What's it like, 25 years later?

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I got a Novice license around 1974 and a General license around 1976 (can't remember the exact year). I was reasonably active on CW around 1978-1980, and worked something like 40 states with a 5-watt Heathkit HW-8 and a random length antenna (which was about all I could afford). I never really had very good SSB equipment (a cranky Galaxy V), and the bands seemed so crowded that I really wasn't all that successful with SSB. Eventually, I got busy with my career and family, and the old ham equipment has been sitting in boxes in the garage for 25 years or so.

I never did let my license lapse, though, it is still active.

I think about getting out the old equipment from time to time, but I am wondering....

Thinking about the HF bands....how is ham radio different now than 25 years ago? I know the transceiver technology has progressed a little since the days of my HW-8 and Galaxy V, but what I really mean is....how busy are the HF bands compared to 25 years ago? Fewer hams, less busy? Does anyone do CW any more?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

mtindor

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I got a Novice license around 1974 and a General license around 1976 (can't remember the exact year). I was reasonably active on CW around 1978-1980, and worked something like 40 states with a 5-watt Heathkit HW-8 and a random length antenna (which was about all I could afford). I never really had very good SSB equipment (a cranky Galaxy V), and the bands seemed so crowded that I really wasn't all that successful with SSB. Eventually, I got busy with my career and family, and the old ham equipment has been sitting in boxes in the garage for 25 years or so.

I never did let my license lapse, though, it is still active.

I think about getting out the old equipment from time to time, but I am wondering....

Thinking about the HF bands....how is ham radio different now than 25 years ago? I know the transceiver technology has progressed a little since the days of my HW-8 and Galaxy V, but what I really mean is....how busy are the HF bands compared to 25 years ago? Fewer hams, less busy? Does anyone do CW any more?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
The bands are still loaded with CW, especially if you like working DX or contesting. But even without DXing/contesting, you'll find plenty of CW. I've was listening to W1AW/9 earlier on 30m CW as well as another N5 call who had no shortage of reponses during his continued CQing.

Just because CW is no longer a requirement, the ever-feared disappearance of CW didn't happen. Everyone loves to work DX, and many love to work QSO Parties, FD and contests -- and you'll always find CW there. And the usual CW organizations continue to promote CW. CWOPs has 'mini-tests' every week now, which are a blast.

How busy are the bands? Well that's a different story, 25 years ago the bands were in much better condition. I remember in '91 and '92, when I got my license, the bands were insane. I haven't seen activity/sunspot numbers that high since then, and might not for quite a while.

At this point, 10/12/15 are still active. Might want to get back in there and have some fun on those bands while ya can.

Mike
 

ab3a

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Welcome back.

People still play with HW-8 transceivers. You won't be disappointed.

CW speeds are usually faster now. People assume competence or a desire to get there.

There is also a fair amount of slow speed data. The PSK31 protocol is very common. You might want to keep your computer sound card attached to the radio because it can detect and send many new protocols.

Yes, there is still a lot of SSB on the air. You don't hear as many people calling from South America for phone patches. You don't hear as much foreign broadcasting or OTHB radar (the Woodpecker is gone --we can be thankful for little things). The 15 kHz flyback noise you may have gotten used to is gone.

However, there is a lot of noise anyway. There are numerous fools who simply can not be told that power lines were not designed for RF. So they spew noise on the spectrum anyway.

So as you might expect, it is a mixed bag.

73,
 
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