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Great piece, Peter. I still have my log log decitrig "slipstick", and have enjoyed amateur radio (and CB too, before it blew up) since my pre-teen years as well. Brought a big smile.


I am surprised you didn't cover the integration of digital technology with ham radio. You lament the changes in the same way that some thought spark gap was the pinnacle of the hobby. The integration of computing techniques has opened RTTY (which when I started was the domain of the relatively wealthy), PSK, DSTAR, APRS and a myriad of modes to nearly everyone. There are more amateur radio operators in the US today then there has ever been. With the experimental nature of the hobby, most of them have some experience integrating radio with digital technologies and this bring even more breadth of possibility -- it just may be a different path than the one you (or I) took. 73, AD5EN

Peter Coffee

As you observe, and as I said myself, the Amateur Radio Service is "by some measures...as healthy as ever." What I was asked to provide was a view of changes that have altered my own experience over time. My comments don't, it seems to me, disagree with what you say -- but they are clearly complementary.

I would like to see ham radio serving as a qualitatively different entry point to technology, rather than being assimilated into the "everything's digital" world view. Are digital modes important? Absolutely. Are more hams working at increasingly high levels of abstraction from the physics of their equipment, and from the raw medium of radio itself? I don't believe we disagree on that.

I appreciate your taking the time to comment, and I hope that no one thinks I was accenting the negative. I believe that ham radio needs to work harder to preserve its distinctive role. I certainly hope to contribute to that.

Ted Robinson

Its been said that survival of any species or endeavor depends on its ability to "adapt".

Some aspects of ham radio appear to be adapting (growing), including some ancient traditional parts. For example, ARRL's about face from petitioning the FCC 20 years ago to outlaw bandwidths exceeding 3 kHz, to its recent HQ acquisition of a Gates AM transmitter. Likewise, increased Vibroplex sales implies CW, the "original digital", appears to also be growing.

As mentioned here, kit building has shrunk, but perhaps its morphed. From point to point wiring Eico 720 and 730 rigs in 1960, my persontal building has changed to bending copper tubing into a magnetic loop, drilling it to fit a big capacitor, and soldering ten tiny terminals on an inch square stepper controller circuit board. This change is perhaps an example of adaptation, taking advantage of the new high def antenna testing technology of WSPRlite and the reverse beacon network.

That magnetic loop antenna is also itself an adaptation to domicile movement into congested urban areas that confront many of us HFers.

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