[AMRadio] Trouble Brewing in AM Window


Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Thu Dec 12 12:46:18 EST 2013


>>From: kc9cdt at aol.com

For the first ten years or so I had my license...I don't remember any of
this crap.
You know why....because FCC would not put up with it then!
Also, we didn't have many of the types that are a problem today.
73,
Lee>>

Lee,

This isn't just a recent phenomenon. It has been with us since the early
60s, and to a certain extent dates all the way back to the spark-gap days.
Look through the old QSTs, R/9 and Radio magazines from the 1920s onwards.

The problem took a sharp turn for the worse in about 1963, with the great AM
vs SSB wars. When SSB first appeared on the amateur bands, only the well-off
and technically competent could operate the mode; either purchase an
expensive Collins or Central Electronics SSB station, or else homebrew your
own. Most hams couldn't afford Collins and didn't have the technical
expertise, test equipment or workshop facilities to build a SSB rig from
scratch. The result was a minority of hams running SSB, and the rest
continuing to operate AM, but many of the remaining AMers were wannabe SSB
ops who simply couldn't afford a station.

Then, about 1963, cheap, low quality but affordable SSB transceivers
appeared on the scene - the Swans, Galaxies and Heathkit  "Hotwater" rigs...
SIDEBAND FOR THE MASSES! Many hams dumped their solid, well-constructed AM
station, constructed from quality components, and replaced it with a  cheap
flimsy little transceiver and sweep tube  linear. In those days there was an
ongoing hard-core salesmanship campaign by ARRL, the magazine publishers,
local ham clubs and equipment manufacturers (who saw a whole new market
opening up for a brand-new product) to convince everyone to change over to
SSB, and that the changeover was mandatory whether they wanted to or not.
Those of us who  resisted by staying with AM were subjected to all kinds of
on-the-air  harassment by hordes of newly-converted. This developed into an
all-out AM vs SSB war, particularly on 75m. Deliberate interference, jamming
and profanity became widespread and heard on the air nightly. A few on both
sides lost their licences over the deal. Things eventually cooled down, and
for a period of time AM almost disappeared from the amateur bands. So did
homebrew transmitters and stations. But the practice of deliberate
interference had become instilled in the amateur community and remains with
us to this day. After a few years AM began to make a come-back, and has now
been "coming back" for many more years than it was ever supposed to be
"dead". This, despite a couple of decades starting in the early 70s, when
the chief of the amateur rulemaking division, who appeared to be vehemently
opposed to AM, launched a long string of rulemaking proposals that would
have crippled if not eliminated AM entirely. Most of these were ultimately
rejected largely due to opposition from the amateur community; the only one
to actually make it into the rules was the p.e.p.  nonsense.

Many of the original AM/SSB warriors are now SK or have moved on to other
things in life, and AM has pretty much returned as one of the many facets of
mainstream amateur radio. Most commercially built transceivers now include
an AM button, along with the CW, SSB and FM buttons. But anti-AM sentiment
has continued to sizzle in the background with a few miscreants, and from
time to time this sort of nonsense erupts, reminiscent of a dormant volcano.
Something that didn't help was the period of years when the FCC virtually
ceased enforcing the amateur rules as amateur radio apparently had dropped
to near the bottom of the FCC's priority list. AM vs SSB was no longer the
driving issue, but the legacy of casual jamming and deliberate interference
is well established and there  is no turning back. Riley Hollingsworth put a
partial damper on the worst offenders when he  came on the scene, but now he
has departed and the phenomenon remains with us and erupts from time to
time.

Don k4kyv


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