This month, there's an interesting article in RadCom about receiving signals from research spacecraft exploring the Solar System.
Whilst I make no comment at all about the authors and contributors of the specific article in question, the fact remains that the GHz bands are extraordinarily specialised - and many seem more than happy to keep it that way.
The odd construction article does appear from time to time in the GHz section of RadCom. But I doubt more than a tiny handful have ever benefited from those. The trouble is, GHz band use requires a lot of technical know-how, and even more technical homebrewing.
That kind of knowledge and expertise would have been reasonably common a few years ago. But not now. One of the most technically-adept operators I know locally says that, even with his ability to homebrew specialist kit, there is then the infinite problem of having no-one else to 'talk' to.
This is a very sad state of affairs. All the societies desperately try to make out amateur radio has a relevant, real-world use in the modern day. If this is so, then microwave operation surely should be at the very top of their agenda, given the utter dominance of those frequencies in modern communications systems - and the threat they ceaselssly pose to the amateur GHz bands. Yet, it languishes at the bottom of the well, the preserve of the wealthy, time-rich Baby Boomers, few of whom seem to have any inclination to introduce newcomers to the 'upper' bands.
Because new 'record distances' regularly feature in the GHz section reports, and that the hobby is, in general, prone to too much machoistic 'contesting', one comes to suspect that a primary motivation for keeping the upper bands free of the wider ham community is to ensure a small elite corner the market in achievement.
I've seen the exact-same thing in top-end astrophotography in the hobby of amateur astronomy. Groups existed - and still exist - that actively deny membership to anyone who hasn't got a long publishing record in the best magazines - which inevitably means denying membership to those who don't have the cash to invest in £15,000 set-ups. No room there, then, for those who can innovate and produce great results with 'lesser' systems. Unlike ham radio, though, amateur imaging is always advancing, and commercial computerisation of equipment makes it increasingly difficult for elites to maintain their position. You'd be hard-pressed to find any plug-'n'-play GHz equipment - and even fewer that don't need a loan to buy - within the normal ham radio press.
The saddest thing of all is that I'm sure those who truly understand the technicalities and have an inclination to help others, would be able to get newcomers going in the GHz bands quite quickly. Sadly, those kinds of people seem to be rare and, due to their age, are becoming rarer.
One group that seems to try and help the newcomer is the UK Microwave Group. I was quite enthusiastic about their GHz equipment loan scheme - until I read that one had to arrange collection of quite bulky equipment from Glasgow. I suppose it's useful for those in the area, but a bit of a nightmare for those who are not. Once again, I find myself seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, only to realise it's an oncoming train...