Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I have some sad news folks.

It's been a while since I ranted about the ARRL. I was reluctant to renew my ARRL membership, so I let it lapse for a while so I could have some time to ponder if it's worth it.

The decision I came to was, if I renewed, I didn't want the paper QST every month. I usually buy the CD ROM at the end of the year. So I was leaning towards the blind rate, which excludes QST. But that was only like $8.00, so why bother at all?

I ended up renewing as a guy who went blind from reading QST, but I added the QEX subscription. I'll have someone read it to me I guess. I am so sorry, folks!

About the only thing that interested me in QST as Steve Ford's Eclectic Technology column. I have never had in interest in contesting, and a near zero interest in HF.

So what does QST have to offer me? Next to nothing that I can't wait till the end of the year to browse on the CD.

Here is something that always catches my eye on the ARRL website:
Khrystyne Keane's column titled: "ARRL in Action: What have we been up to?"

I always have this hope in the back of my mind that today is going to be the day, the good old ARRL gets off its butt and does something out of the ordinary.

It's never really the case, the report by Khrystyne (who I know loves me so much) is really just a re-hashing of the mundane crap they did, in case you were asleep.

So I got to thinking maybe there is a report already from the Microwave Band-planning Committee Already that I missed. So I jump to the meat:

Nothing yet, but some other things catch my eye from various committee reports..

By the early 1990s, the number of FM repeaters peaked at more than 23,000 according to ARRL Repeater Directory statistics.

The FM expansion came to a sudden halt in the mid-1990s with the proliferation of inexpensive cellular telephone service. FM operators were suddenly handed a communication technology that was not only superior in terms of performance; it was private and came with no restrictions on content. As a result, the amateur FM user base effectively collapsed.

Today, with cellular telephone service dominating the personal communications arena, the vast majority of amateur FM repeater systems see little or no use at most times of the day. Some repeaters have boosted activity somewhat by using EchoLink or IRLP to provide transcontinental or even global linking, but according to reports from repeater coordinators, activity overall remains very low.

These committees are trying to develop arguments and recommend "strategies to defend amateur frequency allocations to the bands between 222-3500 MHz, in light of the skyrocketing demand for mobile wireless broadband spectrum."

It is hard to regain the "cutting edge" part of ham radio that we once had if Part 15 and commercial carriers push the envelope without needing a license.

In my opinion, we don't need more repeaters. That seems to have been observed above. We need more flexibility to use the bands above 2 meters for other things, like building data networks that aren't a joke. There seems to be plenty of under-used space on the 70cm band.

If the ARRL doesn't seek rewriting the rules, or re-doing microwave band plans, then please stop asking for our input or trying to appear as listening.

Keep in mind that sooner or later if you jokers can't regain that cutting edge, then how do you expect inactive hams to be concerned about band threats by large broadband cellular telco's? These guys will ultimately will turn underused spectrum into something useful and cutting edge.

But don't worry about that, concern yourself with that 4 MHz of HF spectrum as you have been. And don't forget to take offense, though what I type is likely the sad truth.

Lastly to the readers. Have you shared your views with the ARRL recently? They cannot operate to the members liking without feedback and Regular communication!

Here is an interesting observation from W9GB on QRZ:
If the 700,000 licensed US amateurs really cared about US spectrum allocations (especially above 30 MHz), then they should support a stronger lobbying voice. The ARRL with only has ~ 200,000 US members -- not even 50% membership of licensed operators.

This is why I did renew. I do care, and realize the current spectrum pressures are enormous. But at the same time, what does this observation say about the ARRL's relevance to a large portion of the hams?


Kyle said...

70cm has become a place where repeaters are linked to those on 2 meters and used by only a few. I remember when hr-607 was an issue, I ruffled a few feathers. By taking the stance of let the chips fall where they may... I admit I am glad we still have that spectrum to play with but I believe it will go away in my lifetime.


WB0VHB said...


I agree with your comments. Contesting and chasing DX are not any of my favorite things to do. Building is my first interest.

The renewal of my ARRL was not for QST but rather the lobbying ARRL should be doing. If you like building CW keyers, chase DX, like contest or want to keep up on the social back-patting of the ARRL, then QST is the rag for you.

Just got my first issue of CQ hoping for less of what QST has. Big mistake with the Jan issue of CQ! What would it take to get a magazine like 73's back? Wayne Green loved to see how many projects he could cram in every month!

It is so hard to find any hams in this area that even pick up a microphone let along a soldering iron. However every Monday night 15-20 of them turn their radios on and check into the local 2 meter net. "WB0XYZ no traffic" then they disappear again until next Monday evening!

Keep up the good work on your web pages. I've followed some of your dstar projects and have built non-ICOM repeaters / hotspots using GMSK modems and Motorola mobiles. There are three of us on dstar here in SE Iowa. After 1 year of making digital noise on 2 meters and 444 MHz, no one has even asked what that noise is?