Let’s all lighten up! It’s a hobby….

Posted: July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


I have been following a thread in the DXing forum on Eham.net  This forum usually contains a group of passionate Dxers from around the globe. Many topics are discussed and most are informative and free of conflict and vitriol.

This particular thread involves the usage of remote ham radio stations in the pay to use model. Remotehamradio.com is frequently discussed. What is evident with following this topic is that the hobby is changing; perhaps evolving and some guys don’t like it.

Some guys want others to do things just the way they did them. Comments such as “I worked 300 countries on 100 watts and wires” so you should too.

I respect genuine passion, even if it’s not my passion but some of this discussion borders on genuine disrespect and lack of consideration of other’s views. It appears to me that some guys are insecure because they have this notion that they are “competing” with others and they now have this unfair advantage foisted upon them by pay to use remote stations.

We all need to realize that some of us enjoy the hobby differently. Some guys enjoy contesting while others enjoy DXing. Some guys enjoy digital modes while some guys prefer to tinker and test. One of the great aspects of amateur radio is that there are many aspects available to each and every one of us.

But lately, the vitriol has gotten out of hand. Amateurs these days are very quick to disrespect each other. Lidlist.com is a good example.

I am reminded of an instance that occurred about eight years ago. My son Ryan-N6RYN was a newly licensed ham and was about nine years old. He expressed an interest in learning CW as it had an appeal to him as a “secret language”.

I remember that my son Ryan was sitting in my lap and I was showing him how CW was used. There was a less than rare DX station on in Africa and a small but building pileup to work him.

I showed Ryan how to key the macro in my logging program to send my call and I gave him a few practice tries with a one watt transmission. He was excited and wanted to try calling the DX. I thought this was a great opportunity to show a new ham how to work DX using CW. Perhaps this would give him the incentive to learn CW and to upgrade his license.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s timing was less than perfect and each time I told him to send he paused for a moment before sending. This caused him to partially cover the DX on several tries. Ryan made a simple mistake in his first ever CW or DX pileup for a less than rare DX station.

Within a few tries the band police reared their ugly heads and sent “N6PSE LID LID” N6PSE I D I O T” and things like that.

Sadly, this diminished Ryan’s enthusiasm for CW and for working DX. I can’t imagine how excited he would be if he had been able to work the DX station with my call. I think this would have given him the motivation to study and upgrade. We may never know.

The point of all of this is that we hams need to “lighten up”. We are too quick to heap distain and pejorative labels on each other. We need to realize and accept that not everyone operates the same way or with the same skills as the other guys. There are probably some really great future hams out there that are learning with their Dad’s call. Let’s welcome them and accept their mistakes and not deter their interest for our great hobby.

What do you think?

  1. Robert H. Pusch WD8NVN says:

    The first things I say to a person who is interested in ham radio. (A.) Upgrade to General Class as fast as possible, and work diligently to find out what aspect of this hobby pleases you the most. (B.) Starting on a shoe-string budget usually leads to dropping out of the hobby; be prepared to spend around $1500 on HF gear and be on the air everyday. (C.) Be ready to have your feelings hurt,. Amateur Radio is not a “warm-and-fuzzy” hobby all the time, there are many radio ops who behave as nasty nit-pickers and know-it-alls.. (D.) Join as many local clubs as possible and keep up to date on what is happening in this hobby by reading QST other magazines and blogs. (E.) Aim for amateur radio achievement; I always suggest DXing and mention the ARRL DXCC program as an excellent means to do this by earning the basic DXCC certificate… Do not be that ham who has been licensed 30 years and has nothing to show others… I want to see every new person who earns a radio license to enjoy huge success and have fun for many year to come.

    I think newly licensed persons need this kind reality check before they start out. Too many people get into amateur radio thinking our hobby is as easy as manipulating their home entertainment system. I estimate about 80% of amateur radio license holders are completely “inactive” in the hobby. They dropped-out because they got into ham radio and discovered “somethings” that severely upset their tranquil, serene, warm-and-fuzzy, initial percepts of what amateur radio hopes to offer.. If anyone who wants to find near perfect civility in a hobby, they should consider Bird Watching.

  2. I think you’re right. The other day I forgot to push a button (you can guess which one). I noticed it right away, but I did get called an idiot. Really totally unnecessary. I wonder if someone had accidentally bumped into the guy on the street, would he have called the person an idiot? I don’t think so.

  3. Roger says:

    I have no problem at all with remote operation and using remotes for DXCC credit. At first I was concerned with remotes because to me, at least, the DXCC rules seemed ambiguous regarding the extent that remotes, while consistent with FCC rules, were able to count for DXCC. But several months ago the ARRL board of directors directed the DX desk to clarify the rules regarding remotes. The ARRL directors said [this is a paraphrase] “you can have your control point from the moon if you want; it is the location of the xmitter that counts” and also “DXers must be ethical in their operations when it comes to DXCC”.

    The ARRL never spelled out what is and is not “ethical” regarding using remotes during QSOs that will count for DXCC but we do know that operating remote is OK because you could have your control point anywhere — even the moon.

    So this leaves me asking the question. What is the potentially “unethical” behavior that the ARRL is talking about? Is there some type of use of remotes that the ARRL is thinking about that — at least as is applies to DXCC — that is “unethical” even though it is legal.

    In any case, I believe remotes provide one more item in the DXers toolkit. I don’t plan on using them because I worked out an agreement with my Home Owners Association such that I have a 40 foot tower with a log periodic as well as some inverted “V”s which allow me to participate in DXing with a semi-respectable signal. My current worked and confirmed DXCC count is about 328 — including a three or four deleted entities. My goal — which I think is obtainable within a few years – is to reach the bottom [not the top] of the honor roll. If I ever reach the place that I only need one more entity to reach the top of the honor roll — and after trying for a week to no avail from my home antenna farm to reach that rare DXpedition — then I might then consider using a remote operation.

    I totally support the “remote ham radio” group. They are providing a pathway into working DX for those who are in antenna restricted areas as well as those who are in nursing homes, away at school etc.

    73 Roger K5RKS

    • Roger AC6BW says:

      Here is an example of the unethical behavior that the ARRL is referring to:
      You live in Northern CA. You want to work E41, but you can’t hear them. You do hear multitudes of East Coast stations working them, though. So, you rent a remote station in New England, and you work E41 using your own call sign. You do NOT sign /1 onto your call sign, since the rules do not state that you have to. You apply for, and receive, the DXCC credit for an ATNO under your own call sign.

      This probably happens more than we may think. An easy solution would be to require that you sign portable to your call sign for the call district that the remote TX is located. That would create a new call for DXCC purposes, and the op would not be able to get DXCC credit under their home call.

      I am fortunate that I do not have to deal with any HOAs. I have a small yagi on a 35 ft push-up mast. I do fairly well with this setup, but I still can’t hear E41 from Northern CA (yet). I will continue to try. I would never consider using a remote, even if it were the last entity I needed for #1 Honor Roll, because I do consider that to be unethical.

  4. Roger says:

    I did not think that the idea of working E41XYZ from a remote in New England while you are in California would be “unethical” because the DXCC rules have for many-many years allowed you to move across the USA and still claim QSOs from all of those QTHs (and calls) toward your current callsign.

    For example in my case: I lived in Silicon Valley and worked my first 100 DXCC entities — Japan, Germany, South Africa, etc. using my old NQ6C call [that call has now be re-assigned]. When I moved here to Oklahoma I changed my call to K5RKS. My DXCC account right now contains QSOs from NQ6C [1986 – Dec 31, 2004] and K5RKS [Jan 1, 2005 to present]. So it has been OK for many years that a DXCC award can cover QSOs where your xmitter is in multiple locations as long as they are in the same entity.

    I am not arguing that this is the “same” as using remotes from New England, Gulf Coast, and West Coast ALL IN THE SAME DAY. But if you signed K5RKS/1, K5RKS/4, and K5RKS/6 during each of these QSOs and then setup your DXCC account to contain K5RKS, K5RKS/1, K5RKS/6, and K5RKS/4 then I think that this is “legal” according to the FCC and according to current DXCC rules. To my knowledge the ARRL has not stated whether operation such as this is “ethical” or not.

    • Chris NU1O says:

      Although you may have lived in CA and OK you were only able to experience propagation from one location at a time.

      There’s a huge difference if a ham in CA has no propagation to Palestine yet he remotes into the RHR station in upper NY state which does have propagation. And when CA and NY have no propagation to a DX station why not try another of their US stations?

      The ARRL DX Advisory Committee reached the conclusion that kind of propagation advantage was unfair.

      The ARRL Board was silent as to what’s ethical and unethical. Why are they even needed if they’re going to pass on controversial issues? The ARRL evidently thinks it’s a good idea that each of us use our own definition of ethical and unethical.

  5. John says:

    Remotes are great, I went from working only 60 countries in 2 years to now over 250 in just over a year by using remote ham. If I cannot hear a station from home I just log into the nearest remote to that country and then I can typically talk to the guy on the first call. Since I got my K3/0 remote head I don’t even use my 857d much anymore. All those big antennas and cables do not look good on my property and my wife does not like them, so I may scale back to just my first 2 meter antenna and get rid of the others. Only thing I need to do first is to upgrade my internet connection, it’s a bit slow but with the money I am saving on not having to buy more Ham gear it’s worth it, plus the wife and kids want faster internet. I am pretty sure that in another year I should be at least at 320-340 countries confirmed on eqsl and I also have real QSL cards from almost all of them. This hobby is great, I don’t know why people make such a big deal about remotes, they make things a lot easier and cheaper. I think that’s why CB became so much more popular than Ham Radio, because you do not need to spend a lot of money for everything. Maybe Remotes will make Ham Radio more popular with people if they know that it can be done without all the ugly wires and monster antennas and huge expenses.

    • n6pse says:

      John, I’m wondering how much of your post is your real view and how much is sarcasm?

    • Larry says:

      John, you are so right about remotes being great. Just yesterday I had a PL-259 fail on the coax going into the back of my radio. The technician told me it would be three weeks before he could come out and fix it. Three weeks! What was I supposed to do in the meantime? I thought to myself, now this is a case for remote stations. I whipped out my MasterCard and signed up for RHR. I didn’t even need one of those K3/0 doohickeys you have. I just did my DXing with my computer. Things were going great and then my internets stopped working. Fortunately for me there was another RHR subscriber nearby. I used his internets to work four new ones in one day. The guy in Ireland was really happy to work California on six meters, too. He said he thought the band was only open to New York, but when I confirmed our QSO on LoTW he was really happy to see that new state.

  6. Harry Edwards, W6DXO says:

    Paul, I completely agree with your comments regarding the level of emotion this subject has generated on-line. Our hobby is evolving and I for one am delighted to see it doing so.

    Waaaay back in my Novice days (WN6ZFQ) I remember looking at the big gun antennas in my community and thinking…wow, maybe someday. Well now I have all that stuff…big tower, big Yagi, etc., etc….BUT I had to build a second QTH in the country to escape antenna restrictions. If I had known then what I know now about remote base technology I would likely have taken a different approach.

    I completely embrace remote station control as well as the commercial enterprises doing the same. This isn’t “cheating”. If I wanted to keep living in the past I’d be running a spark gap rig and a super-regen receiver…and while we’re at it let’s do away with cluster spots and LOTW…Hey, it’s cheating if you don’t have to dodge the mail thieves and wait a year to get that rare card…;)

    de harry, W6DXO

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