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Top 25 things vanishing from America: #16 -- Ham radio




 
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Ed-VA3ES
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« on: July 15, 2008, 12:03:51 PM »

http://www.walletpop.com/2008/07/17/top-25-things-vanishing-from-america-16-ham-radio/

Top 25 things vanishing from America: #16 -- Ham radio

Tom Barlow
  Jul 17th 2008 at 11:00AM

Filed under: Technology
This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory -- some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.


An easy way to prolong a disaster is to have the respondents use dozens of different, incompatible communications systems, or operate them with no protocol. Yes, I'm thinking about Katrina. I'm also thinking about a vanishing American treasure, the amateur radio operator. In the past five years alone, the number of people holding active licenses has dropped by 50,000, even though Morse Code is not longer a requirement.

Many think of a ham radio operator as a tubes-and-wires geek, and there is a certain truth to that stereotype, although today's ham is more likely to be computer-savvy and involved in cutting-edge technologies. However, from my personal experience, I know them to be among our nation's best trained and most capable respondents to disasters. In the hands of the amateur radio volunteers, disaster communications become orderly and prioritized, as they employ the protocols and training received in gaining their licenses. As director of one of the nation's largest week-long bicycle tours, I watched the ham community deal with countless challenges with imagination and expertise, whether it was assembling a portable tower and repeater in the field, coordinating emergency medical transport, or organizing the search for a lost child. I saw them sit for countless hours patiently looking out for the safety of thousands of people that would never know of their efforts.

As cell phones and the Internet siphon off much of what once attracted people to amateur radio, the nation's ham radio population is graying rapidly. Given the cash value of the radio bands allocated to amateur radio, there will be relentless pressure on the government to take back those bands so they can be sold. All these elements speak to a long, slow diminishment of a pastime that began with Marconi.

When amateur radio as we know it disappears, it won't be the radios we'll miss. We'll miss the operators. 73's to a national treasure.

Tom Barlow, N8NLO


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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2008, 12:56:51 PM »

He should at least get the date in his signature correct. Maybe some Technician Class license operators look at amateur radio in a different perspective.
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wb1ead
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2008, 01:14:12 PM »

Tnx ED for sharing that..saw the date too..musta meant June..the only encouraging thing i can add is the young kids i see at some of the fests lining up to take the exams..i don't doubt for a minute that Ham radio is losing ground everyday..just can't make myself believe that it'll dry up to virtually nothing in any short span of time..wonder if stamp collectors are going thru the same transition?? it's kinda hard to imagine that your #1 hobby could even make such a list..well better to hear or see all aspects of something then bury your head and hope it goes away..interesting reading..tnx agn ED                73 de DAVE
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2008, 01:14:52 PM »

Nice little article. Although the number of hams appears to be in decline, the total number of geeks seems to be rising. There's lots of cellphone geeks walking around with their little bluetooth interfaces permanently planted on their heads. There's also lots of computer geeks who sit in front of their flat screens for many hours each day. It just seems like geeks, who in the past would have fallen into ham radio, have many other choices available to them now. My prediction, for what it's worth, is that ham radio will level off, but won't disappear entirely, unless of course if the frequencies are yanked away by the government to be leased to the highest bidders.

Yah Pete, kind of strange about this article coming back to us from next Thursday. Looks like a geek mistake to me...

Rob W1AEX
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N3DRB The Derb
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 12:53:39 AM »

they did it to themselves. If the 1982 no code proposal would have passed, ham radio would have not lost a entire generation of technically minded people to computing. ham radio still had the edge on computers in 1982 - there was no internet, no world wide web - only local bbs systems speeding along at 1200 baud. no Windows. only command line.

They opted for purity instead, and ensured the hobby's demise. Now radio is crap to most people - in a twist to the purists ideals, they think of ham radio as hopelessly obsolete and outdated. Go ask a few 12 to 16 year olds if they've ever heard of ham radio, ( I have) and if 1 of them even knows what it is, you'll be lucky. I one I got that knew anything about it (looked to be around 16) said ( direct quote: )  "I can text my friends and IM them now. What do I need some ham radio thing for?"

Thanks a lot, CW purists. You won the battle, then lost the war, then you lost the battle.... and the war was called for lack of interest.

Do me a favor guys. When I die, don't call me a 'silent key'. Call me a silent mic. I want no connection to CW in life or death.
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Todd, KA1KAQ
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2008, 11:38:08 AM »


That's it. I'm selling all my gear and getting on Skype. Ham radio is dying. Again. And still. At least we can't claim we didn't know.  Roll Eyes

Go ask a few 12 to 16 year olds if they've ever heard of ham radio, ( I have) and if 1 of them even knows what it is, you'll be lucky.

Hell, go ask a few 30-50 yr olds and the result won't be much different, except the one who knows will insist it's the same thing as CB radio.   

Strangely, many folks on here seem capable of handling both computers and ham radio, although some appear to prefer the PC to the mic (take a gander at the prolific postings of unrelated topics in QSO). While the new technological toys available do offer more avenues to 'kids these days', I still think a lot of it has to do with how we choose to promote and expose others to it, maybe more accurately 'if' we choose to. Plenty of folks are willing to assume band conditions are bad and will be bad, therefore why bother to get on the air? It's not a big leap to assume kids won't be interested because they have cell phones and the internet. They're not born knowing about it, and won't be likely to hear about it elsewhere since it's not the latest/greatest technology like it was for many of us. 

I agree that it's nowhere near as easy today as 25 years ago to interest a kid in radio, it's far more challenging with the competition out there. We can choose to apply ourselves to inviting and involving new blood (a long term commitment) or we can sit back and watch the decline continue. CW, AM, or digitial won't be the whole answers, merely facets of interest to some.

And you have a leg up on the rest of us, Derb: when you get your station all set up, the Frankenstein factor of your gear will be quite high. Kids still love Frankenstein. Add a Jacob's ladder, and voila!  Cheesy

 

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Ed-VA3ES
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2008, 11:45:55 AM »

Apropos of getting kids intersted in Ham Radio, does anyone recall a website that has a unique and innovative method of interesting kids in Ham Radio?

I recall a thread about that a while back.   

In fact, I may start a new thread about that.
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2008, 12:32:11 PM »

Ed the ARRL tried something like that a few years back..the ARCHIE comic book series i think..didn't seem succesful..maybe aimed at too young a mind..more power to you Ed..support any good idea that comes down the pike..i live south of you
                                                 73 de DAVE
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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2008, 01:03:50 PM »

Apropos of getting kids intersted in Ham Radio, does anyone recall a website that has a unique and innovative method of interesting kids in Ham Radio?

I recall a thread about that a while back.   

In fact, I may start a new thread about that.

http://www.wedothat-radio.org/

http://www.remote.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/

http://www.remote.arrl.org/scouts/

http://www.arrl.org/FandES/tbp/ti.html

http://www.arrl.org/pio/

NPARC Kids Page - http://www.nparc.org/kidspage.htm

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Don
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2008, 05:18:37 PM »

Strangely, many folks on here seem capable of handling both computers and ham radio, although some appear to prefer the PC to the mic (take a gander at the prolific postings of unrelated topics in QSO).

Here's one of the big reasons for that, at least right now.
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Blaine N1GTU
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2008, 06:42:37 PM »

Quote
That's it. I'm selling all my gear and getting on Skype. Ham radio is dying. Again
not a bad idea  Tongue
my comparison/likes and dislikes

skype and/or internet:
no antenna needed
great sound quality
no static
no jammers (if someones acting like an ass i can ban/kick)
can let loose in a qso, belch swear and even play music
no contests
dont need 2k watts to talk to someone
can be very technical depending on how deep you go, linux, networks, routing/NAT, setting up webservers etc...

crashing microsoft/viruses
SPAM


Ham Radio

building transmitters
can listen/talk when mobile

AM'ers generally great to hang with (nearfest)
new technologies, digital modes/ SDR (ties into computers)

jamming
static
ugly antennas
RFI/TVI
cheap hams


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ve6pg
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2008, 11:31:17 PM »

..ok todd... i'll come over and get your kw1...of course you cant want much fer it....i'll trade you a blackberry...see ya soon....tim..sk...
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N3DRB The Derb
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2008, 04:42:56 AM »

Blaine,

your fix for the last 2 on your computer list is called a new Apple iMac and OS X. bye bye crashing and viruses.
cant fix the spam part.  Cheesy
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N2udf
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2008, 06:15:55 AM »

Alot of those persons with those "blue tooth" in their ears have geen teeth in their mouth."Bluetooth,we don't need no stinking"Bluetooth"!.....Lee,N2Udf
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Blaine N1GTU
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2008, 06:16:37 AM »

Blaine,

your fix for the last 2 on your computer list is called a new Apple iMac and OS X. bye bye crashing and viruses.
cant fix the spam part.  Cheesy

exactly!
this post was typed on my macbook Smiley
i also got a mac mini, iphone and an apple tv
after a day of working in IT dealing with windows drama its nice to come home and just have things work.
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Todd, KA1KAQ
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« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2008, 11:13:38 AM »

Quote
That's it. I'm selling all my gear and getting on Skype. Ham radio is dying. Again
not a bad idea  Tongue

But Blaine - it's not the one thing that binds us all together as AM brethren: it's not RADIO. It's hopped up internet chat, basically. Not bad if you like sitting in front of a PC instead of a transmitter. I'm probably just jaded, having been off the air for so many years and online 'hanging out with friends' since the mid-90s. From simple text chat and .wav files through camera/video, VOIP....it's got no soul. Of course, sitting in front of one all day doesn't help my attitude much. Just never thought I'd see the day that AMers would prefer internet chat to the actual on-air experience. WAAAH! Cry  You youngsters and yer high tech toys, I tell ya...what you need is a good dose of Charlie Whiskey! Charlie Queen Charlie Whiskey...

You'll miss it when it's gone! I mean it!

..ok todd... i'll come over and get your kw1...of course you cant want much fer it....i'll trade you a blackberry...see ya soon....tim..sk...

Well, if you're gonna travel all that way, bring a big truck. Might as well throw in the 300G, T-3, 30K-5 and the rest. PCs don't require much room, either. I'd rather have a Blueberry and a BlackTooth, though. I am in Vermont, after all.

your fix for the last 2 on your computer list is called a new Apple iMac and OS X. bye bye crashing and viruses.
 

What was the Apple PC with the built in monitor above the computer/drives? Apple II? I remember using one of those back in the late 80s or early 90s sometime. It was very...child-like, so I never pursued the Apple line further. Enough time has passed since then to wipe the mental slate clean, maybe it's time to give Apple another try. If the Derb and Blaine are onboard, it's gotta be a good idea.

'Course, that would void my 'piss and moan about Microsoft' contract.  Wink

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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2008, 12:59:34 PM »

Back to the original topic, I do believe the personal computer has led to and is the biggest reason for to the decline of Amateur Radio. I just found out recently that they did finally remove the Morse code requirement for obtaining a HAM license which is probably the stupidest thing ever done. Nevertheless, with the decline of Amateur Radio Iím sure those jokers at the ARRL thought I would be a way to get more people into the hobby and save it. However, it will most definitely bring in the wrong kind of individuals like CB operators and it will probably destroy the hobby in time.  Sad

Actually, the ARRL was against removing the code requirement from, at least, the Amateur Extra exam in one of their proposals to the FCC. The FCC shot them down. So, if you have an issue with removal of the code requirement, set your venting to the FCC. Amateur radio by no means is declining. I view it more as an evolving as we move further into the 21st century. "This isn't Grandpa's radio anymore."
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N3DRB The Derb
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2008, 01:36:00 PM »

well, I'm a cb'er but I knew/learned enough about radio to build this from scratch:



805's modding a pair of 812H's.
Sometimes the cb'er in question turns out to have some mad skillz and builds grandpas transmitter
just to make a point.


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Todd, KA1KAQ
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« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2008, 01:43:38 PM »

Amateur radio by no means is declining. I view it more as an evolving as we move further into the 21st century.

Words that immediately brought to mind the discussion of the band's decline in the movie This Is Spinal Tap:

Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh...the popularity of the group is waning?

Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.

Yeah, that's it.  Smiley

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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2008, 03:04:10 PM »

Ham radio has a great start into 21st century technology. It's a "dead" hobby only if you make it a dead hobby. And ham radio isn't only fixing up and building old boatanchors and operating AM, it's a heck of a lot more. The AM mode (switch, button, mouse click) now appears on almost all HF rigs made today. AM will be around for as long as hams have an interest in operating AM.

AM probably has more popularity today then it did 30 years ago. "crappy sounding transmitters and bad language" were also common back 50 to 60 years ago. The faces have changed, but the same type of amateur radio attitudes still prevail today as they did many years ago although many hams today don't wear suits and ties, and/or smoke nasty cigars, when they operate the rig. "Grandpa" and his radios are gone, we're here today, and our sons and daughters will be here tomorrow, and we're all here to do our amateur radio gig our way. Like any hobby, amateur radio doors swing both ways.
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2008, 06:00:18 PM »

Pete:

You are way more optimistic than me. I do agree that AM is more popular now than it was 30 years ago, but I donít think it's as popular as it was 10 years ago. Too many of the old Elmerís have died off and become a SK. Iíve tried to do my part by keeping AM Forever up and running since moving to California even though I haven't been active during that time. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to hear or operate AM audio from a solid state rig, Yuk.... again, Yuk....

I actually got into AM back around the time of its rebirth and watched it grow, but everything has its peak. It would be great if when I'm 90 I could whip out the old homebrew rig or even the Viking II and everything was still alive a kicking. I just don't think that will happen.

Anyway, the original topic posted was about a 25 things vanishing from America and #16 was Amateur Radio. Just ask yourself, how much time do you spend on the internet chatting or posting topics in this forum as compared to the amount of time you actually spend operating on AM? If people would stop and think the answer is obvious. I know I'm guilty of it...

Mark:

Running BA's is not a requirement for AM, but the whole point and reason of AM's rebirth was because everyone started having a lot of fun finding and fixing up the old tube equipment several years ago (actually a couple of decades+ ago) and it caught on and grew. Not running a BA or HB rig misses the point because thats how it started in the first place. The new solid state rigs do have the AM mode now, but its just not the same. Glow in the dark radios are way more fun.

As for as today's AM popularity, we have over 2100 members on this forum. I don't believe we had that many 10 years ago on the AM Window reflector.  I suspect you haven't heard, or didn't realized you were listening to,  some of the newer solid-state transceivers on the air. Some of them put tremendous fine sounding signals in the AM mode. Even the Flex, computer controlled rig, has received great reviews on AM. Many enjoy the AM mode for what it is and how it sounds. I personally don't give a hoot if I'm working someone with a new solid-state rig or some resurrected Viking II as long as they sound great in the AM mode. "Glow in the dark" radios mean nothing to me anymore. I operate my shack in a lighted room. As conditions improve on the bands, there will be an increase in activity. Maybe by then, the kinks in digital AM will be ironed out. Nothing like FM quality with an AM bandwidth signal. And remember, it only takes two to have an AM QSO even 50 years from on.
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N3DRB The Derb
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« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2008, 06:50:02 PM »

Even in my most active days, radio has always been a partial year hobby. My signal to get on the air has always been the 1 hour turnback to EST every fall. I operated some in the summer, but when the change from EDT to EST occurs each way has always either turned my operating switch on/off. The 20's gangsters basically did it that way. Summer was for repairs, rebuilding, putting up new antennas, etc.  When the days got shorter and the nights got longer, the fils started to get lit up and receivers started to get turned back on.

for me, same as it ever was. Soon it will be Sept. and hopefully I'll have my W7FG ant up and my maul down. Installed the new plate choke today. Looks great!  Cool


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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2008, 08:26:55 PM »

Hi Pete:

It would be interesting to know just how many of those 2100 members actually operate AM on the bands and compare that with how much time they spend on the internet. 10 years ago the internet wasn't as big as it is now which might be the reason for the increase in members.

This is actually a very interesting topic...

Many of our members have a wide variety of amateur radio interests besides AM. We have contesters, DX'ers, VHF'ers, digital buffs, a wide resource of technical expertise in many arenas, many who operate CW and SSB on a regular basis, and many who have lots of other hobbies besides ham radio. I'm not sure it's important that they operate AM but rather that they just get on the air and just operate and/or create some ham radio related "widget in a box" on the workbench. After all, this is hobby radio.

I'd like to think that the increase in numbers on the forum is mainly due to the fact that we have a wide member arena of technical expertise and, over all, a bunch of very interesting amateur radio people.
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n2bix
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« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2008, 08:46:15 PM »

N3DRB , You apparently got your license around the time i did ,maybe a little later. The code was a pain for me too ,but if someone wants something bad enough (as both you and i did) we knuckled down and learned it. If the code did not stop you and it did not stop me ,it must have only stopped people without much commitment to learn the hobby anyway. By the way , love that homebrew rig you made! Randy Smiley
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ka3zlr
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« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2008, 09:03:42 PM »

Well it is handy...the Net I mean...

The Forum is a Vely FLendly Splace OM'sess...

I want sum of them Vitamins Petes eaten...LOL...... Grin

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