Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's still not radio!

Echolink that it is. But, I hate to give the impression that I dislike it or disapprove of it. On the contrary, it is what it is. It's another method of communication; and to a certain extent I make use of it myself.

I have found it to be an excellent way of keeping in touch with my friend Bob W3BBO. Bob lives in Erie, PA; and for a short time, he lived here in Central NJ back in the 90's when his job had transferred him out here.

When Bob retired and moved back to Erie, it was a serious blow. Fortunately, beside keeping in touch via HF we try to hook up with each other each weekend via Echolink. It's like talking on the telephone, more than anything else. But it's free; and it is good to hear Bob's voice on a regular basis. We chew the fat and keep tabs on progress of each other's radio projects.

I think the HF bands are more conducive and are far more practical for a "CQ" and then hooking up with someone you don't know. You put out a call; and if someone is interested, they take the bait and you begin what will hopefully be a good conversation. To me, it seems a bit presumptuous to just pick a stranger's callsign off a list, and then connect with them and just start rambling on, hoping that they'll be interested in talking to you.

However, for keeping in touch with (how's this for an oxymoron?) distant, close friends then Echolink is the "cat's pajamas" or "da bomb" as the young folks say today.

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Hi Larry.

    I think what you and a lot of others are feeling about the VoIP applications like Echolink come mostly from a bit of fear and apprehension that the Internet is going to replace ham radio--otherwise why is something like Echolink so upsetting to so many folks in the hobby?

    As your article points out, it's quite useful for staying in touch with friends. In fact, I'm surprised that more HF Nets haven't moved to this format. How many times do you listen to an HF net and note problems with interference, poor propagation, etc. that keeps some who would like to enjoy the Net out?

    Is there anything wrong with discussing ham radio related things while using a voice over the Internet application? If it's "wrong" then shouldn't we also rail and rant against email, Web pages, blogs, DX clusters and free cell phone minutes?

    I think that the bottom line here is that there are so many ways to TALK to someone else in the world these days that ham radio has become irrelevant--if all you want to do is talk to someone.

    30 years ago I met a guy who told me that the only reason he got his ham radio license was so that he could talk for "free" to his brother who had moved three states away. If that was his only interest in our hobby then I can guarantee you that he and a LOT of previously licensed hams like him are not active today.

    Cell phones and the Internet have delivered free, reliable, license-free, antenna-free, mega-buck transceiver free communications to the masses.

    For ham radio to survive, it has to be about a LOT more than just talking to other people...

    I happen to think that we have a LOT more to offer than just talking...but it remains to be seen if radio amateurs will embrace and promote our other strong points, or will we just moan and groan that communicating via these popular Internet applications isn't "real radio" until everyone finally just completely ignores us and goes away...

    73 de Jeff

  2. First of all, Jeff ..... I'm not afraid of the Internet and I'm not afraid of Echolink. I have no idea how you got that from what I wrote. All I'm saying is that radio is radio and Echolink is Echolink - they're not the same. Vanilla is vanilla and chocolate is chocolate - vanila is not chocolate.

    On the other hand, why do folks get so bent out by those of us who insist that Echlink is not radio? I'm not saying it doesn't have its place and I'm not saying that it's invalid. All I'm saying is that it's not radio.

    Would you want DXCC or WAS or WAC that you got via sitting behind your computer and using Echolink? There's a world of difference between the two; and I can't understand why that's so hard to see.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

  3. Anonymous11:25 AM

    It's not difficult to see the difference between radio operations and awards, and chatting online.

    My comments are based on your own words. The title of your article here is, "It's Still Not Radio!" - note the exclamation point. And prior to that, you had posted something along the lines of "getting this off my chest" where you ranted a bit about Echolink.

    All fair game but putting two and two together one gets the impression that you are at the least a little perturbed by Echolink. I could be reading that wrong but I don't think that I am.

    I simply don't understand why any radio ham would be bothered at all by Echolink and its users unless there was a perceived threat. I have read countless mail list threads online (not yours) where Echolink use is ridiculed and slammed mercilessly as being "not real radio".

    The point is that OF COURSE it's not radio. Neither is the telephone. Everyone who uses it realizes that.

    So why do you suppose that it triggers such a negative reaction unless there is some fear that it might one day replace ham radio?

    73 de Jeff

  4. Jeff,

    I don't fear that it will replace radio. I just get perturbed by folks who insist to me that it IS radio. And I have been "lectured" by several ......shall we say, "newbies" who have usd the "OF" term and in no uncertain terms have pointed out to me that Echolink is the same thing as radio.

    Rather than belabor the point; and be perceived as overbearing or provincial, I vented by blogging. So in the end, I wasn't being proactive: I was reacting to a negative stimulus.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

  5. Anonymous4:36 PM

    Larry, thanks for your commments on this subject. I guess my own experience has been completely opposite from yours. I've never seen a single instance of someone trying to say that Echolink was radio. All I have ever observed have been seasoned veterans shouting down those who want to use it because it wasn't "real radio".

    That has just always struck me as odd. If two hams want to chat via the Internet I figure that is just less QRM on the ham bands for me.

    It's strangely reminiscent of the No-Code/Slow-Code battles of a few years ago. The veteran ops seemed to be steamed that the newer guys were going to get their Tech license without taking a code test - even though that rule change wouldn't impact their existing priveleges one whit. In fact, since I only operated HF CW I really didn't care how many new *phone* or VHF/UHF operators got into the hobby! HI HI

    The nice thing about these ham radio blogs is that we can discuss issues like this with each other and learn.

    73 de Jeff