Ham Radio Is Tired, Old, and Sick

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KF5LJW, Jan 30, 2018.

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  1. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK that was just to get your attention so calm down. The irony is there is some truth to it; ham radio is a lot like an 8-Track Tape. This thread I started got me thinking about it. Younger generations are just not impressed with the hobby. They do not care anything about DX, Contest, or Digital modes as they exist today. Anything we can do with our radios, they can do better with a Cell Phone, and Cell Phones can do things we cannot even attempt.

    I just turned 60, semiretired, but still do consulting work with my company I left to my Son to grow. I am a professional engineer and have worked in Utility Power Generation, Commercial Broadcast, and Telecom in my career. Last company I worked for was Verizon Wireless. In 2003 during the Telecom bust, I started my own company doing the same thing I did for a lot more money for the same people who laid me off and their competitors.

    As a kid I bought my own first crystal radio set around the age of 10. By 12 years old helped my uncle who was an electrical contractor, and by age 16 I could fix any TV or Radio ever made and worked on countless Ham Radios ever since. Got into ham radio at age 18 just before I went into college to study Electrical Engineering. Back then Ham Radio had cutting edge technology. Example many may not know Ham Radio had the first Internet and Packet Radio. Baud rates reached 1200 b/s, and to this day I know there are 10’s of thousands IPV4 addresses reserved for Hams, but there is no use for them. There is no STINKING BANDWIDTH to work with.

    In college I helped run a Pirate FM Radio Station we had setup in a van. We played music of our time, Hard and Acid Rock. We would park at someone’s house and hook up a phone line to take calls from students so they could call in their song request or express views and opinions on the radio. It was just a 20 watt radio operating at 88 Mhz. It was a lot of fun. In my 20’s I hacked SATV and CATV and made a lot of money at it on the side as a Utility Engineer. SATV was super easy and perfectly legal. Back then FCC rules were if the signal was in the air, you could receive it. CATV tried to shut me down, but again I was not doing anything illegal because I pulled the signal off the air back when CATV was analog, and cable ran on poles and their cables leaked like Hoover Dam.

    In my late 20’s and early 30’s when I switched to RF Engineering we worked with Kenwood Radio LMR division to install a 800 Mhz repeater network using Amplitude-Companded Single Sideband (ACSSB) with Pilot Tone of 2700 Hz. Mobile were 100 watt radios and the Pilot tone was 10% or 10 watts. It was an attempt to use It like a conventional Business Band FM Repeater Network. It worked rather well and the technology came from Ham Radio. Like Ham Internet it just never took off.

    Anyway what I am driving at is there is no cutting edge technology in the hobby anymore. IMHO the culprit is the FCC sold out to business interest and the billions of dollars generated. It is about BANDWIDTH or lack of it for Ham Radio. FCC takes UHF from TV that never used it, and sells it to the highest bidder. Plenty of unused chunks out there in UHF to give Hams a 5 to 10 Mhz chunk somewhere.It would ge tmy blood pumping and would strike up a lot of interest.Divide it up into channels of varying bandwidth like 20, 50, 100, and 1000 Khz channels.

    What if you could tell a kid you can start your own local radio station broadcast music, or a talk show. No not narrow band FM or SSB, but wide band multiplex 2-channel FM, just like normal FM except maybe not quite as wide bandwidth. Just enough to say carry two audio channels up to say 6 Khz audio so they can have decent sound quality or even AM Stereo. Listeners would only need a Converter to a standard FM or AM radio. Or how about an E-pipe to carry data using QAM. Some QRP stuff with some bandwidth is what this hobby needs or it is doomed to 8-Track Tape status. Say a chunk in TV UHF or some of the near microwave stuff around 2.4 to 6 Ghz.

    Just thinking out loud, and I will get off my soap box. Take what you like, scrap the rest
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  2. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, this won't head in a positive direction is my guess and will bring out the usual suspects. We'll see. :(
    KE5OFJ, K9ASE, KD8DEY and 2 others like this.
  3. N5AL

    N5AL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't know about kids in the U.S., but down here they don't listen to FM radio. Instead, kids download all their favorite songs into their cellulars (and play them through their Bluetooth-enabled car stereos).
    NK2U, KD8DEY, KB2SMS and 6 others like this.
  4. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Why broadcast over radio when you can do it on YouTube or Facebook live and get likes and comments?

    You're right, there is not a lot of innovation happening...perhaps bc smartphones and tablets can do it better.
    NK2U, K2CAJ, N3AB and 3 others like this.
  5. KJ4RZZ

    KJ4RZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting thoughts, except you missed the part where both FM radio and UHF TV are on the way out also. Antennas? Who needs them. Everyone is streaming music and video from the internet.

    When 12yr old kids can set up their own youtube channel with realtime streaming, multiplayer gaming servers, chat on skype, and even remotely control each other's desktops, there is nothing in radio to bring them back to radio unless they suddenly have a fascination with "old" technology. Admittedly that's why I joined the hobby... not because it was new technology, but because it was old technology. I like big knobs and switches, so I like older radios. I have no interest in a brand new modern radio. What can I say I'm fascinated with 8 bit computers too.

    I explained that I was able to talk to Germany for free with nothing but a wire thrown over the tree and the ham radio on my desk. She returns that she talks to a friend in Germany all the time for free with just an iphone. She's right of course, although she's using a world wide network, and I am using the OTHER guy's antenna, we are both relying on someone else to make the connection.
    KD8DEY, N9LOX, KC9VFO and 2 others like this.
  6. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I somewhat disagree, while not a "technology" so to speak, the JT modes have really changed what we can do with weak signal communications, and it will be interesting if they are able to get more data in each transmission. There are advancements in radio technology happening with SDR as it becomes more prevalent. Ham radio isn't going anywhere though who knows what it will be like in 10 years.
    KC3KFW and K4AGO like this.
  7. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Music was just on example of many one can do with BANDWIDTH.
    K5HS likes this.
  8. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Old? If you mean well established with an interesting history, then YES!

    Tired, Sick? No. That's a personal problem.

    I'm having a ball, and am excited about more things than I can get involved in. Ham radio has more to offer now than ever before. And yes, there are still new hams joining the ranks and getting involved.

    For anyone who doesn't feel that way, maybe it's time to tear up your ticket and take up fishing.
    K8ATG, W6FYK and N2EY like this.
  9. W7UUU

    W7UUU QRZ Lifetime Member #133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Classic definition of "troll post"

    KE5OFJ, WZ7U, W8LPN and 23 others like this.
  10. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It will be merely a matter of how few people will indulge in antennas in the future...it will be equivalent to how many people use telegraph lines IMO. For one thing propagation on the internet will generally beat antenna systems all to hell.
    KJ4RZZ likes this.

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