Is ham radio too easy?

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W9BU

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I'm going to start a new thread that kinda parallels this thread.

Yesterday, I took delivery of a brand new Icom IC-7000. I opened the box, unpacked the radio, hooked up an existing power supply, hooked up an existing HF dipole and an existing VHF/UHF vertical. I turned on the radio, dialed up a repeater frequency, and was on the air making contacts. Total time, from unpacking to contact? About 15 minutes.

Later, after checking into a 2m net, I switched over to 40m and broke through the pile-up to make contact with the W1AW/4 ARRL 100th Anniversary station in Tennessee. Additional time to make the first contact on HF with this radio? About 10 minutes.

Granted, I had the power supply and the antennas ready to go and I had spent about a half-hour reading the manual before the radio arrived. But, the radio part was really easy.

Frankly, I don't think people realize just how easy ham radio can be.
 

elk2370bruce

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Getting started in amateur radio has been easier since the initiation of the Novice class license. I got mine in 1960. Growing within our avocation takes a variety of growth paths depending on what you choose to specialize in. Satellite communications, moon bounce, and some other forms require loads of antenna knowledge. I chose to become active in cw and PSK which maintains its own challenges. So, while its easy to get started, a whole range of skills and talents can be used to grow within the amateur radio community. Of course, there are easy paths that people can follow but a good many of us still learn and grow within our chosen avocation. Your experiences, over your years of licensure provided the skills needed to get the new rig on the air so of course it seemed easy. To the new guy, building his first dipole, constructing his first power supply, etc. are the beginners challenges that we all overcame.
 

LtDoc

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You're right, it can certainly be easy if you have some experience of what you are doing. It can also be a pure PITA if you don't, it's the 'getting there' that's fun.
Old or new, it's a very good idea to keep that manual handy till you are accustomed to how that new doo-hicky works. Especially with the newer radios, you better not lose that @#$ manual! :)
- 'Doc
 

TheSpaceMan

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I totally agree. You can get on the air with a modern Ham radio in about the same time as it takes to hook up a modern CB radio. Becoming a knowledgeable and proficient operator is another story.
 

W9BU

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I've spent many Saturday and Sunday afternoons walking around my backyard putting up and tuning various HF antennas (without catching the attention of the HOA), so, yes, that's often the hard part. And, this IC-7000 is the about the 5th HF radio I've owned, so I'm reasonably proficient at HF SSB operating.

I think the first HF radio I ever touched was a pair of Drake twins. Compare that set-up to something like the IC-7000 and you can see how far amateur radio has come.

Oh, I broke through another pile-up this evening. W1AW/5 in New Mexico on 40m. 100watts into a dipole about 16 feet off the ground.
 

N8IAA

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I totally agree. You can get on the air with a modern Ham radio in about the same time as it takes to hook up a modern CB radio. Becoming a knowledgeable and proficient operator is another story.
This is the problem facing those that study online without the benefit of having an experienced ham, or hams teaching correct operating skills, setting up a ham station (from the radio, power supply, tuner, and antenna). This is painfully obvious by the questions by those individuals who have gone all the way from Tech to Extra in a single test day. I don't begrudge them the fact that they accomplished this feat, just the fact they have no practical knowledge of ham radio.

I am glad I had an Elmer peak my interest in ham radio, and a club that spent the time and energy to make sure that I understood the basic principles of ham radio.

My Elmer, who by the way became one of the best friends I've ever had, and I taught new hams in the Novice classes to become knowledgeable in how to operate, build antennas, and courteous hams. You may recognize one of my former students, the man who invented and manufactured Niljon antennas.

Glad to have been a ham for 29 years.
Larry
 

pinballwiz86

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This is painfully obvious by the questions by those individuals who have gone all the way from Tech to Extra in a single test day. I don't begrudge them the fact that they accomplished this feat, just the fact they have no practical knowledge of ham radio.
Half the fun of the hobby is working towards being an A-1 Op. I went from Tech to Extra in one day and believe me I was wet behind the ears. But I set everything up myself. I learned by myself and I'm proud to have learned quite a bit of practical knowledge of ham radio so far 9 moths in the hobby. I still have a lot to learn of course but the basics for good operating are there. Clean signal, good radio procedures, etc.


You learn by doing not by reading the ARRL Study Guide cover to cover like some would have you do. It makes no sense to spend months skimming through the Extra Class manual when time could better be spent on the air. I still flip through the manual all the time to really learn it. But, I can also enjoy making QSOs now instead of still be studying to impress no one.

Just the other day I got a QSL card from Guadelupe and I worked all 50 states already. Just need two states to send in their QSL card and I've WAS. Now, onto DXCC. (15/100)


W9BU, congratulations on the new radio! It is pretty sweet! I had my eye on it but it was out of my budget since I had to get power supply, etc. etc. I went with the Icom 718.
 
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elk2370bruce

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I'd agree that hooking up one of the new rigs is rather easy. My first hf rig was a Heathkit AT-1 and an older Hallicrafters (S38-E)with a folded dipole made from scrap. Didn't have a real meter so I tuned the AT-1 with a 100 watt light bulb soldered to a chunk of coax. Luckily, I had a great elmer who guided me through construction of the transmitter and balancing the system. I later bought my elmer's rig: a Johnson Viking Valiant and a Hammarlund HQ-180AC that I saved up with odd jobs after school and summers. Remember the old sayuing, "If it don't glow - it ain't a Ray Dee OH." I always wanted to upgrade to that new-fangled single box transceiver - the collins KWM-2 but I never had the cash.
 

WB4CS

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Sounds similar to this thread I started last year: http://forums.radioreference.com/amateur-radio-general-discussion/260331-has-ham-radio-become-too-easy.html

Operating radios and getting on the air has become much easier thanks to online shopping, cheap radios, and commercially available antennas. While I'm kind of glad I missed the boat on the days of having to build and calibrate your radio before you could get on the air, I can admit that it probably made the hobby much more of a "hobby" than it is now.
 

elk2370bruce

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Sounds similar to this thread I started last year: http://forums.radioreference.com/amateur-radio-general-discussion/260331-has-ham-radio-become-too-easy.html

Operating radios and getting on the air has become much easier thanks to online shopping, cheap radios, and commercially available antennas. While I'm kind of glad I missed the boat on the days of having to build and calibrate your radio before you could get on the air, I can admit that it probably made the hobby much more of a "hobby" than it is now.
Yup. As the old All In the Family song went Those were the days". but there is still lot of new things to learn and build, Even an Old Fart like me is included.
 

stevolene

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"This is the problem facing those that study online without the benefit of having an experienced ham, or hams teaching correct operating skills, setting up a ham station (from the radio, power supply, tuner, and antenna). This is painfully obvious by the questions by those individuals who have gone all the way from Tech to Extra in a single test day. I don't begrudge them the fact that they accomplished this feat, just the fact they have no practical knowledge of ham radio. "

well that's why its so easy , the Elmer's are dying off, and so was ham radio, may still be to some extent, the manufacturers as well as the FCC have no choice but to make it easier to get more people involved, which means more $$$ ......... I wish there were more old timers and or experienced hams where I live, I have lots of questions, especially concerning digital. Not sure how it is where you live but in my parts the local ham club is full of elderly folks who have no time for newbys, no drive for new membership, kinda depressing really, otherwise I wouldn't ask so many questions on these forums
 

N0IU

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...the Elmer's are dying off, and so was ham radio, may still be to some extent, the manufacturers as well as the FCC have no choice but to make it easier to get more people involved, which means more $$$ .........
I doubt money was the driving force behind the "simplification" of amateur radio tests. Icom and Yaesu make a bulk of their revenue from commercial 2-way communications systems. While Kenwood also makes commercial radio systems, most of their revenue comes from the general consumer electronics marketplace. The only entity that would see any real benefit to an increasing ham population would be a membership-driven organization.
 

MesquiteWx

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Compare that set-up to something like the IC-7000 and you can see how far amateur radio has come.
That IC-7000 is a very nice radio too. I use that for my base radio. Very easy to set up indeed.
 

N4DES

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Sounds similar to this thread I started last year: http://forums.radioreference.com/amateur-radio-general-discussion/260331-has-ham-radio-become-too-easy.html

Operating radios and getting on the air has become much easier thanks to online shopping, cheap radios, and commercially available antennas. While I'm kind of glad I missed the boat on the days of having to build and calibrate your radio before you could get on the air, I can admit that it probably made the hobby much more of a "hobby" than it is now.
I think that currently it has dwarfed into becoming more of an appliance and really can't be considered a "hobby" anymore. Not to change the direction, but due to HOA antenna restrictions and space limitations in vehicles, buying and operating a portable handheld radio is about all there is anymore and in theory is really no different then going to a local BestBuy and buying a cell phone.

HF is very difficult for most and a majority rather cry about living with deeded property rules than trying to be creative to get on the air.
 

w2txb

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That IC-7000 is a very nice radio too. I use that for my base radio. Very easy to set up indeed.
Ditto. I used one as a primary radio for a few years, and it served me quite well.

As for ham radio, maybe we should really reach out to the new people and encourage them to learn more about electronics and communication beyond the basics.

If we make entry into ham radio more difficult, it will not improve much, except maybe to relive the massive crowding on the repeaters and HF bands. ;)
 
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