18 thoughts on “The Uncertain Future Of Ham Radio”

  1. One thing is for certain, radio is definitely getting more popular. Regardless if someone decides to pursue a license or not, it’s a subject worthy of study. I suspect soon licenses will be completely irrelevant anyway.

    1. they’re irrevelant now 🙂

      tfA-t has 4 Ham radios in his network…

      license? we don’t need no stinking license

      only slaves and retards ask and pay for permission to use the air

      fuck the gubmint fuck their permission and fuck the pooplice

      tfA-t has spoken

      and that is all

      1. I would contend in my very individual, particular case that I paid the goobermint nothing, and the study process has helped in gaining knowledge, given me the opportunity to test things on air and most importantly for me, it has proven to be a good tool for building community in my AOR. Otherwise I really do get it, I consider your opinion quite based, it’s the reason I don’t get CCW. Make no mistake I generally endorse the ways of the tfAt.

      2. license? we don’t need no stinking license

        Does that include the liquor license on “your” restaurant?

    2. I hope they don’t do away with licensing. These radios aren’t household appliances, without some level of knowledge like that gained through testing all the same lazy preppers that went out and bought Baofengs without learning how to use them with cause the HF airwaves to be unusable if they start buying HF rigs and god help their neighbors if they discover 1,500 watt amplifiers without understanding antennas.
      I have absolutely no radio, engineering, or electrical background but was able to easily get my extra class license. There is no excuse for not getting one, there is no way you are going to be able to effectively use the equipment unless you were on the air testing out the things you have set aside time to study through radio books or the great YouTube channels on it.
      If you have not done this than you are the exact same guy that went out and bought a pistol with no additional magazines or holster and haven’t even shot the thing once let alone gotten any other training but insist that you are ready to use it when the time comes.

  2. The comments on the article are tiresome, but worth the effort to read through, as they add user insight.

    I am not a Ham user, but am looking into it – hopefully not to late, but nonetheless, it seems that much is going internet based. That seems to defeat the whole purpose.

    Want to get young people interested in Ham? I think the answer is educating them that their cell phones and text messages and constant connectivity can, and likely will, disappear with the flick of a switch – forever – and understanding that will motivate them.

    Young adults are addicted to constant, instant communications. Take out a cell tower, and there will be meltdowns.

  3. I remember viewing a short on PBS, one eve…
    and they were somewhere in NC at a HAM museum.
    Does anyone know where that might be located ?
    Not sure if it was an independent or university connected.
    Seemed like a neat place to visit.
    The photograph looks a lot like the place.

    1. Such articles contemplating the death or divergence of ham radio are cyclic. Every few years. And the solar cycle being in the toilet right now (and thus much propagation) is a contributor to such articles. Do what you have to do & learn how to run it competently without an online manual.

  4. Commercial interests are a significant challenge as they seek to take (by way of FCC auctions) ham frequency allocations for their purposes. FCC generally is happy to ‘sell’ these frequencies to commercial actors under the guise of efficient provision of commercial services and ‘deficit reduction’ (ha ha ha).
    Frequency defense will become much more costly for hams, much as 2A defense has become for gun owners.
    Unlike the 2nd, hams have not even a remote constitutional basis for frequency defense. The GOV giveth and can taketh at will.

  5. The license is cheap. The tests are easy. I have taught over a hundred of ordinary people how to pass them and use the simplest radio usage over the years. It’s not JUST for the tactical community. The rest of them are a great source of intel and early warning. You can teach them to share what they’re seeing. They love it because they get feedback. The tactical team gets useful (if unfiltered) info. The more licensees, the more you “see.”

    Tac-teams claim “an event” adopt tactical calls, and just operate. All legal … in the regs. No worries. Message handling, ICS, and all that Jazz helps when things get bigger.

  6. Interesting article with the first main feature a dismissed organizational CEO said to be AWOL during his tenure, a very old manufacturer of commodity grade products with a good portion of incarcerated labor, and a sound product producer whose quality work has long been technically eclipsed in the market.

    Cliche assumptions, including distorted demographics and a provincialism presuming the USA license population & market defines a worldwide hobby.

    Or that there are an unsatiated massive demand for every bit of frequency allocation ready to out bid the incumbent users.

    All barely offset by a few young innovators – and ignoring checking in with those making an investment into the hobby.

    That the HTSO (HT-shaped-objects) have arrived a disposable priced offerings maybe lamented by the manufacturers of full featured/quality HTs, but apparently are a hit with the masses of buyers purchasing these cheap HTs. Remember when a product dies it price increases, sometimes greatly, rather than pummeling to volume based lows.

    If the hobby was on its deathbed, the Icom, Yaesu, Anan, FlexRadio, SteppIR, and other innovators would not be launching new models, investing and planning their future strategies.

    Is the hobby changing, oh yes – and so it should!

    Will it leave behind its history, absolutely. Here in 2020 we have no intention of running the radios in use 100 years ago. We may collect some of the survivor hardware out of nostalgia, but only for a few impassioned folk is it their radio of choice.

    Circling back to ham demographics, not only is the ages of the ham population not readily available, the activity level and purchases are not well understood. The few market analysis manufacturers have done have largely had the data collected reserved for propitiatory reasons.

    In any hobby or undertaking getting young folk involved is critical for long term active population continuity. As many old-timers hadn’t been effective “ham ambassadors,” mentors (called “Elmers” in ham-speak) or even passed their interest within their own family, the challenge is higher than hobbies where a good successor development program is in operation.

    Remembering that a good number of licensed hams are inactive, and of course that there is a unlicensed level or activity either listening or illicitly transmitting without licenses, there are analysis suggesting that the “active portion” of the licencee group is holding its own. That conjecture doesn’t play well within the organizations active to worry the involved amateur into pitching in money to their causes, as it takes too much of the worry out of their pitch.

    When we see Martin Jue and Bob Heil abandon the amateur radio ham market for greener pastures, then it will be time to worry. Until such a time not so much.


  7. Understand your point about training but, what does getting government permission (licensing) have to do with competence?

    1. Stl, licensing is not a measure of competence but you can not transmit to gain experience that develops competence without a license. I mean you can in the same way you can drive a car without a license but we all realize it’s just too easy to get one to risk the penalties of not doing it. Which by the way the same people went out and got a driver’s license that say stupid things like “I don’t want to be in a government database” as an excuse for not getting a license. Now using a PO Box instead of your home address which can easily be looked up by your call sign on the FCC database isn’t a bad idea.

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