Opinion: An On-air Crisis?

The following article was published today on Facebook by Selim M0XTA. Thanks to Selim for giving us permission to share this to a wider audience. Your thoughts and comments appreciated.

My Fellow Radio Amateurs. This is very important in the state of our hobby. Could you spare 15-20 minutes of your time to read what I have to say regarding a crisis that is occurring in our Amateur Radio hobby?

At this time, there is a crisis happening on the VHF/UHF bands. The following bands affected are:

  • 6m / 50-52MHz
  • 4m / 70MHz
  • 2m / 144-146MHz
  • 70cm / 430-440MHz

Flat Band
The HF bands are fine, lots of activity on there. There’s nothing to worry about on there. (Thank Goodness!)

Selim M0XTA
Selim M0XTA

I’m from the UK (If any of you reading from outside the UK) We have a record amount of licensed amateurs in the UK in 2016 (nearly 70,000) and thanks to the 3 tier licensing system it has saved the hobby from extinction in the UK. However…there is another impending crisis not only affecting the UK, but in Europe and beyond as well!

First of all, I’ve been listening on the Amateur Radio bands since 1995 (when I was 11)
I’ve always loved radio all of my life and I finally got my first foundation Amateur Radio Licence when I was 19 in 2003. Now I am 31 I still enjoy the hobby today and I never give up on one thing which I feel it’s my duty to promote and I for one should not be alone doing this.

I live in Essex, close to London and from what I remember in the 90’s (and I’ve been told in the 80’s and before) that the VHF/UHF bands were buzzing! You can always find a QSO and someone to have a QSO on 2m and 70cm. However, since the mid-late 00’s and into this year 2016, as the months and recent years passed, activity is going down and down and down all over the UK and I would like to know, why?

“The Internet”

It’s not the internet’s fault! It’s not the 3 tier licensing system’s fault! Everyone is to blame! Although I feel that 50% of the internet is helping Amateur Radio and the other 50% is helping to kill Amateur Radio. The internet should not be seen as an alternative communication system and not comparable to Amateur Radio!

The hobby has been with us for over 100 years and long shall it continue in its current form!
Amateur Radio is free to air, RF to RF communications is always available no matter what on VHF & UHF (HF depending on conditions)

icom IC-E92D D-Star handheld
Icom IC-E92D D-Star handheld

With the rise of D-Star (DV) and DMR, these things have put an utter strain and demise of FM & SSB activity on 2m and 70cm and I do not support these systems as they need the internet to work to the full functionality of the system.

NO! What if America one day flicks the big switch on the internet? It’s gone! What if hackers target the extreme core of the internet and bring the whole world’s internet communication down which we rely on every day? Maybe?

The point I am making here my fellow Radio Amateurs is that I know many of you feel disgruntled and disheartened that many of you think there is very little or nobody out there on 2m and 70cm where I believe it is utter nonsense where ever you are in the UK and elsewhere! I ask others amateurs that why is no one on? The reply I got was that people are busy in their lives and working. Erm…. yes? But back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and into the millennium that everyone had busy lives but they all still came onto 2m and 70cm and has QSO’s with everybody on the bands? Right??

…and don’t forget guys, the population of Radio Amateurs where much less compared to today!
Many amateurs out there have 2m/70cm but they choose not to put their radio on, call CQ many times in different parts of the day, even weekends. They think no one is out there and they just sit and listen (licensed Short Wave listeners)

“Get on air”

So what I would like to say to all of you. Please encourage yourself back onto 2m and 70cms.

  • Call CQ more often
  • Keep calling and don’t give up!
  • Encourage more amateurs onto the band, form weekly or daily nets
  • Talk to your fellow Radio Club members and get them back onto 2m and 70cm if they have left years ago?

I know that many amateur give up too easily and they call CQ and they give up. The worst thing they could do is sell their radio with 2m/70cm and take their antennas down.

Don’t you think by someone doing that would make one less person on that band where that person who has left where another amateur pops up and hears no one on and that person who left is absent? Then that person does the same thing the other person does. Sells the gear.
It’s a counter-productive and destructive attitude that works towards the demise and lack of activity on those bands.

I urge all of you to do more to promote more activity on the 2m and 70cm bands, this includes FM, CW and SSB. If it gets worse, then the old saying goes “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” OFCOM would surely come along and take away our beloved 2m and 70cms and what would happen if they did? The blame game starts between amateurs, there would be outrage, everyone would be up and arms about it and uproar thus De-fragmenting our Radio Amateur Community further.

Also what has contributed to the lack of activity on 2m and 70cms is that the abuse of repeaters by idiots and on simplex frequencies too. These things have put off countless Radio Amateurs over the years and they were so put off the vow never to return to 2m and 70cm. If you are one of those people, please, give it another chance? I cannot stress that enough! Just ignore and carry on. I have over the years and I won’t things like this put me off!

We need more amateurs using the 2m and 70cm bands more than ever, and I know I’m a young whipper snapper compared to most of the membership in this group.

“More Youngsters”

Also to another unrelated thing to this. We need to get more youngsters into the Amateur Radio hobby! In my radio club we recently passed more 5 youngsters on our Foundation course in the UK thus we are helping to protect our hobby in the future to come!

But I am striving, campaigning and trying to get more activity back onto 2m and 70cm where rightly there should be more activity on those bands at all times…like it was years ago.

There is no reason why or anything that is stopping normal, fruitful and progressive and not depressive activity to naturally occur on these bands. Also down my way and beyond I’m mainly known to promote more activity on the 4m band! In the last few years I’ve encouraged many amateurs to get onto the 4m band! This trend is growing all the time and more and more people are now getting onto the 4m band by buying the following radios to get on the band:

  • Anytone AT588 FM 70MHz transceiver
  • Wouxun KG-UV950PL Quad band 4/6/2/70
  • ICOM IC-7100 & ICOM IC-7300

Year ago many got onto the 4m band using old PMR rigs and transverters. Not everyone were a fan of this to get onto 1 band but now times have changed and there are now more commercially made radios and antennas made for the 4m band including the SIRIO CX-4-68 & the Moonraker 5/8 co-linear vertical antennas. Also Moonraker make a very good 4m mobile antenna for 4m.

“6 Metres”

For years, ever since 1986 when the UK got the 6m band, very little people have been getting onto the FM side of the 6m band. Yes, most of you use 6m during the SP-E season on the SSB/CW side, but you can use the FM side any time of the year and the simplex part of the FM section of the band is desperate for your activity and it’s much easier to get onto the 6m band so there is no excuse!

This year is the 30th anniversary of the 6m band and at the same time it’s the 60th anniversary for the 4m band! (1956 in the UK). I will be running a special event callsign in November to celebrate 60 years for the 4m band and I would like to urge all of you to try and get yourselves on the 4m band. At least you exist and have a presence on that band (on any VHF/UHF band for that matter) then activity will grow and progress! The 4m band started off as a ‘British Band’ and now nearly every country in Europe now has the 4m band and it needs to grow to more countries!

Summary

I know many of you won’t like what I’ve wrote here today….  You can curse, have a go at me and criticise me in a bad way.. To be honest, I don’t care and I will not stop in my efforts to get more of you and encourage you all to use all the VHF/UHF bands again!

I feel I have to do this before it’s too late and save this crisis from a point of no return! But that won’t help anyone or these matters and my commitment, dedication and my utmost efforts to get more amateurs to use the 2M, 70CM, 4M & 6M. It seems like I’m the only one who is speaking up about these matters……if I’m not doing it…..who is? Exactly! I rest my case….

Please feel free to spread my message to everyone you know. It needs to be done and no matter what I want to get my message out there to all of you!

Thank You & Kind Regards

Selim M0XTA

 

Thanks to Selim for allowing us to reproduce this article. Some thought-provoking stuff. Please have your say in the comments section below. Similarly, other Essex Ham members are welcome to submit articles for discussion with others. Got something to say? Share it with Essex Ham’s thousands of weekly visitors…

71 Comments

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