Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N8RMA, Mar 1, 2019.
Correct me if I'm reading this wrong, but are you equating operating CW to a bad habit?
I was exposed to ham radio after I received a shortwave radio as gift when I was a teen in the 80s, my family did not operate on the bands or have any radio equipment but Ive been a listener for many years. I finally got my tech license in 2015 or so and been on and off 2m repeaters plus doing aprs . I remember the bands being full of life in the 80s, and most of the 90s . Now, not as much, the area I live in is littered with repeaters but there is not much activity on them, Im 49 and most of the people still getting on air are mostly retired so Im definitely younger than average. I have now been researching HF and purchased an Icom 7300 to listen to, which I find HF much more interesting .
I will say I also work in IT and think I understand where the younger generations are headed, they grew up in the world of cellphones-tablets-internet … Ham radio is not going to be a magnet to the younger crowd, maybe a nostalgia activity some may experiment with but nothing more. Im not saying HAM radio is dead, but I think relaxing requirements to get on air may encourage more to atleast try it out, HF is not cheap and takes more knowledge to get on air than throwing a cheap 2m rig in your car and messing around on repeaters. Learning cw would be a waste for me, I could learn it in a month but afterwards would not have any interest in using it and would quickly forget it. I am more interested in the other modes anyway
You gave up before you even tried.
Learning the code isn't being conversant. Like any foreign language, getting to being conversationally comfortable takes time and practice - two things in short supply for instant gratification types.
Why "CALLIHAN-44" and not your call sign? More devotion to a movie character than your amateur license?
If that's what you want to take away from what I said then that's fine. That's not what I said but if that's how you want to translate it then sure, operating CW is a bad habit.
I remember a very interesting presentation at an Amateur radio club meeting where the presenter showed off CW a bit. Part of this was a transcript of a CW conversation between licensed operators, in in the USA and the other in some far off country, Japan I believe it was but I'm not certain. Anyway the conversation was in "code", and that I mean not just Morse code but a language of abbreviations, procedure words, and such. It wasn't truly "English" and so the presenter translated for the group. It amounted to an exchange of call signs, locations, weather report, and pleasantries.
It was a quite interesting example of the "universal" language of international Morse code. However, it doesn't take a genius to realize that these same kind of conversations could be had with most any other textual mode. This could have just as easily been a keyboard to keyboard conversation with any of a number of existing digital modes and an internationally agreed upon set of code words.
Such conversations happen every day over the radio in aviation. The international language of aviation voice communications is English, or some variation of it. This isn't "English" like most people would speak face to face as it is sprinkled with abbreviations, jargon, procedure words, and so on, much like that CW conversation.
The primary bad habit it seems Amateur radio operators picked up from 50 years ago was equating Morse code knowledge with knowing how to operate a radio. That correlation may have been largely true many decades ago when people in the military, commercial shipping, and Amateur radio used CW regularly due to the limitations of the technology of the time. That hasn't been true since sometime in the 1980s when cheap computers came along to manage a lot of text communications. We didn't need Morse code operators any more. We needed radio operators and electronics technicians.
This post is already long but I'll add another anecdote to make my point.
I recall a conversation I had online, some years ago now, with another licensed Amateur where he claimed that Morse code was vital to emergency communications to the point that if it were up to him, as a manager at an emergency communications site, he'd never allow a person that did not pass the Morse code test to operate a radio. I then posed to him a theoretical scenario. He's in charge and he needs two people, someone to operate a radio and someone to hand out sandwiches and water bottles. Before him are two people and he needs to direct them where to go.
The first man is a teenager that presented his driver's license as ID and gave his FCC license showing him as a recently licensed Technician Plus. (I did say this conversation was some time ago.) The other presents his US Coast Guard identity card, that shows he's a reservists as an Operations Specialist (the then new rating for "Radioman"). For documents to show he's certified as a radio operator he shows his GROL and Amateur Extra license that was issued after the FCC did away with the Morse code testing.
The man I posed this scenario to said he would prefer the newly minted Technician Plus over the far more experienced reservist. Maybe someone could argue that the reservist didn't have the same experience as an Amateur radio operator, which is a still a rather silly argument since the goal is to pass communications as quickly and accurately as possible. It was also not the argument made, it was the Morse code test that made the decision for this man. There's no reason to expect this reservist to somehow be unable to operate less effectively than that teenager with a Technician Plus license. Especially since the teenager would still be limited to a small portion of the Amateur radio spectrum on HF.
If that's the kind of thinking that comes from CW operation then that is a bad habit that needs to be broken.
Thank you for doing this. Very informative and in some areas concerning regarding the future of this hobby. Appreciate your hard work.
73 Gregg N9NY
Just remember, without cw and an apple pc, we would all be some aliens slave right now.
Moving away from the cw discussion and focusing on what is relevant to increasing participation among youth; maybe we should align ham radio as the original "Makers". Young people make robots and gadgets using hardware and software to accomplish some task, or just for fun. Amateur radio is all about making equipment. Can we blend Ham radio with the Makers movement?
Yes, I believe we can.
Let the makers know that they can boost their Wi-Fi range with Amateur radio, as just one example. Get them interested in using Amateur radio for their rocketry projects, for telemetry and finding the pieces that fall back to Earth. That they can use Amateur radio for communicating with the parts that stay in orbit. There is a lot of ways that Amateur radio can be used to enhance other hobbies.
One thing that bothers me is this apparent disdain and animosity for any radio that is outside of Part 97 among the Amateur radio community. I thought Amateur radio was "radio for the sake of radio". If that is true then we should welcome people that experiment in Part 15 and use Part 95 once in a while. It seems to me that so many in Amateur radio are all about "radio for the sake of CW".
I don't mean that Amateurs need to tolerate bad behavior on CB or outright illegal behavior among the "freebanders", only an acceptance that radio for the sake of radio includes more than Part 97. We should not only tolerate Part 95 and Part 15 but embrace and encourage it. It also might not hurt to include Parts 90, 87, and 80. I remember the thread about the recreational sailor where he was ripped apart for his comments on Amateur radio and operating on the Amateur radio bands with his opened up Part 80 radio. Such "dual use" of these radios should be encouraged, again so long as it is legal and well behaved. If they go astray then we should educate, not belittle.
I follow the march of technology and I see all kinds of interesting things out there that Amateur radio could, and should, incorporate. The Amateur radio community needs to welcome this experimentation. I believe it will come eventually. It's only going to take some old farts to wake up or "age out", as Bill Nye put it in one of his diatribes.
CW is not a digital mode in any but the most absurdly literal sense.