Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The sad state of Amateur radio

What the heck happened ?

 I sit here in the home office on a rainy Washington state winter day, listening to a pileup on ten meters trying to work a VK9 station in the morse code portion of the band, and I just have to scratch my head and wonder just what the hell happened to us amateur radio operators. It is such a cluster of stations trying to work the VK9, with people calling right on top of the station even though he is clearly sending UP UP UP, as well as other operators repeating this over and over again.

The reasons why we are such bad operators.

 There are many theories out there as to why the ham bands have gotten so bad, with such poor radio operators on the airwaves.
 No matter what reason you buy into or believe, something has to be done.

1. CB operators.
Some blame the influx of CB radio operators, that came into the hobby after they dropped the Morse code testing, but i don't think that is it really. I come from a Citizens Band (CB) background and try to operate a clean signal on the airwaves. Sure i make mistakes, who doesn't, but it gets to a point where it is just ridiculous.

2. Dumbing down the test.
Other reasons that this might be happening is the dumbing down of the testing requirements, where you almost get points just for getting your name right. Again this doesnt seem to make sense because even if the new operators aren't the brightest and best in the field, you would think that common sense would kick in. No matter how you find the DX station, whether you just stumble across him on the air, or come in through the DX cluster, eventually if you understand morse code at all you will understand the DIDIDAH DIDADADIT (UP) that is being sent every 5 seconds, sometimes multiple times.

3. Dropping the morse code requirements.
The other reason that i hear most of the time is the dropping of the Morse Code requirements on the testing, but dont see that as the cause of the problem, since most of the guys that operate CW now actually WANT to learn it and use it to work DX stations.

4. Dishonest ham operators.
 This one was the biggest kick in the head to me, the first time i was bamboozled by a ham radio operator. When i got my ticket back in 1995, i had come from a CB background, and could not wait to get in step with the Amateur radio op's that seemed to really know what they were doing. I had my handy dandy HT and was talking to people all over the county with simple antennas and was truly amazed. I had such a high respect for ham radio operators and took advice from anyone that would offer it to me, so imagine my surprise the first time i paid for gear from a HAM that actually didn't work. Well, that broke any disillusions I had from that point on.

 I am a lone wolf and don't care to join any groups.

Truth be told, I don't have very many ham op's that I hang out with much less do any trading with. I have not had any Elmer's and everything I know I learned myself through books and magazines or over the internet. If I need to know something I am very capable of finding out the information I need.

 We have no one to blame but ourselves.

 I guess if you really look at it, the only people we have to blame at this point is ourselves. I dont Elmer anyone, and no one Elmers me. Oh sure, I know there are probably exceptions to this and i will probably get slammed with comments saying something to the contrary, but really what have YOU done lately to Elmer a new ham, much less promote Amateur radio ? I am sure that if you lok at the number of BAD radio operators out there and compare it to the people that actually DO Elmer other hams, you will see quite a difference.