Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by G3ZHI, May 12, 2019.
You should try again. Your giant strawman is based on a point that no one has even made.
Or ever made.
I work less and less CW as time goes on. I used to work a lot more, but in recent years CW contacts are increasingly boring and less interesting. I don't work QuaRMtests or chase DX, and fewer CW contacts want to ragchew. Increasingly, CW QSOs are the rubberstamp variety: Name, QTH, signal report (often as not 599 regardless of signal), rig, antenna, WX, then CUL, 73, with little or nothing more exchanged until QRZ? or CL. Very rarely run into a CW operator using homebrew transmitter any more, except for a few QRPers. Just as rarely, DX operators willing to chat about ANYTHING.
CW proficiency as a requirement for an Amateur license makes about as much sense as proving knowledge of equine care to obtain a driving license.
I do not intend this to be dismissive. CW definitely has its place, and I have no desire that it be done away with. Horses still have their place, and I see no reason that people should not still enjoy riding.
The same can be said regarding those of us who choose to operate AM phone, refuting longstanding bogus arguments that the mode should be banned, something the FCC actually proposed to do in the mid 1970s (regulation-by-bandwidth Docket 20777 - see QST June 1976 p. 55), but which was eventually dismissed after the Commission was overwhelmed with opposition from the amateur community.
Proponents for the CW requirement can make the analogy that Navies of the world still require officers to train on sailing vessels. That debate has been going on for decades, intensifying with each advance in shipboard technology. Proponents of sail-training contend that, anachronistic as it may seem, providing midshipmen, Coast Guard cadets, and maritime academy students with intensive training on sailboats offers unparalleled opportunities for teaching seamanship, shiphandling, navigation, and leadership skills—at a depth that they’re unlikely to get on board warships.
The famous Tall Ships, full-rigged sailing vessels from round the world that sailed into Boston Harbor in 1976, were not expensive toys belonging to wealthy sailing enthusiasts; most were government-financed, commissioned by navies of the world, actively used for training.
I greatly enjoy listening to AM phone. Currently, I do not have the equipment to transmit properly by my standards. (Though the day I hear Joe Walsh calling CQ on 3.870 I will give it a go no matter the rig or mic I am using). It absolutely sounds better to me than SSB or FM.
These days, I would think that the guys who primarily enjoy CW would be happy that everyone was not down there taking up bandwidth on 40m and 80m. There are times when the phone portions of these bands are positively slammed. Maybe my receive antenna is just particularly good though.
That still happens occasionally, but in recent years I have noticed a pronounced dwindling of activity. During the winter months on weekend evenings when the band is dead quiet from atmospheric noise, the lower-frequency bands used to always be packed solid with congestion, like a tin of sardines. The past few years, I'm hearing less congestion and a lot of open space with fewer problems finding a spot to operate. Sometimes late at night, especially on 160m, the band may be wide open but no-one is heard transmitting. CQs go unanswered. And I have a good antenna system: quarter-wave vertical-tee for 160m, a half-wavelength high dipole for 75/80m, and a 500' long Beverage receiving antenna. Even in the top 100 kHz of 40m, there are sometimes no audible amateur signals between foreign broadcast stations, which have also greatly dwindled in numbers.
You, me and a hundred thousand others all trying to get back to him. Oh the cacophony! What a glorious pileup it will be.
Might be why it doesn't happen very often.
I contend that most of the activity on certain HF bands can be found in the narrow window occupied by FT8 and now FT4. That's where everybody went.
I'm a CW op, too, but it seems when I get on CW looking for a ragchew, I work the same few guys each time. So, most of my CW work is in contests. Ragchew with DX? That's what Dstar and DMR are for. I'm hoping that the Technician privilege enhancement happens, and it revitalizes some of the digital ragchew modes like PSK31.
As for the training methods used, when I teach my classes, I cover the material in the current License Manual, which is a well written book. I go beyond the scope of the Tech license at times, because I know that they need to know just a little bit more to pass the General. I wish I could provide more in the way of technical demonstrations for my students. I had the advantage of seeing all this stuff in action, since my dad was a ham, and he introduced me to a lot of it. He had me build the receiver from the 'How to Become a Radio Amateur' when I was 8, and we debugged all my mistakes until it worked.
I know that far too many don't learn it this way - they simply try to memorize the questions and answers. I only hope they take the time to learn it the right way, but too many don't.
The material for Technician and General seems to be more or less the same, maybe just a bit more in depth with the General. The Extra does introduce some new concepts.
When I stumbled across Amateur Radio, the next testing session locally was in 10 days. I bought the Technician book and read it, and I looked elsewhere for things about which I had further questions. After passing the Technician exam at the session, I was offered the General and passed it was well. Since I had a lot to work with from the start, I did not bother with the Extra for another six months. For that one, I worked backwards. I started reading the book, but it was too dense with little explanation. I first memorized the question pool, then I read the book and understood it a lot better.