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The death of the American ham radio industry

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W4ZD, Jul 24, 2019.

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  1. VK6ZGO

    VK6ZGO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I never really had an"Elmer".
    That said, radio was always around at home.
    My brother was in Electronics in the RAAF, & later became a ship's Radio Officer.(He was mainly at sea or over East, during my first fumblings with radio).

    What I did have, early on, was the Perth Technical College, where newbies could learn Elementary Electrical Theory, Radio 1, & Radio 2, before branching off to more specialised subjects.
    My first job was in the Radio Dept of Atkins (WA) as an "assistant storeman", which was good, in that you got to recognise all the common, & some not so common, components, but was "boring as bat faeces" in other ways.

    The Boss was a prominent local Ham, & many people were building HiFi amplifiers, Electronic Organs, etc.

    All this activity did create an enthusiasm for Electronics, although as I said earlier, this waned somewhat when I started technical work in that field.
    VK4HAT likes this.
  2. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It make you a better ham at working CW. Otherwise? No.
  3. KB9OAK

    KB9OAK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  4. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I tried to read thru this thread. Very difficult to do. The very concept of self education as being fundamental to ham radio is why ham radio is at the bottom of the heap of interests to younger people. I have to credit this to the dumbing down of licensing. Yes. I said that.

    My mentor in '63 had an Advanced license. He had been in the military (WWII) that taught him electronics ... specifically electronics repair. Nothing about electrical engineering design. He was a TV repair man. Not the designer of any new TV tech. Yes. He did build all of his AM transmitters and bought his receivers. "It is very difficult to even align a reciever even when it is built by a company such as Hammarlund". I am sure that will be hams that respond with, "I built my rx and it works fine." Maybe 6 or so hams is not very influential nor is "fine".

    To the title of the thread. The American ham radio industry boomed because US military veterans knew a lot about electronics and there were a lot of them starting with WWII. Most did not build rcvrs. Many built transmitters even AM & SSB. I only got as far a 6146B CW xmtr, but I was 13 at the time.

    Surface mount and retiring guys from non-tech fields but deeper pockets created the cookie cutter Icom and Yaesu market.
    W4ZD and WW2PT like this.
  5. AB2YC

    AB2YC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Part of the issue is how small the market is.

    I got intrested in Amateur radio as a kid more because of the electronics than for
    taking on the radio. Even today radio is just a subset of my electronics hobby.

    With robotics and computers being so easily affordable many people are doing more
    In those areas then in radio. That makes for a smaller market for radio manufacturers.
  6. KB9OAK

    KB9OAK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was a Engineering and QC Tech for 25 years before a brain tumor took out my vestibular system and then had an aneurysm and stroke. I have dealt with various aspects of electronics and electricity here and there, mostly when I worked at an acceleration sled using various data collection systems and also in component wind tunnel testing as well as other types of testing including vehicle crash data collection and rough road/ durability. I need something to tinker with now that I am no longer useful. Ham radio seems to be it. Or one of the it's.
    W4ZD, KA0HCP, AE8W and 1 other person like this.
  7. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't get what you mean here. It doesn't make logical sense.
    I think you're saying that younger people don't want to "self educate". I don't think that's true but let's assume it is.
    How does that follow? If the licensing is now easier then wouldn't that make more young people get involved if the "self education" part was holding them back before?
  8. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    The understanding of radio and electrical circuits is beyond self-education. Knowing how to bias a transistor is not the same as looking up a table. Knowing how to design an antenna is not the same as buying the Antenna Handbook, reading about different antennas and the challenge getting it put up. That is self-education about putting things up and has little to do with understanding the what & why of radio, propagation, or electronic design.

    The Heath Kits I built taught me how to read the resistor & cap color codes. The different types of inductors and how to solder. Building a kit versus building even the simplest 2N2222 amplifier based on the transistor's V-I curve tracer results is night and day. Building a push-pull amp and understanding cross over distortion .. fantastic.

    Kids are fascinated by new and shiny just we all are. Keeping them fascinated takes a bit more effort. Their peers are not on the air. Their peers are texting where ever they might be. Their peers are playing an online game with wireless headsets figuring out the strategy to outwit the opposing team(s). You want logic ... there is logic. And, they are teaching themselves.

    Learning how to write programs can be perpetually challenging as are computers & related devices. Programs for Arduino are called sketches as sugar coating for artists as an example. Doesn't "sketch" sound more encouraging/appealing than "GCC C++ Executable/Arduino Due/X - ATSAM3X8E" for example? What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet

    Getting ham license now is similar to calling a program a sketch. You don't want to know how to write a compiler for a new language. You just want to throw some code together that tells you how much it rained last night. Or, you just want to hook up some radio bits to enter a ham contest on SSB or JT8 whatever. *What* self-educating? Ok. You buy the stuff off Amazon and it doesn't unwrap itself or connect itself. So there is something that happens between pressing the buy button and completing a contest. But, it is just a hobby and to each his own.

    In my opinion, to capture younger people in ham radio it must be demonstrated that there is challenge as well as a possible benefit. The dexterity and logic needed to get anywhere in most games is outrageous.

    Finally, easier licensing has been available how many years? How has that attracted more young people? There ought to be statistics showing something relative to this. Easier licensing was a response to the population bugging the H out of the FCC so people could get privileges that they did not want to wait for ... and it helped increase the number of hams.

    The latter was very necessary. And, we are most fortunate that it occurred. The need for self-educating in ham radio was not inspiring.
  9. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    W4ZD likes this.
  10. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Probably not. Though I hesitate to speculate on what hams two or three generations down the road will think of it. I hope they still embrace CW for what it is. A fun and efficient communications mode that's also an homage to the generations of hams that came before. It is admittedly entirely obsolete for commercial, marine, and emergency services, but so what? ;)

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