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Recent ER articles

Discussion in 'Amplitude Modulation' started by K4KYV, May 25, 2019.

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  1. K4KYV

    K4KYV Subscriber QRZ Page

    Over the years QST has cut way back on their in-depth technical and construction articles, pigeon-holing that content into the other publication QEX that members have to take out a separate subscription for. Ostensibly, the League had been getting a lot of complaints from members that QST was "too technical", so they responded by creating QEX circa 1980. Much of the content of QST has turned to human-interest drivel, more on par with Ham Radio Horizons, the sister publication to Ham Radio magazine oriented primarily to VHF and newcomers.
    W1BR likes this.
  2. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not just ostensibly - it's the real reason for QEX. The complaints of "we're not all engineers!" and "QST is too technical!" and such go back long before QEX.

    As for "in depth technical and construction articles", look back at older QSTs and you'll see that many if not most of them were not written by the ARRL Hq staff - particularly the more-complex designs. You will also see that, compared to the state-of-the-art of the times, most of them were pretty basic. Compare a 1950s or 1960s ARRL Handbook to a contemporary RSGB Handbook and you'll see the RSGB version is much more technical (and has nothing on operating, history, getting a license, etc.)

    Older QSTs may SEEM to be "more in-depth technically" because, when we were reading them back-in-the-day, our knowledge wasn't what it is today.

    Most of all - if you want to see more technical articles in QST, write and submit them! QST pays for articles - not much, but the old "seeing your article published is the payment" idea went away more than 25 years ago. Probably more like 40 years ago; I just know that articles of mine that have been published resulted in a check.

    "Human-interest drivel"? You mean like the old QSTs with the YL column, and the stories by W6ISQ and others, the pictures of stations and hams, things like that?


    It used to be that Amateur Radio in the USA was the domain of a relatively small number of enthusiasts who were pretty close to the cutting edge technically. They had to be, because there wasn't much manufactured equipment to buy, for any price, and the technology was changing rapidly. The ham with a state-of-the-art station in 1919 found that in less than 10 years 98% of what was the bee's knees then was obsolete and useless.

    Then came the 1929 regulations, the Great Depression, and the boom of US amateur radio to about 46,000 amateurs. (!). Manufacturers saw the market and began making gear for amateurs, and it sold, even though in today's dollars it was very expensive. Manufactured receivers became common, but transmitters were nearly all homebrew.

    WW2 and its aftermath changed everything. First was the rapid advancement of Radio during the war, with new technologies and techniques. Second were the mountains of surplus, both parts and assembled units easily converted to amateur use. Third were the great numbers of GIs who had gotten some education in Radio during the war. Fourth was post-war prosperity after the hard times of the 1930s and early 1940s.

    The restructuring of 1951, which gave us the Novice and Technician licenses, and the Great Giveaway of Feb 1953, which gave full privileges to Generals and Conditionals, changed US Amateur Radio enormously.

    All this and more caused a boom in US amateur radio. From about 60,000 US hams on V-J day, our numbers grew to about a quarter million in the early 1960s. Most of them were relative newcomers - in the early 1960s, fewer than 1 in 4 US hams could claim even 20 years as a licensed amateur. Most had less than 10 years.

    Most post-1950 amateurs used at least some manufactured, kit or converted-surplus gear, too. Increased complexity and miniaturization, TVI-proofing, resale value, plus the low cost compared to homebrew with new parts pushed most US hams to the radio dealers and hamfests rather than the workbench. The popularity of SSB transceivers and matched-pair separates around 1960 sealed the deal.

    Of course SOME radio amateurs still built their stuff. Look up W3QLV's and W2LYH's projects in QST to see what was being done by a few. But the vast majority went with Heathkit, Drake, Collins, National, Hammarlund, Hallicrafters, Swan, etc.

    In such an environment, highly-technical stuff became a niche thing.

    I remember, a few decades back, taking a 1959 Newark catalog and looking up the prices of parts to build a simple 40 watt 6AG7-807 MOPA transmitter featured in QST about 1960. It wasn't long before it became clear that building such a transmitter from new parts actually cost more than buying a DX-20 kit from Heathkit, and probably cost more than the Adventurer kit from Johnson! The kit rigs eliminated the metalwork, came with step-by-step assembly instructions, required only a few common hand tools, and had significant resale value.

    There are many other examples. Receivers? I started out with 2 tube regeneratives and a Heath AR-2. Then I discovered ARC-5 receivers. If I had it to do over, I'd have started with a BC-453 and crystal-controlled converter for 80 and 40 - a basic setup for about $25 that's a real performer.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  3. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    It thought ham radio (1968-1990) was sold to CQ primarily because its founder passed away.
  4. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep... really. You think I sit here and make up stuff up after being involved in the industry as a contractor for over
    30 years?

    Jim Fisk W1DTY (SK) was the technical editor. Jim's passing left a big void, but others were able to step in and to keep
    the magazine going forward.

    Craig Clark (assistant publisher) has explained, numerous times, the exact reasons why Ham Radio Magazine was rapidly
    becoming no longer viable. Add the fact that publisher wanted to retire and you have the confluence of events that explain
    why HRM is no longer with us. It was a sad day. Craig's explanation is below:

    As an aside, you may note that Craig mentioned that a magazine needs at least a 60/40 ad
    page ratio to remain profitable. Something to think about before complaining about the scant
    number of advertisers who are supporting a dwindling base of independent ham radio
    related magazines.

    Pete, W1BR (ex K1ZJH) former contributing editor, columnist and editorial review board member for Ham Radio Magazine
    Senior Technical Editor and columnist for Communications Quarterly Magazine
    Electronics/Restoration Editor and columnist for Popular Communications Magazine
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not at all - thanks for the straight story. All sorts of urban legends get repeated in Amateur Radio unless challenged. (The one about LSB/USB is good example).

    Thanks for the link.

    The alternative (a "no ads" magazine) has been done by some - and the result is a very high subscription price.

    And while it wasn't a factor in 1990, soon after, the emergence of the online world changed the game again.

    Congrats on the new call! I didn't recognize it was you, Pete.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  6. K4KYV

    K4KYV Subscriber QRZ Page

    A different approach was taken with the AM Press/Exchange, that started circa 1983 when Howard Jack W2NRM retired to Florida and gave up publication of the original Press Exchange. A niche newsletter at the time, devoted to amateur radio AM, Howie's source of articles was contributions by readers. Howie gave it up just as the AM power issue was heating up, and at that time there was essentially no internet, while the four mainstream amateur radio publications had lead times of 1 to 2 months before breaking news made it to subscribers' mailboxes. Recalling how a grass-roots letter writing campaign by the AM community had thwarted Johnny Johnston's plans to eliminate amateur radio AM from the HF bands, Roger Frith N4IBF (SK) and myself decided to maintain a semblance of Howie's publication, primarily to keep the AM community up to date on the AM power proceeding.

    Roger and I were both working full time with children still living at home, plus it was an hour's drive between our respective QTHs, thus our time for publishing a monthly newsletter was limited. The approach we took that saved a tremendous amount of time and effort, plus it gave the publication a "homey" appearance, was that most articles would be submitted by readers "camera ready". IOW, those writing articles would type or print them up in a readable format as best they could and we would simply photocopy what we received, warts and all, after maybe cleaning up the most glaring errors as practicable, and take it to the printer who would print up the copies via the Offset process. Some of the submitted articles were even handwritten. Back from the printers, sometimes with the paid help of high school students, I would hand collate and assemble the issues, affix stamps and address labels, and lug the final product to the post office for distribution.

    We kept the newsletter going for roughly 10 years. Near the end, Roger took a job at the TN State Museum working with the Smithsonian, researching details of the lost art of letter press printing. That took away most of his time from the newsletter, and I attempted to keep the publication going single-handedly for a couple more years, but the volume of article submissions, and the quality of those received, began dropping off, just as popularity of the internet within the amateur radio community was achieving critical mass, so we finally called it quits, declaring it a victim of its own success. About that same time other dead-tree newsletters also fell by the wayside, including HR Reports, W5YI Report and ARRL Letter.
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  7. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    AM community owes Don and Roger a debt of gratitude for this work which was probably one of the factors that kept AM from getting ruled out of existence in U.S.

    It's kind of amazing that ER began and continued at a time when other ham print pubs. were ceasing.
    WN1MB, N2EY and W2VW like this.
  8. WA3VJB

    WA3VJB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Electric Radio came on the scene about 30 years ago. First issue I saw was at someone's table at a hamfest.

    The founder, the late Barry Wiseman, N6CSW,had identified part of the hobby that was not being served or covered by other publications.

    His timing was good, getting a constituency that was unsatisfied by "mainstream" outlets, and before the internet drained away interest in the printed page.

    I agree that our part of the hobby might have been regulated out of existence in 1977-78, had it not been for radio activists using old-fashion letter writing campaigns to generate formal, written filings to the FCC against the staffer's misguided proposal.

    We, the AM community, would continue to do battle in the 1980s and 90s with staffers at the ARRL who initiated anti-AM petitions for Rule Making by the FCC.

    In today's regulatory environment, the speed of electronic distribution and Comment filing makes obsolete the "printed" version of efforts to protect and advance our part of the hobby.
    That's why the League's failed "segregation by bandwidth" scheme was so quickly outed and fought, forcing the ARRL's attorney to withdraw the group's petition before the FCC could formally reject it, which was likely based on overwhelming opposition that had been filed in the public record, electronically.

    Near the end of Barry's publishing tenure, and continuing through Ray's stewardship of Electric Radio, I no longer have seen much regulatory discussion and calls to action.

    That's why Fred's support of the AM Forum, as well as other AM-related websites and Facebook pages, all contribute to keeping our part of the hobby safe from proceedings borne out of ignorance and, in earlier cases, actual malice.
  9. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great story - thanks Don!

    So you know, first-hand, what's required to publish a monthly magazine. How much time and work to do even the basics - and what it costs.
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  10. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think ER succeeded in large part because it addressed parts of Amateur Radio that was underserved.

    For many years before I discovered ER, I thought I was the only one, or one of a handful, doing what I did. It was a revelation to discover that there were lots of other hams fixing up and using older gear, homebrewing with hollow-state technology, getting on the air and having QSOs, etc. on CW, AM, SSB, etc. Not just static collections, either.

    But, as mentioned - somebody has to write and submit the articles.
    W1BR likes this.

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