Amateur Radio has been struggling to attract and retain younger enthusiasts for years...why?
And if you are already licensed...
If you are typical "50-70 something" radio amateur, the future is not your kids...
You probably failed to get your kids interested in the face of distractions from computing and online, so we now have to skip a generation and get to the grandchildren before they get addicted to pointless games.
I started giving my 5 y/o grandson "proper" tools the moment he showed any aptitude. Taking stuff apart to see how stuff worked (and almost putting it back together again...) was what got me started.
There is none of the fascination listening to SW Radio that drew many into the hobby up to the 90s; YouTube is impossible competition.
The "maker" route is probably now the best way in - and a radio is an essential, so one of the many RTL SDR kits (from £20 ish) is probably next, with a refurbished laptop or Minix NEO w10.
Yes, it ain't cheap, but if we want to kept in our dotage, then enthusing, engaging and training the next generation of engineers and techs is a vital investment.
The first antenna noise reports - please use these examples as a guide when collecting data...
Please email via the address on my QRZ entry
Quick ref resources
RSGB Check list:
The growing menace of RFI:
If we don't tackle it, politicians and Ofcom won't.
This must become another eco-campaign alongside climate change and plastic pollution. One BIG difference is that we can show "ordinary" people the indisputable effects of this pollution menace on their lives - very simply in their own homes.
This is a
video of the PowerPoint presentation
DL9KCE demonstrates LED light bulb noise
Ham Radio stuff
Work in Progress - 0v8- Apr 2019
I am sorry it's mostly one long page - I will get around to a better layout eventually.
April 2019 Notes
Age concern remains a frequent topic, but one that won't go away. I arrived back in the hobby in 2016 after a 35 years absence - just when everyone is saying conditions are dead, a Maunder Minimum is coming, the hobby is fading away along with the ham population - as it is impossible to get any kids interested. Ergo Ham Radio is facing extinction.
Alarmingly, I find the average age of an active operator seems to be 50-60, and there are NO members under 30 in the local clubs. And barely any under 50. The changes in the past 35 years are summed up easily: morse became optional; the tech qualification is less academic but more drawn out, we have more digital modes; more bands; less construction; same lack of things to talk about (which is fine for ft8...), "sport radio", clusters and pile ups.
The hobby seems reluctant to accept that the prime motivator to keep participants actively engaged has always been and remains gathering contacts (QSL) and ticking off lists (WAB) - so let's focus on making thataspect more accessible, less of a chore and less arcane. And that seems to be what the combination of FT8 and pskreporter.info has done.
This looks like the single most significant motivator to turn up in a long time.
Notwithstanding, the arrival of a rare DX call can drag all manner of slumbering hams out of the SSB woodwork to shout at each other for hours on end. But then most disappear back into the woodwork until the next DXped.
Operational issues are not quite the same: TVI is more difficult for neighbours to spot - interference from their CRTs has gone. But Interference from nasty cheap SMPS devices (especially mains LED bulbs) is a growing menace. Ofcom now flogs off spectrum to a dodgy cabal of cellular network operators who have made fortunes from reaming their confused customers (£500/Mbyte for SMS data not so long ago) in order to pay silly prices for spectrum - mostly so that Facebook and Google can invade your privacy more comprehensively and rapidly when hoovering personal data and privacy.
Protect and Survive
Our politicians are trying to shut down analogue radio, since the analogue TV switchover went OK, and they got to flog the spectrum. But there are other considerations! Especially now we appear to have a new cold war to deal with. But there is no evidence of a basic civil defence strategy for a resilient broadcast/comms infrastructure in the event of mass disruption. A nerve agent like Novachok fed into the aircon of a very few buildings would completely cripple the UK's communications fro months.
If HMG goes ahead with the current emergency service comms plan using the consumer cell "network", the ham population could well be the only group in the country (other than our fast vanishing army) able to set up and communicate nationally and internationally at the drop of a hat.
Keep those batteries charged, chaps. And maybe disconnect antennas each session, in case of EMP....
The DCMS and Home Office should now be telling local councils to assist local hams to get their antennas up with no planning hassle.
Some tales of how we got started in ham radio ...
...and also Many Happy Returners!
- tales of hams coming back after "doing life"
|Then and now....
Amateur radio has lost all the “entry points” that got kids like me
interested back in the day.
The recordings here are nearly all edits of off-air impromptu sessions, where the "communication" quality and various accompanying noises and distortions are authentic. They can sound very thin on a cellphone speaker, but this site is relatively phone and tablet friendly.
My thanks to all those who are taking part.
Some early "take aways" from this survey are listed here : "How we got going...."
I began this project with the observation that "Amateur Radio is the same hobby as fishing...” and I will now modify that: it is also nearly the same hobby as mountain climbing... we (hams) do things that most outside the hobby would regards as pointless, simply for the challenge - and the pursuit of achievement and fulfilment; and sometimes we even do it when roped together in teams.
I explore the mountaineer analogy here - but I still maintain fishing has perfect parallels...
We all now have cellphones for day-to-day communication. Although once a considerable pioneering force for radio development, much amateur radio now has rather less to do with innovation in communication than leisure - except in an emergency, when the robust amateur radio service may well be the only viable communication option available - for anything from emergency local nets (RAENET) to intercontinental communications. The delicate support infrastructure of cellphone and modern broadcasting has an unnerving reliance on internet and datacomm link services being available 24x7x365 - so modern broadcast and communication systems are very easily compromised by any outage along the chain of dependence by "situations" natural and man made, including flood, earthquake, storms, meteor strike (it is going to happen sometime!) and acts of terrorism... including hacking and errant N Korean missiles...
This report from Southgate illustrates the point well: Hurricanes shine light on emergency communications
When not saving the world from the foolishness of its dependence on a fragile communication system that is now a series of easily disrupted dependencies, radio enthusiasts sharpen their skills by testing and proving the extremes of their (private) communication capabilities - and several million (worldwide) qualified and licensed operators "cast their lines", looking to hook and land contacts from around the world, in much the same way that most hobby fisherman fish for fun, and still buy their cod at the fishmonger; so we also tend to have cellphones and use the internet. So now please consider:--
get started in the radio hobby?
I am collecting stories from around the world to get enthusiasts to say - in their own words - how they became interested in the hobby. The stories are fascinating and there are many common themes emerging.
Amateur radio has lost
nearly all the “entry points” that got kids like me interested back in the day..
How I got started...
G3VCG, Don, tells his tale of early radio experimentation and enthusiasm which continues - see http://www.g3vcg.talktalk.net/
Glen Holt, G8NOF... another one of us "mature" G8s making the most of being let loose on the spectrum and also rediscovering the joy of experimenting and construction
How I got started....started.....
Our thanks to
Steve Reichlyn, AA4V, for
Back on the straight and narrow...
As a young tearaway - Steve Richards, now the "voice of WAB on 80m", G4HPE - had the perfect inspirational story of his engagement with radio, including a very creative community "sentence" for over enthusiasm!
K8NY - Bob from West Virginia, tells how he got started and remains a keen operator - and looking for conversations, not just signal reports.
G8DET, John Bowen holding a picture of a moon landing - which is somewhat poignant when you hear his tale of how he got going...
G3TPWfirst of a series of tales of derring do....
We nail it. Sort of...
G0TPZ (Kev) assisted by G7HFS and G0MGA make a terrific contribution on a 60m Saturday morning encounter.
Ray, W2RE, denizen of 20m and all HF atop one of his many towers in Maine. (An "Elmer" is US parlance for a tech mentor.)
Bob Tokley, G4MDB, one of Chelmsford's many Marconi alumni