Ham radio: Old technology gets new respect

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elk2370bruce

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But so many in our hobby feel that public service (ARES and RACES) is worthless and beneath their dignity and talent. There are still many more of us who have remained active and participate in all aspects of support for emergency first response event., No flashing lights; no sirens; no badges; no parade banners. We've all heard the BS stories before from the lazy7 louts who snicker and do nothing.
 

k9rzz

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May I add that even though it's not required for licensing, that ALL hams at least learn the morse code so at least they can recognize "SOS" when heard/seen. The simplest way to summon help, yet probably would be missed by 99% of the population today.
 

WB4CS

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But so many in our hobby feel that public service (ARES and RACES) is worthless and beneath their dignity and talent. There are still many more of us who have remained active and participate in all aspects of support for emergency first response event., No flashing lights; no sirens; no badges; no parade banners. We've all heard the BS stories before from the lazy7 louts who snicker and do nothing.
I wouldn't call non-EmComm hams "lazy."

I never got on the EmComm bandwagon. Why? Because I got my ham license to talk to people on the radio and to experiment with electronics. I didn't get into the hobby to play pretend police, fire, EMS, etc. I also don't participate in EmComm because I have no business there. I don't have the necessary training that's needed in a real emergency situation, so that means I stay out of the way of the people who do rescue work for a living.

In the past 10 or 15 years there has been a rise in the number of people that got into ham radio to do nothing more than EmComm. That's one good thing about the hobby is that there's something here for everyone. Some of the EmComm folks may think it's silly putting up wire dipoles in your yard, using CW to communicate with others, and chase DX. That's fine, you do your thing and I do my thing. But don't call others "lazy" just because they get something different out of the hobby than you do.

Notice how I used the word "hobby?" That's because ham radio is a hobby. It's not some magical golden key that turns you into a certified emergency worker. Just as taking one Skywarn class does not magically make someone a weather expert.

I have no issue with those hams that want to participate in EmComm. By all means, go forth and save the world with your ham radio. I won't stop you. Just don't lump the rest of us into the "lazy" category because we see ham radio for what it is: a hobby.
 

elk2370bruce

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Ham radio doesn't save the world and an untrained volunteer isn't worth a tinker's damn. Everyone in our hobby likes to talk, do cvw, and a host of other forms of electronics - including antennas. We just choose to give something back to support our community - not take its place. Your assertion that our license is considered as a "golden" key to become a first responder is absurd at best and none of us claim expert status. We just help out when asked. If you don't care to participate,fine - just sit back and enjoy the qso.s like the rest of us.
 

WB4CS

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Ham radio doesn't save the world and an untrained volunteer isn't worth a tinker's damn. Everyone in our hobby likes to talk, do cvw, and a host of other forms of electronics - including antennas. We just choose to give something back to support our community - not take its place. Your assertion that our license is considered as a "golden" key to become a first responder is absurd at best and none of us claim expert status. We just help out when asked. If you don't care to participate,fine - just sit back and enjoy the qso.s like the rest of us.
You may be the exception to the rule, considering the number of whackers and pretend police we have carrying ARES badges and driving old Crown Vics with flashy lights.

In either case, I still think your use of the word "lazy" is a little extreme and elitist.
 

slimbob

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But so many in our hobby feel that public service (ARES and RACES) is worthless and beneath their dignity and talent.
You are confusing elitism, ego, and treating others as inferiors for apathy, disgust, and indifference. Many hams who are professionals and have resources available or at their disposal either do not have the time or inclination to be a part of the "on-call" group or have other higher-priority commitments for rapid response related to employment. Some folks have completed military service and refuse to take orders ever again. When you combine either of those factors with ungrateful individuals, club/group officers, clubs or groups, socially inept individuals, people experiencing "power" or "authoritah" for the first time, overly "take-charge" emergency managers, bullies, political strife and followers in leader positions, there is going to be some real or inferred disrespect, misunderstanding and miscommunication that will rub people the wrong way. This is, after all, a hobby. The second it ceases to be entertaining, enlightening, stimulating, or fun, an individual may decide to limit his involvement. Due to the social issues present, some people simply choose not to take part if another individual or group of individuals are involved. If I'm not getting paid, why should I allow anyone to treat me any way other than with respect?
 

djbooger

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Dafuq?

I got my license when I was 13 years old. When I finally turned 18 I joined RACES. Being from Cumberland County NJ, every RACES drill I participated in was for a nuclear event. Time after time I would sit there in front of the radio and check in with the county net control informing them that I had activated my post. I would do nothing while I was there except eat some of the catered food. I would waste my time waiting until I was cleared. In one scenario the phones had been disabled by downed phone lines. Their solution: send a fax instead. The RACES operators were always ignored. The "professional" emergency responders always wondered why we were even on site. In their minds we were only in the way. I played along for quite a few years. Then came the NIMS/ICS training. I was told that if I wanted to continue to participate that I was REQUIRED to take classes. I took the first round of classes only to be informed that I needed to take more. That's when I decided that I am a radio operator. If an event occurs and assistance is needed, I'll show up and do what I can. If I am turned away because my lack of qualifications then obviously I was never really needed. I have no intentions of saving the world with my radio. I would only be able to help when the real **** has hit the fan, and they are looking for anyone with enough technical know to help or establish communications. I don't want to be an emergency responder or a police officer. I play with electronics. I like to learn how things work. I like to build and fix things. I listen way more then I transmit. So to call others "lazy" because they do not participate in emergency preparation games just proves the delusional elitist amateur radio EMCOMM status you strive to achieve and why I wish to remain uninvolved. I still offer up my technical expertise and setup or repair stations when needed, but I don't go to classes and drills anymore.
 

KC9WYE

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If non-emcomm hams are lazy, then what do you call the Hoveround militia that decends on Dayton every year?
 

AK9R

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Folks, the original topic of this thread was about how the "old technology" of amateur radio can still provide viable communications in this age of high-tech digital communications.

However, thread quickly veered off into yet another round of amateur radio EmComm bashing. Actually, I prefer the term "AuxComm" instead of EmComm because most amateur radio operators are not trained, experienced, or prepared to provide real emergency communications. We can, given the right set of circumstances, provide an auxiliary communications path to supplement, but not replace, the real emergency communications networks.

So, let's get back on topic. Is amateur radio's "old technology" still viable? If so, how has it remained viable given the advancements in communications technology.
 

KD8DVR

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I wouldn't call non-EmComm hams "lazy."

I never got on the EmComm bandwagon. Why? Because I got my ham license to talk to people on the radio and to experiment with electronics. I didn't get into the hobby to play pretend police, fire, EMS, etc. I also don't participate in EmComm because I have no business there. I don't have the necessary training that's needed in a real emergency situation, so that means I stay out of the way of the people who do rescue work for a living.

In the past 10 or 15 years there has been a rise in the number of people that got into ham radio to do nothing more than EmComm. That's one good thing about the hobby is that there's something here for everyone. Some of the EmComm folks may think it's silly putting up wire dipoles in your yard, using CW to communicate with others, and chase DX. That's fine, you do your thing and I do my thing. But don't call others "lazy" just because they get something different out of the hobby than you do.

Notice how I used the word "hobby?" That's because ham radio is a hobby. It's not some magical golden key that turns you into a certified emergency worker. Just as taking one Skywarn class does not magically make someone a weather expert.

I have no issue with those hams that want to participate in EmComm. By all means, go forth and save the world with your ham radio. I won't stop you. Just don't lump the rest of us into the "lazy" category because we see ham radio for what it is: a hobby.
I agree... Ham radio is a HOBBY! First and foremost!

I am not an EmComm basher... I'm a Whacker Basher!
 

ElroyJetson

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DO NOT ASK ME FOR HELP PROGRAMMING YOUR RADIO. NO.
Amateur radio (I refuse to call it ham radio) is one of those hobbies that has as many cliques in it as any other hobby you could possibly imagine. The only common thread that I would say that all hams share is that they all have at least some desire to reach out and communicate with people that they have never met before, and do it in what the general populace would consider to be unconventional means.

You could have a room full of amateurs who have never even communicated via radio for the simple reason that their own specific operating preferences make it sure that they will not hear each other on the bands. You have those who only want to run code on 160 meters, using QRP (low power) rigs, at one extreme of the spectrum, and others whose only interest is in running experimental digital modes on microwave point to point links running at 47 GHz, or higher. And you have those who like to run moonbounce (EME), where if the signal isn't bounced off the moon they don't want to hear it, and the HF contesters who are after contest points to the virtual exclusion of all else, the DX chasers who would be trying for the WEEBEM award if there was one, (Worked Everybody, Every Band, Every Mode) the repeaters only crowd, the RTTY crowd, the experimental digital communications crowd,
and you name it, there are plenty of others. The trick is to ensure that (hopefully) every amateur should speak positively about the other aspects of the hobby even if he is not personally interested in them. My particular bias is that I prefer to use public safety grade FM and digital radios for VHF and
UHF operations, and yes, I do enjoy some HF Dx'ing as well but don't do it very often. I am very interested in public safety communications (which is closely related to my radio choices) and I am a full time radio technician. As such I suspect that I am a bit more involved in the electronic/technical side of the hobby than most amateurs. When their radios break, I fix them. These are the parts of amateur radio that I derive the most enjoyment from.
 
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DaveNF2G

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ARRL sez the new "official" label is Public Service Communications. See June, 2014, QST, page 75.

"EmComm" is out.
 

kayn1n32008

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Is amateur radio's "old technology" still viable? If so, how has it remained viable given the advancements in communications technology.

Yes Amateur radio is still viable, numbers of newly licensed hams continues to grow, in North America anyhow. I believe this shows amateur radio IS viable. Even if it is the more... Prepper/paranoid type. Locally we are seeing our numbers grow, decent participation by those in the hobby. We have a few big gun contest stations... I believe as technology changes, those that are involved, would rather be on the leading edge, than playing catch up.

We are seeing P25, DMR, Fusion start to show up, DStar has been here for years. Hams will adopt technology. Although there will always be the "it ain't ham radio unless it is CW" crowd... Still owning a IC-2AT with out tone board, whining that most of the repeaters can't be used... But they are quickly dying off and being replaced with a new, younger, more technology proficient, and accepting of things like DMR or P25 or NXDN... And do not mind using internet to network. There are great digital modes for HF, that can allow one to communicate when signal strengths are almost none existent.




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DannyB1954

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I would have to agree that this is a great hobby. Today just about everyone carries a radio. It is called their cell phone. If you witness an accident the chances of getting help by dialing 911 is greater than by saying priority communication clear the frequency, (if anyone is even listening to that frequency).

OK maybe in a natural disaster the radio waves might work when the cell phone towers are down, but then most emergency personal have their own radios and frequencies. And how can you be certain that your local repeaters will work better than the cell phone back up systems?

What I like about the hobby is I am kind of quirky I suppose. Most every other Ham I meet seems a bit odd as well. We are kind of like a bag of Planters mixed nuts. A bit different from each other, but still nuts.

I read a book written By Mother Teressa. She said we all daydream about the day when we can be a great hero in a difficult situation. Mankind would be much better off if you just did a little nice thing every day. All of those nice little things added together would have a much bigger impact on mankind. Your chance to be a real hero may never come.

Opinions expressed here are solely that of the speaker and in now way should be taken seriously, (after all he may be just as crazy as you are).
 

TheSpaceMann

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Is amateur radio's old technology still viable? Heck, in a severe emergency, it's all there is! When Sandy came into town and took out the power, internet, landlines and cell phone towers, the only way that people were still communicating was through radio! What's even funnier was that the only emergency communications that were available to the general (non ham) public (except for satellite phones), was CB!!
 

WB4CS

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Is amateur radio's old technology still viable? Heck, in a severe emergency, it's all there is! When Sandy came into town and took out the power, internet, landlines and cell phone towers, the only way that people were still communicating was through radio! What's even funnier was that the only emergency communications that were available to the general (non ham) public (except for satellite phones), was CB!!
So does this mean that ALL public safety (police, fire, EMS, etc.) radios quit working? I'm honestly asking the question because I don't know what happened during Sandy.

While it is possible that the trunked and repeater systems for those services were all down, I would imagine that some/most had some backup systems? Were the Public Service radios still able to communicate via simplex (talk-around or failsoft) if any of the repeater or trunked systems went down?

My reason for asking is that often amateur radio is the "only way" during an emergency because Public Safety systems take short cuts and don't have the necessary backup systems in place. Either that, or, actually the Public Safety systems are working but yet us as hams have a large ego and "believe" that our hobby-radios are the only ones working.

Again, I'm asking an honest question here.
 

elk2370bruce

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So does this mean that ALL public safety (police, fire, EMS, etc.) radios quit working? I'm honestly asking the question because I don't know what happened during Sandy.

While it is possible that the trunked and repeater systems for those services were all down, I would imagine that some/most had some backup systems? Were the Public Service radios still able to communicate via simplex (talk-around or failsoft) if any of the repeater or trunked systems went down?

My reason for asking is that often amateur radio is the "only way" during an emergency because Public Safety systems take short cuts and don't have the necessary backup systems in place. Either that, or, actually the Public Safety systems are working but yet us as hams have a large ego and "believe" that our hobby-radios are the only ones working.

Again, I'm asking an honest question here.
During Katrina in the gulf states, many of the trunked systems went off the air due to wind damage or flooded repeaters that were ground mounted. Some systems in NJ were off the air for a while during Sandy but not as bad or as long. We're not the only game in town nor are we to replace existing services and systems. We ae nothing more than an emergency support function when requested by the public safety professionals to support (not supplant) their systems. If we're not requested, we simply stay out of the way. We're in their emergency operations plan and the choice is solely theirs. Nothing more and nothing less. It is the untrained volunteers who do not practice with public safety officials that have the ego problem and have little idea what we can, and what we should not be doing as an auxiliary service in the community.
 
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DaveNF2G

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I am not aware of any documented cases where ham radio was used for dispatch operations, regardless of primary radio system outages. In most cases (at least in populated areas), such use of ham radio would be inappropriate and likely impossible.
 
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