Issue #25: Heard on the 2m Band . . .

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Aug 14, 2023.

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  1. WA1YHO

    WA1YHO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey... I resemble that remark....

    I am not sure I understand exactly what you mean by " by uses already made of it..." and "...merely the means by which amateur radio is accomplished...".

    However I do agree that the simplication of the testing is not responsible for the decline in amateur radio.

    And I think you have identified one important point: Now that everyone has a wireless personal communication appliance in their pocket there seems to be less interest in amateur radio and digging deeper into how it works.

    I am curious... perhaps you could elaborate a bit more what brought you to amateur radio?
  2. KC1SZS

    KC1SZS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not him, nor speak for him, but I understand what he said, and somewhat agree with him. The limited uses are just that. They do what they do, and they generally work well for what they are. There's not really much variation there. It is a technology that is used for xyz, and that is it.

    Not everyone is "into radio" for learning HOW it works and the technical aspects of it. Some people want a radio to actually USE IT for a very specific purpose. It is the tool to be used to do something else. It is not the "something else" itself for many. For others, it is. Then, there are those who fall in between. Why buy an antenna when it is somewhat fun to use your mind and some plans and make your own. That is not for everyone, and if you have the $$, write a check and buy a "fancy store-bought" antenna. I'm not going to lose sleep either way.

    Some people here seem to be VERY against Baofeng radios. MOST people I speak to in the real world think they are pretty nifty, and a great thing for people just starting out with ham radio or who want an inexpensive way to access ham radio, especially when outdoors.

    It's all good. I think the biggest obstacle to having more hams is the structure of the organization itself. People don't like to be nannied and Karen'd to death over minutia. Having three different levels of licensing and testing just to get on the air is just silly nowadays. You can't complain about nobody driving down the streets when you put roadblocks out to keep them from doing so.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  3. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    To be honest, if that's the case, then there are plenty of other radio services that are probably a better choice. GMRS is one. Quality GMRS handhelds and mobiles exist. They're starting to become the standard for offroading and displacing CB as a result. The main reason, in my eyes, for amateur radio is to work with radio technology and learn about electronics and RF. Communicating is a secondary purpose.

    The price is certainly attractive, but they just aren't that good. Sorry, but it is what it is. People that are impressed by them haven't used a better radio and don't have a basis for comparison. The Baofengs are usable but there's better equipment out there. It's like buying a Yugo and thinking it's great because it's the only car you've ever driven (I've driven a Yugo that was properly maintained and it's not horrible, but it doesn't compare to a Toyota from the same period). Like the Yugo, a Baofeng will get the job done within the limits of its capabilities, but it'll be completely outclassed by an entry-level Yaesu or Icom. I've owned and used a Baofeng side-by-side with a Yaesu, there's no comparison once you start exceeding the capabilities of the Baofeng. Even price isn't a great benefit if you are a smart shopper. I bought a used Icom IC-V8 on Ebay for $50 and it was head and shoulders above any Baofeng.

    The minutia can be important within the specific purpose of amateur radio. Remember, the "hobby" was launched in a time when radio communication was the high tech pursuit of its time. The minutia was necessary to ensure practitioners didn't negatively impact each others and "official" uses of radio spectrum. This is still true today when you consider the other uses of RF spectrum today. While the licensing structure could be revamped in today's world, it's not the problem with the hobby and is more of a low-level quality gate to ensure entrants to the hobby have the basic knowledge to avoid causing problems with other spectrum users and to avoid harm to themselves (RF and electrical safety for example).

    That said, much of the nannyism and Karen types can be safely ignored as long as you're operating within the law and your license class. There is a small, but noisy busybody class, but most hams aren't that and aren't likely to be a problem unless you're being a nuisance and operating outside of established good practices (that are actually pretty moderate). QRZ is an amplifier for these types, but isn't representative of the hams you're likely to meet on the air and most you'll meet on the air are quite welcoming of newcomers and likely to be more supportive of new hams trying to learn.

    W7DGJ likes this.
  4. KC1SZS

    KC1SZS Ham Member QRZ Page

    For you, and some others. I'd say for most, that is not the case.

    They seem to fill a niche, and the market seems to show that. Otherwise, I'd say that is a bit elitist. Sure, a Mercedes G Wagon is a great ride, but a Toyota Highlander or RAV4 that works for the masses, well, it works for the masses.

    I think that time has mostly passed. Just recently read a post somewhere on here about some southern boys burping on the radio. Whoopdie do, that is boys being boys. It shouldn't be a law/rule/regulation, and certainly not one that hinders the use of radio for all.
  5. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe so, but I can think of a number of better options for critical comms that are more likely to get a response.

    The Baofeng is not the Toyota of the radio market and there are plenty of options that don't get into the G Wagon space. Let's not be silly about it.

    At best the Baofeng is a Suzuki. It'll get you there but it isn't a high quality unit that will last decades or perform as well as other options.
    In the Toyota space, you've got a number of Sub-$150 options from Icom and Yaesu available NIB at vendors like HRO and DXE. They are proven performers and conform to expected standards.
    The G Wagon equivilent would be the Kenwood D74 I have or the Icom ID-52. Great radios, but overkill for most hams. Nobody has been suggesting those as legitimate alternatives to the Baofeng. The "Toyota" space has been suggested. There were even a number of suggestions in the "Hyundai" space like the lower end Yaesus based on a similar (same even?) "radio on a chip" architectures as your Baofeng. The difference is the Yaesu has been designed to ensure the radio is clean signal-wise.

    It's not debatable that the Baofengs have issues. Is it likely to be a problem? Maybe not, but you can't dispute that testing has shown these issues exist and have since the beginning. It's silly to claim otherwise. They work, but won't work as well in challenging conditions or outside their narrow operating parameters.

    It has not passed and may even be more important as the overall RF space becomes more congested with various novel military, industrial, and commercial uses that didn't exist even a couple decades ago. Certain amateur bands even have "primary users" that take precedence over amateurs. 60m and 70cm come to mind here in the US.

    Boys will be boys, but their actions reflect upon all of us and ultimately serve to give others ammunition to take our allocations away due to misuse.

    Not to be dismissive, but you've been licensed for all of 6 months. You don't know what you don't know and are approaching this with a healthy dose of Dunning-Kruger. Set ego aside for a bit and spend more time learning and understand that while the hobby has a lot of tradition, there are often good engineering and operational reasons behind our practices.

  6. KC1SZS

    KC1SZS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ha. This is almost like saying Nazi. Such a cop out. "Trust us, we've been at this a long time, and we know so much more than you little people." Give us a break.:rolleyes:

    And, I don't mean technical aspects, just real world conditions where real people live. Have a great Sunday.
  7. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Loved your post Chris and agree with most all. I haven't found too much of this "nannyism" or "Karen types" that you are referring to, although I guess I am a "Karen type" for complaining publicly about a belching contest on 2m. However, I sure agree with you on the Baofeng question. I hate junky products. I consider that Baofeng in that category. I've got one, who doesn't. It doesn't even compare with real radios, AND (this is important) the company that makes them doesn't seem to give a hoot about the requirements of clean audio and band spectrum rules per the FCC. They're just cheap -- that's ALL they have going for them. Anyone who comes to me for some Elmering assistance will be pointed to stuff that's $100 or less and in fact, you could set up a whole station for a hundred or two if you really went after it. Thanks for contributing to a really interesting discussion. Dave, W7DGJ
  8. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Doug - I didn't sense any pointed nastiness out of Chris. Maybe a bit of nannyism, but you'll find that in my posts too. The point is, you learn as you go. Read the article this forum is attached to if you want to catch my thought on the "boys burping." It's just not befitting of the amateur radio service, which has a distinguished history and a way of operating that protects all of us. Belching on air and using swear words and so on has always gone on . . . when that occurs, you'll hear other operators refer to those folks as "LIDS." That's a ham expression that takes a year or two to "get," but it's very real. Please hang in there - you've had some great posts. Dave W7DGJ, moderator
    KC1SZS likes this.
  9. KB8SKK

    KB8SKK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just my .02 and perhaps a question or two.

    Open the repeaters up if you can.
    We need more exposure to the youth, field trips to
    POTA ? Remote video ?
    Then start em w/ a two club. w/ teachers ?
    What co. is making/selling 2m or dual band w/SSB
    without HF ? Mobile ?

    Maybe I'll fire up the FT-847 .
    You can always change the channel.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  10. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    All of my limited gear on 2m is FM or digital. I wish I had the option for SSB! Dave
    KC1SZS and KB8SKK like this.
  11. K6WGG

    K6WGG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm sorry for vaguely phrasing my point. What I meant to say is this: Amateur radio has been a breeding ground of innovation for a long time, but as communication becomes less and less of a barrier, barriers to amateur operation, like setting up a workable station, have become more simple (or so I think - I haven't been around for very long!). STEM education is a use of amateur radio with much potential, but since that sort of education has languished (well, maybe not entirely - most "nerds" my age are going into computer science), amateur radio isn't widely known. The thing is built, but hardly anyone comes. Radios and antennas just aren't that impressive anymore to your average teenager or twenty-something, and what looks to be the newest frontier in packet radio and digital modes is limited by those pesky-but-all-too-necessary rules surrounding identification. Many of us youngsters don't think we have the time (not to mention money) to enter the hobby. Unless I had a genuine interest in radio itself, I wouldn't have bothered - I have enough things to tinker with already, and a job and college work besides! So I think that amateur radio's decline among young people is a symptom of problems outside of our sphere of control.

    All that is to say that if technical learning was the only reason to enter amateur radio, I'd never have bothered. I was initially drawn by the prospect of possessing a self-contained communications device - one that wasn't dependent on cell towers, or DNS servers, or what have you. I was mostly excited by the possibility of making contacts at long distances (something that cannot be done on GMRS), and I began to appreciate the "technical side" of the hobby only after I had began to study for a license! I believe, then, that most people my age will not be attracted to amateur radio in the same way that I was. I think (and do correct me if I am wrong) that engagement with technical details (beyond those that prevent new operators from killing themselves with electricity or whatnot) should not be required for the initial stages of interaction with amateur radio. By all means, don't give Techs the entire bands, but it isn't good to choke out seeds before they can sprout.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  12. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Love your last line Nick. Dave
  13. KC3TEC

    KC3TEC Ham Member QRZ Page

    A certain amount of imagination is a key element and fascination is a basic requirement.
    Curiosity leads us to learn to improve ourselves.
    After 40 years of electrical and custom computer building and repair. It no longer has that spark.
    Radio communication opened a new world for me and a new avenue for both my imagination and my ability to visualize.
    (Sort of like the drawings a magnet or air core inductor and its flux field)
    Looking at an antenna and its surroundings i can get a fair image of its pattern.
    But hey thats me!
    For each person I believe its different, what attracts them to the hobby.
    The thrill of making contacts,
    The thrill of qrp, of digital, Cw, big boat anchors or minimalistc radios.
    Or the art of homebrewing..
    Regardless of how easy the tests are they stress the important and salient parts.
    Safety and Responsibility.
    The only limitations to young hams are threefold:
    (1) Interest, there has to be an interest in an aspect of amateur radio in the first place. We do not need the negativity dissuading new or prospective hams from going further.
    (2) Information:
    While there is a lot of information out there, we must sort the good from the garbage.
    You tube has a lot of good videos, but the downside is there is just as much crap if not more.
    (3) is cost:
    Yes we get lured by low cost for baofengs, pixies, and the like because they actually do work.
    Maybe not that well, but they do.
    They are an entry point!
    Ive got 2 handhelds 1 baofeng and a radiodity.
    Both work ok if they break im not out that much.
    Both my icoms are worlds above them in performance.
    But can i afford much better hf radios?
    Probably not.
    For most new hams even used (if they actually work) is often priced out of reach.

    But i think theres also a 4th limitation and its a simple one to overcome.
    Technical aptitude.
    Soldering skills are such a small thing but vitally important.
    Knowing how to properly prep, tinning, temperature control and component manipulation, recognizing faulty solder joints,
    may not seem like much.
    But to any who are unskilled it can be daunting.
    So those little kits serve a purpose BUT they also need Quality instructions.
    Speaking from an instructors point of view, i have seen a hell of a lot of very good advise on this forum.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  14. WA1YHO

    WA1YHO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Absolutely true! Thank you for taking the time to write these words.

    That's unfortunate as software is becoming such an important part of amateur radio these days. From software defined radios to software based user interfaces. There is a lot of software to learn inside modern radios. Not to mention that most of the hardware in a digital radio these days is actually more like software using Field Programmable Gate Arrays, FPGAs. While much of the software is proprietary there are places where users have access to the code and can contribute to the development.

    You highlight an opportunity that could help attract more younger folks to the radio hobby.

    I agree that amateur radio communication doesn't appear that impressive when compared to a smart phone.

    I am not sure I agree with your point that the digital modes are limited the identification rules. There is plenty you can do in between the 10 minute identification rule. Perhaps the most confining rule is the prohibition on commercial communications. Something that is so common to the smart phone lifestyle. And a rule that, in my opinion, is extremely important to maintain in amateur radio.

    There is no question that amateur radio can be an expensive hobby. But that has always been true. And amateur radio isn't the only expensive hobby. I think that a part of the issue is what I see as an... urgency... in modern life. Life these days seems to be filled with busyness. Partly fueled with a sense of immediacy that our smart phone addicted life provides. I get the impression that hobbies, especially ones that require an investment of time to get started, are falling by the wayside.

    There is a lot you can do to start in amateur radio that doesn't require expensive radios and huge antennas. However that simple start isn't going to do everything and won't make you the biggest signal on the band. Again, I see fewer folks willing to invest the time to grow into the hobby.

    I am glad to hear you are finding time to tinker in between a job and college.

    I am glad to hear that the magic of having one's own radio is still attractive.

    Ahh... real radio... <big grin> None of this repeater stuff. Good old fashioned HF radio. I am glad to hear that you came to appreciate the technical side. There are plenty of technical areas to explore inside amateur radio each with layers of complexity.

    This is an interesting observation and worthy of discussion. I have not looked at the current Technician level tests to know what level of technical knowledge is currently required.

    That said I feel that a fundamental understanding of electricity, basic circuits, and antennas is important. First, as you point out, for safety reasons but also so that the new ham can actually plug some things together and have them work.

    It seems in years past the concept of the "elmer" was much more common. The pace was a bit slower and new hams had their elmer for more personal support.

    Well said... I am curious, what additional allocations do you think would provide the room for new Tech's to grow?
    W7DGJ likes this.
  15. KI4POT

    KI4POT Ham Member QRZ Page

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