My Beef With Ham Radio

My amateur radio journey began back in the mid-1970s. I was about 12 at the time, with an interest in electronics that baffled my parents. With little to guide me and fear for my life as I routinely explored the innards of the TVs and radios in the house, they turned to the kindly older gentleman across the street from us, Mr. Brown. He had the traditional calling card of the suburban ham — a gigantic beam antenna on a 60′ mast in the backyard – so they figured he could act as a mentor to me.

Mr. Brown taught me a lot about electronics, and very nearly got me far enough along to take the test for my Novice class license. But I lost interest, probably because I was an adolescent male and didn’t figure a ham ticket would improve my chances with the young ladies. My ham ambitions remained well below the surface as life happened over the next 40 or so years. But as my circumstances changed, the idea of working the airwaves resurfaced, and in 2015 I finally took the plunge and earned my General class license.

The next part of my ham story is all-too-familiar these days: I haven’t done a damn thing with my license. Oh, sure, I bought a couple of Baofeng and Wouxun handy-talkies and lurked on the local repeaters. I even bought a good, solid HF rig and built some antennas, but I’ve made a grand total of one QSO — a brief chat with a ham in Texas from my old home in Connecticut on the 10-meter band. That’s it.

Obviously, there’s a problem. It’s not lack of understanding the art and science of amateur radio. More so than the average Joe who comes in off the street to sit for a license test (and there are far more of those folks than you might think), I have a pretty good grasp of the theory and practice of RF communications. It’s not a money problem, either. At least for now I have enough disposable income to spend on “The World’s Greatest Hobby.” It’s not time either, at least not really. My kids are old enough now to be self-reliant, so it’s not like I’d be working the bands while there are dirty diapers to deal with. And my wife is supportive too, so it’s not that either. So what’s my problem? Why am I not active on the HF bands and checking in on the local repeaters?

Because as it turns out, when you’re a ham you end up talking to other hams. And I don’t like talking to hams.

Lest this be construed as ham-hate, it’s not. Truth be told, I don’t really want to talk to anyone, face to face or over the air. But there’s really something off-putting about the ham style of communication, at least to my ears. Part of this is due to listening to public service radio all my life. My dad was a cop, and hearing dispatches on the radio in his cruiser was the soundtrack of my life from the day I was born. I later listened to scanners as a civilian hobbyist, then with a more professional interest as an EMT and volunteer firefighter. I even worked the other side of the mic as a dispatcher for multiple agencies. So I developed a strong preference in radio style — brief, clipped messages that minimize time on the air while maximizing information content.

In other words, the exact opposite of what hams do.

When I hear two hams chewing the rag, I find myself thinking, “Please, just stop talking and take your thumb off the mic switch.” It’s not so much what they’re talking about, although that certainly plays into it; lots of recounting what the “XYL” made for dinner and updates on everyone’s prostate woes. I could overlook the content choice if someone, somewhere would just unkey the mic once in while and take a breath.

I know, I know — that’s not what ham radio is for. The ham bands are for conversation more than anything else, at least from the sound of it. I think I might have a better experience if I explore the HF nets that meet regularly in preparation for providing emergency communications in disasters; they might be more my style. Or perhaps the digital modes would suit me better – being able to type brief, content-rich messages and make contacts without any of that pesky talking sounds pretty keen to me.

But as it stands, I’m pretty sure I won’t be hanging around the local 2-meter repeater to make sure everyone knows what I’m getting at the grocery store. I’m glad the local hams have built out the infrastructure to do so, and I’m heartened to know they’re practicing the craft. I just don’t want to talk to them that much.

So, active hams, what part of the craft to you find engaging? I’d love to hear your suggestions for ways I, or anyone else, can make greater use of the license and help keep the hobby fun for new and old hams alike.

371 thoughts on “My Beef With Ham Radio

  1. Interesting post and comments. I got licensed as a teenager 30 years ago then family etc intervened and I only just took up the hobby again in the last couple of years. I really enjoy the simple “thrill” of making a contact over the airwaves, but like the OP I’m not especially interested in spending hours idly chatting about personal stuff. Although I do find a bit of chat over 2m about rigs/antennas/shack setup etc interesting sometimes within reason. I’ve found I like the shorter forms better – so contests, SOTA chasing/activation, activity weekends etc… you make a contact, exchange signal reports, perhaps an observation about conditions or equipment and then that’s it. I’ve also found other less “chewy” modes like FT8, satellite etc very rewarding.

    One thing I have observed about hams though – and this isn’t directed at the OP personally, so much as a general observation – is that hams do seem to enjoy complaining about the way other hams make use of the hobby! There’s always someone saying there is too much ragchewing, or not enough ragchewing, or too many digital modes, or too many people who don’t use CW, or this digital mode is okay but that one is RUINING THE HOBBY, or “the hobby doesn’t have enough new blood”, but then.. “there are too many newbies on the air” etc etc :D

  2. Simply put, you get what you put into the hobby. Interesting to see so many complain and yet, do nothing to change it. It’s not the hobby that’s the problem, it’s you. DE KH6AME

  3. The hobby of Amateur Radio is so diverse, that talking to other hams is not necessary if you don’t wish to. I suggest your experience with the hobby was short and limited. A high proportion of today HF communication is quite impersonal with Data modes exchanging signal reports as operators experience the behaviors of propagation, antenna experiments using as little power as possible, or looking out for the elusive rare country. If that doesn’t float your boat, that’s fine, there is plenty more.

    For some it is the construction or restoration of old equipment, Chasing satellites, Slow scan TV, distance records, software….. this and and a lot more, all limited by your imagination. 73, Paul VK2APA

  4. I really do feel for Dan Maloney – really I do – I’m exactly the same. I took my radio test in 1988 and gained my licence. I used to re-xtal old commercial radios to listen into police and public service channels but since they became encrypted digital services I backed off. Since those days have not really done much with it.

    I’ve just wakened a long lapsed licence and got onto DMR more recently and I listen to the dismal conversations on TG91 and time how long it is before they talk about the weather or local temparature, as if the internet cant provide either. or worse saying things like Hi HI on a perfect HD voice connection. These types of exchanges are mostly a stilted boring pastich of a real conversation. in fact when some amatures are asked about their lives and their jobs and their local cultural background many soon clam up or are conveniently just being called by their (XYL) for their tea – its so off-putting.

    That said – I’m heartened by the newer digital modes like FT8 which makes a virtue out of brevity or using single board computers and flying them on balloons etc. There is enough room in this broad hobby I think for us all. From those who want to repeat the same stunted ‘conversation’ day after day to others to those who want to simply listen and decode stuff on SDR. I’m more the latter.

    Each time I mention it one gets the same old defensive nonsense from other hams about leaving the hobby etc. No I fully understand Dan Maloney’s position.

  5. Part of my issue is I’m just not a conversationalist, and I honestly think it’s getting worse the older I get. How do you keep a conversation going when you can barely remember what you just said in the last transmission?

  6. Interesting perspective that ties into my observations about ham radio. I actually tried to engage in rag-chew conversations. However, it’s difficult because many rag chewers don’t leave much of a pause to let others join in the conversation. Unless of course, you’re one of the “good old boys”. I’m not one of the “good old boys”, so I gave up rag chewing.

    Contesting is open to letting many join in. However, It’s very brief and to the point. Enjoyable for many, but too brief and overly competitive for others.

    Personally, I simply like to check into nets, talk briefly and listen to the rest of the net. Also, I volunteer for events and make use of my radio in support of the event.

    There are many niches in ham radio. Hopefully you’ll find one that interests you.

  7. Got my General ticket in January 2017 and my Extra in April of that year. 36 years in the Army accustomed me to terse transmissions, as well. Summits on the Air, Parks on the Air, Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society…everything I love about Ham radio (especially when operating QRP) and no endless mic keying, inane rag chewing, or endless conversations about wx

  8. Well…..I ostensibly got into being a ham for my “prepping” and my local volunteer “CERT” organization prized folks who at least had a tech ticket, so, I did it. I too don’t really want to listen to these folks just talk. I don’t ,mind hitting the repeater a couple of times a week to practice my craft, but it became very much less interesting and more of a chore. So, I thought to myself “self, you need more” so I went ahead and grabbed my general license. So, what now? now I need to build up a cache of equipment that will take advantage of it all, no biggy, just a little money. I found that, the same people were basically chatting on HF too, and with us being near the end or, on the low side of the sunspot cycle, things were pretty slow and boring….so, now I’m on to “winlink” psk31 and pactor, more equipment of course, but I am now re-engaged, sending an e-mail and or forms over radio waves, somehow appeals to me now. The mix of, using my radio equipment and hard won expertise, along with not actually talking to anyone? yeah, that’s gonna work fine for me. If you’r still about, winlink is basically free (so long as you have a computer) and might be worth your time/

  9. Phew! Just read all the comments.

    I had a paradoxical reaction. Rather than discouraging me, the discussion made me optimistic about finding things in ham radio that interest me.

    I got my Novice and General as young teenager, then put ham radio aside when I discovered girls.. I did nothing technical for years, until personal computers came out. I got a Commodore-64 and I was hooked. Soon I was writing manuals for a modem company, then Amiga Computers, then Hewlett-Packard.

    I realize now that ham radio gave me the confidence to tackle technical subjects and learn on my own. Thank you, ham radio!

    Fast forward 35 years, and I’ve gotten bitten by the electronics bug again. I’ve refurbished old laptops to give away, and began collecting analog oscilloscopes. A friend let it drop that she was signing up for a Ham Cram. That intrigued me, so I signed up too. I bought some e-books about preparing for the test, found videos on the web. In less than two weeks, I found myself in the examination room, being congratulated on passing both the Technician and the General.

    Wow, what do I do now?

    I really enjoyed learning the new material …. technology has really changed since the Age of the Vacuum Tube. But getting on the air? Why would I want to? I confess that I’ve felt similarly to many of the negative commenters. I’m more interested in focussed conversations around something I’m interested in … Not so interested in crackerbarrel conversations or brief contest QSOs.

    I think I felt relieved to hear that other people felt the same way . Some people left ham radio, others found a specialty that absorbed them. Others had local groups that gave them satisfaction.

    Hearing the diversity of opinions made me determined to try different things. I don’t have to like ragchewing or contests , there are other activities to explore. QRP and Morse code sounded intriguing. I’d love to bicycle somewhere and set up an antenna. Maybe I will build something. Maybe I can look on the HF bands and see for myself what they are like now.

    Anyway, thanks for the wild diversity of views …

  10. After the 2003 forest fire in the Okanagan Valley the Amateur radio club in Kelowna B.C. Canada ( decided to put up a Ham Wan like was first constructed the Puget Sound area of Washington State. They have several towers in the Greater Kelowna area and a tower has gone up here in Vernon 53 km north of them… The link is good but we ( can’t really use it until they put up the Sector transceivers…

  11. As a ham I don’t “talk” on the radio much. As a Novice back in the 1970s I was forced to learn and operate CW, and that’s what I tend to go back to after brief forays with the microphone or digital modes. It’s not really like talking – more of an abstract activity.

  12. Ham radio has changed because those that get into it today, have no interest in what was the primary draw long ago, radio and the mystery of being able to communicate over a distance with no wires. Everybody does that now with a cell phone. That leaves people who’s only interest is to use ham radio as a form of WIFI. They know nothing about a radio, the radios themselves for the most part are unfixable when they break, and the hams also cannot understand most of their radios functions in the first place. So, that leaves a bunch of folks who can do nothing but talk, and talk, and talk, just like ham radio is non-commercial talk radio. Others go ga-ga over their computer talking to another computer and exchanging enough data to confirm a contact and think what a wonderful ham op they are. Others using the internet and spotter sites earn DXCC in a year and brag about it when they basically did nothing to earn it. There are still plenty of old school folks out there, they keep to themselves, use the word ‘break’ and not ‘contact’, keep politics and religion out of their conversation and they are having fun tinkering with gear, building and restoring gear, doing antenna work and still enjoying the mystery of radio.

  13. i have a technical ticket, last week i turned into the local weather net. i’m at my office and my coworkers are all in earshot. my county goes under tornado warning. the repeater keys up a ham said” the tornado serineeeens are going off in ” his town. the hams always carry themselves as a vital link and in real life the police and fire agencies would never use a ham. with talk like this its even more apparent

  14. Much of what you mentioned applies to me too including your history. Once joining my local club and making my way into chatting and listening at after meeting meetings I’ve made may friends and enjoy talking about radio things with them and occasionally what is going on in their life both on and off the air. I found I enjoy the chase of talking to a new country even though much is just a minimal exchange of basic information and an occasional rag chew. Digital like psk is a blast. I also enjoy the technical side of repeaters and radios and have helped with the clubs, out my own up and am now a club trustee to maintain theirs. I also got involved with the EmCom and helped bridge the gap for everyday hams and public safety. I’ve taken that knowledge from public safety and helped to teach them the joys of brief to the point messages and how to effectively provide services and plan events where we assist PS. It’s all what you choose to do with it. Some enjoy building things and using what the built. There are so many options it’s just might take you a few to find your niche. I’m now 3 years late to the post so I’m curious if your stance has changed yet.

    John N2YP

  15. I’ve been a radio amateur since the mid 1970’s. I am mostly a morse operator, but do enjoy a phone contact periodically. I particularly enjoy the QRP (low power) facet of the hobby, and have built a few kit radios. I also enjoy hiking, backpacking, and camping, and the QRP radios fits in with that very well. I do a little bit of ‘Summits on the Air’ activity, and have put three Summits on the air over the years, worked many other operators that were themselves on designated summits, and I also enjoy participating in State QSO Parties, in which you try to contact as many counties in a state in a designated time period. These are typically fast-paced operating events, with some mobile operators putting one county after another on the air, as they navigate a route to put as many counties on the air as they can.

  16. Ham radio voice is boring. Everyone sounds the same and very few seem to have any personality. You always feel that you will be crucified if you make the slightest protocol mistake. 11 meter SSB on the other hand is very enjoyable (most of the time). Many are pretty professional these days. Some of the guys are funny and you get to know their personalities. Many of the better QSO’s I have are with underground hams. We know who we are and most freely admit they are hams. There is more activity on 27.385 LSB on any given day than the entire 10 meter band.

    Before the holier than thou hams chime in…the 80m band is far worse as far as open racism and foul language than anything you will ever hear on 11 meters. These are old dudes also. I tuned in one night and what I heard would make a sailor blush (WWII era). One more thing. Free-banding is as close to a victimless “crime” as you can get. We use Icom’s, Yaesu’s and Kenwoods. Our signals are clean etc. Licensed amateur since 1992

  17. My interest has been and still is in building and modifying stuff. Saying that I bought an FT817 two years ago but there was a good reason: internet QRM at the home QTH. I could get out portable away from it but hardly done so yet. I keep managing to work through it.
    I built an H.A.C. one valve kit when I was 13, had it for years and progressed to 4 and 5 valve radio’s, not really knowing what I was doing but they worked then a another circuit appeared in the magazine so I built that one. None worked better than the last but it was good experience. Then transistor circuits and bought a cheap multimeter as I got fed up with a burnt finger when I wondered what happens if I change that resistor. Don’t try that with valves! The coils from that H.A.C. are now used in my wavemeter.
    I got my G8 amateur licence and built an xtal controlled tx. for 2m, then got learning c.w. and got my G4. 22 years ago built my biggest project, 5-5.5 MHz f.e.t. v.f.o. plus 9 MHz i.f. G4CLF board to get 80m and 20m ssb and cw, within weeks added xtals and mixer for all the h.f. bands, now another synthesised vfo in progress because the last one failed (bought item). I need to build a bandpass filter so I can add 60m.
    Over they years I have made include a BFY50 top band tx, one valve tx for 60m, a Pixie tx/rx on 60m, modified a Pye Bantam to work on 70 MHZ over 30 years ago, repaired my Racal RA17L last year. Today i looked at a scruffy TW Top Bander am/cw tx I bought. I buy the cheap tatty stuff other people walk past, but a transmitter for £5! Played with aerials and tuners for years and made a mag loop recently and a 4 element collinear for 2m. Still working on a WW2 19 Set as the lower frequency band has given up now. Used to repair stereo units and t.v.’s for people.
    I have plenty to keep my interest going.

    To me it’s not about spending a huge amount money to get the best gear.
    I normally work on c.w. QRP because anyone can get through with 100 Watts or more so it’s a challenge. A QRP to QRP contact is a wonderul feeling and achievement.

    73, Bill, G4GHB.

  18. If you need to use a repeater then you’re obviously using the wrong frequency.
    I talk to locals on 2m but not every day.
    I prefer QRP cw and dipoles to see what can be done with a relatively simple set-up.
    Bill, G4GHB.

  19. This original post and the responses are interesting on several levels.

    First, I’m a little older than the original poster, got interested in ham radio when I was young, finally found some assistance and got licensed at 13 years old (1968). I’ve done many things in ham radio, gone through more active and less active periods, and still enjoy ham radio very much. One pretty much constant is my participation is Field Day, because I believe that ham radio operators have an obligation to maintain a level of emergency readiness. I’ve never been a serious DXer, and that is what I’m setting up for now. Almost 30 years ago I started the Tarheel Scanner/SWL Group, because I liked both of those subsets of the radio hobby. Because some SWLs of old felt regarded as second class citizens since they didn’t have a ham license, I made the unofficial motto of the group, “We’re here to help you enjoy whatever parts of hobby radio you are interested in.”

    And that’s pretty much my philosophy within ham radio as well. Do what you like to do, stay away from what you don’t like. I have a broad array of interests, in and out of radio, so I have done many things in ham radio. But I understand that others will be different.

    Ham radio has ALWAYS been a hobby dominated by older people. In a QST magazine letter to the editor circa 1961, the writer lamented the lack of youth in ham radio. In 1971, after I could drive to ham radio meetings in a larger city 30+ miles away, I found myself almost alone being under 20 years old… or under 30, really. And as people live longer and the average age of the population gets older, the average age of ham operators get older as well. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

    I am disappointed that the conversations on 2 meters are less technically oriented than they used to be, both regarding radio/electronics in general and about computers. Of course, computers are just a commodity now, with very little experimentation, except for maybe Raspberry Pi’s and that subset.

    BUT [controversial statement coming up], as we have “dumbed down” the exams and provided a memorizable question pool, we have a less technically oriented pool of new licensees. So *SURPRISE”, less technical conversations on the ham bands. I teach Technician classes for the Raleigh Amateur Radio Society (RARS), so I want more people to get licensed. But what has happened to the exams is undeniable. (And I don’t blame the elimination of Morse Code… I did 20wpm but that doesn’t mean that everyone should.)

    BTW, when I was 12 years old, built my first shortwave receiver from a kit and started monitoring the ham bands, old guys were complaining about their ailments on 80 meter phone. (Two meter activity was VERY low then.) So that’s not new either. And now that *I* am in a high risk age group for coronavirus, I understand them a little better. Although I still try mightily to refrain from discussing my ailments on ham radio! :-)

    So find something in ham radio that suits you, realizing your preferences will change over time, and do it. Stay away from what you don’t like. If nothing in ham radio piques your interest, there’s always stamp collecting.

    Finally, I REALLY DON’T LIKE gardening! I was forced as a kid to help with an over half-acre garden, and I never liked any of it. I can’t imagine that someone would do that for “fun”. I know a good bit about a number of subjects, but I know virtually nothing about plants and flowers and gardening. HOWEVER, I *NEVER* go a gardening website or forum and call them names, say they have a lame hobby and make fun of their proclivities. I can’t imagine someone doing that.

    So I don’t really understand people coming to ham radio discussions and forums and trashing the people and the hobby. If you don’t like it, fine. But for a person to spend precious minutes of their life trashing people and activities they don’t care for– well, to me it says more about THEM than whatever activity they are trashing!

    Stay safe and stay well.

    Curt W4CP

    1. Hi Curt,

      I think the traditional way into radio was by building a simple receiver and the interest grows. After showing interest in mw/lw a neighbour gave me some Practical Wireless magazines where I saw the H.A.C. one valve kit advertised. I sent off for it, only six soldered connections, the neighbour gave me 2000 Ohm headphones. My Dad had a soldering iron, one wire round the kitchen for an aerial and one onto a water pipe for an earth and I heard a few whistles and squeals then a bird whistling. It turned out to be Radio South Africa. I was amazed and hooked. I listened to local amateurs on 160m. I have bought some cheap used valves, PM2DX types at rallies and will make a one valve radio again, got a bit carried away and kept buying them and ended up with 20 of them. I still have 2000 Ohm headphones.
      Got my first B licence at 19 then passed the cw test for this G4.
      Fewer young people taking up the hobby with so many other things to do and why struggle with propagation when there’s mobile phone reliability to talk to distant friends?
      It is a strange hobby. We go on air and call CQ then talk to a person who randomly calls us. Like phoning a telephone number and having a conversation with a stranger. It wouldn’t happen.
      Qualifications mean a lot but not everything. I passed my radio exam and know someone who passed with distinction and when I showed him a radio I had repaired he said he wouldn’t know where to start! So what had he learnt? The ability to read and memorise and write down what he had read, that’s all. It was the old exam where questions were answered by writing what you knew, you knew it or you didn’t. But on paper to an employer he would look far better qualified than I would.
      Friends talk of ailments on air which is fine but then there’s dx-ing or whatever else you want, tv, building equipment or aerials, moonbounce,etc.
      I’d love a half acre garden. Mine is tiny. Don’t knock it, think of the room to put up aerials if you don’t like gardening.
      I don’t do contests, contact as many stations as possible without knowing anything about them and in many cases not even their location. Not for me.
      It’s hard to get new people into the hobby, I’ve tried in a small way by doing radio demonstrations at our local agricultural show, a school and the Manchester Science and Industry Museum for Museums On The Air with another amateur. It’s good to get out and try communicating without perfect aerials as at home, and QRP so we don’t drain the batteries. I run QRP at home anyway.

      73, Bill, G4GHB.

  20. Over 60 years ago, I found out that I could study for and earn a federal license to duplicate the fascinating wireless telegraph experiments of the likes of Marconi! I couldn’t learn code and theory fast enough! My life’s journey since then has taken me from those first wonderful tries at recreating history by communicating though the ether with crude equipment that I mostly made or repurposed from junked broadcast and TV sets as a novice ham operator to a successful career in telecommunications. Along with earning amateur licenses, I found out about commercial radiotelegraph and radiotelephone operator licenses to be had along with endorsements for broadcasting, shipboard and avation radio. Mainly because of my love of ham radio, I was motivated to get them all! My life’s work has included operating and maintaining every sort of military, broadcasting, public safety, shipboard and other radio system you can imagine. I have had the opportunity to operate radio from exotic locations. Radio, in large part, was, and is, my life. Along the way, many of my mentors and co-workers were amateurs…hams, like me, who lived and breathed radio. I suppose for those reasons that it is painful and disappointing to see that, in large measure, ham radio has become just another consumer item to be sold to the masses…a “free” cell phone service for “Mom and the kids” or whatever the latest fad is along with “instant gratification” licensing in one weekend. Has amateur radio just become another imperfect diversion to complain about?
    Maybe along the way, the romance, the intrigue and the mystery of communicating wirelessly around the earth with an apparatus that you have built and understand is gone. The challenge seems to be missing. How sad. I feel sorry for those who saw ham radio for the wrong reasons and now fail to see it’s fascination.

    73, DE WA4A

  21. If you are bored, set up and operate FT8. Then when you get tired of that, try FT4…a VERY fast QSO. Then move on to another mode. I am stuck getting an Alaskan QSO. It will happen with persistence.

    73’s, John N9KYC

  22. This is funny because I absolutely love amateur radio but I’m just not much of a talker. Especially small talk which is the most mundane of all. I actually enjoy studying radio and building and working on my projects rather than having boring conversations about the weather. This is why I’m a DX chaser. It’s the ultimate form of testing your stations abilities (along with some help from the atmosphere) and all you need to say is your call sign and signal report. I’m also into digital modes and recently have been playing with SSTV which is actually interesting. I’ve got nothing against anyone who enjoys talking rather I encourage it because we need more people interested in the hobby but I’m in the same boat and this is why I always defend the digital modes and other ways to enjoy the hobby that don’t involve talking about nothing. KC3FNG

  23. I am not into ham radio for long conversations with other hams BUT, the conversations I do have are always a good test run of my gear, antennas, band conditions, etc! I am glad they relaxed the code requirements so I and others can get a license a little bit easier but I will study and learn CW and will get my sons into it also! I think if they did not relax the standards then Amateurs would have lost a large portion of the bands to commercial interests!!! 73

  24. I totally get this post. I don’t even know why I’m so drawn to the hobby or getting my license. I’m not a prepper, I don’t enjoy talking to people about things I can be identified with. Need a repeater net that operates like 4chan or something. Not the /b board tho, more like /k and /pol

  25. Dan,

    The community could really use your skills if you would teach the EMCOMM hams your technique at concise communication. I didn’t see if any other commenter said this, but I hope you will help us out.

  26. I’ve been licensed since 1968. I’ve never cared for chitchat. Radio or otherwise. But, I’m on the radio almost every day. It’s the magic of radio that gets me. The magic of being able to copy a ham in New Zealand from Georgia when his transmit power is only 1 W. That’s a dim flashlight! It’s even more magical on the 40 m band and with CW. There’s no computer or fancy signal processing required. It can be done with 1920’s technology! Being able to communicate around the planet without wires. That’s the magic. You might say, “it’s simple physics”. But the physical models, while well understood, are still based on observation of things that are not understood. That’s magic. Seriously, why does an EM wave exist? When you get down to the fundamentals, no one knows. It just does. We get to play with it. More fun than a puppy! Who knows. Maybe radio from another planet will arrive at your desk. 73, -bob

  27. For many years I have wanted to be a HAM, but the code test kept me out. When I found ARRL had dropped the code test, I studied, and continued to pass tests until achieving VE status. Years thereafter, what I find very disappointing is the local club is comprised of old and nasty individuals that don’t want you (an outsider) to talk on their repeater, hence, why the repeater is as dead as they are. After all of the energy and time I have spent, I would think that amateur radio would be so much more than recording signal reports and making contacts. Unfortunately stifled is concern about current events censored due to forward messaging paranoia. Fortunately there are other repeaters in the surrounding areas that allow people to be people including delivery drivers, landscapers, construction types, etc to talk about their concerns WITHOUT reprisal. What really needs to happen is some objective standard needs to be created for (decent) radio conduct rather than requiring an individual to discuss sundry, boring and useless content out of fear of being monitored. Then and only then can amateur radio have far reaching constructive effect beyond just making contacts.

  28. I first became fascinated in radio when as a child I was given a swr. I could listen around the world from my bedroom. After collecting qsl cards from around the world I got a cb. This was during the 70s. I was never much of a conversationalist but still was fascinated with radios. Not knowing any hams or having money I never got licensed. I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 to get out of the derelict city I grew up in. The Cold War was still going strong and you talk about radio gear, although HEAVY, and trying to intercept enemy traffic was really fascinating.
    After becoming a bomb technician, yes you read it right, I learned more and more about electronics theory. Try to test theories over high explosives if you want a rush.
    I still don’t like chitchat or rag chewing but I still like radio. I will jump in on a conversation about something that interests me though. I like chasing satellites and my wife is starting to become interested in the space station and my get her ticket because of it.
    I also like it for the preparedness aspect.
    I guess all this rambling is to say you can find something to like in it if you look. And if you don’t that’s ok just walk away and let those who do enjoy it. If you do enjoy it help someone starting out and not loose interest.

    Semper Fi 73s

  29. I hold the call sign MW0SBX and i find it frustrating listening to stations on 160m and 80m bands and they dont leave gaps for other stations to come in they waffle like no tomorrow its killing ham radio listening to these type of stations then there is contesting hate that too would just rather chat normally.

  30. i came up about the same as he who started this topic, back in the late 60’s to early 70’s, same thing with family, etc… up till may of 2021 when i thought “hey why don’t i get my fcc licence” studied for 5 weeks sat for all three tests in the same evening, and 50 minutes later i too became a license holder extra class. i had spent the prior 2-3 months building a “go box”, which turned out to be more of a piece of furniture than a gator box, and joined three local clubs (within a 60 mile radius)… then realized i too really don’t want to talk to anyone, particularly a bunch of rag chewing over health and pet issues.. hey guys we all have health issues, and if you don’t just wait you will.

    so i set out to do the antenna thing, settled on a hustler 6btv, got it home and was not impressed with the build quality, i am sure it works fine, but …

    then for the last couple months i have been making a serious study of all things hf vertical, and came up with my own design. problem being other hams! especially those that have been hams for decades. “why would you want to build your own vertical? when you can go buy this or that antenna? why reinvent the wheel?, just throw a wire in the tree and start making contacts?” and the list goes on.

    maybe it is because i was too young and broke to buy anything from heathkit before they died, but to me it is the journey of discovery and learning, much more so than simply throwing up a wire, and then what??? sit around either blathering on and on, or making contacts as fast as one can so that he can fill a log book and have bragging rights?

    maybe i have waited long enough to be that “crusty old fart” that no one wants to talk to either?

    maybe you really can’t go home?

    mobilebob AE0NX

  31. I found you because I googled, why is Ham Radio so boring,” and I am glad I found you. I’m 66 yrs old and started back in the 70’s as a teen. I left it when I had to raise a family and work for a living. Now that I am semi retired I came back to it, but despite CW and HF and repeater nets– listening to the weather from all the others—something easily obtained on the back side of the comics, and antenna building, I realized that if you want to work it consistently you still need what that old Elmer across the street from you had the —crank up and the linear and the Yagi, so most of my stuff I still had when I left it before, and after recapping it all and getting it back on the air and raising it into the sky and sending CQ endlessly it was boring as hell, after about 2 weeks I hung it up again for good. Thanks for taking the time to express what it was that bothered you. Audios!

  32. The Article writer is the exact person that needs to get out of Ham Radio and go away. Grumpy old dude that wants to force his opinion on everyone else and gets grumpy about it. So I hope they left and never come back because ham radio does not need their type on the air at all. They are exactly like the Grumpy old assholes that REFUSE to talk to a brand new young ham, on the local repeaters, they whine like babies that digital is ruining the hobby, and overall are just miserable SOB’s 24/7 to be around.

  33. In addition to my Bigfoot Radio Net as an alternative to “talking about radios, on radios, with other folks on radios…” allow me to suggest the Amber/Silver Alert net Program(c) (ASAP). You can find more information on mewe and a placeholder on facebook. In short, it is a program to deploy ham radio operators in real time to search, surveil and recover missing persons. There are many rules! Yay, ham radio ops love rules. Serioiusly, there is a lot of need. Amber alerts or silver alerts occur daily in every state. (260 in Texas, 2022) If you and/or your club wants to make a difference, to be relevant and to have a purpose for all that equipment :) reach out to me for more information.

  34. this is very humorous…first off, it is not a is for the old timers but maybe a few youngsters look at it as a hobby..most are looking at it as emergency communication only. In fact if there is any emergency where life dictates danger..anyone can pick up a mic and talk. but most important….no one wants to sit on their butt anymore on a radio, through an antenna, talking to others about their radio and their antenna…otherwise, these kids I guess are being groomed for their hours on their phones…lastly…with plug and play systems, and the ability to hang a band map on your wall, the tests were written for those who built and maintained their own radios, radios now are disposable and not repairable. AND guess what the bands are not loaded full of they were 50 years ago…just a thought..much like the dying out of fraternal mens clubs…err go the Ham Radio days… the tests are written for folks who work on radios…radio etiquette can be covered in one test..

  35. This is an old thread but man…. yeah I’m going in for my technician and general license all at the same time tomorrow, and I’m not really excited to be licensed. I just want my grandpa’s call letters. The people on the repeaters around here are not the sort of people that I want to talk to. The hobby is being sold all wrong and the old farts giving the tests are gatekeeping and making a big deal out of asking questions about things that you ought to be looking up in a chart or book every time you need them instead of memorizing them and penalizing you for circling KHz instead of kHz. A guy at work has his license and was appalled to learn that I had no plans to buy a radio.

    Oh well.

  36. I’ve been licensed over 6 decades. Ham radio is a hobby full of other hobbies. So many rabbit holes to go down. A couple days a week I’ll rag chew with a group of old friends on 75 SSB, later I’m chasing DX on FT8 & 4. Another afternoon might find me on the Tech Talk DMR channel discussing SDR radio technology with some newer friends. I’ve resurrected vintage AM & CW boat anchors, built Heathkits and simple home-brew transmitters and bounced my 2 meter CW signal off the moon ! 2 meter repeater operation has never been a mode I’ve used regularly but that’s just me. My point is try some other aspects of the hobby. I’m having as much fun at age 75 as I did when I was 14 and a Novice. 73, Brian K3USC, CLE, OH

  37. Compared to social media and the ridiculous You Tube postings, I prefer Amateur Radio as it requires at least an IQ above Bean Dip. The cartoon is indicative of someone never ion the military, as it resembles the TV and movies where in combat everyone is running about and yelling. I started at 14 y.o self-taught using an Industrial handbook, then SWL and then Ham before leaving the U. of Pittsburgh to my my duty in the Nam. 24 years and thru enlisted and officer ranks, and got my BSEE, my current paychecks and weapon systems I have designed or sustained or maintained says it was never about Old Men chatting, as it was about someone with enough ambition to learn something new. From servos to tubes to transistor to the first ICs and then VLSI and now things not even in the public domain, it all started with those Old Timers catching my interest talking about their wives and the next Hamvention or meal – when you get to be 70, let’s see what you are talking about, as well.

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