Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Is Ham Radio Just Trainspotting?

I've just come off the HF radio, after a brief spell of FT8 and, I'm happy to report, some much more gentlemanly, slow JT9 work.

Despite FT8's benefit of a rapid-turnaround QSO, I just can't help but feel that the mode - and amateur radio in general - is far too much like trainspotting, where the object is merely to 'get' as many numbers as possible. There is no reward at all between CQ and 73.  No human voice, no subtle hints of CW skill.  Just a machine communicating with a machine.  That is no hobby at all.

Ooh!  How exciting!  Well, for some, maybe...  Image: Wikimedia Commons/Swisstack

That only fellow trainspotters ever get excited about numbers in logbooks is testament as to why it is so very difficult to attract newcomers to hobbies that put gathering numbers as the very purpose of their existence.

Contests are a regular matter of complaint and protest, even from operators themselves.  Personally, I'd rather throw myself into a freezing cold lake than sit there for two solid days, calling out 'CQ Contest'.

I also get rather irritated by the many who take amateur radio far too seriously.  It finds its extreme expression in those operators, who often seem to be split into the most macho fraction of US and former Soviet-bloc countries, that love to pose for magazines, wearing boom mic headsets and 38 rigs and 12 amplifiers in the background.

Well, given boom mic headsets sold to radio operators cost about twice as much as the exact-same model sold to pilots, I fail to see what there is to show off about - other than stupidity.

So, good luck to those with 500,000 QSOs in the latest DX contest.  Congratulations on your ranking in the world QSO-gathering tables.  Just remember that, in the end, it's all utterly futile.  


  1. Bravo ! Spot on. Couldn't agree more. 73 F8WBD/qrp..QRPp cw

  2. And futile it is.....but at least some of us have some fun. 73, Bas