14 Nov 2012

SHAMateur radio

Today the December 2012 RadCom dropped on my doormat.  P16-17 contains a review of the Acom 1500 1500W linear amplifier for HF and 6m. Now, I am sure this is a very well engineered piece of kit, but at £2750 including VAT surely this is not for real amateur radio?

Anyone buying this has probably spent a few thousand on a big Yaecom black box multi-mode HF rig, another £400-500 on a beefy rotator, another few hundred on a mast and another few hundred on an HF beam to put on the top. Total bill for all this approaching £5000 if not more! They may be able to work some DX slightly more easily than me with a 5W or less radio and a small wire antenna strung up in the tree, but I bet they have less fun.

I have no objection per se to people spending the money they earn as they choose, but what I object to is this sort of expensive kit being projected as a necessity to enjoy our hobby.

To my mind this is SHAMateur radio, not amateur radio. It is a cheque book hobby far far removed from the hobby I wish to be associated with.

I wish our national magazine would publish more articles about REAL amateur radio, the sort that young kids and people on tight budgets can afford and enjoy. If the RSGB is short of material then it should ask the GQRP club for some ideas and circuits! Amateur radio is a very varied hobby and I do not want to be a killjoy, but anyone picking up RadCom would believe you need a very deep wallet to be able to enter the hobby. This simply is NOT the case. OK there is some good beginners content (for example the excellent series by Eamon Skilton) but not nearly enough.

One thing that IS good in this month's RadCom is the review of QRP Basics by G3RJV on p39. The first edition of this was a very good book that showed what amateur radio is really all about. I expect the new second edition will be even better. I commend it to you!

Are you a radio amateur or a radio shamateur?


DaveL said...

Well put, Roger, well put! I got my license (the first time in 1970) and built a lot of stuff out of old junk that people were throwing away. Other hams gave me old magazines which I devoured, and proceeded to build stuff out of them as well. The "hobby press" has deteriorated into a series of ads and "reviews" for expensive equipment, none of which can I afford. Sad state of affairs.


Anonymous said...

Gosh you really are the Brummie Taliban of amateur radio aren't you? If it doesn't conform to your fundamentalist qrp view then it is sham radio.

RADCOM publishes a very wide range of articles and just because you are not interested in working dx or can't afford a HP amp doesn't mean that other people aren't or can't afford one.

Live and let live - amateur radio is a very broad church and you come across as very bitter in your condemnation of other OM who have spent their $$$ on a decent set-up.


Roger G3XBM said...

Stuart, I have no problem with people spending many thousands on their hobby. What I have a problem with is this appearing to be the ONLY way to enjoy our great hobby.

It is still possible to enjoy the hobby spending very little indeed, yet our national society projects a view that this is not the case.

All I ask for is a rebalancing. Yes there are some excellent articles, but way too few on what I believe is real AMATEUR radio.

Roger G3XBM said...

Stuart, I should add that I work PLENTY of DX with 5W or less on SSB and CW with simple antennas and could afford to buy such an amplifier, but choose not to :-)

Richard said...

I subscribe to your philosophy as expressed in your post. I will be referring to it from time-to-time.
Just had a 20M CW QRP QSO with the Canary Islands from here in NW Brittany. 5 watts and low wire drew a 579. And not the best conditions.

72 Dick F8WBD
(back to 100% CW QRP)

Anonymous said...

RSGB projects a view that you have to spend thousands? Are you reading the same RADCOM as me - all the homebrew articles by Eamon Skelton? It must really upset you to read reviews of a Yaesu 5000 instead of a crystal set...

I thought this would be an interesting LF blog to follow but you are obviously a complete mentalist. However this is your blog so I'll leave you to your fan club and you can tell them how you broke the PT0S pile-up with 5w and a piece of wet string.

Roger G3XBM said...

A complete mentalist? Thank you, but I hope not. Please re-read what I actually said.

Roger G3XBM said...

Oh, I should add that the Eamon Skelton articles are excellent. What RadCom needs is a lot more articles like this, and in my view, far fewer reviews of kit way outside most peoples budget or interest.

Pete said...

Nice Article Roger.
I have to agree that there are two very separate aspects to the hobby, the appliance operator and the technician. Unfortunately it's mostly the appliance OP that gets the lime light yet, the thing that interests most folks I meet, is how much you can do with so little. When I'm out portable with my little Altoids tin transceiver, a few AA cells and a length of Poundland speaker cable, I'm often drawn into long conversations with passers by astonished by the contacts I'm so easily making with such a basic setup. Their impression of Amateur radio is a shack full of wall to wall expensive equipment, a 100' tower complete with stacked yagis and a garden full of metalwork!

So yes, I'm going to have to pick my time to work PT0S with my 3 W and a piece of wire, but it's not impossible. What I won't be doing is taking up the band for hours on end, letting my autokeyer radiate my 1KW signal every few seconds ad infinitum, in the hope that eventually I'll hear my callsign and 599, the 599 of course being completely meaningless and superfluous!
Oh well, maybe Stuart will get a licence someday so the he can let us know who he is...
Pete G4ISJ

Roger G3XBM said...

Thanks Pete and very good luck with your simple kit.