Contesting, abysmal band conditions and HOAs - miscellaneous musings

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The popularity of contesting is beyond dispute, but it is a relatively new aspect of the hobby.  Indeed, the first publication dedicated exclusively to the sport--the National Contest Journal--did not even begin circulation in the United States until 1973, per Wikipedia.  Contesting is popular partly because it plays to the human condition, which is to be competitive (there is nothing wrong with this, so long as competitiveness does not become all
consuming).  To some extent, contesting builds technical proficiency...but does contesting do much to "foster international goodwill"? (see Part 97).  An exchange of signal reports--invariably 5 x 9--QTH and class of station, then on to the next "qso".  The more popular contests may be few in number, but make no mistake: there are a great many less popular contests throughout the year.  

Contesting today is not as popular as “lurking”, meaning the tendency of a great many hams to sit on the sidelines, instead of engaging in substantive on-air conversations.  To some extent, this inactivity reflects today's abysmal band conditions, but another factor impeding active participation in the hobby is the all-too prevalent HOA.  Some have said, “Anyone who buys into an HOA community does so with their eyes wide open, and so is a fool!” For them, I have this response: in a great many parts of the country today, it is virtually impossible to find a home in a desirable neighborhood--good schools, low crime--that is not saddled by an HOA. The Parity Act in its present form is not the answer, because it concedes too much to the discretion of HOAs, while affording precious little protection to amateur operators.

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W8QB

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Posted 7 months ago

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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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hmmm.. not sure what conversation you are starting here, but to add some data points, the first arrl sweepstakes competition was 85 years ago.  NCJ started in 1973 was 45 years ago and the N6RO contest station I work with is 50 years qrv.  I suppose the measurement of time is relative, but 85 years of sweepstakes essentially represents 85 years of contesting.  Not a new aspect of the hobby by any means.
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W8QB

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New, meaning that it did not achieve wide spread popularity until fairly recently.
(Edited)
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Mike W9OJ

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That's a new definition of new.
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W8QB

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But the assertion is valid.
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Rick - N4RZ

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Well, I've been licensed nearly 49 years and contesting was as popular then as it is today!  Contesting was big way before the NCJ came around!
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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well if you use NCJ or the creation of a national journal for enthusiasts as a metric, as I approach my 52nd birthday, NCJ has been in existence most of my life.  and 45 years of NCJ would be subsequent to it reaching some level of critical mass before that to justify its publication.. so again I would say that the term relative is the key here :-).
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W8QB

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Perhaps we share something in common: I earned my novice ticket in the early 1970s, as did a great many others, and at that point in time, contesting had only a fraction of as many adherents as today.  Arguably, widespread popularity of contesting is a relatively new phenomenon.  I think Hiram would agree.
(Edited)
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Ernest - W4EG

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I greatly agree with your last 2 paragraph relating to CC&R and HOA. Of which I am a part of that group..
I bought a home knowing of the rules just as you stated. I love the home because the area,amenities and 3 blocks walk to the beach.
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Jerry Gardner

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I don't think that's true, When I was looking to buy a new house eight years ago, I asked my realtor to come up with a list of properties that weren't encumbered with CC&Rs and an HOA. She came up with a lengthy list, despite this being the SF Bay Area. There are plenty of houses around that aren't in an HOA development--you (or your realtor) just have to do some digging to find these gems.
(Edited)
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W8QB

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Unfortunately, your venue is not like my community in the booming Dallas area, nor in similarly up and coming cities.  I lived in the SF Bay Area four years.  Our leased house in Millbrae was valued at over $900k but the only thing justifying that price was Millbrae's proximity located mid-way between San Francisco and Silicon Valley.  It was a 1,400 sq. ft. structure built before WWII, and was typical of a great many homes from that distant era, many homes in the area were being purchased for their land only (homes raised with new house built atop same piece of real estate).  Because so many structures in the Bay area are older, they therefore tend not to be encumbered by HOAs.  Compare to this qth in the Dallas surburbs where roughly 15 years ago this part of Texas was pastureland, largely undeveloped.  This town of a few thousand has grown to 70,000 residents the overwhelming number of which are new construction that is encumbered by HOAs.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Jerry.. You are partially correct..

ALL new homes being built today in California come with CC&R's and if they are in a development also have HOA's.  The CC&R's actually are imposed by the construction lenders to ensure uniformity and by state and local government building codes to ensure compliance with regulations such as anti-discrimination laws.

There are older houses outside of CCR & HOA restrictions in California BUT there are very few in desirable/affordable areas so unless you are willing/able to spend a lot of money or live in a high crime area, there is not much choice.

I actually live on a HOA and CC&R free (expired) street in La Jolla, CA where I was able to put up an 85' tower.  . 

But because there are NO CC&R's or HOA's, house prices range from $2.2M - $6.5M on my street. Only a block away, with HOA/CC&R restrictions, prices range at least $1M less.  

So really the question is affordability in a safe area.

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Jerry Gardner

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"But because there are NO CC&R's or HOA's, house prices range from $2.2M - $6.5M on my street. Only a block away, with HOA/CC&R restrictions, prices range at least $1M less. "

Well there you go... If not having an HOA is worth a $1M bump in a house's price, then the market will quickly take care of this situation as people realize they can gain a substantial increase in valuation by getting rid of their HOAs.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Jerry

If only the real world was so  simple ...

In the real world, just because there is a logical price appreciation when there is no HOA, there are many legal constraints and practical that make it almost impossible to remove the HOA quickly if at all.   

First there are Bank Lenders who require the HOA & CC&R's  to be part of the mortgage process.  Almost impossible to educate a bank lender to change anything they have been doing for years.

Second there are city ordinances that enshrine the HOA in law as part of the development permitting process.  Again almost impossible to change without spending a lot of lobbying money

Third, there is the "unsophisticated" owner issue wherein owners mistakenly assume that the HOA protects their property values in spite of all evidence to the contrary so they would not let the HOA go away.

Example on my street, there never really was a functional HOA albeit it is mentioned in the CC&R's.  The CC&R's were fortunately written to expire in 1997 and were never renewed.  As soon as they expired (I bought in 1998), owners immediately started to upgrade their houses in ways that the CC&R's had previously restricted them from doing - like adding a second floor.

I put in a 85' tower in 2005 and when the neighbors thought about reinstituting the CC&R's so many other properties would have been in violation of CC&R and so many had appreciated quickly with the demise of CC&R's that nobody wanted to lose the benefits of no CC&R's.  Today houses like mine are sold for teardown lot value as the street  is rapidly filling up with Mega-Mansions that would not be allowed a block away.  Hence the $1M or more premium...

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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Great discussion point, and is a pursuit 85 years old, journalized in dedication of only 45 years (as if that makes any difference as QTH, 73 and CQ publications didn't also start at the 1973 start of the NCJ) the right topic for a FlexRadio Community? 

The nature of HOA, deed restricted and preemption regulations is a wholly different discussion, and again one that is relevant to all of Amateur Radio, not SDRs alone, or FlexRadio Systems as a further subset. 

Perhaps these are discussions for another place?

What IS new is the mainstream usage of SDR technology radios, wide-integration of station functionality with that SDR technology, and remote radio SDR functionality in the pursuit of Amateur Radio Contesting.

73

Steve K9ZW

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Bill -VA3WTB

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The Amazingly high performance of our Flex, and for many other radios is due to what is learned and needed for contesting at the highest level. Flex has leaned towards features and performance that really lends to contesting. Because of this many customers have complained that they feel left behind, that their wants are not taken care of. But these people are enjoying such a high performance radio because of contesting.

If we look into the car industry, we see many developments improving safety, and performance due to research in racing. Things learned from car racing has made it's way to our street cars we use to cart our family's around.

It is interesting with the HF bands continuing to decay that makes it harder to work and with fewer good hours to work them, Radio sales seem to keep fairly steady. Flex would not have come out with four new radios and an amp if they thought the bottom would fall out. Or would they let the competition take the risk if they guess right they win and Flex loses out?
As the conditions are poor it seems more important then ever to have a great receiver  to hear faint signals.

One thing I like doing is listening in stead of talking sometimes and it happens a lot were I just don't know the subject well and could not add to it properly. But If it is interesting to me I will listen and hope to learn something new.

It is clear that ham radio is more and more sidelined by groups and governments we used to count on. At one time around here in Ontario Canada, local businesses and organizations would give ham clubs space to meet or donate space for repeaters. they would do little things to help us if we asked.
But today finding help for club needs are hard to come by, and usually cost money to clubs.

Just a  few thoughts....
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Varistor

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Have you considered joining Contest Club Ontario? Your call sign does not appear on the membership roster. The club has a fairly large membership count, meets regularly in multiple locations, and is fully self-sufficient, without the need for help from third parties or the government.
(Edited)
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Varistor

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Based on the numbers of logs received across the major dozen or so contests, contesting is seeing a steadily increasing number of participants, year over year. Computerized logging, station automation, ease of connecting radios to computers, CW and RTTY skimmer technology, real-time scoreboards, etc. all create excitement while significantly lowering the barriers to entry into contesting.

The 11-year solar cycle, including the current minimum, offers great opportunities for rethinking contesting strategies, antenna farm redesign and optimization, mastering new techniques (e.g., SO2R), etc.

I have lived twice in townhouses and despite various HOA restrictions found the way to get on the air and score reasonably well in a few contests. Give it a try and you will be amazed what you can accomplish with your attic/garage space and a good remote tuner.
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W8QB

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Thanks for the encouraging words.  Over recent decades, I've used a variety of antennas while living in HOA-encumbered communities, including no-tuner required (resonant) antennas...but the results pale when compared to those fortunate enough to reside in one of the increasingly scarce number of non-HOA communities.  A truly viable solution awaits passage of a law that grants HOA-dwellers genuine parity with those outside of HOAs.
(Edited)
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Varistor

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IMHO, the Flex community can truly benefit from a true contesting champion and real, tangible, and regular efforts to promote and nurture contesting among Flex owners. This does not exist today. For example:

1) Before every major contesting weekend, promote the specific contest and summarize the objectives, rules, categories, and all relevant details for the contest.

2) Publish contesting best practices, techniques, strategies, and tips. I belong to several top contesting clubs and the amount of communications prior to major contests is amazing, all with the objectives to enable individual members do their best

3) Run an annual virtual FRS scoreboard by collecting points for a certain number of pre-determined contests. CCO has published this concept very well at http://www.va3cco.com/sccore/sccoreAward.htm

4) Actively recruit and form teams for the contests that have such options

5) For CQ contests, establish Club Flex and encourage Flex owners to contribute their scores to the club (although this will get NCCC, PVRC, YCCC, etc. up in arms)

These practices are not made up. The big contest clubs are practicing most if not all of them and they are listed here as a specific set of suggestions.
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Interesting idea, but probably a bit off base.  Our (my)mission is to help flex users with their contesting issues and serve as a communication channel between FRS and the contest community.   I spend countless hours (team viewer, skype, telephone, etc. etc.) of time assisting contesters with their various flex platforms, logger integration, best practices, so2r etc. all around the planet.  Flex is a hardware/software platform/company, not a contest club.   I do suggest you get involved with your local contest community.  if you need help with that I can put you in touch with the organization in your area.

From your flex designated contest champion.

oh and I happen to also to be the Vice president and Contest Chairman, NCCC.