I mean no disrespect but I have to ask this question, if you feel this way then why did you become a Ham radio operator in the 1st place? Part of what makes the Ham radio hobby fun & interesting is the challenge of trying to make contacts all around the world when the conditions are'nt always exactly ideal. There's an old saying that if it was easy then everyone would do it. Being harder is what makes it a great rewarding endeavor. Twitter, Facebook, texting, emailing or talking on our phones or cellphones is easy. Where's the challenge in that? Most but not all young people today don't want to be challenged so they shy away from anything like Amateur Radio. They're used to having everything handed to them on a silver platter. Heck when they sit beside each other on a bench or in a car they would rather text each other than use their own vocal cords! Amateur Radio is directly tied to the activity of the sun & how it affects radio propagation in the ionosphere, which is what makes our hobby an interesting & uniquely worthwhile challenge. If it was'nt then we would all just tear up our licenses, chuck our equipment & just talk on the phone. So don't be so discouraged & embrace the challenge of this current solar cycle, it will get better.
Look on the brighter side
I think we will still get a good cycle, but it may not last as long. When the bands are open there is still a lot of activity and amateur radio is not for everybody, it would sure get crowded in a hurry...there is enough QRM already. The internet and smart phones are easy and don't require radio or electronics knowledge...just a huge cell phone/ISP bill! Of course you can always take up amateur satellite radio and possibly make a contact with the International Space Station - you don't need sunspots or ionosphere. I came back to amateur radio after doing it as a kid, in 1984 - just to try my hand at working the sat's..had a great time working DX using AO-10, and later AO-13 73's
Originally Posted by KG4LLQ
Most days and nights something is open. Last week I was making contacts on 15 at 1030 pm. I also noticed that on 6/23 between 0307 UTC and 0444 UTc I made 14 contacts on 17, 20 and 40 with the FT-817 so that is only 5 watts SSB so things can be done. Worked New Zealand with 5 watts SSB on 17 @ 0345 UTC on 6/22. It is like fishing. If we always caught fish we would call it catching.
HF is difficult but not impossible. I have a portable setup (Yaesu FT-450D & SuperAntenna MP-1) that I'm usually running 5W on. I just got this setup a few months ago after being inactive on the radio. Now I'm back with a vengence! With this setup, and running only 5W, I've talked to Canada, OR, SD and GA (1600+ miles). This was all on 20M. You just gotta work it. It takes effort and patience! Good luck!
HF might be difficult for some folks right now due to the occasional poor conditions. However, I must say that this previous weekend during the IARU HF Championships I was able to make several contacts during that contest to South American including Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, a few Caribbean contacts. The real issue is the lack of activity by people because they happen to think that the band is dead all of the time because they don't hear anyone or think that conditions prohibit making contacts of 1000, 2000.....5000 miles or more. The real problem isn't always the bands and not having the conditions to communicate but to learn how to use the bands for your goals and be able to make the contact. My experience this past weekend during IARU consisted of dealing with thunderstorms in my region in the Ohio Valley area while sitting in a tent camping and trying to spend time outside while working the contest. Operating conditions were using an Alinco DX 70TH with only 100 watts of power and a homebrew wire antenna fed into a tuner yet was able to make a lot of distant contacts of 1000 to 5000 miles. Perhaps not talking to India or China from the Eastern USA but nevertheless in my book was a satisfying and rewarding experience to use lower power and an antenna that was at the most maybe 15 or 20 feet off the ground while in a valley.
I've also had the experience of using an apartment based antenna on and off the last couple of years with say 50 watts or so and have worked about 75 countries just with that setup as well. Its all about what you make out of it. Everyone doesn't have to be the big gun station and although that would be nice to fire up with 1500 watts, 100 foot towers, stacked arrays, etc it quite possibly end up being boring and take the fun out of it. Its quite fun to work a distant station in a far off land and especially in poor conditions like we have had the last few months. You can't always let the conditions dictate to you what is available on the bands. Otherwise, no one would ever get anything done.
I am not sure people like radio just because it is not "as predictable as facebook, Twitter" and so on.
Yesterday, people were also able to make contacts (for cheap) by mail, and before by phone, and of course by letters (for example to make contacts abroad with youngs) and these ways of communication were already very effecicient.
I reck on people like radio because of something we can't duplicate (including by Echolink), that might be a mix between "hunting" and "beeing proud" of one's equipement.
Just have a look at the QSO (if we can call it QSO somtimes...) when most of the stations are more interested by the RST reports and telling what kind of material they use before wondering about way-of-lives, points of views, tips and so on.
What I want to say (with no criticism) here is that radio is a good mixture for people who like to have contact and who like to know how they are "seen".
This is a real man kind caracteristic (egocentrism...) I must admit is also one of my engines !
Indeed, if sunspot doesn't help us.... I wonder how our EGO willl find an alternative... Moto, cars, ... ?
As far as I am concerned, if HF possibilities decrease I go back to my room and make guitare for myself and my son.
Yeah - very frustrating - but, sometimes, a "closed down" band only seems that because there isn't a contest to draw folks on it to operate. The band(s) may not be all that good but often it seems that, unless a big & popular contest is taking place, hams are doing something else... which is unfortunate. Ham radio should be much more active and not just when a contest is happening.
As has been said before, unpredictability and the challenge is surely what makes our hobby what it is. I am fairly recently returned to the hobby after a break of several years, and presently restricted to mobile HF operations. True, band conditions are not what I recall they were 20+ years ago but I have been amazed, and very pleasantly surprised by what can be achieved in a very simple mobile set-up. 100 watts to a 2m long whip from a 25 year old Icom, working VK, ZL, west-coast US and more on 20m and 40m. True, you need to work at it, be there at the right time of day and have a little patience. If these are poor conditions, well I'm going to be around for a long while yet...
Very easy to buy on air ability in Ham radio. Being able to out smart conditions, makes a better operator. Would we be better off if the operator had to build their station, instead of just buying a plug an play system? To me it's about learning, the hows an whys, which includes how to by pass whatever road block, there may be. 73's Kenneth
Not everyone holds their interest in the hobby. Their are still many that engage their brain and tinker with finding ways to keep the QSO,s going on the bands. When one band or two are down, they don,t yank the cord out of the wall and jump on Facebook. The crowd that runs off to facebook or Yahoo etc just don,t have the drive to be a life time member of the amateur radio group. I would rather play radio than sit for hours with a two by two inch three hundred dollar phone in my hand texting or playing pong. Then again we have what is called Ham Fest,s and when you unplug your rig for the last time, rent a table and put the for sale sign up.Its obvious you couldn,t cut the mustard.