[AMRadio] Your recent comments on AM (Tannehill)

Ben Dover quixote2 at ix.netcom.com
Thu Jan 12 15:25:21 EST 2006

>Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 13:55:50 -0600
>To: <w7rt at arrl.net>
>From: Ben Dover <quixote2 at ix.netcom.com>
>Subject: Your recent comments on AM (Tannehill)
>By this time you've no doubt gotten your E-mail boxes well and truly
>filled with howls of outrage from AM operators because of your comments.
>If not, consider this to be the FIRST of the coming flood.
>I'll address said comments one point at a time; interestingly, starting
>with the LAST:
>>> Richard L. Tannehill P.E. - W7RT
>ARRL Life Member
>(45-years amateur licensed)<<
>First off...  your four plus decades as a licensee don't impress 
>me in the least; I've held an EXTRA for four plus decades (and 
>remember that back then you had to hold a General, Conditional,
>or the then defunct/ grandfathered Advanced for a MINIMUM of
>TWO YEARS before you could even APPLY for an Extra).
>Next...  holding the license of Professional Engineer doesn't
>impress me either. I've known a number of PEs over the years,
>and at one time toyed with the idea of apply for one myself.
>Most PEs are level headed, competent engineering types, but
>in my line of work (broadcasting) I've ALSO run into a number
>of them who got the license by the means of weekend "cram courses"
>taken so that the PE behind thier names would hopefully make
>them more convincing as salesmen of broadcasting equipment. A lot
>of these so-called "engineers" quite frankly didn't know which
>end of the hot soldering iron you're supposed to grab until they
>got a PRACTICAL lesson on that subject!
>Attempting to bolster one's credibility and personal prestige by
>waving irrelevant certification around is, to say the least, pompous
>and arrogant. It's common practice among broadcast engineers
>to do so. The Society of Broadcast Engineers, among others, has it's
>own program of ego boosting "certification" tests, and the wild
>proliferation of letters routinely placed behind names in E-mails and
>on business cards is tiresome, at best. To point it out, a colleague
>of mine has taken to adding ONLY the letters CMM behind his name 
>in E-mails regarding engineering subjects. When someone bites and asks
>what the hell a "CMM" is, he tells them... Certified Motorcycle Mechanic,
>a certificate (which he DOES INDEED hold), and which is just as relevant
>to the subject at hand as the certifications everyone ELSE is tossing
>around with such gay abandon.
>>>The League claims that their plan does not favor one mode over 
>another. Not true. It favors AM-DSB operators. It would allow for
>9 KHz AM modulation, in bands which otherwise are limited to 3.5 KHz.
>These include the lower HF bands, which are quite crowded at times.<<
>If you'll think back a little over your 45 years of hamming, you'll
>recall that from the beginning of that period the #1 complaint of
>EVERYONE has been "the bands are too crowded...  SOMETHING has to
>be done!". Digging a little bit deeper in old issues of QST, you'll
>find that Hiram Percy Maxim himself, writing as T.O.M. (The Old Man),
>was complaining that the bands were too crowded BEFORE WORLD WAR ONE.
>The defnition of "too crowded" seems to be "I can't get on the frequency
>that I want whenever I want to do it, because some *^%&$%$@ is already
>there!". I'm sure you'll agree that this definition is specious at best.
>Once again, turning to your PERSONAL experience, you'll no doubt recall
>the incredibly vicious on the air battles between the then dominant AM
>operators and the newfangled "Slop Buckets". I can sure as hell remember
>them...   wall to wall deliberate QRM, and name calling that fell just
>short of open obscenities (unlike today, hams back then DID respect that
>particular part of the regulations).
>Going back a bit farther... there was the long standing animosity between
>CW operators and AM people; there was simmering resentment from the CW camp
>when a phone band was added to 40 meters.
>Behind both of these battles was the usually bogus claim that spectrum 
>space was being wasted.
>That argument is no more valid in the current case as it was in the past.
>Amateur radio isn't about cramming the ultimate signal capacity into the
>given bandwidth...  it's about ENJOYING yourself, and having some flex in
>the rules to experiment.
>>> The solution is simply to restrict AM-DSB to above 28.5 MHz. (10 meters
>& above) <<
>Actually, a BETTER solution would be to restrict ALL digital modes to 10
>meters and above, and for some solid engineering reasons. MANY digital 
>modes are essentially PULSE transmissions, and as anyone who has dealt with
>pulse knows the generation of spurious, out of band products is INEVITABLE.
>Just ask any broadcaster who is wrestling with an addition of the IBOC system
>about that one... which points out something else. Newer modulation schemes,
>in order to work at all, usually DEMAND inherently wider spectrum slices.
>that not the case, my employer would not be spending tens of thousands of
>dollars for new antenna systems and tower crew costs to install them.
>Given the wildly variable levels of amateur expertise, plus a "why should I
>give a damn as long as MY system works" attitude, sending the more modern 
>modes of transmission to the Siberia of VHF / UHF makes a whole lot MORE 
>>> Amateurs and the league have been upset in the past over wide-SSB 
>modulation, meant to improve audio quality. AM is no different from
>this. <<
>This is your only valid point, IMHO. Narrow minded amateurs who whine
>"the bands are too crowded", and an ARRL that is usually for sale to the
>highest bidding equipment manufacturer should NOT have opposed high 
>quality SSB transmission by a few forward thinking hams.
>>> It is an old modulation that adds nothing to advancing the technological
>art, and should be confined to bands where there is ample spectrum
>available. <<
>Yes, amplitude modulation IS an old modulation scheme, which does little to
>advance the technology. But...  making that argument shows that you haven't 
>been looking at the big picture over the years.
>The last time that individual innnovators advanced technology was before
>WW1. Lee Deforest went BROKE, numerous times, by clinging to the concept of
>independent inventors being the main driving force in the technological
>advancement of this country. These days, innovation comes from INDUSTRIAL,
>Can you imagine what the result would have been had an individual inventor 
>come to General Leslie Groves and said "I have this GREAT idea for a weapon.
>You smack two hunks of uranium together and there's a hell of an explosion.
>Just give me a few billion dollars and we can get started building it"?
>Groves would have had the MPs toss this guy out on his ass, and then chewed
>a few butts for even allowing such NUTS in the front door to bother him!
>These days, sad to say, hams aren't even on the front lines of technological
>advancement anymore. Nowadays, we don't even have the Defense Department as a
>watchdog over our spectrum anymore...  the 220 MHz ham band used to be under
>DoD protection because it was spectrum that they could expand into in time
>of war and severe need for spectrum. 
>Guess what? UPS trucks are on 220 now!
>I've heard from DoD folks that the general attitude there is to regard hams
>as IRRELEVANT. We simply don't fit into thier planning or consideration any
>more, and we haven't for at least a decade...  just look at the current state
>of the MARS program if you need proof of the truth of that statement.
>I'm sure that on this we'll just have to "agree to disagree", but I found it
>to be quite ungenerous to post your comments simply because YOU aren't an
>AM operator.
>AM has a LONG tradition as a viable and useful mode of emission in MANY radio
>service, not just on the ham bands. To exile it to VHF at this point in
>is a ridiculous proposal, IMHO.
>Tom Adams, W9LBB

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