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Foundations of Amateur Radio - Episode 89

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VK6FLAB, Feb 18, 2017.

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  1. VK6FLAB

    VK6FLAB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Amateur Radio is DEAD

    Ask anyone who "knows" and they'll tell you that this is a hobby on Death's door with an ancient membership who are dying and taking our hobby with them. "Amateur Radio is irrelevant in this age of the Internet" and we just have to learn to make do with the shrinking population we communicate with.

    In this week's episode we discover that as Mark Twain put it, "the report of my death was an exaggeration" to say the least. Our community attracts new entrants at an increasing rate, but our retention lets us down. What can we do to make new Amateurs keep coming back?

    Foundations of Amateur Radio is a weekly podcast about the thousand hobbies that Ham-radio represents. You can hear it on-air, on-line and on-demand. Search iTunes for my callsign, VK6FLAB, or check out the website at

    Onno VK6FLAB
    K3RW, MW1CFN and K4JDD like this.
  2. KD2GIY

    KD2GIY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A lot of truth about the hobby's death.
    Years ago contesting started up to promote hams to get on the air, but now the hams only come on because of contest. Some go on dx vacations just to work the contest. Did the contesting back fire hams getting on the air? Do we use the solar cycle as an excuse that the bands are dead? I bet we are leaving great qso's on the table because we all play into the hype. A lot of new technicians can only talk on 10meters and they are saying the band is dead because all us generals and up stick to 17, 20, and 40meters. If the new hams don't get to make propagation contacts, it wont be as rewarding to them and they wont upgrade or get their friends in on the fun. I rather be on my Xbox or PlayStation then calling CQ all day with no response.

    Wouldn't you?

  3. KI8W

    KI8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    What we are seeing in our area is that most new hams are just getting their Technicians license because of their involvement with ARES, Skywarn and search and rescue groups. They almost never upgrade beyond that.
  4. WQ4G

    WQ4G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Want to increase activity on the bands? Start calling CQ. I only hear people calling CQ all day with no response on bands that have little to no propagation. Get on a band where there is some propagation, start calling CQ, and see if you don't get some responses.

    And, would I rather be on my Xbox or PlayStation then calling CQ all day? Well, I own several Ham Radios and no Xbox or PlayStation. What does that tell you?

    One of the busiest 'on air' places in my area is 52 Simplex.

    Just my opinion (and you know what they say about those) is that D-star is taking a lot of traffic of the HF Bands.
    K5AGE and KC2SIZ like this.
  5. KC2QQR

    KC2QQR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been a ham for almost 10 years. Went for tech, then wanted general, then really wanted extra. I've spent a good portion of time on pretty much all bands. I enjoy talking to folks on any band. With that being said, folks that get a tech license don't feel the urge or need to further their class, because of D-star, Fusion, and Echolink now a days. Either that, or else they don't have any friends to talk to and give up all together. All because there is no "want", "need", or "understanding".

    The other possible issue is the people that are on the air in the local communities. I've been tempted myself to quit using VHF/UHF and stick only to HF. Last year I had someone I knew, get their ticket, and then next thing I know they are contacting the FCC to nullify their ticket because of a few rotten apples. In fact, before stumbling upon to this thread, I just saw someone selling all their VHF/UHF equipment here on QRZ, because the locals soured their stomach. It's sad, really.

    This past year I figured I'd get a little more involved locally, and see where it takes me. I tried several years ago, and got sick of it... There are times when I don't know were folk's heads are, because what they say over the air just makes me face palm, and I wonder why people leave the hobby. There are also some quirks that I've been dealing with in the local club aspect, especially playing the "favorites" game, or taking digs at folks, but I'm going to hold on as long as I can take it. Unfortunately it shouldn't be like that -- especially if they want the hobby to grow and prosper, let alone their club.

    If I get sick of it myself, all I have to do is ignore VHF/UHF... save my club dues and use it for building more HF antennas... I do of course have HF on my radio. :)

    I can admit, I have had some of the best QSOs over HF, without a doubt. VHF/UHF cannot touch that, at least not in my locale.

    And yes... keep calling CQ!

    Oh, and yes, I will never give up the hobby, because all I need to do is flip a power switch if I don't want to hear rubbish and wait till later...
    KB9SNL and N4FZ like this.
  6. KC3IGJ

    KC3IGJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    new guy here, i sure hope its not dieing,,took me many years to get the time,and drive to finally get my ticket,,,even tho im only a tech for now, im enjoying our group of really decent great people on our 10 meter group,,many of then are generals,i hope to be some time in the near future,,,but now im currently learning my way around 2 meter and 70cm, really like the fusion,most from what i hear wouldnt care to talk to some of us that came from C.B. but if it wasnt for C.B. in my life for many years, ide have not interest of ham radio,,,
    KD2GIY likes this.
  7. KD2GIY

    KD2GIY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't own a ps4 or xbox, The point was if a new tech is calling cq cq all day with no response, they mite go else ware out of the hobby to be entertained
  8. W4HM

    W4HM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My other hobby is music; guitars and amplifiers. Guitars are called rigs and tube audio amplifiers are prized possessions. The same debate if going on there about the health of the hobby.

    Most of the established, highly skilled, knowledgeable guitarists are we baby boomers >55 and older and allot of us are dying off now. Music equipment manufacturers and retail sellers are certainly taking notice and pondering their $$$ future.

    Fewer young people are joining the ranks of the guitar music hobby now for similar reasons as in hamateur radio. The parallels between the two hobbies is ironically similar.

    I'm still a very active hamateur radio operator all on HF and 160 meters and have spent allot of money on the hobby in the past year. But in my personal observation the HF bands now have many fewer active hams on the air than just a few years ago.

    Some of it is due to bad radio wave propagation or perceived bad propagation. Some of it is due to the HOA/CC&R conflict and allot of it is older hams becoming SK's and few young new ones coming in to replace them.

    But I still think that the hobby will be around for a very long time yet.
    K5AGE likes this.
  9. KB0HAW

    KB0HAW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Time for me to stir up some hate and discontent among my fellow "Old-Timers". (NOTE: I've been an Extra for over 26 years)

    10 Meters is great when it's open, but... I think that Techs need a few better places on HF to call CQ, and actually be able to work DX stations to get them excited.

    First off, I propose getting rid of the "CW only" rules for the Novice/Techs on their portions of 80, 40, and 15 Meters. They should be allowed to use any and all digital modes in those small areas allocated to them. "CW only" is ridiculous, since Morse code isn't even required on the tests anymore. If you insist that they absolutely MUST be limited, then limit them to something useful like PSK31 or JT65 only, no RTTY, or something like that.

    Next, I would cancel any and all of the absolutely useless "Nets" that tie up space 24/7 on 14.300-14.350 in the 20 Meter band, and give that area to Techs for SSB phone. If we flood that area with thousands of Techs excited to get contacts, maybe it would drive out some of the crotchety old-timers that think they own that portion of the band. Furthermore, we should also limit the power level in that portion of the band to 200 Watts PEP or less, to ALL classes of license holders. Keep out the idiots running 2KW, and let everyone have a shot.
    W9AT, NA9J, N2NOV and 1 other person like this.
  10. K3RW

    K3RW Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Rickreall Hamfest was a great event this past Saturday. Good news: saw a bunch of newbie hams and their kids perusing some of the HF stuff with interest. Saw a lot of younger search-and-rescue types and boy scouts. Bad news: ones I talked to stay VHF because rigs are cheaper, portable, and they didn't have the space for a HF antenna.

    Overall, the hobby has well more than enough to keep the tech-oriented youth interested--always did, and there's more stuff coming out every day. That's how many of todays' Elmer hams started. But the death of the kit market, harder to source homebrew parts, and the cost makes it tough to crack much more than VHF for some. I imagine many will soon inherit HF and tube equipment that they have no idea how to use, can't get parts for, and will sell rather than learn--and it goes right to Ebay with a scant description. SDR stuff maybe brings some of it back to the younger crowd.

    Older tube rigs were abundant, but very few takers on any of it. My computer stuff, Raspberry Pi, loop tuners, and other 'newer' tech things gathered a ton of interest from the young and old--that's good. But if I had sold nothing but new Baofeng HTs I probably would have a sold a crate in 10 minutes. I curse that Walmartification of the hobby, but know firsthand can be a very spendy one too. I'd probably still be all-VHF if my dad hadn't given me a spare rig and a tuner.
  11. W3BAT

    W3BAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Where can I begin? Let me pick one band. I will use 40 meter as an example. Where I live in NW PA the lower end of the phone band is full of Extra Class elitist always complaining about the no coders. 7.185 and 7.200 are quite frequently full of profanity and endless trash. I would say to be fair about 1/2 the conversations are fairly nice. The ham radio average age is increasing and there are virtually no younger people and very few woman. I believe that a big part of it is already gone. I find the nets very boring. The same short weather reports and inane signal reports. I rarely hear any elmers out there offering technical lessons anymore on the air waves. Amateur radio cannot compete with smart phones. That is a lost war. The young people will not be enticed by expensive radio equipment when they hold the world in their hand at a much cheaper price . The smart phone no license needed and almost no chance of getting shocked.
  12. KD8VLN

    KD8VLN Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's a sure bet that here in the region that I live, the hobby is far from dead. We have more than enough nets that draw new hams each week. They're a great way to introduce them to DX communication. :)
    K5AGE likes this.
  13. WN4HOG

    WN4HOG Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Next, I would cancel any and all of the absolutely useless "Nets" that tie up space 24/7 on 14.300-14.350 in the 20 Meter band, and give that area to Techs for SSB phone. If we flood that area with thousands of Techs excited to get contacts, maybe it would drive out some of the crotchety old-timers that think they own that portion of the band. Furthermore, we should also limit the power level in that portion of the band to 200 Watts PEP or less, to ALL classes of license holders. Keep out the idiots running 2KW, and let everyone have a shot."

    FWIW, I know MANY a boater who got their Ham ticket just so they could use 14.300 while traveling the South Seas.
  14. KB0HAW

    KB0HAW Ham Member QRZ Page

    So why should I have to get a boat to use 14.300? It is a Ham frequency, NOT a maritime-only frequency as "MANY a boater" claim. Give it to the Technicians.
  15. K5AGE

    K5AGE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't think you can accurately judge the popularity of amateur radio by listening to the voice portions of the bands now a days. The younger crowd relies less on "voice communication" as a whole. Not just in the HAM world, and it's not a bad thing, just the way life is now. I think amateur radio is doing great, just look in all the other great ways to enjoy the hobby besides your standard ssb voice conversations on the hf slices. That is just one part.

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