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Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

To: "'Wes Jennings'" <wjennings2011@hotmail.com>, <w1ve@yccc.org>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham
From: "Stephen Bloom" <sbloom@acsalaska.net>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2016 08:34:14 -0900
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>

Remember where you are.  You are 40M or so distant from the near large (by
our standards) population center, and as you (and I) stated, the Club in
that population center is running on fumes.  Having 4 ops is fine (and
really pretty decent).  If you can manage 5 next year, even better.  In
reality, these numbers aren't anything all that different from the way it
has always been.    It's always been a one person at a time Elmering deal,
with many going by the wayside.  


-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest [mailto:cq-contest-bounces@contesting.com] On Behalf Of Wes
Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 9:40 AM
To: Stephen Bloom <sbloom@acsalaska.net>; w1ve@yccc.org
Cc: 'Ken Low' <kenke3x@gmail.com>; 'CQ-Contest' <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

As you know Steve I have opened the station up here for people to use and
have invited many up here.
FD we had possibly 4people show up with both a ssb and a cw station set up.
I had 2 ops including myself running the cw station with a 3 ele beam. A his
was the club here.

Been wondering if setting up remote operation might get more using it but
don't even see that interest.

From: Stephen Bloom <sbloom@acsalaska.net>
Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 1:15:41 PM
To: w1ve@yccc.org
Cc: 'Wes Jennings'; 'Ken Low'; 'CQ-Contest'
Subject: RE: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

Hey all:

As I see this discussion flow, my Project Management thoughts come into play
(I"ve done a lot of it in the IT world) .. You try to break things down into
actionable items and prioritize.  These of course will reflect some of my
own observations, but it sounds like we're all on similar tracks

1)      We're contesters, we focus on contesting, but our issues are part of
a larger one, which, if improved, will almost automatically improve ours.
The issue is, while the base of licensed amateurs is either steady or
growing, depending on who you ask, there is very little path for anyone, not
determined on their own, towards active HF operation (or for that matter VHF
weak signal work, which is the basis of VHF contesting).  The license
structure doesn't call for it (and this argument, however one feels about
it, was over long ago), modern equipment seems expensive to a newcomer, and
HOAs and urbanization makes it increasingly difficult to put up useful
antennas.  Most of us who started with "a boy and his radio" did it on a
suburban or rural plot, with room for at least some decent wire antennas.  A
lot of us also had HS and College stations to play with.  I'll pull a
totally made up number out of my hat for the purposes of discussion.  Let's
say 1 in 10 newly licensed have enough exposure to HF to a) know it exists
b) attempt to operate it  .. upping that number to 2 in 10, likely solves a
bunch of this, without doing anything else.  We need a "Path to HF" as part
of the mainstream of Training, and we need club stations to do it.  If you
don't believe this, go to Field Day sometime, and check out a HT only guy or
gal get behind the mic and make their first HF Qs.  Some will do it a bit,
then just hand it over, but I promise you will see at least a couple who
will totally light up, *and* sometimes you will see someone who has *it*.  I
go to South Dakota each year for Field Day, and the group there has a few of
the folks I'm describing.  I'm not even much of a SSB op, but I can teach
these folks enough, to see their rate rise over the hours.  Luckily the Club
out there provides a number of HF activities, and their mentor is W0SD who
is absolutely first class.  It works, but, a lot of these guys can't even
fathom putting up their own stations, and you can't just talk them into it.
Which leads to

2)       Places and spaces for new (and maybe not so new operators).  I
think we're all in agreement that these are club stations and multi operator
capable privately owned stations.  I'd add a third, something along the line
of what I suggested to Wes ..that there are opportunities to make ones own
station available to a club.  The question is, what can be done to make
these more common.  The first stop I imagine (for the States at least) is
ARRL.  The last CEO was an operating guy K1ZZ who happened to be an
enthusiastic contester.  The new one is clearly about finances and lobbying.
This is not a complaint, it's likely a good move in the 21st century, but I
don't know what it means in terms of commitments to training and on the air
activity.  I wonder, because this is far from the first time this discussion
has come up (and not just amongst contesters), but nothing seems to actually
get done.  Don't want to get into a pro league/anti league argument, just
that I don't know what/if anything they can/will do.  If not, I think we
have to look along the lines of how dxpeditions are supported.  They get
help from foundations set up for the purpose, equipment manufacturers,
individual donations etc.  Luckily, we're not talking the kinds of dollars
those things take, but some kind of organizing is necessary.  Maybe some of
the big contesting and dx clubs can pick this up?  I'm a member of CWOps,
which is (at least not by design) a contest club, but does end up having a
good bit of overlap with the contest community.  They're succeeding in
something I would have considered impossible ..training new (and often
younger) hams not only to learn code, but to be effective operators.  If you
work a KI4xxx or a KM6xxx with good cw skills not using a code reader, you
are probably working someone who has been through their program.  They're on
to something as far as how to actually coach and enthuse people to do this.
I"ll hit up a couple of their founders next time we're in the same place,
and see what we can learn from them.

Steve KL7SB

From: Gerry Hull [mailto:gerry@yccc.org]
Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 6:54 AM
To: Stephen Bloom <sbloom@acsalaska.net>
Cc: Wes Jennings <wjennings2011@hotmail.com>; Ken Low <kenke3x@gmail.com>;
CQ-Contest <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

Rookie Roundup misses the point.   You need all the factors of a BIG contest
to get people really interested.  Joe,it sounds you liked the old RR
due to some of these factors, it sounds like.

Doing a bigger event gets potential DXers and game-type players involved.
The type of people interested in the contesting aspect seem to thrive on

I'd love a CQWW-style Contest --a  world scope event -- where we bring new
hams in, and have them actually participate as part of the team.
As I [previously said, doing a presentation @ a club does not do the trick.
There are too many nay-sayers who will poo poo the whole thing
before understanding what it is all about.

Multi-op stations are the breeding ground for new contesters!   Going to a
big station and being part of a team makes you want to DREAM about
doing it yourself.  It is a HUGE motivating factor!

This would not be easy. The calendar is already jammed. Perhaps we can get
all the contest clubs in the US and/or the rest of the world to agree to
such a contest event.  A REAL contest with station owners, but newbies at
the helm.

Perhaps we would just post to cq-contest.net<http://cq-contest.net> and to
3830, but there no "official" adjudication? (like some of the short events
now.) Maybe the winners are not the scores revealed (however important for
competition and bragging rights), but the number of new contest/DX operators

Steve, I DO agree that real club stations would be awesome.   I know that
many clubs buy radios for field day and take them out
once a year.   Wouldn't it be better to have a club station?  Absolutely.

This is really not a matter of dollars.  It's a matter of education, focus
and the willingness to make it happen.


Gerry, W1VE

On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 12:46 AM, Stephen Bloom
<sbloom@acsalaska.net<mailto:sbloom@acsalaska.net>> wrote:
Hi Wes et al:

We already do have "Rookie Roundup" which I think tends to have horrible
turnout.  I don't think any contest per se is an answer, *but* you are
already halfway towards the solution by what you are doing at your station

The Club you are referring to, is unfortunately fairly typical (and I
suspect the average age Is somewhere close to Social Security age).  I can
tell you what is different about the Club here (and I don't want to kid
anyone, they struggle too) is .having a decent club station.  They have
weekly work sessions, they are into the EmCom stuff, but, they also
experiment with everything from HF to Mesh Networks.  What does that have to
do with you?   (and I'm sharing this to the list because you aren't the only
one in the situation)  *Your station* can become the defacto club station.
You will have to more than just HF contest, but, I know you have other
interests as well.  *Be* the program at a meeting some time, show up to
their Field Day if they do it (CQ Qs are worth 2X on FD, every club is
thrilled to get any cw op they can) and get people involved in your station.

If I had eff yew money, I'd give out grants to Clubs that would commit to
buying or leasing space to have an actual VHF-160 capable station, not
necessarily top line, but reasonably modern with useful antennas for
multiple bands.  In this age of HOAs and increasing urbanization, that's
going to make or break or the hobby, whether contesting or just anything HF


Steve KL7SB

From: Wes Jennings
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 8:27 PM
To: Stephen Bloom <sbloom@acsalaska.net<mailto:sbloom@acsalaska.net>>;
Cc: Ken Low <kenke3x@gmail.com<mailto:kenke3x@gmail.com>>; CQ-Contest
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

Ok Gerry,

Now this is getting somewhere and having the ideas to do such. I have gone
to local ham Club here many a time and seems they want to talk about cell
towers, 3D printing, Satellite TV, and when there is some discussion on Ham
topics it is VHF packet, short bursts every meeting about ARES mainly the
same thing over and over again.

When there is a discussion on HF, Antennas, Contesting, Propagation the
people don't even act like it is part of the hobby and they are short
presentations. Getting the ones to even go to a club station or Field day is
like pulling teeth.

each new ham has a automatic membership for a year to the local club but
getting them there is another thing.

I have thought of a few things contest wise but getting them off the ground
is a bit of a thing.

one of the thoughts is to create a new contest where it is a elmer and a

Rookie operates and 3 modes are used in blocks of 4 hrs each .




the elmer is there to assist but not to operate the radio but help with
spotting and searching.

Another idea is take a contest like CQWW and have a small competition
locally with power/antennas etc all predetermined so all are running the
same types of stations now like wires or what not are all up to design of
each station as could make multi element wire beams ... phased verticals
etc. If ya wana award the top scores or top rookie etc etc etc all doable
just have it all lined out and would be a contest within a contest.

a few more I have thought of but it gives some of the ideas

These are what I feel should be tried.

possibly after a "HF" class where cw is also taught along with how to make
antennas and how to operate on the HF bands. where at the end of it is a
major contest or some such or possibly the one with all three modes

Just thoughts and random as they are



From: Gerry Hull <gerry@yccc.org<mailto:gerry@yccc.org>
<mailto:gerry@yccc.org<mailto:gerry@yccc.org>> >
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 2:21 PM
To: Stephen Bloom
Cc: Ken Low; CQ-Contest; Wes Jennings
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Observations of a young ham

A very interesting topical discussion.

Here's some of my discovery over the past year and a half, where we did the
"Discover the HF Experience" event, once in Canada, one in MA,

and another in Dayton, all with experienced contest ops doing the demos...

Some facts:

- There are lots of young amateur radio licensees

- Most of them are on VHF only.

- We have more licensees now than we have had in many years.

So, hopefully, this should dispel the the idea that we are competing with
Video Games.  People are interested in the IDEA of ham radio.

They just don't understand enough about it.  And we don't show 'em.

Hell, there are tens of thousands of things that compete for peoples time
and energy.

Amateur Radio -- HF Operation -- and contesting are very compelling
activities -- however, as one young  ham said to me "Amateur Radio is hidden
in plain site."

Yes, there are 1000s of web sites about Ham Radio in the internet.  BUT, you
have to know what to look for!!!  We cater to ourselves, and we use an awful
lot of jargon that will be totally foreign to new/non hams.

All of this was especially evident in Dayton.  Many licensed hams came to
our event and told us they had never operated HF.

One father and son team said "We have our extras.  We got them together,
just for the challenge."  They had never been on HF.

Another guy stopped by.  We had six remote stations they could operate.  He
said "I have no interest in operating.  I just want to talk to you about
getting my antennas up.   I came here to get info.  However, every booth I
go to, it is just old buddies talking together and I cannot get the info I

I received and email from a ham in San Francisco -- SAN FRANCISO!!  -- that
said he could not find a ham to help him put up an antenna -- he was
interested in learning about contesting.  (We got him hooked up.)

I think those who think HF, and especially HF contesting, are not compelling
hobbies, better think again.    Do they have a social component that anyone
of any age craves?  You bet.  I have more contesting friends than friends

Do we have barriers to entry?  You bet.  Can they be overcome?   That's for
us, as a community, to overcome.


If I'm a new ham and I don't have a compelling experience operating HF, why
would I want to go on and push myself to upgrade?

Take a new ham, or even an unlicensed op, into a decent station with a
tribander, a KW and computers.

Work DX.  Break Pileups.  Operate a contest.   Explain Propagation and it's
challenges.  Talk about gear and antennas.

Do  a newbie team.  Don't worry about score -- but let people know it's a

Part of the problem is you have to experience the excitement FIRST HAND.  A
WRTC video, a youtube video, though well produced, is not the same as

first-person operating.

As espoused by Mary, KC1CWF, treat young hams as PEERS.  They are very
smart.  They WANT to learn.  They WANT to be challenged.

Do they have to win CQWW CW on the first try?  Of course not.   Do they want
to be part of a team?  YOU BET!

We, contesters, are the cream of the crop of HF ops (IMHO).  Looking at
magazine pages, we are the most popular activity in the hobby.

We drive the development of high performance gear.    We have to be the

Part of the problem is we are all getting old.  We don't want to make the
effort.   Social Norms are different today.

People question why a 15-year-old would go into the house of a 50-to-60 year
old person they did not know well and spend a weekend.

All this can be overcome by education.

So -- if you just want to pontificate on CQ-Contest about how it's all going
to hell, and that we have lost our youth to video games, then I

guess our fate is sealed.

Instead, take some of that energy and focus it on bringing new people into
the fold.  They are there for the taking...


Gerry, W1VE

Contesting since age 16....(42 years and counting)

On Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 1:06 PM, Stephen Bloom
<mailto:sbloom@acsalaska.net<mailto:sbloom@acsalaska.net>> > wrote:

Given the big go around on this subject, I think WL7F and KE3X bring it down
to the essentials

Re:  KE3X (and related to something I had mentioned early about wondering
why EU continues to grow contesters), the ticket for young people is social,
*especially* young people who may still be at that awkward stage (that some
of us never grow out of!) of finding their social niche.  I run into a *lot*
of contesters who I remember from my teen days in the late 70s/early 80s in
W2 land with pretty much identical paths.  They got their licenses either
through family or a local elmer/club, played on the air some, and got
recruited or found by one of the major contest clubs or multiop stations.
As best as I can tell, a number of them are getting on 40 years of
contesting without significant breaks.  Not only that, but many of their
closest friends, confidantes, people who have gone through their lives with
them, have been together since then.  We can discuss technology changes,
gaming, "busy" user interfaces vs. spare etc. etc. but I've known enough
millennial and younger to know that the basic dynamics, "nerds and geeks
looking for a fun group to do geeky stuff" doesn't change.

We have a very modern well designed station at the Anchorage Amateur Radio
Club (KL7AA).  With travel and now with the KL7RA station, I haven't had
much time in the last few years to do much with them, but, at least for SSB
and RTTY, we can count on some newly licensed or newly reactive ham getting
on to "just play around" in some contest, and, "get it."  Not all stick with
it, but more than you would expect.  I can tell you, that it is the #1
attractant to the younger folks, much moreso than the beer gutted guys
playing EmComm (not that there is anything wrong with beer or EmComm).  The
best thing anyone on this list could do for the future, is convince their
local club to become a "hackerspace."  A clubhouse, with equipment, where it
is comfortable to hang out, bs, and learn, will pay yuuuuge dividends.
Also, concentrate on fun, the younger guys and gals really don't want to
hear about how everything has gone to hell since the code requirement was
dropped, or how anything involving ip is "not Amateur Radio."  Our future,
as a hobby overall, is going to be first and foremost, radiosport, and
secondly, the permutations of RF and IP, with socializing being the glue
that holds it all together.

Re:  WL7F, Wes is on a similar path, plus he brings up the other point that
I think is center, regarding the two discussions going on right now, 1)  How
do we get new people  2) Why can't we change the rules for Contest <fill in
the blank>

We talk about winning.  What's winning?  One answer, and I think the
important one is ...if you had fun, you won.  If you had 5 people over, made
30Qs, and had more beer than points, but you had fun, I don't see the
problem.  Now, let's assume you are truly competitive, somewhat Type A and
"just being in the game" either leaves you cold, or you are bored with it.
Odds are, you have some idea what you want to be competitive at.  If having
a shot at winning in a SOAB category in CQWW is it, if you have the money
for it, you are keeping your passport up to date, and checking out the cost
of land in the Caribbean or EA8, if not, you are shamelessly kissing up to
someone who already HAS a place there and checking out fares on EasyJet.  If
you want a shot at winning a category in your section in SS, but have the
same big gun winning HP each year, you might decide to run low power, but
put up a gain antenna for 40.  Everyone has a contest or two, or twenty,
where the rules either actually disadvantage ones QTH or particular
operating preferences, but overall, change creates more agita, then just
taking each contest for what it is.  We also *can't* have rules existing
because of cheating.  Remember, first and foremost, this is not just
technical, this is social, anything beyond trust and verify if and only if
something seems way out of kilter, is as good as it can get, in maintaining
that balance.

Steve KL7SB

WL7F wrote

I have been reading these posts for a while now and wondering why I
continually see a trend of I can't win so ya need to change the rules so I
can. First off there is no such thing as Can't secondly what kind of a win
is it if you have to change the rules to do such. If you just want a plaque
go down and buy one the local shops will be more then willing to make you
one up saying what ever ya wish it to.

Sounds to me like it is not so much promoting the contesting but rather
showing the backsides and competitors that are sore they don't have the
wherewithal to actually compete. Now ya wana get youngsters in this well
quit trying to compete with video games and just get out and invite them in
to the shack for some of the contests and have them help from the get go. It
is not anywhere close to a video game so comparing the two as said earlier
is like comparing a apple to a orange .. not gona happen.

Now I am in one of them places, competing in a class that I have less of a
chance of winning then most that are reading this. I Spend the hours in the
chair in front of a radio to make myself competitive. It is called strategy
and decision making. Am I good at it .. naa I just put the seat time in as I
could always be better. Guess what I will get better I will do better and I
will at some point win a contest in North America at least. Do I wish for
there to be more overlays or what not NO and that is a resounding NO let
there be less of them so when I do it will mean that much more to me. This
is a mindset that is productive and not destructive!!!

KE3X wrote replying to K2WR

"There is something (or many somethings) that is failing to attract the
younger generation(s) that nobody has quite identified yet."

I think it's easily identifiable:  that 'something' is the social aspect.
Gaming is an excellent comparison.   Example:   My 18-year old was accepted
Early Decision to college last week and within 24-hours he was already
playing League of Legends with a group of his future Class of 2021's.  Kids
bond around an activity. Can you imagine one of them saying "Hi - hope to
work you in CQWPX CW next Spring!"

Yes - you will occasionally find a teenager with the patience to learn about
propagation, or (God forbid) learn Morse Code, and Amateur Radio may be
additive  to that kid's life.

But what most kids really want is friends, fun, social acceptance and a
competitive outlet. Contesting may have satisfied some of those basic needs
in the 1970's but today there are more efficient outlets.   The technology
has moved forward - but human nature has not changed.

Disclaimer:   I have 3 kids (ages 22, 21 and 18) with General class licenses
and one who competed for Team USA in High Speed Telegraphy.   They all
started with Radio Merit Badge in Scouts.   If they do any contesting at
all, it's only because Dad invites them to help with a family Multi-Op.
They would never sit down at the radio themselves, mostly because none of
their friends are on the other end of the airwaves.    My 11-year old will
do Radio Merit Badge next year to learn the basic principles, and maybe
he'll get his Technician license, but I anticipate a similar outcome to his
brothers' after that.

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