Author Topic: How alive is HAM these days?  (Read 3082 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BreakingOhmsLaw

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Country: de
  • Certified solder fume addict
How alive is HAM these days?
« on: May 22, 2020, 04:25:52 pm »
Question to the HAM operators:
I considered getting my HAM license this year, unfortunately all exams have been postponed due to Covid-19 situation.
Meanwhile, i have been playing around with an SDRplay, listening in on the usual bands. The result has been rather underwhelming. There is hardly anyone actually communicating. Even on the frequencies of the local relays, all that ever gets transmitted is related to housekeeping, i.e. automated messages. Is classic HAM still worthwhile?

 

Online dr.diesel

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2183
  • Country: us
  • Cramming the magic smoke back in...
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2020, 04:29:24 pm »
Very active around here, go for it, you can get equipment darn cheap these days.

Offline bd139

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 15519
  • Country: gb
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2020, 04:35:53 pm »
I've just dumped it not because it's dead, which it isn't, but because it appears to be quite boring and full of asshats when there is activity. There are either basic exchange contacts, contests or paranoid, mentally ill elitists going on about politics and ailments and nothing else. If you do find a contact, the solar cycle is right at rock bottom at the moment so it's incredibly difficult. I had most luck on CW but I've given that up now as well as the amount of work getting a single contact unless you have a beam or something is way too high. Plus there are asshats there as well suddenly in the last year.

There is a romantic vision of communication but it's hard work and not very fulfilling at least for me. It's also expensive as fuck.
 
The following users thanked this post: xrunner

Offline jmw

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 138
  • Country: us
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2020, 04:56:17 pm »
The ham bands are still great for the experimenter, if you want a playground to learn about RF engineering or try building something novel.

As a communications medium? Meh. I find nothing interesting about contesting or ragchews. Having a 1:1 conversation with someone than anybody can eavesdrop on is not exciting. The emergency communications angle was also overplayed in the US: public agencies now have better radios (digital, secure P25) than hams and don't need your help.
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Online Bud

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4214
  • Country: ca
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2020, 05:28:45 pm »
Public agencies can go fck themselves. In an emergency they would not give shit to providing updates to the public.  As the blackout that happened in Toronto in the early 2000s shown, the people who provided information were Hams.
Facebook-free life and Rigol-free shack.
 
The following users thanked this post: DC1MC, 0culus

Offline bd139

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 15519
  • Country: gb
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2020, 05:54:26 pm »
Most hams couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, including Raynet here. They’d make good crackling if the world went to shit though.
 
The following users thanked this post: xrunner, mc172, BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline M0HZH

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 84
  • Country: gb
    • QRPblog
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2020, 10:21:37 pm »
If you're looking to chat to people, it's mediocre.

Most over-the-air traffic is digimodes, empty exchanges or very personal problems of old people. There is also digital voice traffic (partly on VHF/UHF but really mostly over the internet) which might be more interesting as more technical people seem to be involved.

If you're looking to experiment with RF, it's a hoot !

Technology has never been more accessible; it's easier than ever to build, test, experiment. There's a geostationary satellite that reaches 5 continents and you can work it with an old satellite dish and some cheap WiFi equipment. There are programmes like SOTA or POTA that mix going outdoors with Amateur Radio and they're immensely popular. An engineer from India is selling this cheap highly moddable transceiver kit that covers all the HF bands in SSB/CW and tens of thousands have built it. High-power RF transistors? Leaps and bounds over the last decade. There's a huge list of learning & development plaforms available to make anything you want, all with online communities to help you along the way. These are golden times.
 
The following users thanked this post: janoc, cdev, BreakingOhmsLaw, I wanted a rude username

Online TheMG

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 358
  • Country: ca
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2020, 12:31:02 am »
Even on the frequencies of the local relays, all that ever gets transmitted is related to housekeeping, i.e. automated messages.

I assume by "relays" you mean repeaters?

The problem in many areas is that there are far too many repeaters around relative to the number of actual users. End result: most repeaters have very little traffic on them.

Personally, I am much more interested in HF bands, rather than always talking to same two people on a local VHF/UHF repeater (if anyone is listening at all).

However, partly due to where we are at in the solar cycle, HF can be a bit challenging these days. There's always activity, but you might not be able to hear it. Ideally you want to have a good beam antenna at a good height above ground for the best chance of hearing something, and hopefully you don't have too much EMI in your neighborhood, as it can really hinder reception of weak signals on HF. Some of the digital modes these days such as FT8 are really good at picking out signals in mediocre conditions.
 
The following users thanked this post: janoc, BreakingOhmsLaw

Online xrunner

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4827
  • Country: us
  • hp>Agilent>Keysight>?
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2020, 12:36:50 am »
Most hams couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, including Raynet here. They’d make good crackling if the world went to shit though.

Agree. I'm a ham (so is bd139) and I (we) know to fix electronics (a rarity these days). Most hams don't have a clue about what's inside a radio at all. All they know is answers to test questions. If you want to talk to people on 2 meters you can, but you may find it unappealing after a while.

If you want to work DX on HF bands and try to see how far you can get a signal out and back from a DX station that might be more fun. Try FT8 mode and you won't have to talk to anyone LOL.
I am a Test Equipment Addict (TEA) - by virtue of this forum signature, I have now faced my addiction
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw, bd139

Offline james_s

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 12245
  • Country: us
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 12:45:05 am »
It's alive and well, although if you're looking for the same experience as it was 30-60 years ago you'll be disappointed. Listening to the local HF bands I mostly hear what sound like cranky old geezers moaning about the state of the world and talking about medical problems and politics, it's pretty dull. There are a couple of repeaters near me that occasionally have younger guys, mostly outdoorsy and 4x4 offroader types. Personally I find most of that to be a bit boring, if I want to talk to someone I've got a mobile phone in my pocket and can call up anyone I want without having to hope the person I'm looking for happens to have their radio on.

There's loads of other ham stuff to do though, experimenting with antennas and propagation is fun, lately I've been building some low power unlicensed beacons, dxing aviation NDBs and WiFi, playing with my SDR and spectrum analyzer just seeing what's out there. I also make use of my license to legally operate a video transmitter I can put in one of my RC airplanes to get a cockpit view, it's the closest thing I can get to actually flying without spending a whole lot more money. Also while not technically ham, I still have a collection of scanners and enjoy listening to the local business frequencies, emergency services, aviation and pagers, there's all kinds of stuff on the air.

Regarding the emergency thing I hear brought up a lot, I don't think ham is all that useful in emergencies anymore. If you really want to utilize your RF knowledge in an emergency it would be better spent setting up an ad hoc WiFi network in the neighborhood. I mean I suppose it's possible we could have some kind of major catastrophe but if it gets so bad that broadcast and satellite radio, television, internet, mobile phones and landline phones are all out of commission and ham is all we've got left, I'm not sure I'm going to care about communication. 50 years ago it probably had a lot of potential to be useful in emergencies but time marches on, I view ham as a purely recreational/educational pastime. You buy a ham radio for the same reason you buy a fishing rod, because it's fun, not to be prepared in case the grocery stores stop selling fish.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 12:47:25 am by james_s »
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline Electro Fan

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2133
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 02:33:14 am »
If you're looking to chat to people, it's mediocre.

Most over-the-air traffic is digimodes, empty exchanges or very personal problems of old people. There is also digital voice traffic (partly on VHF/UHF but really mostly over the internet) which might be more interesting as more technical people seem to be involved.

If you're looking to experiment with RF, it's a hoot !

Technology has never been more accessible; it's easier than ever to build, test, experiment. There's a geostationary satellite that reaches 5 continents and you can work it with an old satellite dish and some cheap WiFi equipment. There are programmes like SOTA or POTA that mix going outdoors with Amateur Radio and they're immensely popular. An engineer from India is selling this cheap highly moddable transceiver kit that covers all the HF bands in SSB/CW and tens of thousands have built it. High-power RF transistors? Leaps and bounds over the last decade. There's a huge list of learning & development plaforms available to make anything you want, all with online communities to help you along the way. These are golden times.

This ^ is pretty much my view.

To expand, there are some pluses and minuses with amateur radio but mostly a lot of pluses if you look at them with a healthy perspective.

Learning what you need to learn to pass the exam(s) will give you the opportunity to transmit and in the process no matter what you learned previously, you will learn more.  I think you will find there are many practical as well as theoretical aspects to ham radio both in terms of science/technology and in terms of the opportunity for human communications.

If you do local VHF/UHF work it might depend on the repeaters in your area.  I think you will find that many of the repeater operators use VHF/UHF as a party-line (an old telephone term) to talk with other hams about the same stuff they would discuss at a bar or at Home Depot.  However, in local radio clubs you will find a spectrum of interests from the social to the technical and some of the technically minded people (and some of the social too) can be outstanding teachers/Elmers.

In my case, I found that moving from VHF/UHF to HF was a significant threshold.  I'm sure there are lots of uses for VHF/UHF beyond repeaters (such as working satellites - and all the way to EME) but when you get to HF things become much more interesting.  If you can develop the skill CW is cool.  But even if Morse code isn't your thing SSB voice, and some aspects of digital data are more interesting (at least to me versus local VHF/UHF) in that you can get out of town, out of the state/region, and out of the country.  There is something almost magical about being able to send and receive signals thousands of miles around the world.  What you have to learn to get the license, build up (even it's just buying) a station (including radio, antenna, and various accessories) will grow your understanding and appreciation for physics, electricity, electronics, analog and digital, RF, and more.  Along the way, while many of your QSOs (contacts) will just want to exchange a few seconds or maybe a few minutes worth of information so they can log the call, you also will “meet” many interesting people who will take the time to share useful insights into still more aspects of the endeavor.  And likewise you will be able to help others who adopt amateur radio later than you.  Both the learning and teaching opportunities are large.

Today in ham radio we do have one very unfortunate situation:  solar conditions.  We are finishing an 11 year cycle with poor conditions and we appear to be headed into another cycle with comparably poor conditions.  This makes propagation and therefore QSOs much more difficult than in many other cycles.  I've heard older hams say that in the 1950s/60s they could make contacts around the world with ease with relatively smaller antennas and much less advanced radio technology than we have today.  The good news is that with SDR and other developments we can overcome some of this.  In fact, it amazes me when I think of older operators who had to retune their tube amps when changing bands and who had to run their VFO up and down a dial while listening for signals.  Today, with an ICOM 7300 or other radios with a panadapter you can visually see all the signals across a band and you can jump from band to band (if you have the right antenna/s set up), and you can zoom in on individual signals to find the exact edges.  On top of that, the operators of old had to exchange post cards with people around the world via mail while keeping paper logs - versus today our electronic/PC logs are connected to the radio and can update almost automatically or with a few keys strokes after a QSO and then kick off a QSO confirmation via LoTW or eQSL, etc.  So, yes, the older hams had some great advantages (mostly solar - which is huge) but new hams have some advantages too. 

To deal with poor solar conditions many hams, in addition to SSB or CW will use FT8 which can get a signal through very poor solar conditions and enable the signal to be picked out of relatively large amounts of noise.  While this might not be appealing to some - especially those who prefer free form dialog-like communications - it can be a very interesting way to determine where your rig's signal is reaching.  Using PSKreporter you can see where your signal is landing, with what signal strength, around the world.  And you can "see who is calling" and from where.  Some hams love it, some get tired of it but for a new ham figuring out how digital and RF technology works, it's pretty interesting. 

Overall, there are some great synergies between ham radio and many of the electronics topics discussed in these forums.  More experience with one (radio or the rest of electronics) will only help with the other.  When you set up your first antenna with an antenna analyzer it will be insightful and exciting, and it might be a gateway drug to a spectrum analyzer or maybe a VNA on your bench (or in the field - new inexpensive VNAs are starting to proliferate).

Long story short, study for the exams, work hard to get at least the General license (or whatever the equivalent is in your country that will give you HF/DX privileges), and give it a go.  For U.S. operators there is a great site called HamStudy.org – the site learns what you need help with and it adjusts to help you learn that – it’s the fastest way to prepare for the exams.)  In the U.S. once you have the license it's good for 10 years and really forever if you keep renewing.  I think regardless of what country you live in what you learn will be interesting and useful, you will meet (in person and via radio) some very interesting people, and you will be adding very practical as well as theoretical RF knowledge to your electronics tool bag.  It would be hard in this day and age to think that we aren't headed for more uses of RF, so why not undertake the challenge and opportunity.  Being able to transmit around the world is kinda/very neat.  Go for it.  73
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline BreakingOhmsLaw

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Country: de
  • Certified solder fume addict
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2020, 08:57:18 am »
Thanks for that verbose answer. I am a communications engineer, so the technical part of the exam is not a big issue, even in the extended license. Looking at the exam questions, a couple of days to fresh up some RF topics that have left my braincells in the past 25 years will do.  It's mostly chewing through the regulatory stuff that would take some effort.
As i am interested more in the technical side of of it, so the issue that there is hardly any voice communication is not a problem.
As soon as they start taking exams again, i'll start on that. Thanks everyone!
 

Offline bd139

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 15519
  • Country: gb
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2020, 09:01:15 am »
Most hams couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, including Raynet here. They’d make good crackling if the world went to shit though.

Agree. I'm a ham (so is bd139) and I (we) know to fix electronics (a rarity these days). Most hams don't have a clue about what's inside a radio at all. All they know is answers to test questions. If you want to talk to people on 2 meters you can, but you may find it unappealing after a while.

If you want to work DX on HF bands and try to see how far you can get a signal out and back from a DX station that might be more fun. Try FT8 mode and you won't have to talk to anyone LOL.

I think the thing that is really depressing is that there are a lot of hams who think the license implicitly includes the ability to repair stuff. I see a lot of old SK sales at hamfests and some of the stuff that was put together by the older generations was remarkably good. Nice neat scratch build doohickeys etc. However who is around now, not so much. From them I see mostly stuff which has been thoroughly buggered up, destroyed and knackered while crowing about impossible DX contacts. This includes my local club who consist mostly of sheep who know nothing and a wolf who thinks using Jesus’ very own soldering iron on an FTDX3000’s LPF is a good idea.

Technical interest is all online.
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline BreakingOhmsLaw

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Country: de
  • Certified solder fume addict
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2020, 10:59:22 am »
I get the same in the local repair cafés. While in am very happy that younger people pick up the fight against electronic waste, a lot of the people that come from the maker scene lack a lot of basics.  It usually ends up with me stopping them from doing something really outlandish ("We gotta reflow the entire board, dude! Heat up the oven!" sic) instead of just putting a probe on the power rail and tapping the PCB to check for a hairline crack in a trace. I don't blame them though, it was a lot easier to learn when all this stuff was built up from discrete parts.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 11:13:38 am by BreakingOhmsLaw »
 
The following users thanked this post: bd139

Online xrunner

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4827
  • Country: us
  • hp>Agilent>Keysight>?
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2020, 11:24:11 am »

I think the thing that is really depressing is that there are a lot of hams who think the license implicitly includes the ability to repair stuff. I see a lot of old SK sales at hamfests and some of the stuff that was put together by the older generations was remarkably good. Nice neat scratch build doohickeys etc. However who is around now, not so much. From them I see mostly stuff which has been thoroughly buggered up, destroyed and knackered while crowing about impossible DX contacts. This includes my local club who consist mostly of sheep who know nothing and a wolf who thinks using Jesus’ very own soldering iron on an FTDX3000’s LPF is a good idea.

Technical interest is all online.

As you read in the TEA thread I am fixing a Heathkit IG-18 sine-square wave generator for another ham. He does repair old radios but he doesn't always seem to use the most efficient methods. He complained that the IG-18's output amplitude meter wouldn't go higher than half way now. I said I would be happy to look at it.

When I got the IG-18 to my house I, of course, immediately wanted to observe the output on my scope. The IG-18 had a very distorted output sine wave. I asked him if he had looked at the output of the IG-18. He said no. I asked him "I thought you had a scope?". He said, "I do, but I never turn it on." I said "I think you should use it more often ..."  :wtf:

That's what I'm dealing with on this side of the pond.  :-BROKE

I am a Test Equipment Addict (TEA) - by virtue of this forum signature, I have now faced my addiction
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw, bd139

Offline m3vuv

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 625
  • Country: gb
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 12:36:27 pm »
i use ham radio a lot,the thing that total pisses me off and makes me pull the plug is contests,they are all over like dogshit most weekends! 73 m3vuv
 
The following users thanked this post: bd139

Offline veedub565

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 131
  • Country: gb
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2020, 12:45:40 pm »
Quote
As soon as they start taking exams again, i'll start on that.

If you are in the UK then the RSGB has relaxed the rules somewhat due to the current situation. They have waived the practical part, and you can take the theory exam online now. I did it a couple of weeks ago, pleasant and easy process.

I don't think HAM is dead, although a couple of older operators tell me it isnt what it used to be. I find it interesting from a technical perspective, I want to have a go at some of the data modes.

I think you can spend as much or as little as you like in the hobby. I have a borrowed VHF set, a homemade wire dipole in the loft and I'm on the air. The only thing I spent a bit of money on was my HF set, but that was my choice. With 10w and a bit of wire I can certainly make a reasonable qso around most of Europe and into Russia.
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline Alex Eisenhut

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2294
  • Country: ca
  • If you can buy it for 4$ on eBay, why design it?*
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2020, 12:48:33 pm »
If you get a license it lets you use some more powerful transmitters if you're into long-distance RC flying.
*Except AC/DC adapters on eBay. Avoid them all!
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline joeqsmith

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6464
  • Country: us
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2020, 03:26:08 pm »
I had a lot of fun with it when I was kid and thought it may be fun to get a license.  I bought this old radio that needed some work.    After some repairs I spent some time listening.  It was basically what CB was in the 70s.  Guys with sound effects trying to jump on top of people trying to have a conversation.   My linear is bigger than yours sort of thing.   I decided not to spend any more time with it.

After your post, I took apart the old radio in order to inspect, clean and lube it.   This thing still has all the original caps but it all seemed fine so I fired it up.   Been listing for an hour or so.  Things are actually civil.   People just talking about radios, power supplies and antennas.    Something about 2KV and some oil cooled caps in a foot locker....  If you're gonna be a ham, be a ham and be the best you can....     I will say, that smell of tubes cooking is bringing back some memories.
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 
The following users thanked this post: xrunner, BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline Electro Fan

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2133
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2020, 05:58:59 pm »
Thanks for that verbose answer. I am a communications engineer, so the technical part of the exam is not a big issue, even in the extended license. Looking at the exam questions, a couple of days to fresh up some RF topics that have left my braincells in the past 25 years will do.  It's mostly chewing through the regulatory stuff that would take some effort.
As i am interested more in the technical side of of it, so the issue that there is hardly any voice communication is not a problem.
As soon as they start taking exams again, i'll start on that. Thanks everyone!

Sorry for the too many words, I didn't know your background as a coms engr.  So, yes the exam(s) should be easy enough, mostly just a need to learn the regs plus some ham nomenclature and operating procedures.

Maybe the question really was/is "is it worth the time and money to experience something that might or might not be worth the time and money to experience?"  My answer was probably more for people who have relatively less experience with electronics.  For people who can design and build electronics, I'm not so sure what the answer is - but I think there are a lot of electronics veterans here who have their license so I think there is a lot of appeal even for electronics pros.  Depends on what floats a person's boat - and like everything else, circumstances change and interests ebb and flow over time.

Assuming you are going to get a license, the next thing I'd look down the road toward to make sure this is going to be worth your time and money is antenna design and placement.  If you can envision an antenna that will work for you (and for your wife/family and neighbors) then you are a long way toward quickly finding out if ham radio is worth experiencing.  If for example you have room to put up an effective but low cost dipole or some other feasible wire antenna you will be able to get some good HF/DX experience on any of the modes (CW, SSB, digital).  If however you live somewhere with significant constraints (ie, if you live in an urban area or a suburb with extremely limited physical space or you live with tough homeowners regulations) then the antenna can be more problematic. Usually there is a way to deploy a good enough antenna (there are many possibilities). Net, net:  once you can envision the antenna and an overall acceptable rig budget you are on the downhill slope toward finding out if the whole thing was worthwhile.

I predict that not long after you get your antenna up and your radio making contacts you will know if it was worth it.  I'm guessing most people will find it pretty cool the first time they make a voice or any other contact with another operator outside their country.  How far you go beyond that with the technicals or socials is hard to predict.  But even if you shut it down and sell your rig shortly after that I think most people here will say it was something worth at least putting on and then crossing off their bucket list.  My guess is that getting the license to transmit will remain something you are very happy you did.  73
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline BreakingOhmsLaw

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Country: de
  • Certified solder fume addict
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2020, 10:14:44 pm »
Oh, i meant "verbose" in a positive way. Thanks for taking the time to write all that up.
I have been thinking to get the license for about 20 years, but for the exact reasons you have listed, mainly no possibility to place an antenna, i never came through.
I now have the possibility, and there even is a 100m high hill directly behind my house. (An ex spoil heap from an old coal mine) I might even  be able to get permission to install an antenna up there and run some 1/2inch cellflex cable to it with acceptable losses. 
But for now, it is not possible in Germany to take the exam so i have to see how that develops. 
 

Offline Electro Fan

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2133
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2020, 03:13:25 am »
Oh, i meant "verbose" in a positive way. Thanks for taking the time to write all that up.
I have been thinking to get the license for about 20 years, but for the exact reasons you have listed, mainly no possibility to place an antenna, i never came through.
I now have the possibility, and there even is a 100m high hill directly behind my house. (An ex spoil heap from an old coal mine) I might even  be able to get permission to install an antenna up there and run some 1/2inch cellflex cable to it with acceptable losses. 
But for now, it is not possible in Germany to take the exam so i have to see how that develops.

Understand and happy to hear.

fwiw, the biggest hold up I had starting many years ago was I didn't think I could pass the technical parts of the test. Then I discovered this site (which helped me tackle learning by steadily building a bench and doing a lot of measuring, hypothesizing/testing, continually reading threads and doing Q&A here, and then one day it dawned on me (after having learned Ohms Law and other stuff here) that maybe I could pass the amateur radio test(s). Sure enough, with what I learned here and some test study I was able to get the license - but only then did I realize that my situation was very HF antenna constrained. Once I figured out how to solve for the antenna all the rest of station building and QSO-making became a lot easier, which brought more learning and a ton of fun. Long story short, if you have an antenna strategy that will work for you definitely go for it. 73
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline vk4ffab

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 89
  • Country: au
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2020, 10:16:49 am »
Oh, i meant "verbose" in a positive way. Thanks for taking the time to write all that up.
I have been thinking to get the license for about 20 years, but for the exact reasons you have listed, mainly no possibility to place an antenna, i never came through.
I now have the possibility, and there even is a 100m high hill directly behind my house. (An ex spoil heap from an old coal mine) I might even  be able to get permission to install an antenna up there and run some 1/2inch cellflex cable to it with acceptable losses. 
But for now, it is not possible in Germany to take the exam so i have to see how that develops.

Do it. You wont be disapointed. I do a lot of ham radio and have not spoken to anyone in 6 months or more. I build stuff, i test it on air and use online sdr receivers to listen for myself, digital mode mapping tools, rbn and others. Ham radio has never been better for me. I can do without hams, but i love doing radio.

I do have radio friends though, the key to ham radio is build your own community of people you get along with and fuck the rest of them. Talking on the radio is MEH. Doing radio, ie having a point to using it is great. Find your niche and just do it.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 10:19:42 am by vk4ffab »
 
The following users thanked this post: BreakingOhmsLaw

Offline RoGeorge

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2433
  • Country: ro
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2020, 11:07:17 am »
For a comm engineer the technical exam is peanuts, however you should still google for exam simulation software specific to your country.  A few years ago I have had the surprise to find a few obviously wrong answers were counted as the correct ones, and if you answer correctly you will lose points.   :-//  No idea how this was possible, maybe something was lost in translation.  I didn't check if today those wrong answers are still considered the correct ones.

Other reasons that put me down:
- the obligation to make public some personal data like phone, name, location, HAM license
- a HAM license will automatically put one on in the upper half of any 3 letter agency list
- once registered, a HAM can be fined for various reasons, no idea how often this happens in real life
- recently here it was introduced a new law, and the HAM must keep an audio record of all traffic that was done remotely in the last year on the owned station(s)
- the HAM license must be periodically renewed
- inside a big city there is not much space for antennas

- and the most important one:  I don't really need HAM radio communications, and if I want to experiment with an idea I would most probably experiment indoors, in the free bands and at very low power, so no need for a license.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 11:09:37 am by RoGeorge »
 

Online TheMG

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 358
  • Country: ca
Re: How alive is HAM these days?
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2020, 03:28:32 pm »
i use ham radio a lot,the thing that total pisses me off and makes me pull the plug is contests,they are all over like dogshit most weekends! 73 m3vuv

Contests are not exactly my cup of tea either. The only contest I usually bother participating in is Field Day, but mostly due to the activity itself more so than the contest part of it. Setting up temporary antennas, solar panels, etc in a different location and the process of experimenting with what works best and what doesn't, as well as the group effort and socializing that comes along with it.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf