Friday, March 7, 2014

Frustration is setting in...

Ham radio is all about exploration and discovery.  But, I think the old hands have stayed away from new technology long enough.  We need to look at how to bring amateur radio into the new century.  There is a huge lack of support in the ham radio industry.  And what support is there, is scarce or antiquated.

I only recently got my license, and even only more recently got on the air.  Just last weekend, I ran a few calls in a contest.  Only a measly 20 contacts, with 17 countries.  That's barely anything in comparison with people who do this competitively.  What I find frustrating, is that in logging my contacts, there are various programs to choose from.  I figured using the ARRL's version or even's version, would give me the ability to convert my log to the proper version needed to submit those whole 20 contacts to the contest.  If there is away to do it, it must be hidden and secretive, because I certainly can't find how to do it.  Now I'm looking at a 3rd program, which might allow me to do what I need.  That'll be the 4th time I've had to record my contacts...

I've done IT support my entire career, and even ran a successful part time business supporting my clienteles' PCs.  Many times I run into problems that are new, or that I might have forgotten how to fix.  That's where the internet comes in.  You can find virtually any information you need, on the internet.  A simple Google or Bing search, will quickly bring out a wealth of answers.  UNLESS we are talking about Ham radio.  That's when we run aground, hitting the end of our travels.  I suspect that this is because we have an older generation, who for years was on the cutting edge of technology, but hasn't grown much for the past 25 to 30 years.  Rather than embracing computers and the internet, they have shunned it.  Granted this could be due to their age... but I have met many older folks who spend the time necessary (like us younger people) to learn their computers/OSs/the internet.  It's all about desire I suppose, not age...

I'm not sure what I can do about it, I'm only one man.  But, maybe with the help of our Ham Radio Club Off the Grid Radio and Electronics Society, we'll be able to bring about change, bringing a younger crowd in, who is more willing to use computers and the internet, and we can get more information about there to help support those who need it.

I'll admit that it is quite possible that I have missed something completely, while using these various logging programs, and it could be something very simple.  I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I do have to say that if I'm struggling with this now, I can only imagine how a 70 year old grandfather would be struggling and give up because of the lack of support.  Or maybe not, maybe he would pull out his "Rolodex" flip through the pages until he found the guy he met 4 years ago, who told him about contesting, and call him for help.  Maybe this is all due to my preference to find out information digitally, rather than contacting someone one-on-one to get help.  But if that's the case, it only goes to show how much grater the need is to gather that information and get it "on the web" - or we risk losing the next generation.

Once I figure out how to do this Cabrillo thing, I'll definitely let you know... "on the web"!

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