Where Our Help Really Is

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by Guest, Jan 8, 2001.

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  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    n7rvn writes "After studying the comments repeatedly on QRZ .com, I am mortified that no one has actually put those words "to paper" in the past. It has been more of an unspoken belief though no one wants to take a public stand. I'd like to think there are many Mel and Ralph's in the world's amateur community. I am fortunate enough to know the specific ones referred to. Though N7UO's words "He's just a Tech" (01-04-01) about the seemingly tireless efforts, unselfish participation, and wealth of knowledge by these two are well spoken, they are also under-stated. I am glad that I was not the one to attempt to describe these two, for I could never be as brief in my descriptions. I fear that the list of self imposed time constraints, which virtually draw dust to many transceivers, are becoming more lengthy.

    Repeatedly, I hear different concerns about the expected loss of some portion of our allocated frequencies, or encroachment into our hobby by those "darn CB folk". Lets face it, the main reasons for our allocations are helping others in times of emergency or other public service needs, to encourage new experiments in communication, and to encourage more people into the hobby (resources) for expertise or just manpower. UNLESS we can justify our needs for keeping the current available spectrums, we will loose them. If we as hams do not encourage active participation in public service (HF or otherwise) or we have no mentoring to folks who have been bitten by the ham "bug" and are dying to soak up as much information as they possibly can so they can attempt some electronic project, the number of "active" hams will continue to diminish. Having a "rank" in this hobby puts a wedge in what should be the common denominator, ham radio helps others solve problems.

    Many people have seemingly put complaining on the top of their "to do list". Helping others has been put on the back burner since it would require some effort more than just a simple thought on whatever the issue is. Many hams have done the same thing as well. Many of the homebrew projects are dying. The "ranking" or "I am above that" attitude has put a damper on many of the activities that we hams have cherished as little as 10 years ago. We as hams need to more progressive to improve the quality of our resources. I was reminded recently of the amateur's code by Paul Segal W9EEA written in 1928. It would be worthwhile to put the passage right next to the licenses we proudly framed and hung on the walls of our shacks.

    We are a "freeze-dried" world of instant messaging, cell phones, microwave popcorn, and "no assembly required". I admit that I am somewhat guilty of this attitude as well. Why should I spend say a Month's worth of nights building a rig when for less than a Months pay, I can go buy one with all the bells and whistles? The answer is simple, because I will learn from the experience. I will have a better understanding of the principles related to the equipment I am using. I will have pride in my accomplishment too. If (when) I have struggles with the project, where can I turn to get answers if I can not find a mentor to assist me? What about the time I have taken away from other obligations while I attempt this project? Time management is essential to everyone’s lives. Then again, so is helping others. The benefits from helping someone else far outweigh the "I am above that" posture. Besides, when you help others, you will feel like you are more accomplished, and actually look forward to the next time you can help someone else. When engrossed in a less than desirable project, this can be the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Years ago, the standards were much higher to obtain a license for Ham or CB use. Lowering the standards changed the CB use to anyone with a radio. Apathy by the FCC, and lack of enforcement has caused many to feel that they can get away with violating the federal standards. Some of that has carried over to amateur radio now for many of the same reasons. We are supposed to be able to self police our hobby when others violate some of the laws governing our hobby. Knowing who you are trying to "correct" for some faux paw makes this much easier. Frustration on the part of the more senior hams at the lowering of the bar for obtaining a ham license has lent itself to a feeling of superiority and divided those with a plethora of knowledge from the brand new hams. In many instances, this has been true on the air as well as in person. As the senior hams become silent keys, their expertise dies away as well. If these hams have not passed on the information to the newer hams, where is the knowledge? It is a sad commentary on the health of our community.

    I have recently presented this very same opinion to the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club (Lincoln NE.) http://larc.unl.edu/ and went through all the facets of this hobby. We counted almost 300 separate aspects. The club leaders have decided to lead a mentoring program to all hams. They are in the process of identifying local individuals who have expertise (if not a wealth of information) on a subject. Hams with question will be directed to those with appropriate information. The plan eventually will be to have a "fix it day" where anyone can bring a project which has stalled for some reason in hopes that someone may have an idea to help out.

    Many will argue that there is plenty of available information to complete a project. This approach takes away from the social events, which can garner more interest in the same facet of the hobby by others who might not otherwise get involved. If you think about it on a personal level, how many of us talk to someone within say a 20-mile radius from our homes and could actually recognize them if you bumped into them at the grocery store? Keep in mind that these same "active" hams could be the same ones you rely on for information or assistance in an emergency. If you answer "not many" to this question, ask yourself your are in this hobby?

    For most of us, we enjoy communicating with others. We enjoy the ability to communicate over miles and miles through a wide variety of modes and frequencies whether for fun, contesting, practice with protocol, or the dreaded emergency. Why not get to know your ham neighbor and help him out? Why not do all you can to learn more about the hobby and all its facets to improve your expertise and help others learn the same things? Lets not let rank and self imposed social status preclude us from keeping the frequencies, knowledge, and the belief from those outside the amateur community that we as hams are the most professional amateurs in the world from dying off.

    When a new neighbor moves into the house next door, the practice is to greet them with a housewarming gift. This is done with no regard to who the individual is, what their intelligence, history, or skills are. Why not do the same things with new hams? Making them feel welcome to the "neighborhood" will go a long way toward improving the stability of this cherished hobby. We need more Mel and Ralph-like folks in our hobby.

    Just a thought.



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