Author Topic: HAM radio licensing  (Read 3471 times)

bosworthj

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HAM radio licensing
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2011, 05:08:05 PM »
The FCC did a number on commercial licenses, also just totally walked away from trying to monitor citizens band.  There are hundreds of "ham radios" being sold at truck stops which are nothing but CB radios with full 10 meter band coverage.  And don't get me started about "incentive licensing" on the ham bands, and then the subsequent doing away with the Advanced ticket after thousands upgraded to it over the years.

But apparently the numbers of amateur radio licenses is at historic highs, even if you don't hear them on the air.  QST says the current census of all classes is over 700,000.

So my question is, where are they?  All I ever see at a hamfest are a few grumpy old curmudgeons, nobody under the age of 62.

Are the number of licenses up because of being able to fly remote control model airplanes on interference-free six meer channels?
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sataraid1

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Re: HAM radio licensing
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2011, 10:50:43 AM »
Quote from: bosworthj
So my question is, where are they?  All I ever see at a hamfest are a few grumpy old curmudgeons, nobody under the age of 62.

We're out here ... we're just not doing much.

When I first got a taste of ham radio, I got really excited and couldn't wait to join the party. I rushed to get my ticket, bought a nice little HT, and thought I'd found my new hobby.

Unfortunately, what I found out is that on 2 meters, all the local repeaters are basically cliques, with each machine being dominated by an insular group of operators that can't stand any of the operators on the other machines. This clique vs that clique. This club vs that club. Meh.

So, no problem ... just avoid 2M and play on HF, right? Well, I had grand ideas of setting up an HF station at home, and spending long cold winter nights having interesting conversations with people from all over the country, and maybe even the world. That's what ham radio is all about, right? Well, nothing could be farther from the truth. HF isn't about conversation. It's about making your contact and getting the hell out of the way so everyone else can pile up. You can't have a casual conversation about the weather in Oregon, because you're constantly interrupted with breaks, and if you ignore the breaks, eventually you'll be yelled at for not clearing the channel. Meh. Another facet of ham radio down the tubes.

It's really quite sad.

These days, I agonize over deciding whether to even "waste" any of the limited channels in my CDM on 2M repeaters, and if I go to a hamfest, it's just to scrounge for old Motorola parts.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 11:05:44 AM by indrr »

Caylorman

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Re: HAM radio licensing
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2011, 02:37:57 PM »
Well, Scott, we just need to get a railroad net going on HF.....

I got my license back in my early 20's, and I've been using it ever since.  I'm not much for using 2m other than for storm spotting, but I'm on HF quite often.  I will admit to not being much of a conversationalist, and in it more for making contacts, which is why I use the digital modes the most. However, I'm more of the type that will have a conversation with someone I know vs. just striking one up with a complete stranger.

I hear plenty of conversations on HF all over the place.  You just need to make sure that you're not trying to start one with some rare DX.

Do I see an Indiana railroads HF net on the horizon?

Appalling hauling

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Re: Dumbed Down Commercial Licensing
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2011, 04:21:26 PM »
My opinion of the FCC is poor.  It represents perhaps the most egregious example of the corruption of a government agency by power and money.  A watchdog agency that was initially established just to coordinate frequencies and protect consumers against radio interference has become just the opposite.  Look at the back-door attempts by a rich hedge-fund manager to take over the GPS satellite channels for a high powered cell phone network as a prime example of what is wrong with this agency.  But, that is political talk, I suppose, and not for this venue.

My recollection of the commercial license structure was that the third class ticket was required of airplane pilots and radio announcers of all type.  It didn't require much of an exam, that I can recall.  Shipboard radio operators had to pass a code test and get a radiotelegraph endorsement.  Guys that worked on aircraft radios had to have at least a second class radiotelephone, and to fix busted TV's or sit all night at the TV station or AM broadcast station to watch the transmitter required a first class.  There were pretty difficult written exams.  I don't believe anything was required of railroad employees, but I could be mistaken about that.  There was an expiration period on the licenses, and they had to be renewed, was it five year intervals, or ten, I don't remember.

Anyway, the whole system was "streamlined" at some point.  If you had worked your butt off to pass the first or second class, your license was dumbed down, and you got a "general" ticket that was good for life.  If you were a third, I don't think you got squat.  Requirements to have any license to fly a plane or run a radio or TV station were pretty much eliminated.  The justification was that the available equipment today is good enough to monitor itself, and doesn't need human intervention.
Cant argue that.The FCC isnt qualified to broadcast or telecast or teach nursery class.I hope I put that in proper order.Though the southern states are targets of inbred jokes the only state in the nation where incest is not a crime is Rhode Island which is the source of relatives hired to work FCC.
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Appalling hauling

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Re: HAM radio licensing
« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2011, 04:23:41 PM »
A group of HAM operators I knew went over to Illinois to take the test.Apparently,its easier over there.
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bosworthj

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« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2011, 02:09:18 PM »
Sadly, I must agree with Mr. Hauling about amateur radio in general.  Cliques rule!  When 2 meter repeaters first populated, the majority were "open" repeaters, not requiring memberships, dues, or even PL tones.  Traveling around the country with a mobile (or even a handheld after they became popular) one could find helpful people to talk you through the coverage area, and even offer assistance with directions, places and things to see, etc.  Now the vast majority of the repeaters just sit idle, at best you hear neighbors talking to each other after they get off work and are heading home.

I have not been on HF in many years, but back in the day when sunspot cycles still had high peaks, I enjoyed the 10 and 15 meter bands.  Made lots of acquaintances around the world, including missionaries in South America who had no other form of communication with home or the rest of the world.  Contesting weekends were a shutdown back then though, as as was mentioned, making the contact and begging for a QSL card from a needed location were all important, and nothing else could transpire while contests were underway.  Eighty and twenty meters were chockablock full most of the time, and it was impossible to find a frequency without getting yelled at that so and so group "owned" that piece of territory.  In fact the 2 meter mentality came from 80 meters, which formerly was where the "locals" chatted with each other.

It is not hard to find a clique to belong to though, if you enjoy that sort of thing, and visiting with the same folk on one band or the other.  Cellphones emails and texting do the same thing now, though, so there is hardly any point in it.

Two things that amateur radio still offer however, are the honing of one's public service skills through one of the RACES or other emergency-responder groups, and weather watching with one of the Skywarn nets.  It is also still a great place to experiment with antennas and such.
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INprinter

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Re: HAM radio licensing
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2011, 03:05:20 PM »
A group of HAM operators I knew went over to Illinois to take the test.Apparently,its easier over there.

Ham tests all are derived from the same pool of official questions depending on which license you are testing. Tests are administered by a group of Volunteer Examiners and 3 of them sign off on your test results that are forwarded to the FCC.  I guess those guys in Illinois could be working some sort of gimmick, but what would be the point since "they don't want new guys in there messing up their local clique." When I took my test in Anderson the guys that gave the test were very professional about it and I nor any of the other participants got any special treatment or coaching to help us "pass" the test. Since I have received my license, I have made several contacts with repeater groups around central Indiana and have found everyone to be very friendly and the first thing they do is to invite you to participate and join in their group. I follow the protocols for getting into the "conversation" and have yet to be scolded or invited to go away. So far, my activities have only been on VHF/UHF so I can't speak for the HF crowd and what goes on down there. I will soon find out when I operate on those frequencies. One thing for sure, Ham is not CB and there are expected protocols specially by the "old timers."

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bosworthj

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« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2011, 04:35:08 PM »
In all fairness to any such group, there are great people in it, and of course the occasional a-h.  The "hobby" has managed to hang in there despite cell phones, texting, emails, tweeting, and facebooking.

As noted, there are times that good old fashioned point to point radio communications between amateur operators is still the only method that works, particularly when there is a Katrina-like regional malfunction of normal phone systems gridding up or going down completely.

Just recently saw a comment in QST that the latest census of amateur radio population has reached a record high in the USA, over 700,000 if I read it correctly.

Still, for there being that many out here, there don't seem to be that many opportunities to interact.  As someone mentoned before, there are more kerchunking repeaters than ever, but few of them seem to be used very much.
Without world class trains and internet, Indiana is failing as a sucessful competitor in the 21st Century.