[AMRadio] Getting on the Air - May 2008 QST

D. Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Tue Apr 22 18:41:36 EDT 2008

> From: "Brett Gazdzinski" <Brett.Gazdzinski at verizon.net>

> 50 years ago, I am sure the old timers complained that the new apliance
> operators
> dont even make their own capacitors or resistors anymore, or blow glass 
> for
> tubes....

That's about when I first heard the term "plug-in appliance operator".  More 
and more hams were buying Rangers, Valiants, DX-100's (later Apache's), 
Globe Kings, etc, instead of building homebrew rigs up from scratch. 
Components were plentiful and readily available then, either WW2 surplus or 
brand new from Allied, Burstein-Applebee, LaFayette and Radio Shack, so the 
"parts procurement" problem was not an issue.  Technical information and 
detailed project descriptions were abundant in the Handbooks and amateur 
radio magazines of that era.

As SSB became more widely accepted, that accelerated the trend towards 
appliance operating, since  few hams had the capability or desire to build 
something that complex from scratch and try getting it to work, although 
there were quite a few  homebrew SSB rigs on the air.  The commercial stuff, 
mostly Collins and Central Electronics, was too expensive for many amateurs, 
and "sideband for  the masses" (the cheap, flimsy, low-quality transceivers 
like the Heathkit Hotwater rigs, Swans, Galaxies and others) had not 
appeared on the market yet.

Nevertheless, the growing trend towards appliance operation was one of  the 
motivators for the incentive licensing proposal, which first appeared in a 
QST editorial sometime in 1963.  In hindsight, incentive licensing was a 
dismal failure in terms of its stated purpose, since if anything, it 
accelerated the trend towards appliance operation, and  looking at the bands 
to-day... well, enough said.  Incentive licensing almost turned out to be 
the long hoped-for death blow to AM.  After the changes went into effect on 
22 November, 1968, almost overnight AM and most homebrew rigs all but 
disappeared from the bands.  One of the reasons was that Generals were 
restricted to narrow subbands that soon took on the name "electronic 
ghetto", and many went to SSB because they could no longer hack it with 
100-watt class rigs on AM.  It has been theorised that this was exactly one 
of the intentions of incentive licensing from the outset, since powers that 
be weren't happy with the pace at which amateurs were changing over from AM 
to SSB.

> I do agree you are not allowed to take any risks with anything anymore.

Except with the money we invest for retirement. More and more companies are 
phasing out their guaranteed pension entitlement plans and  replacing them 
with risky 401K's that may actually lose money. Your retirement security may 
be heavily impacted by current market conditions on the date of your 

Don k4kyv

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