Quote of the day

diggingI surely hope the quote below was a typo of the reporter.

“Today all you need is a smartphone and a computer and you’re into ham radio. You can talk around the world.” (Seen here.)

If not, we’re on the path of digging our own grave.

If talking to someone else far away became the primary goal, why not stick to ordinary phones? Why bother with all the tech stuff, antenna building and tweaking?

8 comments on “Quote of the day

  1. I’ll still don’t know anyone that homemade his own mobile phone. You’re right, it’s not only about making contacts. HAMradio is a very wide hobby with much more possebilties and much more to learn then a smartphone. Actually I think a smartphone doesn’t make you smart at all. 73, Bas

  2. It’s not a typo. With an Echolink App on your phone you ARE on ham radio.
    However, your assumption that ‘talking to someone far away is the primary goal’ is wrong. As it says in Dutch law: “A service of self education, fellowship and technical research, executed by a properly trained individual, interested in radio, exclusively with a personal aim and without financial interest”. That’s quite a bit more than just ‘talk’, although a prolonged exposure to certain local repeaters may have warped your view to some extent.

    • With Echolink you are not using ham radio, you are using a VoIP application. The definition of radio is “The wireless transmission through space by using electromagnetic waves”. The fact that the use of Echolink is limited to ham radio operators, or the fact that you connect to some ham radio infrastructure like a repeater, is totally irrelevant.

      Furthermore, “talking to someone far away” was not my assumption, it was implied by the article.

      • Your definition of radio is right, but HAM Radio is much more than just radio. Echolink is just as much a part of this hobby, as soldering or building large antenna arrays. We do not use telephone, because dialing a number at random will seldom connect you to someone you share a common interest with. Picking up a microphone, even if you only dial a node number, will do just that. Getting in contact with kindred spirits.That’s ham radio to me.

  3. It’s a fair point. But that’s also how HF is sold. As a new ham, I’ve had dozens of my “elders” evangelise over HF by gushing over the ability to talk to distant places. I’ve also had just as many tell me that I *must* get into weak signal modes “to get the DX”.

    Echolink *usually* involves radio at one end. People from all over the world use Echolink to get into one our local repeaters, for example. That’s “wireless”.

    I’ve met a lot of hams over the past year locally, and I’ve never met one that has built their own radio. Certainly, some do. But to try to make this the *core* of the hobby is digging a separate grave. Especially with the “older demographic” and things like fading eyesight.

    Hans, a whole lot of people live in environments where they simply can’t put up a big antenna and work HF. I’m one of them. While I can access my local repeaters, I rely on Echolink to connect to distant repeaters. And some of our local repeaters rely on Echolink to link to other repeaters and simplex links. All of that involves “wireless”. I’ve been looking at my friends’ homes as possible places to put up a temporary dipole. Guess what? Their properties are either too small or have power lines running through their yards. Is making ham radio something exclusively for rural areas a path to a glowing future? Things are just going to get *more* restrictive in suburban areas, not less.

    Lastly, HF equipment is expensive for the most part. A whole lot of people already have a smartphone or a computer, though.

    Why do we have to make this a “zero sum game”? The more people that are on the repeaters, by whatever means, the healthier the hobby is. Unless, of course, you define the hobby strictly in terms of HF.

    But you touch on a sensitive point. The definition of ham radio is changing. The old model is a doddering path to the graveyard, and what ham radio is in ten years will probably not be what it is now.

    • Todd, this is as much not about Echolink, which I use also, it’s about the general perception of ham radio. Authorities in the Netherlands are now banning antennas because “there are other ways to communicate, such as the Internet.”

      There is the pitfall: if ham radio is ‘evolving’ in something which just about communication, there’s no need for it. As far as I’m concerned you don’t have to build your own transceiver, you don’t need to be a genius in electronics either. Still, my belief is that ham radio is about experimenting with radio waves, in one form of another. Linking to the Internet doesn’t bother me much.

      Back to Echolink, for the sake of argument: once people used it because they had no alternative, now Echolink starts to become a reason for not allowing antennas at all. That does bother me.

      • As I recall, that quote “there are other ways to communicate, such as the Internet”, was not in the verdict and the judges ruled in favour of the ham. Ham radio is still an official ITU service. It will last my lifetime yet.

      • Thanks for the clarification. I think the point that was being made in the article was that you don’t have to let these common barriers (money, antenna restrictions, poor eyesight, etc) keep you out of the hobby.
        In my experience, the vast majority of the people that I am acquainted with had no idea what ham radio really was when I told them that I got my licence. Most of them thought I would be some kind of DJ! Those few that did know what ham radio was had no idea that FM was part of it, and they all thought that you had to learn code. So, with that in mind, I think that the author was more intent on dispelling misconceptions (that most have) than in charting the future of ham radio.

        I can’t speak to the argument of not allowing antennae because of Echolink. I’ve never heard that here, but I’ve heard a whole lot of older hams dismiss it out of hand as not being “real” ham radio. But I can understand how you would see that development as disquieting.

        That said, I truly believe that the future lies in conversation, and not a “Can you hear me now?” type of model. If HF can adapt to that, it will do well into the future. Unfortunately, there’s a very serious and highly exclusive mentality “baked in” to HF that will resist those changes. And, since HF is what most people think ham radio *is* (at least those that know at all), it has the potential to drag the entire hobby down a demographic whirlpool into oblivion.

        That’s just my opinion. I hesitate to contradict you, because you are a lot more accomplished and smarter than I am. But I’m willing to make the best of what the future offers, and I’m far more frightened by dead airwaves than by a lack of purity in the hobby.

        ” if ham radio is ‘evolving’ in something which just about communication, there’s no need for it”
        It’s a hobby. I don’t think that there has been a “need” for it for decades now beyond emergency communications, and that can be handled by a small group of dedicated people. There always has been, and always will be, a need for humans to communicate with each other through whatever means. Ham radio can thrive on that need if it it doesn’t become obsessed with the means and delivers the end.

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