Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Give me HF any day !!!

This post will undoubtedly frost some folks and get their undies tied in a knot; but so be it ..... my blog, my opinion. I don't expect your opinions to match mine.

I will take HF communications any day of the week, over VHF or UHF repeater stuff. Two instances that occurred today have only reinforced that opinion. One involved me, the other did not.

First off, the really nice thing about HF, is that I can get on a frequency, call CQ, and more than likely some Ham who I don't know from Adam will respond to me; and we'll end up having a conversation. It might be a brief exchange of reports; or it may end up in a wonderful ragchew. But the basic fact remains ..... I call CQ and more likely than not I am going to get an answer and get some involvement. When that involvement ends up being with someone you know and have previously QSO'ed with - so much the better. When that ragchew with someone you don't know kicks off a new friendship - that is the ultimate.

Today while driving home, I put out my call on my "home" 2 Meter repeater and had a nice conversation with Dave WA2QIK. We haven't spoken in years and it was really nice catching up. As luck would have it, Dave got home quickly; and I still had over half of my commute remaining after Dave bid me his 73 and cleared the frequency. So I gave out a "W2LJ mobile, listening" call and got no takers. Fair enough - people are busy. I listened for a bit more and then switched over to another local repeater.

Now this is a repeater that I have seriously been considering joining. It is normally very busy; and I have been spending a lot of time on it lately. In fact, I had been thinking that it would be a nice organization to belong to. So I put out my standard, "W2LJ mobile listening" and again, got no takers. But not more than 30 to 45 seconds later, another Ham did the same thing I had done and got an answer from someone immediately as soon as he unkeyed his microphone. And the person who answered him mentioned that he had been "monitoring the repeater for some time". From the conversation that ensued, it was apparent that they were long time friends and they enjoyed their talk together.

Second incident - same repeater. Later in the evening, I was going to the store and turned on the radio in the car. A bunch of Hams who are buddies were conversing in a roundtable. A Ham that I know, who is a relative newbie, threw in his call. He was ignored. I felt bad for him; but since I wasn't involved in the conversation, there wasn't really much I could do. He was eventually recognized; but common sense dictated that he should have been included earlier.

My point is, that I can only imagine that incidents like these are not that uncommon. When you've been a Ham for over 30 years, they are no big deal. But I suppose they are a very big deal to a newbie Technician who is trying to break in and feel like a true member of the Ham community. Being ignored is not a good thing. Ignoring newcomers is a very bad thing.

This is why I feel that it was a tremendous mistake when the FCC did away with the Novice license. No repeater privileges and "subbands" that were a meeting ground for other newbies was a great thing. We learned by each others mistakes and we all dried the wetness behind our ears together. We matured a lot and were ready to "join the ranks" when we earned our General tickets.

Like it or not, VHF and UHF repeaters can be very "cliquey" for lack of a better term. There are a ton of Elmering Hams out there who will take the time to make newbies feel welcome. But there are also a ton of Hams out there who won't even bother to make an old grizzled veteran feel welcome. For the veteran, it's no big deal; and is just a part of life - for the newbie, it might just be the reason for selling the gear and going back on the Internet. Dashed expectations are a horrible thing.

If you hear a "novice" to radio (on ANY Amateur frequency between DC and light); and you can probably tell by the callsign, please go out of your way to make them feel welcome. The hobby you save may be your own.

72 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Hams are very "cliquey" to the point that a lot of people have been chased away from the hobby/service. Why deal with static and the lids when there is a cornucopia of other attractions and such to occupy one's time? The only thing that still keeps me renewing my license is the evolving technology and the good folks that I meet that are willing to share a bit of time and wisdom. And if it wasn't for the resources on the Internet, I would have forgot about messing with radios years ago.

    Chris WA5TT

  2. Anonymous12:11 AM

    This is precisely the reason why I'm upgrading to General.

  3. I agree with you up to a point, Larry, but you need to look at it from the other side too. When people listen on HF they are usually looking for a contact. If someone is "monitoring" a repeater they may well be actively doing something else, like building a project or doing something on the computer. With the best will in the world if you want to get on with what you are doing you can't answer every call.

    It's human nature that people are more likely to interrupt what they are doing to answer someone they know, or an emergency call. On balance, it's good that people do monitor repeaters even if they don't reply to every call.

  4. Hi Lerry,
    many OM use local repeater like a cell phone replacement. If they want to speak with OM "X" and listen to OM "Y" call they often ignore the call, but if OM "X" calls they suddenly answer the call and start long ragchew. This is frustrating for newbie (I consider myself a newbie) but it is a fact: for someone repeater=cell phone.

    73 de
    IZ1KSW - Gabriele

  5. Hi Lerry,
    many OM use local repeater like a cell phone replacement. If they want to speak with OM "X" and listen to OM "Y" call they often ignore the call, but if OM "X" calls they suddenly answer the call and start long ragchew. This is frustrating for newbie (I consider myself a newbie) but it is a fact: for someone repeater=cell phone.

    73 de
    IZ1KSW - Gabriele

  6. The repeater clique is one I've experienced, even when traveling overseas in the UK. Was made very obvious that unless you were a local you weren't going to be answered.

    Unfortunately the "Anti-Elmer" is not just limited to repeaters.

    I'd also written about this - Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain – Cause & Effect of Non-Elmers and Old vs New – Amateurs of All Interests and Abilities

    Hopefully the efforts that go into "sharing projects" like these blogs will somewhat offset the Anti-Elmer.



  7. Larry:

    spotted your comment - I wholeheartedly agree 100% with you, It takes me back to when I first earned my ticket - I could not afford an HF radio straight off (Although I had an "A" Ticket), so I went for a 2m radio - I only new a couple on the bands here and found it difficult to establish contacts - I did eventually break it though but it took time, others give up - when I went onto HF it was another world - some are just basic exchanges - and others you find common ground and chat - it fascinating.

    Rgds Peter

  8. On the other side of the coin:

    I've put out a few "listening" call and got a response back from an annoying long-time repeater regular, then just let the reply hang there without responding. Sure it's a happy fraternity and we have an obligation to be nice and welcoming but sometimes there are people that you just don't want to talk to on your drive home after a long day.

    Does that make me a horrible person? I hope not.

    I was a regular on the repeaters you're talking about, so I know what it was like to show up on them in 1996 and receive a mixed welcome.