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HAM Radio - All I hear are crickets

Discussion in 'Electronic Devices' started by Bloodstriker, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. Bloodstriker

    Bloodstriker Loaded Pockets

    I finally bought my first radio after getting my license last year - a Baofeng UV-82. Not great, but it's a cheap way to get into the hobby.

    I remember in the HAM Radio club in the early 90s, it was quite easy to hop on and get a conversation going on the base station. However, I'm in a well populated area with 6 repeaters nearby and I have only heard one conversation so far.

    I guess I'm not shocked that the hobby isn't as active as it used to be before the days of smartphones and internet, but ....I guess I'm just ranting. It's a bit sad.

    I will be trying to listen in on a club meet tonight to see how many people there are attending. I was really looking forward to purchasing a better HT and a mobile, but now I'm afraid of sinking funds into equipment and in order to talk to nobody.

    My question for you is: What level of activity is there where you are?
  2. Omega Man
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Omega Man Loaded Pockets

    About the same as your,until something interesting happens. By interesting, i mean blizzard or news event. Shoveling while listening to local repeaters is a fun pastime.
  3. Bloodstriker

    Bloodstriker Loaded Pockets

    I looked online for the local HAM Radio club and they have a club net once a week. I tuned in and exchanged a few words. After the meet, the air went silent again. However, it was nice to confirm that my radio works.
    charlie fox likes this.
  4. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

    From my experience all areas are different with the level of activity and how to find it.

    Here in STL we have nets most nights and are fairly active all the time during the Drive Times as well but this also waxes and wanes for reasons that I am never able to really understand too?
    We also have private nets on direct frequencies between groups that have been having them for a long,long time and you just have to know someone or happen upon one to get in there.

    The best advice I can give is to get involved in a club and become part of the rotation and you will learn when and where to find others.
    There are general nets and also specialized Nets and I am involved in EMCOMM nets and organizations too and the more you are involved the easier it is to be involved!

    There are also many out there who "Lurk" and will not be involved consistently for whatever reason they might have but then they spring to life of things pick up too it seems.

    I drive around the country a lot and am almost always able to stumble into conversations and I only really looking on 2 meters too.

    Others run H.F. in the car and talk all over the world while on the road as there is always action on the Low Bands it seems and from the house you can easily get a decent enough antenna going to get there too.

    You can also get on Echolink and IRLP nodes if there are any near you and then participate around the world as though you were right there.
    I can often find a Net while out of town and then keep checking in there when back home through Internet Linking which is a lot of fun too.

    Like everything else in the hobby it requires practice and patience though to get good at hunting the action down.
  5. Miamic70

    Miamic70 Loaded Pockets

    Probably because the old geezers are dropping dead.
    kikaida likes this.
  6. Mumbojumboo
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    Mumbojumboo EDC Junkie!!!!!

    Hate to say it but..... might be obsolete. My Dad was hard core but he is 80, with a IPad and phone.
    charlie fox likes this.
  7. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

    Well the old farts are certainly moving on as it were but somehow there is also a whole new crop of fresh HAM to try to take their place too?
    I don't know how or where they come from but they do keep flowing in .

    I think the concept of Prepping is part of it and the Electronics hobby is another but either way there is new blood at every event and meeting around here.
  8. Blackheart
    • +2 Supporter
    • +1 Supporter

    Blackheart Loaded Pockets

    Your Ipad and phone won't be worth squat when lines are down and cell towers are swamped.* I live in Tornado Country, radio communication is vitally important. Not a HAM myself, but I know a bunch of them, subscribe to a local club's newsletter, and write to my CongressCritter and the FCC whenever issues of bandwidth allocation come up.

    * - I have no idea why, but it seems whenever something goes wrong, a large percentage of people feel the need to get on their phone and call someone, as if that other person can actually do something to help.

    True story: After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, FEMA people flew in to assess the damage. First thing they did when exiting the plane was look at their cellphones and think "Hey, I can't get a signal here." Duh.
    Last edited by Blackheart, Nov 16, 2016
    EZDog likes this.
  9. Bloodstriker

    Bloodstriker Loaded Pockets

    I wouldn't call HAM radio obsolete. It has it's uses. As Blackheart mentioned, it good for when lines and cell towers are down. It's also good for use in the bush, where there's no reception to begin with. In fact, when I did my HAM radio course, we had about 15 of our friends do the course together. The instructor seemed really taken back that a group of 30-40 year old guys and girls were interested in this "old" tech. Some of the students wanted to get licensed to use radio while offroading. A few, like me, simply wanted to get into the hobby.

    But, although I believe that HAM radio isn't obsolete, I do believe that there's not much new interest in it anymore.

    I remember using the base station at school, with the HUGE 5 storey antenna, to communicate to Asia. In 1991, this was simply amazing. During this time, I remember making long distance calls overseas using the telephone was a challenge. The line was always full of static. But using a radio to directly communicate..............was almost like the first time using the internet.

    BUT... these days, I can use my little pocket device (aka smartphone), and video conference multiple people in multiple continents.... all while taking a stroll in the park catching virtual pokemon.
  10. volcomonix

    volcomonix Loaded Pockets

    It's not dead, but it's definitely not as popular as it may have been at one time. I've only been licensed for 2 years, but there is a fair amount of 2m activity in my area. I live in a big city though. Also, like they all say, HF is where its at. I have my general ticket also, but no good setup at home for the antenna. Been trying to figure out a good solution since the day I upgraded. I have an N4ARR hex beam, Chameleon EMCOMM II, and LNR 10/15/20 End fed, but I can't get any of them up properly in my situation. I rely on Saturday morning when I DO get a chance to get out of the city and throw the wire in a tree.

    I keep looking for more ways to get active, but HF is filled with a lot of old hams from the 50's that are just boring and not very inviting in general.
  11. wheelsoffreedom76

    wheelsoffreedom76 Loaded Pockets

    There is a lot of activity around here with the linked systems spanning across two+ states, and a lot of individual repeaters. There are tons of people listening that rarely talk. There is also traffic on simplex frequencies both 2m and 70cm around here. I used to be really active on HF and 2m, but anymore I only carry an HT during severe weather outbreaks and I have not set up HF again since moving.
  12. kikaida

    kikaida Loaded Pockets

    I'm surprised HAM radio hasn't died out completely by now. HF radio was used during a time before cell towers and common satellite communications. Personally, I really could not understand the appeal. But maybe that's because that was my job in the US Air Force for so many years (3C1X1) where I worked a lot of High Frequency hours on HF SAC Giant Talk and then when it became USAF GCCS. I worked 12 hour shifts, 4 days on, 2 off, listening to the static on HF. I hated it so much I couldn't imagine doing it for fun.
  13. newnan3

    newnan3 Loaded Pockets

    Sorry but i cant help but think of this when i think of ham radios

  14. marc_NS

    marc_NS Empty Pockets

    forgotten until a disaster hits...
    kensington likes this.
  15. resq1192

    resq1192 Loaded Pockets


    I have to concur with you on your experience. My wife and I became operators in 2007 to provide some additional service to our community (both of us are now-retired members of our town rescue squad) during an emergency. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but here in Little Rhody, things are a bit ... clannish. I have found that local HAMs are not welcoming to new operators getting on the air; a friend of mine who recently licensed had someone snicker at him on-air and say "go away little boy, let the REAL hams play." On various forums in this area we hear "leaders" in the area ham community bemoaning that they can't get "new blood" on the air and yet the aforementioned behavior is tolerated on air. Sometimes you try to get on the air here and get ignored .... good example I have: On the annual ARRL Field Day weekend, the local ham club sets up in a field at the town community center, about 1/2 mile from my house. They transmit all weekend. Every year I attempt on 3 different periods to hail the station and talk to an operator at the field; they fail to respond. (Of note, I test the radio beforehand to ensure it works, etc) However, when one of their pals gets on, the chatter goes for minutes on end. Doesn't give me a good perception of the club at all. I've been tempted to take a drive up there and (nicely) call them out on their actions, but truly believe I'd just be giving in to my indignation and will settle nothing. I feel for you on this .... if ARRL and all these clubs want change, perhaps they need to look inward first and do some organizational soul-searching on "why AREN'T new blood getting on/ staying on the air?"
  16. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

    Why not drive right over there and become part of the group instead?
    Maybe you are really not getting out like you think you are or maybe it is just a numbers game.

    I certainly know what you are talking about and I would be the last guy to claim it is all in your head but give it a little more effort and see how it goes?

    I also got into the hobby to help and contribute when we are truly needed and I pity the fool who tries to keep me out!
    Not many survive the encounter so far!

    We have a huge Hamfest coming up in January and that is a great time to get involved around here too,a few hours helping to load in the crap walking past the old farts who can't help can make a lasting impression too,not that I am suggesting kissing anyones :censored: either.
  17. NorthernHarrier

    NorthernHarrier Loaded Pockets

    I was only licensed about a year ago. The local club is large and welcomes new hams - although I've had to make an effort to get acquainted with many in the group who were perhaps more used to talking to the same people at meetings. We have a very well-attended 2-meter net every week at which new hams are welcomed. The age of participants ranges from ten to 80ish. I have been impressed that several of the old-timers have been very helpful to me when I reached out to them for assistance.

    We have had some great presentations highlighting the usefulness of ham radio in disasters (after all, the FEMA Director is a member of the club), but I upgraded my license quickly because the big attraction of the hobby for me is the fun of contacting people far away with relatively little power. I'm limited by my apartment set up, but I've got some good dx using psk31.

    One comment on the number of people in the hobby: the FCC database shows more active licenses than ever - although not all of those people with licenses are active on the air. We have several local clubs and repeaters, but they are mainly active during nets and times when the roads are busy. A core group monitors the 2-meter or D-Star repeater frequencies regularly.
  18. resq1192

    resq1192 Loaded Pockets

    EZDog, I hear ya. Believe me when I tell you, the effort's ben made on my part. I still check in on the ARES 2m emergency net every week using my set-up, which uses the same repeater that the HAM group I mention uses. I get good reads from everyone using 1 watt power (the repeater's about 3 miles from my house), so I know it's not my equipment. Yes, I also agree with some of your other comments .... I'm pretty easy to get along with and usually forgiving of a slip ..... but fool me once, shame on you, fool me TWICE .... there are very few clubs here in RI and some are specialized like contesting clubs. Me, I only have a dual-band portable that I can also use as a car base station, so until I get more gab outta my current investment, I'm not spending more $$$.

    I also agree w/NorthernHarrier's comments re "active" people in ham radio ..... if we have so many people getting their licenses, where are they? Why aren't they on the air? Why aren't clubs reaching out to hams not affiliated with clubs? It'd be easy to do ... anyone can access what hams live where .... don't see why clubs can't reach out in various ways to reach "unaffiliated" hams to get them networked. Out this way, clubs really don't do anything to let the public know they exist other than field day. Makes it hard for people to join up. Yes, I know, the internet ..... but other organizations I belong to (my former rescue squad, my town's EMA CERT Team, my Red Cross disaster team) put themselves out there both on- and offline to let people know what they're about and how to participate. Perhaps ham groups out here should take note. The perception of the public is that ham is old and outdated .... there's a reason for that .... and not because ham tech is outdated, it isn't ......
  19. Miamic70

    Miamic70 Loaded Pockets

    It's not the "Tech" that's outdated it's the Ham Operators that are out dated.
    Mostly, over 60 crowd that is set in their ways refuse to embrace change (see how horrible most Ham software i peaked in the 90's and still GUI's still look like it's in the 90's) how few mobile software there is, how :censored: their social media is, how unwelcoming they are to outsiders or anyone outside the old white guy demographic. Actually, down here it's the old Cuban guy demographic but you get my drift.

    Manufacturers don't help much either. Pump out same overpriced crap with little to no innovation. Complain about cheap Chinese radios yet they are the most innovative of the bunch.
  20. syntaxerrorsix

    syntaxerrorsix Loaded Pockets

    Not only is it not dead but there's been a steady increase since the 60's. Here's a short NPR article.

    The biggest challenge is to find out what people in your area are using. In the city UHF has the edge and VHF in more rural areas. HF appears to be pretty evenly distributed. Once you know what people are using you can start finding which repeaters are active. Not all of them are. I like to look for linked repeaters that cover the largest footprint. With Sarnet I get statewide communications on UHF. We allso have a large ARES linked system which is pretty popular.

    You have to be persistent and search.