6 Jun 2012

The future of HF amateur radio

There is no doubt that HF amateur radio is changing. Fewer people ragchew these days (do you agree?) and there is considerably less activity outside of contests, mirroring a change already seen on the VHF bands. More people are using digital modes instead of phone and there is much more use of software tools to detect DX, decode and encode CW, PSK31, etc. The hobby is changing: some of the new ways of operating are very good, but along the way we are in danger of losing something of the appeal of the hobby perhaps?

Now, there is also another factor: it is very likely we will have seen the end of active sunspot cycles once the present low peak of cycle 24 declines. Many of us who experienced the peaks of 1957 through to 1980 are very unlikely to experience similar ones in our remaining lifetimes. Propagation on HF may never be as good as the second half of the 20th century for another 100 years. There are also theories that HF propagation is not as good as it was, even assuming similar solar activity, as if the ionosphere is actually changing its behaviour.

Then there is the challenge of spectrum pollution. This is already a menace for many of the lower HF bands but even bands like 10m and 6m are affected.

So, the challenge now is to look to the future, positively, and see how the future of HF will be redefined. I have no idea what the next 10 years will bring, but I suspect the use of our HF bands will be quite different by the 2020s.

1 comment:

Kevin ZL3KE said...

With the ongoing decline of SW broadcasting in favour of web-based options, I'm rather hoping that we'll get access to some of the spectrum that's freed up as a result. That's if the proponents of BPL and wireless power transfer don't lay claim to it, of course... 73; Kevin