I'm running behind on the replies to what I believe are interesting and
significant messages. Below is one of those. My original comments are
preceded by arrows while N2EY's comments are not. My most recent comments,
to N2EY's comments, are inside [[double brackets]].
The number of US hams grew all through the 1970s and 1980s,Quote:>So, would it be correct to say that the creation of the
>current Technician license DID have an effect, and DID
>bring more people into the fold, in a burst that started
>ten or so years ago?
when all US ham licenses required a code test. The growth
continued after the Tech lost its code test in 1991. W1RFI
posted numbers that show the growth increased after 1991,
but has slowed somewhat in recent years. We can play number
games all day, but doing so does not put even one more
amateur signal on the air.
[[I am truly trying to understand what is going on, and what has gone on,
vis--vis licensing and the resultant numbers of hams, etc. I think it's
important to use numbers to try and understand what is and is not happening
in amateur radio, and what polices may or may not be successful. I believe
that this understanding depends on accurate numbers and if it's a game, it's
a serious one!]]
Surges are to be expected - when the "price" of something drops,
There is usually a surge of "sales".
[[Unless no one is buying, at all, which seems to be happening vis--vis the
change in the code test. That is, even 5 wpm has had little or no effect
on recruitment of totally new people to HF, or so it seems. Thus,
apparently, the shift to NO code testing at all?]]
It sure seems that way. The main effect of the restructuringQuote:>Then, as the 1990s went on, some of those folks DID qualify
>with code at the first level, and it was these same folks,
>and mostly them alone, who came onto HF in a big way HF
>after April, 2000, restructuring. That is, there was no
>real influx of NEW people onto the HF bands, OR into
>amateur radio, when the code requirement was dropped to
>5 wpm for ALL license classes. Would that be right?
was lots of upgrades, not lots of new hams. IMO the problem
is NOT the tests - it's lack of publicity.
[[Here's the crux of the whole thing, for today's policy makers, in my view.
That is, they seemed to be overwhelmingly worried about QUANTITY and not
QUALITY, and there must be a reason for that. But IS there a huge problem
with quantity and is the problem severe enough to justify the angst that has
been created by all of these changes? On the one hand, the ability and
desire to pass ANY test these days says volumes for a new recruit. On the
other hand, the system for giving those tests has radically changed over the
last two decades, to make everything more "accessible." It's sometimes hard
for me to see the reason for the current shuffling and re-shuffling when
there are, what, 650,000 hams? Why the apparent panic? Is it all about
Not since about 50 years ago. There was once a requirementQuote:>. . . there never has been a legal REQUIREMENT to
>USE CW on the air, am I right?
that hams certify a certain amount of on-air USE of CW/Morse
(so many hours in a certain number of months preceding the
renewal application) in order to renew their licenses.
[[Now THAT is fascinating. I guess the problem was it led to a lot of
cooked books since, er, ah, how could that be enforced?]]
This was changed about 50 years ago to a requirement to operate
using any mode, then dropped entirely.
[[Also fascinating, in that for some time there was in effect a requirement
to BE ACTIVE to keep the license! And wasn't renewal a 5-year affair
For at least 35+ years there has been NO requirement for any ham
to use any mode, or to operate at all. Neither has there ever been
a requirement to USE any of the theory stuff, either. The old
Novice license went through a period (1967-1978?) when it conveyed
only CW/Morse privileges.
[[What an impossibility it would be these days to certify 50,000 or 60,000
people a year for renewal, under a "must operate" rule!]]
Sure. Just like if you require all drivers to use a stick shiftQuote:>However, was it not a fact that if one took the trouble to learn
>code at 13 wpm, or some higher level, then it occurred to at least
>SOME people that it sure would be silly NOT to use it, since it
>worked so well for some things? Would that be a fair statement?
For their driving test, some will like it and buy stick shift
cars instead of automatics.
Of course. In fact, that's kind of what happened to me. My firstQuote:>That is, [the above] is the argument I think I am seeing from
>some code supporters. Does this idea hold any water?
interest in ham radio came from hearing hams on 75 meter AM.
I wanted to join them, and set out to get a license. Along the way
I discovered that CW was fun once I had decent skills at it. Thus
It became my primary mode. Would I have learned CW/Morse and used
it without the license requirement? I really don't know.
[[Here is another critical issue, what will happen to CW usage once testing
disappears? The ARRL position seems similar to the old Bush
Administration's "Thousand Points of Light" escape hatch, one stating that
volunteerism will make up for a lack of involvement by any "higher
authority." But this is, I think, a very cheesy position to take, VERY, and
quite reminds me of an old movie in which a loving relative, pushing a
wheelchair-bound uncle down a boardwalk, speaks for several minutes in
cooing terms . . . then pushes the crippled oldster into the ocean. That
is, what is ARRL going to do vis--vis CW besides wishing it well . . . all
the way to the water? That is, I think CW is part of the historical legacy
of amateur radio and is now UNIQUE to amateur radio, and so is worth
protecting and encouraging, at the highest level.]]
All I can say is that at least some anti-code-test folks are also
against expanding the 'phone sub-bands because doing so will
effectively reduce the spectrum available for DIGITAL modes.
[[The enemy of my enemy is my friend, to the end of boardwalk! That is,
this "support" for CW operating might keep it Grand-fathered in, at least as
far as the next convenient scenic overlook. And after that . . . splash!?]]
Some folks say there should be no mode restrictions on amateur
HF, and that such restrictions constitute a form of "welfare"
for "narrow" modes, like CW. But without mode restrictions,
what is to prevent hams from using, say, the same FM voice
standards as on VHF/UHF?
[[I think you've hit on the whole idea! Just think of the hardware that
would have to be sold if "talk wars" broke out on HF, as broke out on CB
here in Columbia in the late 1970s! Where would the WORLD hide from the U.S.
On amateur VHF/UHF there are almost no mode restrictions.
(Yes, I recall 50.0-50.1 and 144.0-144.1). On 2 meters
this has resulted in most of the band being taken up by
FM voice repeaters, leaving less space for new modes to
operate. Without any mode restrictions on HF, it is
reasonable to assume something similar would take place.
[[And may be the secret agenda of some, eh? That is, who would get to sell
all the equipment? Who would get to "coordinate" the bands?]]
All depends on how people behave. Look at how some people postQuote:>Is everyone going to just be friends now?
here - I see a variety of behaviors, ranging from very friendly
to very unfriendly.
[[Gresham's Law seems to operate with extreme effect on UseNet: The Bad
Drives Out the Good. Open up HF to "let the best mode win" and . . .
-- As for the future of the band plans and CW:
No doubt, and that's good! Let the best mode win?Quote:>That depends entirely on USE of the mode. Many of us who
>actually USE CW/Morse will continue to do so and encourage
>others to do the same.
I'm 47, so I expect it to be more like 40-50 years at least
[before any serious band plan change.]
[[Maybe. But I think the pressure will start in very soon to do something
about "band welfare." I hope I'm wrong.]]
Compared to what? How much was the market for, say, FRS/GMRSQuote:>That's a fair-sized market, I think! That's half a billion
>dollars! [for Ham Radio equipment, per year.]
Radios last year? Or VCRs?
[[Half a billion dollars is half a billion dollars is half a billion dollars
is half a billion dollars!]]
And I would say that my guess was about as high as it gets.
I don't think most US hams spend as much as $1000 total on
equipment every year.
[[One wonders what the REAL number is, total, and whether that number is
going up or down or maintaining. Here is a real hidden factor in all the
regulatory changes, in my view. That is, the fact that it's simply not
spoken of with reference to rule making . . . speaks volumes, to me.]]
Nope. Ads simply reflect what the manufacturers are trying toQuote:>And looking at QST and its advertising, the ratio between HF
>and VHF related ads is at least FOUR-TO-ONE, in full-page
>ads, and higher than that in smaller ones. That is, if there
>IS any real money in amateur radio, it does seem to be in HF.
>Is that a fair statement?
sell, not what they are actually selling. I can name all sorts
of examples down through the years where highly advertised items
did not sell in large quantities, but rigs that were almost
unadvertised sold like hotcakes.
[[Off the point, I think. For years and years this ratio has been
maintained, guaranteeing (for me) that HF is where the money is, especially
for the few U.S. makers still in the game. I think it is THEY who have the
ear of Foggy Bottom, such as it is, every bit as much as any other ARS
faction. These economic factors cut across all boundaries and borders and
to me explain the fact that the Europeans are bailing on code as well. It's
the dollar value of the market, and it's future, that is in play here, in my
view. NCI simply provided a convenient stalking dog here in the U.S., and
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