Monday, 29 June 2020


ON BEHALF OF MY CLUB, I spent two 12-hour shifts this weekend on FT8 (30M) and 2M FM and even though everyone was complaining that the bands were absolutely dead, I worked hard all weekend and managed to get 170 contacts in total.

When I posted the results on our Club's Facebook page, someone put a πŸ˜‚ emoji against it and straight away I asked "What's funny"?

But in reality, I already know what he finds funny - digital doesn't count! It's the opinion of so many older operators who are stuck in their ways and are unwilling to embrace new technology and new modes of operation.  They only seem to validate CW and PHONE. In fact, I'm convinced that if they had started operating when only CW was available, they'd be against using VOICE! 

I'm sure people assume FT8 is totally automated and you can switch on a PC then go to the pub while your computer does everything. Well not for me - I was sat in my chair for a good 12 hours each day, peeking and poking all day long.

It makes me laugh though, when I hear people mocking the use of digital modes and yet these same people were quite happy to use Packet Radio when that became popular back in the 80's πŸ˜ƒ

This is all a very clear indicator to me why Ham Radio started to fall into decline. Old fashioned opinions and a blinkered view on progression at a local level turned off younger generations, which led to shrinking club membership and attendance records. If it hadn't been for the changes made in licence types in 2002, the hobby would be in dire straights by now!

Many Full Licence operators back then thought it was a bad move to give these Foundation Licence holders such wide ranging capabilities and spouted on about how, back in the day, you had to go to college and study at night and how they had to learn morse code to get a licence.

Well it seems to me that much of that prejudice against Foundationers has gone away now and I've found most advanced operators to be quite helpful, but the aversion to new technology remains for many.

I've spoken to a few old-timers about Digital Modes and rather than let them simply dismiss it, I've gently coaxed the reason for their dislike out of them. It seems to me that the real reason for their disdain is that they don't understand it and don't have the motivation to learn by studying.

Just recently I spoke at length with one guy who was vehemently opposed to Digital and I discovered that he would like to play around with it if someone would set it up for him and show him!

So from that, I concluded that just as the older guys should go out of their way to help and encourage the younger operators, so too should the younger operators help and encourage the older ones. It's a two-way street.

Clubs should perhaps have a meeting to discuss this and decide what they're going to do about it. Whether they recognise it or not, their memberships will likely be deeply divided when it comes to Digital Modes, but maybe these walls can be knocked down with a few simple but enthusiastic club demonstrations.  I've personally introduced a G0 to FT8 and explained how to set it up and use it. He has since set it up at another 'mature' G0's shack. The same thing goes for SDR's and panadapters and waterfalls - all new fangled stuff that's "a waste of time" until it's explained and demonstrated.

Operators don't necessarily need to know how it works, they just need to be shown how to use it so that they can enjoy it. It's a bit like using cars - you don't need to be a mechanical engineer to enjoy the benefits of driving. With time though, you learn more about it all and improve your operating skills through a more thorough understanding.

So that's my little rant for the week πŸ˜‰


  1. Luckely there are enough OMs that do know how to use a computer and digital modes. The number of radio amateurs that only use CW/SSB to make contacts is only small I think. For young radio operators the challenge is not to make worldwide contacts or collect DXCC. They want action with the use of todays technology. Contesting is a way to attract young operators, it is like (online) gaming. Programming and hacking is another way to interest new and young operators. The HAMradio world has changed the last few years and will change in the next years. I think it will be more hybrid, using the internet together with radio. Using remote receivers and transmitters from all kind of places since it will more difficult to place antennas around your house. Just thinking.....73, Bas

  2. I agree Bas - contesting is a fast paced, competitive activity which younger people like me (61 LOL) should find interesting. I need to get together with a good contester to learn some skills. I think I'd really enjoy it.

  3. Good evening Tom, for some just the idea of change is hard to deal with. Even when I was working there were those who resisted any change even if it made things better it was just the issue with change. I think FT8 is amazing and during these times of low solar activity it is a god send for action on the bands. I'm guessing that in the past when tube radios were around and transistor radios came out to some only tubes were real radios. Then when semiconductors took over transistors then transistors rigs were real radios and it goes on and on. As you mentioned SDR rigs these days do not have a "dial" so they are not real radios as well.
    As time and technology changes so does what is not a real radio war changes.
    Stay safe and have a great week.

  4. Hi Mike, yeh you're probably right. Personally, I LOVE change - I guess that's why I'm at odds with people like this.

    Stay safe mate!

    Kind regards,
    Tom - M7MCQ