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Author Topic: ARRL - Do we need it ?  (Read 24445 times)
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John Holotko
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« on: October 08, 2006, 04:42:07 PM »

There was a time when the ARRL served a purpose. An organization of resources serving the Amateur Community. The question I have today is, do we really need the ARRL anymore ?

The ARRL has grown to become yet another bureaucratic laden behemoth. While it claims to serve the Amateur community it has really become a self  serving organization catering primarily to equipment vendors and those segments of the ham community  that the vendor commodities are most marketable. In essence the ARRL amounts to little more than a lackey for high priced vendors and their wares.

As an information resource the ARRL has been superseded by the Internet and the vast resources available not through the ARRL or it's vendors, but through average every day hams like you and me. Indeed I have found more useful and interesting information on  AM Window site or this site  or countless others than I have found in all the ARRL resources combined.

Then there is the ARRL'S most egregious  characteristic. I am talking about their blatant and outright disregard  for AM and the AM community. When was the last time you saw an AM station on the front cover of QST ? When is the last time you saw in depth articles on the theory and construction of AM transmitters,  the refurbishment of old AM broadcast gear ? Not very often if at all ? No surprise, the AM doesn't giver a hoot about AM other than filling our frequencies with contesters.

In my opinion the ARRL has outlived it's period of usefulness. It's old,  archaic, and in dire need of a new coat of paint and a complete internal refurbishment if it is to serve the ham community into the 21st century and beyond. Oh yeah, and recognizing AM as a valid mode would help  too.
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kf6pqt
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2006, 05:23:03 PM »

I'm in my early thirties, only been a ham since Feb. '98, and from 2000 to May of this year, was totally away from ham radio for a couple of reasons... mainly beyond the scope of this discussion.

My point is, I'm still a JN. Wink  So yeah, for a while early on, I beleived all the hype I read in QST. Whatever, its the Aisian Radio Retailing League, so what.

I'm of the opinion that it is better to have a big, bumbling, dorky, errant and misguided bureaurocracy supposedly representing us than having nothing at all. A lot of the hams I've met are bumbling nerdy dorks, so maybe the shoe fits?  Wink

Why dont we test the theory that QST won't publish AM stuff? I think shooting for the cover shot might be too much to set our expectations on, but what has anybody submitted lately?

I suggest we coordinate our efforts, come up with some GOOD articles, (yes, I know that pix of BC xmitters are as good as porn, but we NEED GOOD articles!) peer review them amongst ourselves on this board, and then submit several to QST. If we don't get anything published, we can then write to our so called representitive section managers, and get them involved, mainly just to see what kind of reaction we get. Heck, we should involve THEM in the review process possibly. AT least we can say we covered that base.

I think any effort to get the league to get their head out of the "QRP, PSK, BRIGHT ORANGE SIZE XXXXXXLL EMERGENCY 2M FM COMMUNICATIONS BASEBALL JACKET" mentality is to put forth an extensive, bottom-up effort.

So, who's with me for a little expiriment? If we dont make any noise to announce our presence, can we fault the giant for stepping on us?

Later and 73,
Jason kf6pqt

Oh, and PS... Don't say anything about "Ham radio in the 21st Century," As thats all about running PSK at 500mw on your FT-817... or ALE or Winlink or some crap, dontcha know. Wink We love, and are playing with oldschool tech, and we know it!

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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2006, 06:31:01 PM »

John said:
Quote
The ARRL has grown to become yet another bureaucratic laden behemoth. While it claims to serve the Amateur community it has really become a self  serving organization catering primarily to equipment vendors and those segments of the ham community  that the vendor commodities are most marketable. In essence the ARRL amounts to little more than a lackey for high priced vendors and their wares.

I have to agree with you on that one, (I can hear Pete saying, "Tell me something I don't already know!") TOM has to be turning over in his grave at how the organization that he helped create shepherd through it's infancy has grown fat and somewhat lathargic. I lack the organizational skills required to give birth to a new organization. I would say that a group that doesn't cater to any special mode but to all. That actually serves as a loud voice and not wimper in the dark. If it wasn't for Ed Hare and all his dillegent work, I would say the ARRgghhL is completely useless. But that is my opinion. I would sign right up for just such an organization. One that isn't radical but can encompass all who operate.
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2006, 06:35:22 PM »

I think any effort to get the league to get their head out of the "QRP, PSK, BRIGHT ORANGE SIZE XXXXXXLL EMERGENCY 2M FM COMMUNICATIONS BASEBALL JACKET" mentality is to put forth an extensive, bottom-up effort.


That about sums it up, but you forgot to throw the words "Soap Fearing" in there somewhere Lips sealed Lips sealed

The ARRL isn't really interested in AM or any of the related equipment or skill required to repair and operate it because there isn't any $$$ to be made on they're part. I would assume most of the amateurs described by PQT are more of the 'plug and play' variety anyhow, and cringe at the idea of sticking they're hands into a device that has 'thousands' of volts on various components.

But, in contrast, that is the beauty of this hobby. You can go as far as you want with equipment, even if it only means using a repeater from your moms basement on a 2m HT.

If the ARRL turns a blind eye to our sector of this hobby, then 'to hell with them'.
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2006, 08:05:07 PM »

When I first got my ticket I signed up.. My membership lasted 1 year. It didn't take long to realize that the product review of the shinny new ICOM rig was biased.. Especially when there's a full page ad right next to the review!

Also; if you remember back in the 70s Wayne Green (73 Mag.) and a few other prominent people back then propsed a No-Code Tech license. The ARRL would have nothing to do with it. Low and behold the turn of the 90's ham radio was about dead, the ARRL's wallet was getting thinner, and they had this marvelous idea... No Code Tech! Yes of course they took all the credit fir such a wonderful idea, thus inflating their bank account to record highs from the influx of new and naive hams.

I'm not against the No-Code Tech, I came in as one myself and it was the AMer's that inspired me to climb up the ladder.. Truth is the code never was a filter or an incentive it's the electronic theroy, rules, and RF theory that is the filter. But, they've watered down the question pool these day's so that a channel 19 reject can study overnight and get an Extra class the next day.

That is one reason why I am still an advanced. And I'll stay an advanced until they force me to upgrade. I've accomplished my goal, I can talk on 3885! I'm happy!  I've taken the extra written several times just to see if I can pass it and I have several times. There's just no incentive for me to upgrade. Maybe back in the day when an "Extra" meant something but not now when the Extra portion of the band is as bad, if not worse than CB!

The ARRL's obvious resentment of AM is another one of my beefs.. They'll keep that antiquated Morse Code around for nearly 6 decades and consider it for it's historical value in ham radio, Hello! What about AM's historical value?? It's the first method of transmitting the human voice and real sounds!

They're too busy pushing their contests and publications to care about Ham Radio.. I'll bet the other hams around the world really hate the ARRL.. In fact I've heard quite a few Europeans complain about these 'Yankees' hogging the entire ham band for a weekend contest. At least when the AM'ers have a contest they 'encourage' conversation about the technical details of the rig you're using.. Far cry better then 5-9 QRZ? or 2A-MDC Over? What does that acomplish??

Sorry, one of the reasons I liked the AM crowd is because they were all friends, regardless if they'd ever met in real life they still talked about the technical issues and about everyday life and personal interests. I'm more interested in that then I am a name and call in a log.. 5-9 QRZ?

Sorry, I'll step off my soap box now.. But I guess you figured out my answer is NO! We don't need the ARRL!
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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2006, 08:43:18 PM »

When I first got my ticket I signed up.. My membership lasted 1 year. It didn't take long to realize that the product review of the shinny new ICOM rig was biased.. Especially when there's a full page ad right next to the review!

Over the last 20 years, I've seem them rip into a number of rigs that they reviewed.

Quote
That is one reason why I am still an advanced. And I'll stay an advanced until they force me to upgrade. I've accomplished my goal, I can talk on 3885! I'm happy!  I've taken the extra written several times just to see if I can pass it and I have several times. There's just no incentive for me to upgrade. Maybe back in the day when an "Extra" meant something but not now when the Extra portion of the band is as bad, if not worse than CB!

In 30 plus days when the new Part 97 rules go into effect, an Extra Class buys you an increased playing field in the phone portion.

Quote
The ARRL's obvious resentment of AM is another one of my beefs.. They'll keep that antiquated Morse Code around for nearly 6 decades and consider it for it's historical value in ham radio, Hello! What about AM's historical value?? It's the first method of transmitting the human voice and real sounds!

The first line has me scratching my head. What resentment? We have our own AM page on the ARRL site, we have an AM vintage station up and running at W1AW for all visitors to use; and there has been a dedicated "vintage radio" QST issue in Jan. for the last several years. If you go after their WAS award, there is a special endorsement if you get all 50 on AM.

Quote
They're too busy pushing their contests and publications to care about Ham Radio.. I'll bet the other hams around the world really hate the ARRL.. In fact I've heard quite a few Europeans complain about these 'Yankees' hogging the entire ham band for a weekend contest. At least when the AM'ers have a contest they 'encourage' conversation about the technical details of the rig you're using.. Far cry better then 5-9 QRZ? or 2A-MDC Over? What does that acomplish??

ARRL runs 11 HF type contests throughout the year. Of the 11, 2 are "school club roundups", 1 is  "straight key night", 1 is "RTTY roundup", and 2 are CW only. That makes 5 phone related ARRL contests per year and 2 of the 5 are 160 and 10 meter only contests.

The Europeans probably should look closer to home. For the month of October: RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest, EU Autumn Sprint(runs for a week), Worked All Germany, Oceania DX Contest(2 weekends), Asia-Pacific Sprint, JARTS WW RTTY Contest. In October, the ARRL has only the Fall school roundup contest.

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k4kyv
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Don
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2006, 01:24:28 AM »

When was the last time you saw an AM station on the front cover of QST ? When is the last time you saw in depth articles on the theory and construction of AM transmitters,  the refurbishment of old AM broadcast gear ? Not very often if at all ?

When is the last time you saw an in-depth article on the theory and construction of anything in QST?

Those articles won't be found in that magazine.  They will be tucked away into QEX, the bi-monthly rag you have to pay extra for, even if you are a full member.  QST is filled mostly with nauseating "human interest" drivel, plus a little bit of useful stuff for beginners, and quite a bit of not-so-useful stuff.  Most of the construction articles are for accessories such as swr meters, headphone amplifiers and keying monitors, plus a few trivial novelty items such as a QRP cw rig built into an empty catfood tin, or a miniature cw key that doubles as a tie clasp.  The amateur radio related news is stale, having been circulated over the internet weeks before the magazine arrived.  About 50% of the magazine is ads, but I won't bash them too much on that issue since that's the case with nearly all magazines, and CQ is just as bad, if not worse.

It usually takes me less time to read through a monthly issue of QST than it takes me to read the morning newspaper before going to work every day.
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2006, 12:12:16 PM »

Hi all:

Have you EVER seen QST say "don't buy this rig" in any of their reviews?

Where did their statement they had in the 30's-70's go saying they strive to be impartial in their reviews, that they research all potential advertizers to verify their honesty before printing an ad, or the code of ethics printed in the handbooks for that matter?

While I disagree about much of what the ARRL is doing, I feel the group serves ham radio better than not.

73
Dan
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2006, 12:39:24 PM »

Have you EVER seen QST say "don't buy this rig" in any of their reviews?

The last one I clearly recall was when they reviewed (or should I say exposed) the Maxcom automatic antenna matcher.
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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2006, 01:21:52 PM »

Hi all:

Have you EVER seen QST say "don't buy this rig" in any of their reviews?

Where did their statement they had in the 30's-70's go saying they strive to be impartial in their reviews, that they research all potential advertizers to verify their honesty before printing an ad, or the code of ethics printed in the handbooks for that matter?

While I disagree about much of what the ARRL is doing, I feel the group serves ham radio better than not.

73
Dan
W1DAN

From the ARRL web site, some snippets on Advertiser's/Ham Ads:

"Since 1933, QST has administered an Advertising Acceptance Policy. Originally created to assist our members in locating reputable suppliers of Amateur Radio equipment and services, the Advertising Acceptance process has developed into one of the most unique and respected services provided to both members and advertisers. Thousands of ARRL members can be confident that any product appearing in QST meets the advertiser's claims and applicable FCC specifications."

In common with other periodicals that obtain a portion of their financial support from the sale of advertising space, QST, the official membership journal of the American Radio Relay League, has found it necessary to adopt certain policies and establish certain standards to which products and services advertised must comply. These policies were established to protect the ARRL member from companies that offer unsatisfactory products, deal dishonestly or unfairly, and/or misrepresent their products and obligations.

The Advertising and Technical Departments at the League examine all advertising copy that is submitted for publication. When the Technical Department reviews an ad from a new company, or a new product type from an existing advertiser, they sometimes request a spec sheet or product sample. Most products are evaluated for acceptable construction quality, safety, and advertised claims.Those products covered by FCC regulations are subject to laboratory testing to determine compliance with manufacturer's specifications and FCC regulations. Having your product evaluated by the Technical Department also creates product awareness throughout the staff, as well as an open door for useful interjection on design and operation."

For the full story on ARRL advertiser policy, go here:
http://www.arrl.org/ads/#Policy

On Product Reviews, looking at November 2006 QST, this paragraph appeared at the end of the product reviews:

" In order to present the most objective reviews, ARRL purchases equipment off the shelf from dealers. ARRL receives no remuneration from anyone involved with the sale or manufacture of items presented in the Product Review, Short Takes, or New Products columns - Ed."

For a full description on how they do the product review testing and a more in-depth understanding of the entire product review activities, you should read the article, "QST Product Reviews, In Depth, In English", by Mike Tracy, KC1SX, QST Mag., August 2004.
You can also read it here:
http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/pdf/0408032.pdf
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2006, 03:44:41 PM »

Quote
When is the last time you saw an in-depth article on the theory and construction of anything in QST?

Just about every month. There was one on building a preamp/compressor for a D-104 mic within the last year.
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2006, 11:07:16 PM »

Pete posted:
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.....In common with other periodicals that obtain a portion of their financial support from the sale of advertising space, QST, the official membership journal of the American Radio Relay League, has found it necessary to adopt certain policies and establish certain standards to which products and services advertised must comply. These policies were established to protect the ARRL member from companies that offer unsatisfactory products, deal dishonestly or unfairly, and/or misrepresent their products and obligations.

Hmmmm, I seem to recall that MFJ's 3KW tuner burned up on the lab bench with only 900 watts applied. Also, I understand the 'two-tone test' that they perform doesn't hold any water when it comes to truly evaluating 3rd order harmonics. Of course I hate like hell saying this but where else are you going to see any kind of advertisement for ham equipment. Certainly not Maxim magazine, (Unless it "Hiram Percy";>)
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2006, 11:24:41 PM »

Quote
Also, I understand the 'two-tone test' that they perform doesn't hold any water when it comes to truly evaluating 3rd order harmonics.

Huh?
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2006, 07:34:36 AM »

Hi all:

OK I see that they still have the advertizing guide.

"In common with other periodicals that obtain a portion of their financial support from the sale of advertising space, QST, the official membership journal of the American Radio Relay League, has found it necessary to adopt certain policies and establish certain standards to which products and services advertised must comply. These policies were established to protect the ARRL member from companies that offer unsatisfactory products, deal dishonestly or unfairly, and/or misrepresent their products and obligations."

I wonder what their rejection criteria are? To me it feels like they have opened the criteria up. I feel that many MFJ tuners do not hold up to their rated specs (however I have run 400 watts AM on my MFJ 3kw tuner through the Toroid balun!), and wonder if the ARRL lab holds them to the fire about it. It would be fun to see tech reviews on vintage rigs. Just think about the frequency stability of a sloppily built tube VFO rig. And 3rd order IMD of an SX-17!

OK on the Maxcom antenna matcher. Was that within the last 10 years or so?

And yes I do see construction articles. Some pretty good too!

73,
Dan
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2006, 09:07:21 AM »

Steve said:
Quote
Huh?

Yeah, that's what I get for sticking my nose out too far. This has been discussed over on the Yahoo Ham_Amplifier and AMPS list several times. If remember correctly, the two-tone test is not a true measurement of IMD products. I guess it proves the point that a knowing a little about a subject is more dangerous than knowing nothing at all Wink







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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2006, 12:04:02 PM »

You are correct in that two-tone test don't necessarily tell the ENTIRE story. The problem is that it is a static test, and of course, running SSB signals through an amp is a dynamic process. That said, the two-tone test is an industry standard way of measuring IMD. Some of the rantings of those "know-it-alls" on the Amps lists are technically flawed. Much of it is driven by a desire to show how ESSB is evil.

Let's remember, in years past the ARRL did equipment 'review' (remember the New Equipment section in QSTs of old), that contained NO measurements. So in this regards, the ARRL and QST have improved.
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2006, 12:23:06 PM »

Hi all:

I wonder what their rejection criteria are? To me it feels like they have opened the criteria up. I feel that many MFJ tuners do not hold up to their rated specs (however I have run 400 watts AM on my MFJ 3kw tuner through the Toroid balun!), and wonder if the ARRL lab holds them to the fire about it. It would be fun to see tech reviews on vintage rigs. Just think about the frequency stability of a sloppily built tube VFO rig. And 3rd order IMD of an SX-17!

OK on the Maxcom antenna matcher. Was that within the last 10 years or so?

And yes I do see construction articles. Some pretty good too!

73,
Dan
W1DAN

If you want to check if they reviewed your particular tuner, go here:
http://www.arrl.org/members-only/prodrev/bymfg.html

Older QST's had equipment reviews and some at the tech level of amateur gear, but high-level, on the ARRL Lab Bench testing, wasn't done from what I remember.
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« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2006, 01:35:22 PM »

Steve said:
Quote
Much of it is driven by a desire to show how ESSB is evil.


Eau contrair Pierre! Some of these "rantings" actually downplay[/i] the notion that ESSB is evil. W8JI and his entourage are the ones bashing ESSB. There's a fellow up in VE land that seems to be on top of his game and place a lot of these so called facts to bed. His call escapes me now, (since I'm at work).
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2006, 02:01:39 PM »

Yup, W8JI was the ring leader. He shows an incredibly poor understanding of the spectral characteristics of human speech in his so called analysis (or he chooses to ignore it, because it doesn't fit his agenda). Good to see someone exposed some of this crap.
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2006, 11:46:36 AM »

The two-tone can be a standard starting point, as Huz says. But then take it a step further...

Then run some music and voice programming through and listen to the bandwidth on a remote, well shilelded ricebox receiver.

I once had an HP spectrum analyzer here and after a while I didn't use it much for real close evaluations.

What worked was to line the various linears up and one-by-one run them with music into a dummy load. I took careful measurments with the FT-1000D and was actually able to rank the amps 1 through 5, with a variation as much as 15db of extra trash on the worst amps. A good eye on the frequency and s meter can tell the whole story. For each test, use ssb for TX and receive and set the receiver attenuator to the same S9 +20 over and then tune both sides - and  write down the trash S-meter peaks every 1 kc until it disappears.

The cleanest was the Henry 2K (3-500Z's) and the dirtiest was Mr Ugly, a grid driven tetrode. (Mr Ugly has since been torn down as a result)

It's amazing what you can see and measure on a good, selective receiver using an S-meter and music programming into a dummy load. BTW, play the SAME audio sequence through each amp as a reference.

T
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« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2006, 08:19:01 PM »

The two-tone can be a standard starting point, as Huz says. But then take it a step further...

Then run some music and voice programming through and listen to the bandwidth on a remote, well shilelded ricebox receiver.


It's amazing what you can see and measure on a good, selective receiver using an S-meter and music programming into a dummy load. BTW, play the SAME audio sequence through each amp as a reference.

T

What do you use for the music test, Led-Zeppelin, Barry Manalow, etc.??
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« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2006, 08:48:09 PM »

What do you use for the music test, Led-Zeppelin, Barry Manalow, etc.??

I've found the most revealing test song to be, "If I only had a brain".

T
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Use an "AM Courtesy Filter" to limit transmit audio bandwidth  +-4.5 KHz, +-6.0 KHz or +-8.0 KHz when needed.  Easily done in DSP.

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« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2006, 10:04:58 PM »

Three of four tone tests are superior, although more complicated. Also pulsed measurements include the power supply (ies) in the IMD equation.
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