|[AMRadio] Good or bad?|
k4kyv at charter.net
Thu Apr 30 13:36:52 EDT 2009
> The lead article on the ARRL website today is one about a group of hikers
> encouraged to get ham tickets so that they can run their own
> communications. The club that sponsored it reports that after a one day
> class, they all passed their Technician tests.
> When I think of how and why I got into this game, that story made me sort
> of sad.
> Charlie, W4MEC in NC
I agree. While I think it is a good thing to introduce younger people to
amateur radio (let me qualify "younger"; in this case we are talking about
people who are still physically capable of even going on hikes), it seems to
me that this story is a clear-cut example of using amateur radio as a
personal communications service by people who otherwise have no interest in
the nuts and bolts of radio. The League unabashedly caved in to that
philosophy years ago when they took most of the technical articles out of
QST and crammed them away in that other publication, QEX, that even full
members have to pay extra for. Their justification, which I have heard
repeatedly, is that technical articles are of "limited interest" to
present-day QST readers.
"...we were approached by members of the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy a
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania group. They were looking for radio amateurs to
provide communications for the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, a 34 mile
long, 1 day, sunrise to sunset endurance hike... After a couple of years of
working the hike we decided to ask the event coordinators if they might be
interested in obtaining an Amateur Radio license. After some thought and
discussion, they agreed. We had a 1 day class at our club, the Skyview Radio
Society, and by the end of the day all the attendees had passed their
Technician class tests... While we were doing the class, we knew that their
main interest in getting the license was for the purpose of communications
for their event."
This reminds me of recent stories about police and fire departments
requiring their officers and employees to get amateur radio licences so they
can use the radios as part of their jobs. What does it say about to-day's
licence exam, if people who are totally unfamiliar with, and have little
interest in, the workings of radio, are able to pass the Technician exam
after a one-day class? I can recall when one studied for weeks, if not
months, to pass that test. At the very least, that says that the nature of
the licence has changed so that the name of the licence class, "Technician"
is now a misnomer and should be changed to "Communicator Class".
If even one of those hikers develops a genuine interest in amateur radio, I
would be the first to concede that the positive outcome made the effort
worthwhile. But I also see the potential for this sort of thing being
promoted, gaining in popularity and taking AR even further away from its
fundamental basis and purpose, with the "communicators" and their
type-accepted equipment eventually shoving the nuts-and-bolts hams out the
door. Canada and UK are already headed in that direction, with a "Basic"
entry-level licence class under which building, modifying or otherwise
working on transmitting equipment is prohibited.
Why do we still have the remaining vestiges of incentive licensing,
particularly all that segmentation of the bands into restrictive subbands
and sub-subbands, when incentive licensing was clearly a dismal failure in
terms of its originally stated purpose, to enhance the knowledge and
technical skills of the amateur radio community? If you are not already
convinced, look at any issue of QST, 73 or CQ from the pre-incentive
licensing days, and compare the content to what you see in an issue of QST
or CQ to-day.
Here is a link to the ARRL article.
This message was typed using the DVORAK keyboard layout.
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