The Great "Myth" of Ham Radio.

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  • Updated 3 years ago
  • (Edited)

Amidst all of the back and forth over the 1.4 release, we have been treated to a wide array of angst.  G4DYO,  indignantly proclaimed that Flex owes the User base: "you owe us all a date of release".  While W1GLV Bob ever the optimist and Flex Fanboy preaches, “keep the faith you have one of the best radios in the world. I have all the faith in the world that v1.4 will probably be the greatest revision ever. Love my 6500” (Wow,  Bob, get out sometime!) And no Ham radio dispute would be complete without the Lord assisting to sort out the mess. N0FM: “Gerald God Bless you guys”  ( We atheists are ok with that. it’s harmless)

Among the more amusing comments: K5SDR’s: "Does anyone know of a machine that will turn whining into extra software engineers?  I would buy one of those in a heartbeat.  I am barely letting our engineers take a bathroom break as it is now"  As if these guys are indentured servants working on the Manhattan project!!! 

Yet finally we arrive at an obvious observation. Again from K5SDR Gerald:I don't know if the general ham population is sophisticated enough to understand the software development process. “ ( Though Gerald would; “ love to be proven wrong.”)   He’s not wrong.

There is this long held myth that Ham Radio operators as a group are  "technologists".  That they keep abreast of and embrace the process of technology. I don’t buy it.  Nor are there metrics to prove otherwise.   That said, we are entering a "Post Technology Era where the App is more important than the device. Where the box/processor even the network are becoming transparent).  Von Neuman's technological "singularity" is upon us!

Tune across any band and find a literate and informed discussion of current technology ANY technology.  If you do find such a conversation it is the exception. (Though you will hear (in abundance!) enthusiastic discourse about radios that were built decades ago. Such is the elderly demographic of the hobby.

Ham radio is populated with many (Near-Septuagenarians) who are completely disconnected from the contemporary world we live in. Men who reject smart devices.  Where Uber, Apple Pay, NFC, WiGIG and Sway are alien concepts. And in the digital era these "low information" Hams  are irrelevant.   

Flex is to be applauded for their transparency and inclusive stance as they develop their product line.  But their customer base generates mostly noise. And in my view, Flex  would do well, to spend far less time  responding to the majority of poorly conceived ideas shouted by the Mob. The Ham population at large is culturally unsuited to making more than a minor contribution to your efforts.

Mike/ WA4D.Net
HamQtH.Com
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Mike Whatley

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  • Iconoclastic!

Posted 3 years ago

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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Ouch! 
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Lou, i4AWX - AB1FJ

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How right you are ! Lou AB1FJ
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Carl/K5HK

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Alas software like current events news is pron to big problems if not given time to develop and validate.  I'm happy to patiently await the next release when it time not prematurely guys and gals.
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Mike, a person like me with a smattering of knowledge about programming and electronics should surely never presume to tell the engineers at FRS how to to actually program SSDR or their FPGA's.

My specialitiy is gynecology and obsterics and I surely do hope nobody at FRS will tell me how to do a cesarean!

Having said that I disagree with your views about Ham Radio operators and specially the FRS community.

There is a lot, and I mean LOT of knowledge about out there. Take my club as an example, OV A07 Karlsruhe of the DARC. We have some septuagenarians and even older guys who are actively using the newest radio equipment and their smartphones and tablets. I have learned quite a bit from them. We promote a lot of experimental electronics building and software programming and I'm surprised how many people have a bit of special skills or knowledge which can help us.

As far as the FRS community is concerned, let them write whatever comes to their mind, because sometimes you'll find a nugget that can be incorporated into SSDR development.

Ham spirit also means a lot of tolerance, also to occasional not so bright ideas.

Alex, DH2ID 
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Jim Gilliam

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The Mohammad of technology has put us in our rightful place.
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SteveM

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Ugh! Such a wind.

There were 3 or 4 hams complaining in the v1.4 thread which leads you, apparently, to declare that the ham population is not sophisticated enough to understand the software development process. There are easily as many in the thread who claim to have been part of the process for decades.

Later, you state generally that hams are not technologists, and that we are in a "Post Technology Era where the App is more important than the device". So apparently hams are an app-ie crowd? I guess not, because further along you berate them for rejecting smart devices (i.e., app players). You also chide them for being "disconnected from the contemporary world". Well, aren't they disconnected from the Post Technology contemporary world?

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k0eoo

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I find Mike's comments mirror my observations over the years, especially the last 20 or so years...  Not that being an appliance operator is a bad thing, Ham radio touches people from all walks of life and, in my estimation, makes it more interesting...  

My background is in product marketing and circuit design so I do feel sorry for the FRS team when they have to put up with customer demands that are emotionally generated....

As a marketeer I found any customer input to be valuable, and it's never a good business policy to discourage that input, no matter how emotionally generated it might be....

Patiently waiting for V1.4 and beyond....

Dennis, k0eoo
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Jim Gilliam

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It is my belief that these "slaves" of technology are doing it because they LOVE it.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Some of what Gerald says is in gist, I think what he is saying is they are taped out and working very hard. But I hope some of the staff are not woman. They tend to use the bathroom a lot...
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Doug K0DV

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Mike, your summary of some comments made on this web site is funny and a good lead into your points about the "septuagenarian" hams who haven't kept up with technology. However, I do not think your points due justice to the ham community. It's not as black and white as you portray. As a septuagenarian myself, I take a personal offense in dumping all of us into the same category of old worn out dummies. I think I know about a little about software development, having started a successful software development company in the eighties, which I still manage to this day. Believe it or not, I have an I-Phone 6 (and know how to use it), a Flex 6700 and a new 11 element log periodic and I have worked nearly all communication modes on ham radio.  I am not alone, please don't paint us that way.  I have had many excellent literate and informed conversations on the air with other hams... and I never asked them their age.

I do approve of your kudos to Flex Systems for their progressive, somewhat out of the box, thinking and development, however Flex needs to continue to encourage and carefully vet all suggestions.  The more input they get from us the better.
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k3Tim

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Hi Doug,

I was dreaming what an ultimate station would be and a 6700 with a pair of (diversity) Log Periodic Antennas (LPA) is in the vision (strictly dreaming - not likely to match reality!).
 
I assume the ATU is always bypass mode whilst using frequencies covered by the LPA.  Curious as to the bands covered with the LPA.

_..--
 k3Tim
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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As long as you are dreaming.... if you turn one of the LPAs so that it is vertically polarized, that will enhance the reception by enabling polarization diversity
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k3Tim

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That would be a nightmare to implement.  :-)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Rotate the tower!
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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Mike, If you're going to impugn a Ham's comment, be sure that you get their call-sign correct.  :-)

God bless!
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SteveM

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Tee hee! Poor-old-senile-harmless-N0FM.
(Edited)
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Sounds more like a blog post than a post for the community.

Once again, I guess it's good that I'm not a mod here, because I'd delete this thread as soon as I read it.

Whether it's true or not (and I'm not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with the OP)... the OP's tone keeps it from to adding anything substantive to the dialog.

Nothing to see here... move along.

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Ralph Parker

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>we are entering a "Post Technology Era where the App is more important than the device.

>Ham radio is populated with many (Near-Septuagenarians) who are completely disconnected from the contemporary world we live in. ... And in the digital era these "low information" Hams  are irrelevant.  

OK, OK, I'm sorry - I didn't know what I was getting into when I bought my 6300.

I'll just put my tail between my legs and sneak away, back to my K3 and HRO-60. Just pretend that I was never here.

I dabbled in the VHF contest last weekend, and I had to use a paper log 'cause I couldn't figure out how to get the 'box' (not exactly a radio) connected to my logging program.

i see you guys receding in the distance (or is that 'going forward'?) and I despair of keeping up.

It was a great 60 years, but I'm ready to give up.

VE7XF, septuagenarian


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k3Tim

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Don't give up Ralph - although I am sure you're being sarcastic. 

I T00 dabble in contests (CW / RTTY) and use paper logs although with RTTY the APP was easy to capture the log and then convert to the contest format.

CU on the air.

Best,
k3Tim
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Gerald - K5SDR, Official Rep

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Yes, this might sound like a blog.  I would like to continue it for a comment.

I have been a ham for 48 years now.  My novice transmitter was a 6L6 that my Elmer helped me build.  My receiver was a Hallicrafters S-38 that I hacked a 455 kHz mechanical filter into the IF.  Every ham I knew when I was a teenage Novice in Mississippi was hands on with the technology.  Most every ham I knew then was an Elmer in some way both on the air and in person.  Ham radio is why I ended up going to engineering school and led to my entire career in technology.

Today there are three times as many licensed hams in the US as there were then.  There are still a large numbers of hams who are much more technically competent than I every will be.  Quite a number of them own our radios and have contributed to our efforts over the last 12 years.  

We also see the opposite extreme and all in between.  Qualitatively, from my vantage point I believe that the average technical knowledge in ham radio is down from when I was a kid.  The absolute number of technical hams might actually be larger than it was then but the average still down.  Even hams who when in their youth were very hands on building, fixing and modifying their rigs now have more of a consumer mindset.  There is nothing wrong with having all types across the spectrum since it adds to diversity.  It is a shame though that some people just don't want to take the time and expend the effort to learn and enjoy the ride.

I think the hard part for us at FlexRadio is that we put our heart and soul into doing something new and different only to be criticized by a few who have not walked in our shoes.  After 12 years of dealing with ham consumers, I have a pretty thick skin so it no longer offends me personally.  We sincerely want to build products that will make our collective hobby more enjoyable for years to come.  We do this because we love it and want to give back.  A few grumbles here and there can't change that.  

73, Gerald
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Burt Fisher

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I guess the amateur radio exam no longer includes electronics. 1930s electronics? Really, your power supplies that run the Flex have a bridge rectifier in them. The comments above about this COMMON component tells everything about why Flex should not release any software until it's totally tested. I guess you believe a digital gate is a gate to your computer room? I guess NOT NOR NAND OR AND XOR are Greek to you?
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SteveM

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Burt,

You completely missed the point of the comments above. RadioShack would be bankrupt if it had to rely on the sale of discrete components. That is not where the area of interest lies anymore - breadboarding timer circuits with blinking lights. Heck Gerald has stated that hardware is easy and software is difficult. My guess is he gets by with 1 or 2 hardware engineers; most of his outlay goes to the software-side.

The point is it is ridiculous for hams to be tested on simple hardware components in this day and age. Most technology is the soft form.

(Edited)
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Burt Fisher

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Technical schools still teach basic electronics. In elementary schools math does not start with Algebra, basics are taught first. So you are saying resistors, capacitors, coils, transformers are not a needed knowledge by a RADIO amateur?
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SteveM

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Burt,

"So you are saying resistors, capacitors, coils, transformers are not a needed knowledge by a RADIO amateur?"

In a word, yes. An amateur does not need that knowledge anymore than he needs to know how operate a computer. However, knowledge of both may come in handy for him one day.

Look, I have a MSEE from Purdue University. I learned all about bridge rectifiers, capacitors, inductors, and transformers at school and still remember quite a bit about them. I haven't utilized that knowledge in decades. I would rather program DSP code for a telecommunications company - way more interesting to me. So, although I was forced to learn the basics about circuits, it really was a lot of effort and resources wasted.

In my opinion it's the same in the ham world. The field is so wide, one cannot possibly know everything. If your idea of fun is not rolling your own 12V power supply, keep looking, you'll find something you like.

(Edited)
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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@SteveM: You beat me to that reply by one minute, according to the forum!  I couldn't agree more.

@Burt: Do hams need to know about resistors, capacitors, coils, and transformers?  I don't think so...  But, personally, I think all hams should all know C. And at least some Verilog.  But I think that because that's what I know and value.

Understand what I'm saying?

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James Whiteway

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. SHADES OF SOLENT GREEN!
Makes one wonder if the OP has any clue where all the technology he enjoys came from?
Maybe you don't realize that the founder of Flex Radio is no spring chicken either. Yet, he designed the radios we are all enjoy using.
Flex allows us to post comments, both good and bad (to a point). So, some expressing their frustrations over delays in software releases, is not a bad thing. It's called being human. And it's not age limited at all.
I think someone doesn't like old people. Don't worry, you'll get there one day. Getting old ain't for sissies.
James
WD5GWY
64 and proud of it!
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WH6HI - Pat

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Mike, you need to be careful and rethink what you have said in the following paragraph I have quoted.  There are no absolutes in this world, and as a "Near-Septuagenarian" I take exception to your statement. 

"Ham radio is populated with many (Near-Septuagenarians) who are completely disconnected from the contemporary world we live in. Men who reject smart devices.  Where Uber, Apple Pay, NFC, WiGIG and Sway are alien concepts. And in the digital era these "low information" Hams  are irrelevant. " 

Hams come from all walks of life and the only thing a person needs to do to become a "Ham" is to pass the appropriate test.  In this context you will have a very large disparity in overall knowledge of
communications, electronics, computers etc.  So we have to be mindful of this situation and have a little understanding. 

For myself I am a technologist, have been for 45 years, and I keep up the best I can with the current state of the art.  I build and administer my own computers and in my working years have hand engineered, built and made to operate some very interesting electronics.  But I am lucky in that respect and many in my age group did not receive that type of education. But they should be commended for the effort needed to become an Amateur Radio Operator.

Pat   WR1Z
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Reggie-k6xr

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I'm 76 and licensed since 1955. I listen to my wife who tell's me "you will get it when you get it". She wise!
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Jim Puryear

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Awe heck guys, there have always been naysayers. Just replace a few words in all the negative prose, like “hams” with “horse riders” and “radios” with “horseshoes” – some things never change.

But for a lot of us, we love to feel the edges of technology, rough and smooth, and the exciting ride it brings. No worries, Gerald. To borrow a quote from Benjamin Franklin... “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.”

de N5TSP

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WH6HI - Pat

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I second that emotion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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MH_Flexer

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Interesting thread. Getting closer to the Sept.... window myself. I take no offense to Mike's comments, just a short reply. Getting started with Amatuer Radio, I cracked the books literally. Now, with the Internet and online technology I can learn from online interactive discussions, and the total wealth of online knowledge. I don't expect to keep up 100% with new developments. I do fully embrace and am amazed that almost anything I want to do has a YouTube video which guarantees success. With over 30 years in product development (electrical / electronics) there is no way development promises (usually forced dates) will all be met. My team always did their best to meet deadlines but the quality of the product was our holy grail. I will gladly take the heat from operations folks rather than push a product out the door.
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Dave - W6OVP

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Ho Hum. What is this silly blog doing at this site? It has absolutely nothing to do with my FLEX radios. And when it comes to opinions you know what they say ... everybody has one.

I stand in awe of many of ham club members here, both for their technical prowess and their success in life. And I note that the last 2 Nobel Prize winners in Physics were active hams, and holders of the PhD in Physics.

The writer who began this post needs to take a handful of Tums and turn on his radio and play. There is a world of fascinating technically competent people to talk to. The glass is half full.
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Bob-N9MBR

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Chase some DX and get over it...Live is too short.
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Burt Fisher

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Life is too short is an excuse to do things we should not do. Life is NOT short, remember when you were in Kindergarten, that was a LONG time ago.
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Burt Fisher

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It's all about priorities, family is first. ham radio is last, is that wrong?
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WH6HI - Pat

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NO, but one is lucky if they have an understanding wife....
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Bob-N9MBR

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Nope. Hence the words Play Radio. It is a hobby not a life style.
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Jim Gilliam

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As a 75 year old, where Viagra doesn't work, my kids have moved out, my wife is gone, I beg to differ. It is a way of life because it's all I've got.
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Burt Fisher

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How silly is the ARRL and the FCC, they both think amateur radio is a service.
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W5XZ - dan

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Mike, are you 'The Dawg' from yesteryear??  "WA4 DYNAMITE" ( w reverb ) ??

just curious, W5XZ, dan
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George Salinas

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Oh yea I remember WA4D. Cq Cq 40 meters. No lids no space cadets please. Cq Cq 40 meters.
Thanks for the memories Dan.

KD4FJ George