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eHam.net Speak Out


Speak Out: Technical Merits

A contributor states, "The down side to ham radio, and other avocations is because it is a hobby, there are no firm standards for technical accuracy. Look at most ham radio forums RF electronics discussions, and you'll see lots of disagreements about how radios and antennas systems work. The technical merits of hobby radio are taken less and less seriously. The commercial radio world is quietly laughing behind the back of "hobby/ham radio". When did ham radio significantly "advance the radio art" within the last 50 or even 75 years?'

174 opinions on this subject. Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
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Opinions...

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ZL4IV on 2010-04-01
It's the same all over the world, what was the amateur innovator has been taken over by University Degrees, pigeon holed and taken over by those that want to label and then run a closed shop. The commercial sector in some areas have become arrogant and now dismiss 'Ham' knowledge'. Some companies are smarter and know a Ham with passion can add value to the field. They are the smart ones but unfortunately the majority are dumb commercial enterprises and hold back through arrogance the Edison passion to ask why and to further true innovation.

KJ4SLP on 2010-03-02
Isn't it the case that there are many valid reasons why people take up amateur radio? For some, it is an opportunity to breadboard circuits and write software. For some, to travel to remote places and suffer inconveniences and indignities in the name of DXing. For some, it is a commitment to public service. For some, just a relaxing way to spend evenings and weekends with friends, distant and local. Why must any one of those motivations be deemed superior or inferior to any of the others?

I remember as a child watching my great uncle, an RF engineer and close friend of General Sarnoff, build transmitters with tubes that lit up like hundred watt bulbs. He could send Morse about as fast as anyone I ever encountered yet as voice modes evolved he put away his key and embraced newer technology. He died, at age 94, in his back yard while adjusting his satellite antenna. At present, I have a friend in his twenties who spends hours practicing code, eager to master this new (old) form of communication. Is either of these bad? I don't think so.

A colleague of mine holds a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT. He loves to rag chew with his buddies on 20m yet he has not the slightest interest in homebrewing equipment or designing antennas. Another manages a WalMart and designs innovative circuits at his kitchen table after work. Yet another is a professor of economics with a photographic memory who passed tech, general and extra through the simple expedient of memorizing the test pools. He wouldn't know a Colpitts oscillator from a plate of spaghetti but he provides hundreds of hours of volunteer service each year on VHF and has recently spent hundreds more working emergency traffic out of Haiti. Which of these is the "real" ham?

O brave new world that has such people in it.

To quote Rodney King, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

N0SYA on 2010-01-30
pretty sure the advances made by amateurs will be in antenna design and digital modes alone

K1LEM on 2010-01-04
I agree with WX0B. Amateur radio has it was
called and now should more than likely be
called Citizen's Band Deluxe, will never again
advance the communications arts.

There are no qualifications needed for a
license and beyond that, nothing that would
interest an intelligent BS and MS EE student,
and/or graduate.

KU5Q on 2009-12-27
WX0B on 2009-12-27
You say
"The commercial radio world is quietly laughing behind the back of "hobby/ham radio". When did ham radio significantly "advance the radio art" within the last 50 or even 75 years?"

New tecnologies are happening all the time, here is an example of one that was developed by a ham Bob, W5BIG. A US Patent was just awarded to him with 23 claims. Commerical radio is swarming to buy these new analyzers, which we manufactur.

CIRCUITS AND PROCEDURES used by these antenna analysis system are covered by US Patent No. 7,629,795
see it here:
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7629795/description.html

I respectfully rest my case.
Jay, WX0B

==============================================

I did buy one of the 4170's at the array solutions booth at ham com this summer 2009. It is a good article for the price, but will not compete with my Agilent N9912A which is self contained with it's own display and can go virtually anywhere I can.

WX0B on 2009-12-27
You say
"The commercial radio world is quietly laughing behind the back of "hobby/ham radio". When did ham radio significantly "advance the radio art" within the last 50 or even 75 years?"

New tecnologies are happening all the time, here is an example of one that was developed by a ham Bob, W5BIG. A US Patent was just awarded to him with 23 claims. Commerical radio is swarming to buy these new analyzers, which we manufactur.

CIRCUITS AND PROCEDURES used by these antenna analysis system are covered by US Patent No. 7,629,795
see it here:
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7629795/description.html

I respectfully rest my case.
Jay, WX0B

KC8VWM on 2009-12-26
Advancing the radio art in the context the author is using the term doesn't seem to refer to "technological advances" made in amateur radio over the past 50 years.

Otherwise, I could name at least a 100 "technological" communication related advances which occurred in the past 50 years which include everything from moon bounce communications to APRS.

But that isn't the topic...

I think the author is wondering why hams are not "as" actively engaged in the experimental engineering aspect of amateur radio with one another as they have done so in the past.

Similarly, we don't seem to see the same crowd of individuals "engineering" or flying experimental model rockets as there used to be either.

For example, it used to be a group of "experimenters" wearing white shirts, black rimmed glasses with pocket protectors who tossed around the trajectory mathematics, they problem solved, disagreed and proposed alternative answers /solutions with one another and even cooked up their own favorite chemistry formulas in the backyard to make it all happen according to the "engineering."

Nowadays, the technical aspect of model rocketry is accomplished in the form of a pre assembled kit you purchase on the internet etc...

I actually think many hams are still experimenting as these groups of individuals have done in the past, but differently.

Much of the information used in the experimental process hasn't changed for many years, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel scenario.

We know Ohms law, electrical theory, the actual speed of light etc.. and other similar parameters are commonly accepted today as "accurate" so there is no ongoing debate in terms of their technical merits or accuracy required today.

However, issues such as antenna theory used to be debated with great vigor and interest in the past mostly because there was far less information known about them. Today, we have computerized antenna modeling software, antenna analyzers, newer methods to calculate and measure performance, we have the capability to design computer optimized antenna systems on a 14" computer monitor today etc. So yes, I suppose this means there is a whole lot less technical debate occurring in terms of "technical accuracy" and/or "technical merit" compared to when we did these things 50 years ago.

So, it's not the fact none of what these people are doing today are taken any less seriously or any less technically accurate for that matter as they used to be, but rather, it's simply not an area of "science" that is as remarkable as it once was "BECAUSE" of recent technological advances occurring in the past.

In conclusion, this combination of past events and advances in technologies now serves to remove many technical inaccuracies encountered in the past. So far less technical debate is occurring among our ranks involving certain matters.

This may also serve to give some people the altered perception that perhaps we may not be conducting our experimentation based on any technical merits. (Plug and play scenario.)

However, the actual reality and fact of the matter is, we are doing things far more technically accurate today, when compared to how things were accomplished 50 years ago.

My Best,

Charles - KC8VWM

KC9V0 on 2009-12-26
You don't realize that amateurs also contribute as 'professionals' in many areas of related to radio and electronics. Some like myself also hold 'commercial' licenses. There are many 'amateurs' that work in the defense industries, land mobile communications, and government and private laboratories in this country advancing the state of the art. I know, I'm one of them.

WX0B on 2009-12-26
You say
"The commercial radio world is quietly laughing behind the back of "hobby/ham radio". When did ham radio significantly "advance the radio art" within the last 50 or even 75 years?"

New tecnologies are happening all the time, here is an example of one that was developed by a ham Bob, W5BIG. A US Patent was just awarded to him with 23 claims. Commerical radio is swarming to buy these new analyzers, which we manufactur.

CIRCUITS AND PROCEDURES used by these antenna analysis system are covered by US Patent No. 7,629,795
see it here:
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7629795/description.html

I respectfully rest my case.
Jay, WX0B

WX0B on 2009-12-26
You say
"The commercial radio world is quietly laughing behind the back of "hobby/ham radio". When did ham radio significantly "advance the radio art" within the last 50 or even 75 years?"

New tecnologies are happening all the time, here is an example of one that was developed by a ham Bob, W5BIG. A US Patent was just awarded to him with 23 claims. Commerical radio is swarming to buy these new analyzers, which we manufactur.

CIRCUITS AND PROCEDURES used by these antenna analysis system are covered by US Patent No. 7,629,795
see it here:
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7629795/description.html

I respectfully rest my case.
Jay, WX0B

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