Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good question

I saw this posted on eHam yesterday as a "stray":

Where is every contester the rest of the week? Week days you have to CQ for 15 minutes to get a good QSO at 15 to 25 wpm.

And you know, it is a very good question.  Some weekends you can't find a place on some of the bands even if you grease yourself up and use a shoehorn. Then, the end of the contest comes and ........ there's silence.  Like most questions of this type, there are no easy answers. And there seldom is one answer.  Why are the bands so dead on any given weeknight, especially when our numbers are supposedly at all time highs?

One reason could be that a lot of contesters are just that - contesters.  That's "their thing" and that's what they want to do.  Sitting down for a rag chew on 40 Meters and gabbing about their latest home improvement project just might not be their cup of tea.

But what about the rest of our community?  Why the lack of signals on HF?

Times change, things change.  Personally, I think when the FCC did away with the Novice License, the emphasis for new Hams really turned away from getting on HF and turned to VHF/UHF operating instead. For years, it seemed the rage was repeaters, repeaters, repeaters, repeaters.  If you asked one of these new ops about setting up an HF station - well, maybe they just weren't so geared up for that.

Society changed.  Your all familiar with the term "disposable income". I think we need a new term - "disposable leisure time".  It's not like the old days anymore, where Dad would come home from work, eat dinner and then go bowling or devote time to some other hobby (such as Amateur Radio!).  Dad's roles have switched from being solely the provider to doing more things, like transporting the kids around, helping around the house, home improvement projects and the like.

And getting back to transporting the kids (and this includes grandkids) around ....... it's not like it was when I was a kid.  You'd come home from school, get your homework done and run out the door to play until your Mom yelled that it was dinner time.  Most parents I know are too worried about the psychos out there to just let their kids run around unsupervised.  The lack of freedom is a shame; but it's become a fact of life.  So,ergo, once again the kids are toted around to supervised events and activities.  That eats heavily into the bank of "disposable leisure time".

There are probably even more factors (like sunspots) that I haven't hit upon yet, that may pop right into your heads.  But the ones I listed above all contribute, I think, to the lack of HF activity (compared to how it used to be).

So what to do about it?  I think you have to just make a conscience effort to get on the air more, anytime you can, as much as you can.  Other than that, there's no magic bullet or cure. Heck, I should know - I'm guilty myself!

See you on the bands!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Time, things and society has changed. Absolutely true. Interesting post though, you got to think by yourself what am I doing trough the week. Well, I try to get active in the evening and sometimes switch on the radio and turn the "dail". But there are so many other things that have to be done. And normally we have our jobs. That takes a lot of time, leaving only the weekend for the radio hobby. And guess what, if you like to work most of the DX you better be active in a worldwide contest then. 73, Bas

  2. Good morning Larry, I too am guilty of this as well. I can remember when I was a kid and after dinner I was out playing and the rule was when the street lights came on I was to get into the house. As for getting on the air well my excuse is......I am up at 4 am and off to work. I get in around 6pm. Then it's time to make lunch for the next day,get dinner made and clean up. Then get some house chores done. By that time it's around 7:30-8:00. I have tried sitting down at the rig and I am just to tired to copy CW. Instead I blog or veg at the TV....or both.

  3. Larry,

    This post hits home for me. I am now 57 years old. My youth was largely not scheduled. I only played baseball a couple of seasons and I was not in the school band. I had to invent my own activities and enlist the neighborhood gang in those. Of course when I discovered amateur radio I was all in. My hobbies now are rocketry and amateur radio. Yes the kids that are on the ball have their schedules booked. The rest are playing games in the virtual world. Times have changed but I have not stopped trying to involve youth in ham radio and rocketry. These hobbies enlist them to create stuff and solve problems. That ability has carried me a long way.


    Greg N4KGL