[TowerTalk] Some Thoughts

Jim Bruce jimnv3v@shore.intercom.net
Fri, 31 Oct 1997 21:34:00 -0500

I believe that's why we now have the entry level Technician license.
-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Reid <jreid@aloha.net>
To: cw@qth.net <cw@qth.net>; towertalk@contesting.com
<towertalk@contesting.com>; cq-contest@contesting.com
<cq-contest@contesting.com>; dx@ve7tcp.ampr.org <dx@ve7tcp.ampr.org>;
kh6b@arrl.org <kh6b@arrl.org>; ah0a@karc.net <ah0a@karc.net>
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
>lasting interest.
>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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