Sunday, February 12, 2017

ARRL entry license survey

The ARRL recently announced an Entry Level License Survey:

I really would like to encourage folks to take it a step further and write their division director, as the survey doesn't let you convey much anyway.  Also they really need to have some feed back from non-members who feel might feel alienated and may otherwise given up on the ARRL in my opinion.   So don't feel shy about emailing someone even if you aren't an ARRL member.  This is still your hobby.

Not sure if the ARRL read my blog..  Just a few weeks ago I was thinking when are they going to think about creating a different license class.

Here is what I wrote my division director;

Hi Kermit (W9XA),

I’ve swapped some emails with your predecessor, Dick, W9GIG before. In light of the recent ARRL survey I figured I’d drop you a message in addition to the survey I have completed.

First off I at least someone is admitting/realizing there are problems despite a good turn out of hams entering the hobby each year.

I got into the hobby in high school in the mid 90’s.  I shouldn’t need to explain what the lures were then verses now.  When I show up at a VE session mostly to meet and congratulate the newbies, in the back of my mind I wonder what is the lure these days.  I have seen new guys show up off and on, and then a few years later you never see them again.

Anyway like I said from reading the survey page, seems someone besides myself is showing concern, which is good.  Quite frankly I have been a bit concerned for a while.  A lot of the regular members in my club are getting up there in age, and while I have taken over some things, I really don’t care to be doing everything.

While I may not know the solution, I can say it’s likely going to need to be more that just re-vamping the license structure etc.  But I think overall that is a good idea as part of a plan.  Keep in mind many younger folks are renting, so getting on HF even if their license would let them is still a bit out of reach.

I am not so sure the entry level privileges need to be more, but I do see the logic of some of the old novice class privileges.  So putting some restrictions on an entry class moving forward, and some trade offs, like access to some portions of HF with power restrictions like the old novice makes sense.  The entry test doesn’t need to be any less than it is now.  There has been enough of that over the years. We need more hams ready to dig into things.

I’d actually like to see a new class of license, geared more toward the experimenter.  The hobby desperately needs more people interested in something beyond just communicating and the social gathering aspects.

As you may be aware from conversations with Dick, I have been a proponent of some fairly large changes (as opposed to the classic piecemeal approach which takes decades to accomplish really anything major scale) to the rules mostly in terms of data, which I feel is the future.

I considered applying for STA.  Instead, I think an experimenter license class, that allows curtailed data/emission and other antique rules should be considered to help attract folks interested in developing the future.

Other things to consider include, widening the bandwidth for VHF/UHF data.  The stalled 2013 ARRL proposed to modernize the rules for data transmissions, really only helps HF.  I’d like to see 200 KHz for 70cm.  And maybe some thought to carving out more space on other less used VHF/UHFbands like 50 MHz or 220 MHz for something wider than presently allowed.

Consider maybe dropping or lumping Image emissions into the same as data? Since 1980, I am not sure “Image” makes sense, in light of the fact everyone has a computer now days.  So really the only difference there is the content type.  And regulating emission by content is screwy at best?  An area that needs thought for sure.

The best thing I have seen from the ARRL was the 2001 development of the HSMM working group.  While the working group got really no where with any of their proposed regulatory ideas, it started a movement that created some excitement.  That’s the main problem with the hobby. It needs fresh ideas, promoters, and folks to help clear any regulatory hurdles.  And then hopefully one day some small manufacturers to adopt the ideas in put the stuff in the hands of many as dictated by market demand.  I realize that is a lot to swallow. But this solicitation/survey for comments is always the first step, seeking and listening to many people's ideas/direction.

Another thing to consider is possibly a possibly co-funded (with TAPR?) big project.  The JARL helped bring about the D-Star spec.  And I have read about the European New Radio, multi-band, multi-mode DV radio initiative between the German and Austrian Amateur Radio Societies, which I believe is the DV4 line, hotspot and future mobile radio.

Rather than re-hash a lot of things, I’ll just leave you with some of my blog links to further explain, and expand upon things.  I hope you’ll take the time to review them.

In closing, feel free to google more about me and what I have been doing in the hobby the last 20 or so years as it seems the league is seeking some ideas on what someone under 30 interested in.  I’m now soon to be 38, and my greatest fear is that it will take till I am 50 for anything truly cool to come to the hobby.

Steve, KB9MWR

The July 2017 Entry Level License Committee report can be read here.