« Reply #164 on: August 18, 2019, 06:25:30 PM »

It is painfully clear that the younger generation is inferior, apathetic and inadequate. This has been known by generation after generation.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
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