[amsat-bb] [Very Offtopic] Re: Vanishing Hams

Ben Jackson bbj at innismir.net
Wed Jul 16 13:16:31 PDT 2008

Hash: SHA1

Robert Bruninga wrote:
|> Today, with CB, Cell Phones, cordless phones, FRS, etc. --
|> everyone is a radio operator. Now, military communications
|> is done with a keyboard or microphone -- pretty much
|> universal  skills now.
| Do not overlook how kids use key-pad text-messaging as the
| greatest revolution in communications of all time...  Even some
| old-fud adults are learning how to use it..
| Then consider that APRS has had global text-messaging (and
| email) via the keypad of the D7 and D700 radios for over 10
| years now, yet how many old-fuds ever even considered using it
| or introduced this exciting new capability to their kids?


I have to say, comparing SMS to APRS text messages is like comparing a
Formula Race Car to a 1963 Opel Kadett ("I shall call him Oliver!").
While they both have four wheels and an engine, one is flashy, lightning
quick, and coolness, the other, while sturdy and resilient, has as much
coolness as a bunch of sardines.

| You can even send text-messages or emails from your HT or Radio
| from anywhere on earth via any of the APRS satellites (ISS,
| GO-32, PCSAT-1, etc)...  We even suggested that everyone should
| learn how to do this and exercise it during
| Satellite-Simulated-Emergency-Tests.  You can even use any old
| TNC and any old radio to do this.  See:
| http://www.ew.usna.edu/~bruninga/sset.html

While Ham Ops are busily tuning for doppler and holding an arrow to send
a text message over a satellite, the children who are watching will
likely be whipping out their iPhones and sending movies to their friends
over the cell network. If we are trying to show off "text messaging" we
have already lost before we try to market it.

I think the main issue here is that people don't want something that
re-creates something that people already have. We should be trying to
market ourselves to people who need us. One of the things that people
here on -bb constantly complain is the use of Amateur radio for
satellite down links. While people seem to bemoaning this, IMNSHO this
is exactly what we should be doing "Hey, I see you have an issue with X,
perhaps I might recommend Amateur Radio for that? It's quite easy to get
your license!"

Plant the seed, tend it, and hopefully everyone will reap the benefits.

|> Although the Amateur Radio Community shines when
|> there is loss  of communications during a disaster,
|> with newer technology, even that could  change.
| What is hard in ham radio is "change".

100% Right on the money.

|> Maybe the ARRL needs to sponsor an award for bringing
|> new Hams into the community. Otherwise, someday, no
|> one will remember what those letters even  stood for.
| A good start might be to sponsor an award for old fuds that try
| something new...
| And then show it to a kid... <wink>

ARRL should first take a real hard look at where the hobby is and how it
can fit into the 21st century. Sadly, the world is moving at quite an
advanced pace and very few people in the hobby see the need to keep the
hobby pushing ahead. We're starting to become little more then an

| P.S.  Only about 2% of ham radio operators use APRS, and
| probably only 10% of them (0.2% of all hams) have tried this
| global text messaging (or email) feature.  Yet, even 10 years
| ago, and ahead of its time we had it in Ham Radio!

APRS is not the be, all, end all of Amateur radio. Nor is it the silver
bullet to cure all that ails us. 10 years ago texting was quite
prevalent, just not in the US. Plus, the capabilities of the APRS system
have hardly evolved to keep up with the current data capabilities of
consumer electronics. APRS is a niche market same as satellite
operation, RDF, and HomeBrewing.

- --
Ben Jackson - N1WBV - New Bedford, MA
bbj <at> innismir.net - http://www.innismir.net/
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