Ham radio offers too many Options?

I t can be argued that the most major problem facing Amateur Radio is that we have been too successful.  We have been too successful at obtaining and developing frequency bands, and in developing and using a wide variety of modes to use in our operating.

To follow the logic, take a moment from reading this e-letter and think of the many operating options we hams have.  Think, too, about the wide range of frequency bands from 160M through those that are miniscule in length.  To name just a few, there are Morse code, AM, FM, RTTY, a variety of digital modes, FSK, AFSK, variations of TV, facsimile and then we have frequencies that range through much of the wide world of spectra.  The bottom line is that each of us, if we wish, has many modes of operation and many frequency choices we can use and enjoy. So, what is wrong with this?

The problem is that in our nearsightedness, we have become extremely fragmented as hams instead of remaining a cohesive group.  During the past few decades we have allowed ourselves in many instances to think
our personal choices of operating styles, modes and frequency ranges are the only choices "real" amateurs could possibly make.  We have, for example, many VHF aficionados who see no value in HF.  We have many devotees of cutting-edge digital modes who see no value in CW or AM -- the older modes of communication.

There are SSBers who are so infuriated with AMers they would nearly commit murder to clear the bands of the AM clutter.  But, it isn't always new mode vs. old mode.  Some of our devoted CW ops think broadband digital should be banned because it is nothing more than a nuisance.  Yes, indeed, we are equal prejudice individuals.

I could name additional ham-to-ham prejudices, but I think you get the idea.

So, who or what is hurt by these prejudices?  Amateur Radio is.  These prejudices divide us into splinter groups.  We have become VHF hams, digital hams, anti-CW hams, anti-AM hams.  We are Contesters or anti-Contesters.  We are "its my frequency" ragchewers   Instead of pulling together for the benefit of all of hamming, all too many amateurs feel they hold no stake when "the other guy's" idea of ham radio is threatened by attacks from the government or industry.  As one example, many HSMM-hams couldn't care less if the FCC proposed abolishing all privileges for Morse code operating.  Conversely, many CW ops would do little more than smile if broadband digital was ruled illegal on ham frequencies.

Regardless of the misconception by one "side" or another, all of Amateur Radio loses any time the FCC begins to withdraw privileges -- modes or frequencies --

from another phase.  Clearly, I won't now or in the future vote in favor of any proposals to have the FCC "modernize"
Amateur Radio (as some hams would view it) by banning AM or by limiting the privileges of Morse or other forms of operation preferred by anyone.

Unfortunately, Amateur Radio has become a marginally functioning, if not nonfunctioning, family in many instances.  We find brother ham fighting brother ham, and sister ham bad mouthing sister ham merely because their operating preferences are different.  This is no way to develop a winning team whether it is baseball, football, doubles tennis, an army . . . or a strong lobbying (advocacy) team.

Actually, I will correct my initial supposition.  We hams don't have too many choices. Worse than this, we have too little maturity in thought to manage the privileges we have been given for our common good.

The real question is, "Why don't we all act like emotionally stable people and work together to our mutual benefit?"  Just think what a formidable force for each other's good we would make if we would speak and act in unison.

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should get used to the idea.


FM radios have another annoying personality trait. They have AFC or automatic frequency control. On some radios the local oscillators drift and such a circuit is mandatory for maintaining any kind of performance. However, when the signal strength of the station gets too low, the circuit tends to tune toward a stronger adjacent channel thereby tuning the radio to another station. So you can combine the body fading (using the body to reduce the signal strength with station tuning and get pure magic.

An asst. engineer from a local FM station that had a very small coverage area in a rather large metropolitan area reports a problem.  We ran very low power from the transmitter (by FCC license).  We had great programming and sucked a lot of our area into listening. The adjacent rather wide coverage and much higher power station was our main competitor in the programming venue and they also covered much of our area. We found that they were slowly adjusting their carrier frequency toward ours and then back to where they were assigned (over a 5 minute period as to not lose their customers). But their higher power would cause our listeners AFC to follow them back. We complained (with engineering evidence) and they were fined very heavily by the FCC.

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