segunda-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2017

O estado do radioamadorismo por VK5EEE

Enquanto me debruçava na newsletter relativa ao mês passado do grupo que voluntariamente monitoriza as nossas bandas (não deixem de visitar o site oficial se a temática vos interessa), não pude deixar de constatar que as linhas em que o colega desabafa sobre o estado da Região 3 se aplica tão bem à nossa realidade e provavelmente não só a nós. Por isto, decidi citar aqui essas linhas (páginas 2 a 4 da newsletter 1612). Quando possível, tentarei fazer uma tradução para os colegas que tenham dificuldade com o inglês (podem usar para já o tradutor automático na barra lateral direita desta página). Não concordo com todo mas sem dúvida com grande parte do testemunho abaixo, nomeadamente a previsão para um futuro próximo e a vitória dos modos digitais autónomos sobre o "velho radioamadorismo". Destaquei a negrito algumas passagens que considero importantes e numa pequena parte dessas acrescentei um número (ex: *1), que no final do artigo tem a nota respetiva:

Region 3 – Australia – experiences, comments and proposals from VK5EEE - Lou

I'm not surprised to hear this about Latin American region. My antennas seem to favour that area
but I almost never (at least on CW) hear any active radio hams there.  I think it could be useful to report findings from around the world about the general state of QRM on our bands, and what could be done short, medium, long term to forecast and reverse these trends. In our area our 40m CW band is useless in the evenings due to strong SSB QRM every 5kHz USB and LSB -- which thus covers the entire CW band -- from powerful Indonesian pirates. These pirates also seem to occupy a great many frequencies between 10000 and 11400kHz – there are huge number of them in a population
of 200 million.


But we can contrast Indonesia to Thailand where there are a total of ZERO pirates on HF. In HS-land you cannot buy any gear without showing license. You cannot import either without inspection. And you cannot operate in any location without a location license in addition to your operating license, and this system clearly works, no matter it is a bit slow to get a ham license. This even though the HF population of HS amateurs is quite small, perhaps 200 or less, while the VHF population of HS amateurs is high, a quarter million or so. The radio amateur license density per population in Thailand is at a rough guess 10 times what it is in Australia.
For CW operators, the problem is pirates which almost invariably use SSB, of course use the CW band, because there, they hear no other SSB. They don't use the SSB parts of the band because then they would be afraid when they hear a strong local SSB radio amateur telling them off, or even direction finding them potentially. So some CW operators, myself included, have gravitated to the SSB part of the band, which after all is shared CW-SSB it's fine for CW, and due to radio amateur inactivity, it is also often empty. Right now, 20m and 17m are open -- and yet tuning the entire bands from top to bottom and bottom to top several times, I did not hear ONE radio amateur signal on CW nor SSB, nor Data.

During the week day, and remember a great many hams are retired, I can more often than not tune the entire 40m band also without hearing any SSB, Data, nor CW. And this even though the now manifestly corrupt national society seeks in a misguided effort to make amateur radio a public CB social media extension, they have not succeeded. They have taken the view that amateur radio is in decline and the way to reverse that is to make it easier to get a license at least at lowest level (which still gives 100W, though officially 10W, to anyone sitting a short course without possibility of failure, and then access to 80m, 40m, 15m, 10m) and yet the vast majority of these don't get on air since amateur radio offers little to them compared to internet social media. *1


So, why is there little activity on the ham bands in Australia, whether MF, HF, VHF, EHF etc? It is not just the low population density in the 1970s the bands were FULL of activity. It is due to these factors:
Retirement villages and homes do not allow antennas. Just when hams should start enjoying their hobby they are relegated to sitting in front of FOX TV. XYLs dominate the OMs and do not allow their slaves to do anything without their permission, constantly demand  their presence in exchange to stay slave.  Those who are not retired see now benefit in amateur radio over social media, since the wow-factor and joy-factor of CW is not known to them. Restrictions of antennas even for those who live "free" in this underpopulated wide open space:  nothing higher than 10m without expensive permission.
High noise levels on HF frequencies with imports never checked for compliance and authorities and national society careless about this problem. On the weekends they tune around and find nothing but button pushing "5NN" boring things, no chats or QSO, and conclude real amateur radio is dead. There are zero activities involving youth because to do so requires all sorts of licenses and insurance, youth are isolated in social media bubble from elders. *2

The trend will continue for contest and automatic (not even frequent button pushing, only "on and off switch") as well as "DX 5NN TU" activities will increase, as there are still people who with no other way to get meaningful awards on their walls, are chasing wall paper. This in turn reinforces the frustration about the lack of  REAL amateur radio (which at its most basic element includes an honest and meaningful signal report, to measure the home brew antenna if not transmitter and receiver), and the mantra that "without this activity there'd be no activity" while ignoring the massive collateral damage these *unrestricted* activities produce in combination with the above mentioned factors given as reason for empty ham bands in Australia. Digital CW will continue to make faster uptake levels than Human CW because of the "quick fix" mentality of  obtaining any level of results with minimal effort, thus driving CW onto other bands as DCW will continue to invade the exclusive CW bands rather than stick to the shared CW-Data bands. SSB will continue to decline because there is almost no advantage and several disadvantages over speaking into a microphone on amateur radio bands compared to a mobile app on Internet. Digital modes (including DCW as it develops further) will also become more "switch on, turn off volume, and leave switched on forever" where WSPR, JT etc will expand in use and 99% of digital operations will be automatic, without operator intervention, the operator only looking at the PC once a day or week to see what "QSO" he managed to achieve with QRP and without any care about inefficient antenna, high local noise level, lack of human activity, lack of equality with XYL, etc. *3


Amateur Radio as a whole, in the future, may undergo a major change as authorities become less caring about HF spectrum other than as a resource to be sold off. If the next section "how to reverse the trend" is not observed, amateur radio bands will be taken over by pirates as in Indonesia and Latin America, to be shared with non-amateur amateurs, i.e. button pushing, volume down, automated stations. Those who wish to EXPERIMENT and COMMUNICATE at human level may be forced off the amateur bands and onto new self-found bands just as the "Free Banders" have done, taking advantage of quiet broadcast bands *4 (Australia has now also vacated the broadcast bands as of January 2017) and former Marine bands, Fixed Service bands, etc. This seems to be inevitable because the availability of amateur radio equipment without license and carelessness of authorities makes it easy for pirates to operate such equipment, while only a technically gifted person could modify equipment to work on quiet non-amateur frequencies, which is where future "real" amateurs may migrate to avoid QRM levels and find human contact.

Authorities should copy the Shining Example of the Thai authorities with regard to import, sale and
installation of HF radio equipment

Radio amateurs should form national unions bypassing the national societies and leaving those to cater for button pushing and CB *5

Radio amateurs should seek ways to engage organisations, form clubs, and involve socially excluded and disadvantaged teaching CW

Concentration camps for the aged should be advocated with "care and quality of life" argument to allow internees to erect antennas

SOTA type activities should be encouraged and promoted so the public can see simple equipment, keys, fun and fitness benefits

CW and home brew as the "heart and soul" of amateur radio and "wow factor" of stand-alone independent communications promoted

Concerted, coordinated and assisted action on reducing noise levels on HF frequencies, use funds from punitive fines on import violation

Pressure contest committees to write into the rules of contest, if not accurate reports, to restrict contest frequency use, E.g. CQ WW CW Contest can stipulate 14010-14059, 14110-14150 for use in the CW contest, avoiding DX slot and chat-QSO/digi slots

REAL DX NEWS and REAL DXCC AWARD be started to highlight and publicise long-term resident and honest-report DX not DX Tourorism 

Allow more antennas, if Japan, Thailand can allow high towers in residential areas, Australia: Quality of Life Health not nanny state 

Allow higher power when conditions demand it, VK contest & F stations run 1kW illegally, allow legal running of 1kW if no QRM caused 

Work on removing OM fear of XYL threat with tact "My dear, would you prefer me down the pub drinking, or in the shack at the radio?" *6

Reviving Club activities to also involve families, youth, and not just technical talks, lectures but hands-on fun operating and constructing 

A campaign on software writers to accurately label DCW as DCW and not CW on their digital mode products and software 

Working to create an *inexpensive* home brew VFO tx/rx with 5W power out from 13V tri band 40/30/20m rig to fill a current void 

Worry less about a little chirp and drift and more about human activity, bring back a little chirp and drift into the CW bands 

Contact the many radio amateurs who gave up in disgust at the state of the hobby, and engage them in a revival of real amateur radio 

Revive the fall-back fail-safe communications capability of amateur radio stations with activities and training in disaster communication *7

Form proper Amateur Radio Unions to handle the self-management aspects of amateur radio and licensing and reverse negative trends 

Bring young and old, rich and poor, isolated and connected, together in activities that engage positively in a unique and versatile hobby 

Notas pessoais:

nem sempre facilitar o acesso significa mais utilização

a importância de manter ao longo do ano outras atividades similares ao Jamboree e a urgência em alterar o artigo 14 do dec. lei 53/2009 (inclusão de CAT2)

apesar de ser um defensor dos modos digitais como uma alternativa, cabe-nos a nós demonstrar que não passam disso mesmo e que devemos preservar o analógico com toda a beleza de uma comunicação DX em QRP

será por isto que se ouve diariamente mais radioamadores no PMR e nos links FRN que nos repetidores de amador?

será que uma "federação nacional de radioamadorismo", tão frequentemente trazida à conversa pública, alteraria alguma coisa?

esta é só para vos "ouvir" rir caso não tivessem reparado na passagem

já se faz algumas coisas no nosso país, mas será o suficiente?

2 comentários:

  1. Muito interessante, em meu entender. Muito obrigado por ter partilhado aqui. Trata-se de uma opinião, alicerçada no conhecimento de 35 anos de atividade, cujas conclusões não diferem muito do panorama português. Um bom tema para o Arla-Cluster... ou acha que não?

    1. Bom dia colega.
      Partilhado no cluster e em outro grupo similar ontem a meio da tarde!
      Obrigado pela visita.