Misc. Catch Up: Snow, Gardening, Bike, AR, etc…

I have to admit that things have been a bit slow around here after the blizzard. I’ve been spending most of my time fiddling with radio equipment and antennas, but I haven’t been entirely isolated from the real world.

While we still have some piles of snow remaining, most of the white stuff has melted off thanks to daytime temperatures that have been pushing up into the 50s. The storm did lots of damage around here, mostly from roofs caving in. It’s a miracle no one got killed. Local fire departments were busy helping out farmers by bringing out their ladder trucks and using high pressure hoses to blast snow off of roofs. They saved several barns from collapse in this area.

The Resch Center in Green Bay had it’s entry way caved in when snow falling from the dome hit the entrance. No one is sure what to do about it at the moment because the Resch Center is scheduled for demolition in two years anyway. But they do have events scheduled up until that time so they’re trying to determine if it’s cost effective to repair it, or start canceling events and just bring it down and be done with it.

Any kind of gardening is still on stand-by. It’s probably going to be a week or more before we can get out there and start working on anything except superficial projects. Still, there are signs of life out there. The lilac bushes are starting to bud, the rhubarb is starting to peek up out of the cold, wet ground, and one sure sign of spring is that I got the bike out of storage at last.

Unfortunately I rather quickly remembered that riding a bicycle uses an almost entirely different set of muscles than jogging on a treadmill. That and the fact it was only about 40 degrees out this morning kept the ride rather brief, but it was still nice to be back on the bike again.

Amateur radio stuff —

The ARRL is really pushing the FCC to expand the privileges of the Technician class license. They want to give Techs voice and data privileges down on the HF bands, claiming that this will give Technicians an incentive to eventually upgrade to a General or Extra class license and get them more interested in AR in general.

Don’t get me wrong, the ARRL does a lot to support and improve amateur radio in general, but this is one case where I think they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. The organization seems to be under the impression that there are tens of thousands of Tech licensees out there who would love to get down on the HF bands, but for whatever reason refuse to upgrade to a General class license, and as a result they aren’t upgrading their licenses, aren’t operating at all, and eventually drop out completely.

The problem with this notion is that the Tech licenseesĀ don’t give a damn about HF. I’m sorry, but they just don’t. The Tech licensees who do care about HF quickly upgrade to a General or Extra class license, and the rest just don’t care. I’m sorry, but they don’t. I know a lot of Tech license holders who haven’t upgraded and the reason they haven’t is because either they lost interest in AR completely or the Tech license allows them to do everything they want to do.

The exam to get the General class license is just not that hard in any case. Anyone who’s already passed the Tech exam could easily pass the General with minimal amount of work. It isn’t a lack of privileges on HF that keeps Techs from upgrading, it’s a complete lack of interest in HF in the first place.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer, wanna-be artist, owner of cats, motorcyclist, cook, and I'm trying to learn Japanese for the heck of it.

8 thoughts on “Misc. Catch Up: Snow, Gardening, Bike, AR, etc…”

  1. I completely agree. A lot of older guys in our club push me to “talk up” HF. As club president I try to make it interesting with Dxepeditions, Field Day, contests etc. But most folks around here got their ham licenses to help themselves and their community in an emergency. They see HF as boring, expensive, takes up too much room and not useful in a local emergency. Doesn’t help that their is some snobbery among HF operators. I started out as an HF operator, but we’re having a blast now on vhf/uhf especially 220, working simplex, building repeaters, etc !

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    1. I think your assessment of the situation is spot on. When I was in ARES most of the members were Tech and had no interest in HF at all. They were satisfied with what they had. My wife has her Technician license as does one of my sons and neither of them are considering upgrading either. Certainly expanded rights on the HF bands doesn’t interest any of the long time technician class license holders that I’ve talked to.

      Cost may be an issue. You can get on VHF/UHF with a $39 hand held transceiver, where even a used HF radio is going to cost $500+, then add in the antennas required, coax, etc. and it isn’t long before it’s pushing $1,000 to get on the air.

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      1. Wow. That seems expensive, but of course it’s an expensive hobby, so it’s probably not got a lot of people strapped for finding an extra $500? Still, it feels like a barrier they could change.

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        1. Some of this equipment gets *really* expensive. You can do it on the cheap with older used equipment but it would probably still set a person back, oh, $700-$1,000 with all the extras they’d need. You could easily drop almost $10,000 for just a top of the line radio. I think Icom makes one that goes for about $13,000. Add in antennas, cables, test equipment, accessories you need, etc. you could easily stick $30,000 – $40,000 into this to put together a “top of the line” system. But that being said, you can get a “good enough” HF transceiver, new, for around $1,000.

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  2. I agree, if they wanted to be on HF they would be on HF.
    VHF/UHF HT’s, repeaters and simplex is all many want to be involved with.
    Add to that smartphones, tablets an desktop PC’c leaves no room or time to invest in HF communications.
    K5SET, Happy Gardening

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    1. That’s my opinion as well. They see no real advantage to being down on HF. The ARRL, for whatever reason, is pushing this really, really hard and I’m not sure why. Certainly there are no hoards of technician licensees clamoring for increased access to HF. I don’t really care if they get it, I just don’t see any need for it. And if they did really want access to the HF bands, why not just get a General license? Oh, well.. If you get on QRZ there are a host of conspiracy theories about why ARRL is pushing this, ranging from some that are logical to the ridiculous. But the forums on QRZ should really be the subject of a psychology thesis now that I think of it. Wow they get weird fast.

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  3. Amateur radio licensing has been dumbed down to the point that reasonably motivated ten year olds are making General with just a few weekends of tutoring. And the ARRL thinks it’s STILL too hard! Enough already.

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    1. It’s definitely getting a bit ridiculous I think. The Tech license is too easy as it is, and the General isn’t much better. I haven’t gone for the Extra so I’m not sure what that one is like. The ARRL occasionally gets a bug about something and latches onto it whether it makes any sense or not, and this is one of those cases. All the “good ole boys” in the hobby are still under the impression that the ultimate goal of getting licensed is having access to the HF bands, and that’s ridiculous. Not everyone wants to deal with HF and all of the headaches associated with it like expensive equipment, massive antennas, etc. And almost all of the high-tech new technologies being developed are all going on in the VHF, UHF and gigahertz range these days – digital systems, EME, mesh networks, IOT development, remote control systems, all of it is up there, and the tech license gives them full access to all of it. They don’t need and don’t want HF.

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