For the past couple of weeks I have been reading the comments by those that are for and against the FCC’s NPRM to eliminate Morse code testing. I have come to the conclusion that I am tired of reading all the inflated comments and bogus claims from the CW Bleeding Hearts and Pre-Madonna Social Club.
They claim that it is a “Right of Passage” since they had to pass the code test; then everyone has to pass the code test. Otherwise you’re not a Real Ham. Just what is the definition of a “Real Ham” anyway? I have been an electronics engineer for over 30 years with a degree in Electronics Engineering. In 1999 after 6 months of study and practice, I took and passed the code test to get my General Class license. After passing the code test, I was walking back to my car and vowed that I would forget Morse code and never ever use it again. I earned my Amateur Extra license in 2000 and I’m also a Volunteer Examiner with W5YI. Am I a “Real Ham” or not?
Others claim that Amateur Radio will turn into CB radio. The average CB’r goes to Radio Shack and purchases a CB radio and gets on the air “Good Buddy”. Most people interested in Amateur Radio will take the time to learn about the hobby and the service. They will purchase study materials or take amateur radio courses. They will seek out other hams and Ham Clubs to learn more. These are just average people seeking something more than CB radio and are willing to earn the privilege to operate on the ham bands. As a VE, I see people come in each month to take their exams. I can tell those who took the time to study and pass their exams. I have seen those that took and passed a few practice exams on the Internet, but failed badly on the written exam due to lack of study.
There are those that claim the Ham Exams are “Dummied Down”. They claim that people don’t study for the exam, they memorize the question pool. Back when I went to school, I had to memorize names, dates, places, formulas, etc. We called that “studying for an exam”. If you feel the ham exams have been dummied down, than when was the last time you sent your comments and suggestions to the NCVEC organization when they revise one of the question pools each year. If you never wrote to the NCVEC, than shut up!
When I look back to the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, life was much simpler and families took time in the evenings for hobbies and crafts. That time is almost gone today. Family members are rushing to work, to school, to practice, to the game, to the concert, etc. Most people just don’t have the quality time anymore to learn and become proficient in Morse code. I still remember the time when I built radio controlled model airplanes and boats. Today you take it out of the box, put in the batteries and you’re ready to fly it.
I have read the Notice of Proposed Rule Making by the FCC and totally agree with what the FCC stated in the conclusion.
47. In summary, we believe that the public interest will be served by revising the amateur service rules to eliminate the telegraphy testing requirement. We also believe that these proposed rule changes will allow amateur service licensees to better fulfill the purpose of the amateur service and will enhance the usefulness of the amateur service to the public and licensees.
I also agree with the FCC’s observations stated in sections 17 and 18.
17. Our review of the petitions and comments in the present proceeding finds that the majority agree with the Commission’s observation in the Restructure Report and Order that an individual's ability to demonstrate increased Morse code proficiency is not necessarily indicative of his or her ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
18. As discussed below, we tentatively conclude that, given the changes in the Radio Regulations, maintaining a telegraphy requirement for the Amateur Extra Class license would not be in the public interest. Therefore, we propose to remove the telegraphy examination requirement as one of the requirements for the Amateur Extra Class operator license.
The VEC over our VE team has been a ham for over 50 years and is retired living on a fixed income. We use an old computer that our VEC was able to afford on his limited income in order to administer the code test each month. As a result of transporting this old computer to and from the test sessions, the computer is prone to break downs causing us at times to turn away people wanting to take a code test. W5YI does not supply its VEC’s with computers, just computer software for code exams and written exams.
My favorite mode of communication is PSK31 and I didn’t have to take a proficiency test to use this mode. No one had to take a proficiency test to operate AM, Side Band, Slow Scan TV, Amateur TV, Packet, RTTY, Satellite, Moon Bounce, etc. So far, no one has convinced me that taking and passing a code test is necessary to be qualified to operate on the HF bands and to contribute to the advancement of amateur radio.
This does not mean the death of CW, just a test requirement. CW will be around as long as there are people that like to operate in that mode. There are people today that operate in AM mode. How long has AM been an antique mode? CW may become the mode of choice for a lot of people because of its simplicity. As for keeping the so called riffraff out of the hobby, we don’t want to keep people out. As licensed hams, we want to bring people in and teach them how to be good operators and enjoy the hobby and provide a service to the community. It is the responsibility of the Ham Clubs to make sure that people understand what amateur radio is about and what we can do.