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Incentive Licensing Retrospective

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by K3UD, Dec 21, 2005.

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  1. KG3Q

    KG3Q Guest

    K3UD,Geo.seems to have done his home work on this issue of incentive licensing.i was one of those caught up in that( illegal )debacle.i was licensed in 1958.passed all of the required tests to obtain full priveleges as a general class license holder,only to have the f.c.c. come along and tell me i no longer am intitled to use the frequencies that was just granted me by the commision.i did not break any of their rules,and operated accordingly. to the privelages granted to me by the F.C.C.and as i remember, the Leaque denied that they had anything to do with incentive licensing.and also the advanced class ticket holders back then were grandfatherd into Extra class.i left the hobby for years,as did a lot of my friends over that issue.and there were a lot of individuals selling ham related items that went out of business due to the decline in the amateur ranks.the f.c.c.reason was to better satisfy,the needs of the manufactures our militrary,our schools of higher learning,and our
    ability to defend ourselfs.some said that we had become appliance operators,and knew nothing about the theory and did not posses the technical abilities to keep up with the more modern advances in this hobby.i left the hobby in the tube era ,and found my way back into the solid state era.back to the f.c.c.took advanced test,then back again for the extra class,30 years later to get back what the far as i am concerned illegaly took from me back in 68.i would love to have seen a no phone license,hate it.c.w.only but that would be selfish of me.the f.c.c. im sure would be elated if amateur radio would fold up and i hope the lower 25 remains intact for the cw.ops.and thank god for 30 mtrs.i have friends who can pass any test the f.c.c.can throw at them ,but they will not swallow their pride and up grade from general you no code techs,forget about being grandfatherd into general class it wont happen ,and it should i sound bitter?you better beleive it.but the pre-incentive general class operators should be given extra class status.just my feelings. kg3q,lou.
  2. W4JSI

    W4JSI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Everyone that is talking about how they used to build their own equipnemt I have a question for you. The equipment that you have for your main station, did you build it from scratch? If the answer is no then you don't have a leg to stand on. How much would it cost you to go out and buy each part to build a radio that is compatble with the newer radios of today? Not too many could afford to do that. How about the computers that we have in our shack. How many can build one from scratch?

    Times change and we as hams need to learn to change with them or get out of the hobby. Just simply because we personally disagree with FCC and or the ARRL does not mean that is not in the best intrest for the majority of ham radio. I disagree with a lot of the thing that the ARRL proposes but that is just my opion.

  3. W2ILP

    W2ILP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was first licensed as W2ILP in July of 1951, obtaining both a Technician and a Novice license at the same sitting.  I managed to get a General license soon afterward by finally passing the required 13 wpm CW exam.

    The history of incentive licensing was not explained properly in the opening post here. Before July 1951  there were three classes of Ham License.  Class C was a Conditional Class which was granted to those who lived more than 125 miles from a FCC field office and could be tested by a ham or commercial radio operator in their own neighborhood.  It granted Class B privileges but could not be upgraded to Class A without appearing at an FCC office.

    The class B license evolved from the original CW only license.  It required passing the 13 wpm CW exam and a written exam...

    Now here comes incentive licensing...
    The class A license was developed to test only for advanced radio telephony theory. It required no additional CW exam but it required knowledge of AM Phone operation. It gave the Hams who held it the right to use the 75 and the 20 meter phone bands, which the Class B or C operators were not allowed to use.  They were only allowed to use phone on 10-Meters and 11-Meters.  11-Meters later became the channelized CB band.  At the time before 1951 there was no phone permitted for any class operator on 40 or 15 Meters, but these bands were eventually opened up for phone operation.  Operating on desired HF bands was certainly an incentive for getting a Class A license.  When, after 1951, the Class A license became the Advanced Class and the Class B license became the General Class,  the Generals were granted all the privileges of the Advanced class and the Advanced License was only wallpaper for some time. Many hams went on to get commercial radio operator licenses. Many got them just for being able to brag as they had no desire to actually use them for professional purposes. The Extra class license was created with thois sort of thing in mind as it gave no extra privialages when it was first created. It gave proud Hams a license certificate that looked like a commercial license.

    I have always believed that for Ham Radio to survive it must live up to its defined Basis and Purpose as stated in FCC Part 97.  However technology has changed and the ability to communicate by cell phones and the internet has made hams no longer unique in doing emergency work or promoting international good will.  I see the only lasting strong reason to promote Ham Radio and maintain its frequencies must be its value as an educational tool.  In order for that value to be maintained and updated I believe that incentive licensing is a must and I also believe that more technical license classes may be needed...starting with a simpler one for beginners and some more advanced ones for the hams who work digital modes, ATV modes or experiment with non conventional modes.  

    I have posted my opinion for over six  years.  It has not changed and the need for more incentives that might raise the technical knowledge of Hams of the future is now more important than ever.  I am not so elated about removing the last traces of the traditional CW exam requirement, but I feel it will eventually be done as it has been done in other nations that respect Ham Radio.
    Archives of the old group, when it was still Dega (before Google) can show my consistent belief that hams need to retain quality as much as quantity to survive.  Hams need to reestablish a reputation for technical ability. If not we will become CMBers (Citizens Multi-Banders)...not just phone band phoneys of old.

    w2ilp (Incentive License Promoter)
  4. W2ILP

    W2ILP Ham Member QRZ Page

    As for building my own equipment. My ham gear was always either built from scratch or Heathkits until very recently. I bought a IC-706, which is the first unit that I did not build. I have built my own TNCs and I built the simple interface required to connect my transceiver to my PC for RTTY, PSK-31, MFSK, Hellschreiber and SSTV operation. I know of hams who still build QRP gear and there are still some good kits being sold. I'd like to see a lot more being built by Hams.

    w2ilp (Increase Learning Potential)
  5. KE6I

    KE6I Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just wonder if people in the 50's and 60's just had a lot more time and maybe, relatively, a little bit more money. I don't know how everyone else is making a living these days, but me, I'm working pretty long hours and I consider it a small victory just to turn on the radios at all. I do the morse code thing now and then, but I'm off of ham radio frequently enough that even though I've had licenses since the 70's I've never really gotten super comfortable with it. I still fake my way through a lot of CW QSO's -- though I can make out the callsigns if the signals are strong.

    I just think, practically, for anyone new to actually be involved in ham radio, that the hobby is going to have to make some adjustments to how people live these days. Seems like either the jobs pay the money, but then require time committments beyond the 40 hours a week -- or they don't pay very well at all. The pool of people who earn enough money to drop a few bills on radios, and also who have free weekends to spend is shrinking.
  6. KJ3N

    KJ3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    If by that you mean buy the boards, case, etc., then guilty as charged Your Honor. [​IMG]

    Six out of seven PCs in this house (that includes an old Dell Pentium 233, but not the IBM file server) were built by Yours Truly. [​IMG]

    Sorry, couldn't resist. [​IMG]
  7. K3UD

    K3UD Guest


    How about getting each individual component, constructing the boards themselves, designing the buss, putting together the drives and writing the firmware as well as fashioning the chassis and the cabinent? If you were hard core you could even construct your own individual components.

    This is how the early pioneers of radio did it.

    Now that would be real hombrewing in the ham radio tradition [​IMG]

    Just Kidding [​IMG]

    Merry Christmas

  8. K5OKC

    K5OKC Ham Member QRZ Page

    What really means something, is how the same ARRL officers get re-elected every year. Nothing in the ARRL has changed. It is still an east-coast New England liberal outfit. Those people love social experiments, just for the fun of having social experiments.

    If people want change, I'd say move the damn house out of New England, and move it to an Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Then see what kind of officers it will attract.

    I've never been a member, and have only been licensed after the big social experiment. I'm happy with what I got. I was a happy technician, a happy 5wpm General. I can take HF or leave it. I don't need 20 acres and a 100 foot antenna farm. I'm not a paper hanger. If they changed the rules to 10 watts on HF maximum, it wouldn't change my life or my antenna.

    Incentive licensing was not about Ham Radio, it was about a liberal organization which is tied to federalism. Everyone else is just sheep members being rounded up.
    Herded one way and then another. Fleece stolen right off your back.

    I'm not a member, and federalism will only increase until all the dollars come home, and the social experiment ends. You'll have to choose between food and ARRL membership. Which will it be for you?
  9. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some more musings.

    What MIV said about hams and their 50s radios is true, and was even more true in the 1940s.

    During the war, ham radio was prohibited, so those who were home and who had the interest in ham radio had to direct that interest into building, for they could not operate on the air. That helped make a whole generation of hams into highly skilled designers and builders.

    After the war, in the mid 1940s, when ham radio was allowed again, these hobbyists were the ones who led the newcomers, and that leading was in building. The ham of the late 1940s was truly a technical person, in the technology of that day.

    By the early 1950s the availability of military surplus gear from the war was helping a lot of hams get on the air. The very few commercial lines of amateur radio equipment were incredibly expensive for the ham of the day. When one thinks back to that era and realizes an average weekly paycheck for a skilled but non-degreed worker was probably twenty five dollars, a $250 dollar new Hallicrafters receiver was almost like buying a car. Only the above-average financially could buy commercial gear. And 'plastic money' was not yet available. If you wanted credit you went to the store and filled out a credit application and the store was the one that issued the credit, if they approved you. It was almost entirely in-house.

    By the time I got into the hobby in 1956, there were better choices in commercial gear, but it was still expensive for the lower end of the financial strata. I was a teen, working half days during the week, and on Saturday, so I actually made something like eight bucks a week. And with that I went to one of the ham radio stores in Denver (there were several back then, and I think maybe I went to Burstein-Applebee, for whom I later worked) and bought a receiver "on time." In-store credit. It was, though, just a Hallicrafters S-85, not one of the mid range radios, which I could only dream about.

    Having spent my ham radio allotment on one item, at the cost of something like maybe four dollars a week, (half my paycheck) a transmitter was only a dream. But I did as so many others of that period did. I went to the Army-Navy Surplus store and bought, at 3 bucks each, a couple of ARC-5 transmitters. And some parts, though I could not afford all that in one sitting - it took a month. In the end, though, I had a transmitter for 40 and one for 80, (CW only) and a homemade power supply. Add a piece of wire out my upstairs window out to the peak of the garage roof, and I was on the air. A J-38 cost 50 cents.

    The point is we did then what we had to do, and with no standard credit cards, and very little money, the choices were limited. I was not alone. Several of my high school ham friends were running homebrew rigs, one of them only six watts input, crystal controlled.

    But we were kids. What about the adults? I knew some who had been hams a long time even then, so they had acquired a lot of radio equipment. Much of it was also military surplus. Some had worked in a career long enough to have advanced, and to have some extra money, and they had a Hallicrafters or National or even a Collins receiver. And some had quite a bit of money and had all commercial gear. They were, though, the exception. One of my high school buddies had well-off parents, and they had purchased for him, as a Christmas gift, a new Johnson Viking II, and I wanted one so much I was about ready to steal his. (And I did get one the following year, a gift from my own financially strapped parents.)

    What all this meant was the average ham, and even those somewhat above the median, just could not afford to be appliance operators. Virtually no ham I knew, teen or adult, could pay someone to fix his radio. If something went wrong with it, he either fixed it, got someone from the club to help him fix it, or he put it on the shack floor and began looking for another ARC5. Fixing it was the only way it could be done.

    That meant that that average ham had some level of real technical skill, simply by necessity. He may also enjoy it, and that was good, but the bottom line was he had to do the repairs on his radio. If he didn't know how, he opened it up, got the schematic and a meter, and he began to learn how. Maybe, with luck, he'd have someone who could assist him. A lot of us did not, for most of our friends, at least in school, were at the same level of basic knowledge as we.

    It is true that today's ham gear is very complex. Tubes are gone, and so are transistors. No discrete wiring. I am constantly amazed that my Icom 706 does, in a package the size of a cigar box, more, a lot more, than a basement full of radio equipment did even in the early and mid 1960s. Such packages have taken away the incentive and the skills of the average ham. There are a few who will dig into this SMT stuff, but most will not and cannot.

    The ham of yesteryear was, by necessity, a different animal than the ham of today. He was forced by the technology of the time as well as often by the financial burden of the time, to do what today's ham doesn't have to do. I don't know that I'd say that was really a source of pride; it was a matter of "gotta." But it taught us something a lot of today's hams will never learn, and that is basic electronics. The bottom stuff, the foundation, the absolute basic essentials, the stuff a Novice had to know. Ohms law and DC circuits. What a resistor is and why it's there.

    All that is going away. I suppose the need for it, career wise, is gone, too, for only at the advanced design level does one have to know basic DC theory. People build things using chips, but the inside of the chips are not something the ham can change. It's just "there." So he may build around it. Today's electronic technician is pretty much a board swapper. It is not economical to do discrete component checking on a board. Throw it out and install a new one.

    Someone mentioned building computers. There was a time when that was done. In fact, some of the Heathkits were learner kits in which basic computers were breadboarded. But computer technology outran that in a heck of a hurry! No hobbyist can build a hard drive or even a floppy drive, or a CD drive. No hobbyist can build a processor chip. None can build a 21 inch monitor. The computer industry brought us "boards." Populated boards.

    Not long back the motherboard in my computer developed a short in one of the serial port interfaces, a chip on the board. The chip actually smoked, so was very easy for me to locate it on the board. Operating the system quickly told me everything but that serial interface was working. I continued to use the computer for a couple of months.

    Could I have replaced that chip? Yeah, probably. If I could have found one, if I had had the ambition, if I had been very careful with a soldering iron meant for SMT work.

    But I, too, had the "buy a new one" mentality. Which is how I fixed it. I took out the whole mother board and threw it away. Bought a new mother board and, presto, no further problems. Took about an hour to physically install the new board. Probably not that long. Commercially there is no way that could have been justified.

    We are board swappers. We don't build computers in the sense of discrete components. We build in the sense of boards.

    So it seems to go with ham radio.
  10. K4JF

    K4JF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    After all this discussion, I still have to say that Incentive Licensing, as far as I am concerned, is the best thing that happened to ham radio in the last half-century.

    I have enjoyed being a ham for 30+ years. Would I have enjoyed another hobby more? Maybe - but I would have missed out on meeting lots of good people, and having fun building electronic stuff.
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