[TowerTalk] Some Thoughts
Fri, 31 Oct 1997 21:34:00 -0500
I believe that's why we now have the entry level Technician license.
From: Jim Reid <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Date: Friday, October 31, 1997 00:26
Subject: [TowerTalk] Some Thoughts
>Aloha from Hawaii,
>I hope the following will not cause me to be de-listed
>from the reflector. However, we need to consider the
>situation that may be developing in the FASC committees
>of both the ARRL and the IARU. And, maybe, within
>other nations as well.
>Here are some thoughts about the future of amateur
>radio, our numbers, and a point or two about Morse
>First, what is amateur radio??
>Does it exist so folks can communicate with one another??
>This is one thesis: we want to communicate, and there are
>many modern, efficient, high bit rate modes. They work
>better than CW and SSB modes under high noise conditions.
>For communication’s sake, these ought to be used; new
>amateurs should be tested about these, not Morse CW,
>which certainly should not remain a test requirement
>for HF band license privileges.
>Others speak of the real world -- that the activities of interest
>to many hams are rather foolish and lack application to the
>real world. They criticize the license structure as flim-flam,
>needing over-haul, and in particular the Morse test eliminated,
>as this will surely improve amateur radio’s public image.
>These critics believe an image of amateur radio as archaic
>exists today: that of the ancient and geriatric ham playing
>games; such as perhaps this past weekend’s CQWW DX SSB
>contest, which by the way, had thousands of hams very active
>and interested, in many ways, all over the world for 48 hours.
>They were very busy, and happy, just contacting one another
>for a moment. This is NOT communicating, as has been said
>many, many times by critics of our use today of
>the HF spectrum amateur bands. But it IS something of
>great interest to many, many HF licensed hams.
>So, is the ability to communicate, real information-laden
>data, at the heart of amateur radio? And is communicating
>information most efficiently what should appeal to the
>young people that are alleged to be needed to rescue the
>hobby/service from alleged decline??
>No, I do not think so. What gets guys and gals really
>interested in pursuing amateur radio is something more:
>almost a mysterious need to understand and use something;
>to learn the technology, to personally be able to apply it,
>and to test their own abilities and whatever equipment
>they may have to the limit.
>Many have pointed out that few hams build their own HF
>rigs any more; I am sure this is true; but many of us
>sure enjoy fooling around with different HF antenna arrays.
>I have three different antenna set-ups now — inverted,
>parallel V-dipoles on 160, 80, 40 and 30 meters;
>also, 4 each 600 foot long wires which are switched about
>via relays to form several V-beams which cover nearly
>all azimuths, and, of course, the ubiquitous tri-band beam,
>with a rotating dipole attached to cover the five HF
>bands from 20 up through 10 meters.
>Each antenna/band combination is useful at different
>times for different reasons, all of which require some
>understanding of the mysterious and wonderful aspect of
>HF propagation, the ionosphere, and the status of the Sun.
>Every day of the week, I check the Mt. Wilson
>Observatory web site for the doings on the sun. You must
>be interested in how it all works for an interest to really be
>vibrant and lasting in the HF radio world, or so it seems to
>What is at the heart of the REAL amateur radio operator, in
>my opinion, is a natural curiosity, and desire to KNOW more
>about THINGS than that of the typical person. It is the sort
>of person, who, when young, was interested in bugs, or
>the stars, or, maybe math. He was the kid who the teacher
>in middle school spotted who enjoyed the general science
>class, who already had some hobbies which related to
>things about the world, real touchable, things, like maybe…
>pollywogs, or collecting rock mineral specimens.
>Amateur radio needs young people who already are naturally
>inclined and curious about physical things about the world and
>how and why they work as they seem to. These are the kids
>who may grow up to be technical professionals: engineers,
>physicians, technicians, mechanics, plumbers, electricians
>and also computer or radio amateur nerds!
>As a traditional mode of ham radio, should new people to our
>service/hobby be required to learn the Morse code? I believe
>the right people we want to add to the ranks will want to know
>Morse, and use it. However that point evolves, young people
>need to be encouraged in the right directions by someone who
>can make the "nature of things" become of interest to them. I was
>very lucky, as when I was young, perhaps 1938 or so I think,
>a friend allowed me to look at the moon and some stars through
>his backyard telescope!! Wow, I was turned on to real stuff!!
>And, as is being discussed by the FASC, amateur radio needs
>to be presented to people as a place where they can learn more
>about the way things are and work; but they must already have
>had some spark of interest ignited about natural phenomena.
>The amateur radio service/hobby will prosper, and grow in
>numbers, if that is deemed desirable, only to the extent that
>we attract the type of person I describe above into it.
>Amateur radio will not survive if our aim is just to get more
>people communicating with one another on the HF bands.
>They will swell the numbers for awhile, but I cannot believe
>their interest will remain if they are not the sort that really
>wants to delve into the how and why of it all. Just getting
>on and talking, or exchanging bit streams will not be of
>That's my opinion about how amateur radio should be grown
>in the future and also be maintained as a viable use of
>the spectrum allowed us. We want the right new people,
>young and old, not just those who only want a neat,
>new way to communicate; they won't stay, nor contribute,
>in my opinion.
>73, Jim, KH7M
>On the Garden Island of Kauai
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