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Issue #41: How Do New Operators View Amateur Radio?

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Jul 3, 2024.

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  1. KT4PH

    KT4PH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, I keep looking for my first rig, a Drake R4 & Drake T4, even though I no longer have the skills or a place to operate them (my shack being a TV tray), but that doesn't stop me from looking for them!

    W7DGJ likes this.
  2. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Doesn't matter about age, does it. Every person has a unique place they come from on the ability to afford a nice radio and related gear. But the phone is the first place that an undergrad might stick a few extra bucks . . . or for their laptop. Dave
  3. W7WIA

    W7WIA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I know about the sticker shock of current radios. However, inflation must be taken into consideration. 1954 I purchased a Heathkit AT-1 transmitter kit for about 29.50 the inflation calculator shows that would now be $344.89.
    My NC-98 receiver in 1955 129.95 from Walter Ash would now cost 2226.37. The DX-100 in 1955 at $189.50 would now be $2220.75. Heathkit SB-300 receiver 1966 at 264.95 now 2568.29, etc. Nice used gear that can do what these rigs did and more can be found for $300 - $5oo . That would be equivalent to #35 -$50 1966 dollars. So maybe gear is not really so expensive but our perception of what something should cost does not keep up with inflation. I know that is true for me.
    AB2T and W7DGJ like this.
  4. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the post Oliver -- love those old Shack photos of you as a young operator. We have a lot of shared history. It's scary how much impact inflation has had. Wow. In the early days of radio, you could buy an Egg and Cheese sandwich, popular at the time, for a dime at any drug store counter. The original ham radio kit was for sale in 1910 or thereabouts for just under $10 - that was still a big ticket item for the youngster that dreamed of getting on the air. Dave
  5. KE0NRE

    KE0NRE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulation of getting your General or Amateur Extra license! Sure, you correctly answered enough questions. Now you have broad access to HF bands. But do you how to apply the knowledge probed by those questions? Do you know how to pursue what interests you about amateur radio? Which HF antennas works best when you live on the 4th floor of an apartment building? Mentors get newly licensed operators up to speed faster. By sharing practical tips and equipment, newbies can start enjoying the hobby faster and with greater success.

    Until I could afford them, my first HF rig and ATU were loaners from a local radio club. My Elmer got me "on the air" within minutes. I've returned the favor by showing others how to enjoy what I like most about amateur radio.

    Old Ham jargon remain a part of modern radio practice just like "dialing" still describes how we initiate phone calls. Q-codes are useful abbreviations for CW and perhaps digital work and often require pronouncing more syllables when they're spoken. But doesn't every hobby has it's own jargon? It's how a hobby's enthusiasts recognize each other's depth of interest and dedication.
    ITAL7 and W7DGJ like this.
  6. N1VAU

    N1VAU XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Most of the commentators have adopted a "ham radio lifestyle" after decades of experience.

    We will never hear from those who lost interest along the way.

    How do "we" know? (We won't!)

    It's a different world since back 25+ years when I passed the test. I would even say things are "different" than passing the test 5 years ago.

    It's like the cliche "Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."

    The only thing I can do is be polite and share genuine enthusiasm when I hear a newly issued call sign on the air. I didn't keep track but I bet I have been "1st contact" for 5 hams this year. I listen on our 147.24 repeater and 146.52. Love them where they're at!

    Where they go with ham radio from there is entirely up to them.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  7. W3TKB

    W3TKB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dave: great article as usual. I got a real chuckle from it, mostly because I can fully relate to a lot of what was said. Although I am not a young operator (I'll turn 60 in January), I am fairly new to the hobby...only fully licensed for about four years now... so I can empathize with a lot of those comments made. One of those comments in the first section (One Upmanship & Scolding) about the old CW requirements in order to get licensed really hits home, as there is currently a thread running over in the "Ham Radio Discussions" forum titled Amateur Extra...which starts off complaining about how too many of us have the Extra class ticket because we didn't really have to work hard to get it; code requirement. There's currently 41 pages of replies and responses...and a LOT of agreement an that OP's sentiment. They just can't let it go; just another variant of the "back in MY day" mentality.

    There's also a LOT of scolding that goes on here at QRZ; some of it downright sarcastic, demeaning, or just plain rude. I once asked a question about properly grounding an older tube amplifier before opening it up to change the tubes or whatnot, and got one old fart who replied that if I didn't know the answer, then I didn't have any right holding an AR license in the first place! So, I suppose he'd have been happier if I just haphazardly poked around inside and electrocuted myself instead? Nice...real nice. Between "old guys" like that, and the ones who rejoice in using their standard reply of "this has been asked before...why don't you search the archives instead of bothering us"?!! just makes me not want to ask questions. Fortunately, I have gotten enough positive help and support from various members that I have made a list of QRZ members that I trust for good, reliable answers... and those are the ones I pay attention to.

    One of the things that appealed to me about amateur radio and helped to draw me in, was that there is SO many different ways to partake in this hobby; so many different ways to play radio. Digital modes, contesting, rag chews, nets... different strokes for different folks. And just like in real life, I'm sure it's difficult for the older generation to accept the "ways and means" of the younger generations...and vise versa as well. This is how it always has been; my dad didn't like my hairstyle or the music I listened to... I'm sure his dad felt the same about him! Change is inevitable....resistance is futile. Learn to accept it and you might actually live longer, instead of having that vein throbbing in your head every time you yell out the window: "you kids stay off of my 80m net's frequency"! :D
    AA7FR, N6HCM, N1VAU and 1 other person like this.
  8. N6YWU

    N6YWU Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    What sticker shock? New hams don't build multi-rig contest stations. A multi-band RTL-SDR receiver is around $30 (less than a few bubble teas from the boba tea shop hangout), and you can transmit HF WSPR from the IO pin of an older Raspberry Pi (harvested from some school projec), or a $5 Pi Pico connected to a wire hanging from the balcony (but please build a low-pass filter first). Adjusted for inflation, that's probably less than the cost of a Science Fair crystal radio kit in 1960, and might get one a ton more DX.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2024
    W7DGJ likes this.
  9. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Jim, I agree about Jargon . . . every hobby has it. The more expensive the hobby, the more jargon involved . . . Dave
  10. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for jumping in Clayton. Love that last line . . . you can't "force" a mode on someone. When I did that interview with Kevin Hester in my last issue (he's a Tech class ham), I kept trying to insert (almost subconsciously) all of these comments about "Geez, if you like that, you'd love 20 meter SSB . . ." or whatever. I found myself pushing other modes on a guy who is really just darn happy being a ham radio operator in the VHF/UHF arena as a Technician. I learned a lesson -- your comment puts a nice emphasis on it for me, thanks. Dave
    N1VAU likes this.
  11. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Brando. You are right about the QRZ forums, most particularly the Ham Radio Discussions section. It must be tough to moderate that, as there's just SO MUCH stuff that borders on rudeness or inappropriate subjects. They do a good job to keep it clean, but rudeness and scolding is hard to root out . . . that thread I was following on Reddit or Facebook, one person posted a comment to the topic of "What do you hate most about ham radio? with the simple answer of "QRZ, 'nuff said." At first, I didn't get that because QRZ has meant so much to me. But if you are berated a few times here, scolded and so on, you might feel that way. The people here, those who built the site and those who now run it. are absolutely the kindest and most helpful to inquiring hams. But the forum they built attracts people who want to preserve the old ways, or who are (as you say) the "stay off my lawn" types. Dave, W7DGJ
  12. WA6LSI

    WA6LSI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Great article, and most of it I agree with.
    I just recently got back into Ham radio after >60 years. I had to make a living and chasing young women took precedence over Ham radio at the time so many years ago.
    I never renewed my General Class license until 2 years ago, and then by only just passing the technician class test and proving I once had a General Class license.. I passed the Technician class test and got my old General class license back as well as my old call sign.
    I am an old school CW guy but always trying to learn the new ways which Ham radio is going now days. I have taken and flunked the extra class license test twice now, but determined to pass before I say 73 and assume room temperature.
    Ham gear has always been expensive but so is an iPhone or anything else now days......Back in the 1960's if you could afford a Drake rvcr, you were "God". Gas now is up %11 here in CA......Thank you governor Nuisance......But I will keep my personal political views to my self.
    My first gear was a bread board home built 5 watt crystal controlled xmtr as a novice (W V6LSI) and then a WWII war surplus junk back in hi-school in the 1960's, or if I could afford it a HealthKit. I could heat up my parents house with that old HRO 60 vacuum tube receiver and modified air force ARC 5 xmtr.
    There is room in Ham radio for: Contesters, DX'ers, digital gurus, emergence responders, satellite trackers etc . We need to accept and be courteous and appreciate each others skill levels and not brow beat those who you may disagree with Which is why I am not on any social pages......Everything you say on social media can be used against you or in court.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  13. KD2SQK

    KD2SQK Ham Member QRZ Page

    This one particularly hits close to home!

    I've done my share of webdev through the late 90's, mid 2000's, and now in the world that's more focused on "web apps" rather than "web sites". I've evolved my development and design skills to keep up with the tech.

    Most ham radio sites are still stuck in the 90's or mid 2000's. is one of them! It looks absolutely horrible on mobile. And the API? XML in today's day and age, really? (the site that everyone links to for the Solar Data/Propagation pictures) is also straight out of what I used to design when I was in middle school on Geocities.

    I also bought an antenna from Arrow Antenna to use for some satellite contacts a year or two ago. That site looks equally sketchy! If it wasn't a PayPal link it went directly to I'd be a lot more concerned about that purchase!

    I get that these technologies take time and energy (read: money) to maintain and keep up to date, but I feel like in the long run letting these things stagnate hurts the cause more than anything.

    It's not a unique problem though. Take the world of open-source software. Look at most OSS apps On Linux. They can be great applications, but their UI/UX is horrible. It's so common that good developers, scientists, etc. are just horrible at UI/UX design.

    PS: this is all a "friendly rant". I appreciate the sites/services, but they're still ugly ;)
    W7DGJ likes this.
  14. WA6JJM

    WA6JJM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe it is nice, but newcomers, as well as old timers, just don't need that dream station, with multiple big screen monitors, the 100 foot tower, "contest rigs," automatic logging, etc. With a little work, time with a soldering iron, cw practice, a straight key, and help from more experienced hams, there's a lot of fun to be had with the most primitive gear, as well as knowledge gained from learning basic electronics.

    There's a glut of know-it-alls in every endeavor, not just ham radio. Don't let them spoil the new and great experience of communicating with people all over the country and globe, with just a little bit of effort, and a very modest outlay.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  15. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Will, I enjoyed your post a great deal and especially your sense of humor. Come back often. Dave, W7DGJ

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