Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Will a Beginners licence cure the slump in new radio amateurs?

Page last updated on: Friday, October 18, 2019
Will a Beginners licence cure the slump in new radio amateurs?

The number getting their UK Foundation licence has slumped in the past 13 years. In this YouTube video RSGB VHF Manager John Regnault G4SWX discusses his proposal for a Beginners Amateur Radio Licence

1892 newcomers gained their Foundation licence in 2005 but there were only 1366 in 2018 a drop of 28%. At the same time the RadCom Silent Keys column shows the death-rate of amateurs has increased. Take into account the natural churn in the hobby as people leave to pursue other interests and it's clear the number of newcomers is insufficient to cover those being lost - the hobby is in decline.

It has been suggested we need at least 2,000 newcomers each year just to maintain current activity levels and even now the VHF/UHF bands can be very quiet most of the time. To grow the hobby and increase activity at VHF/UHF we need many more than that.

Watch A beginners UK amateur radio licence?

New UK Entry Level Licence proposed

Read the report on the Future & Growth of Amateur Radio presentations given at the RSGB Convention on October 13

Japan's Class 4 ham radio licence

Can online ham radio exams improve accessibility?

Ham Chat UK - Discuss the future of amateur radio

Slump? On HF the bands are always very busy during contest weekends. The membership of one group I belong to, the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) has grown tremendously and now has over 20,000 members. And that's for Morse Code. The death of CW/Morse has been grossly exaggerated for years.

But I agree that the 2-meter, 70-cm bands have declined in activity - a lot! Repeaters that once were busy have fallen silent. Cellphones and Internet chat have made these bands less attractive, especially to young people. I believe that making the ham exams easier to pass creates a pool of licensed people who may have only a casual and fleeting interest in the hobby.

Before I was licensed, applicants had to sit in front of an examiner and demonstrate a thorough understanding of radio technology. When I was a child in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s ham equipment was not available. Amateurs had to convert WW2 surplus military equipment (e.g. the famous No 19 set that was also used by the Canadian military) for ham use. You had to be really dedicated to the hobby back then.

Maybe there is a case for creating a new class of license that only tests knowledge of the rules and regulations, instead of the technology. It would be applicable for those who just like to rag-chew on a repeater or who enjoy using RF to access Internet-based communications like DMR. That might expand participants in the hobby and - who knows - some of them might develop an interest in learning more about radio technology itself.

IMHO over reliance on the Internet will backfire someday. The Internet will be one of the first victims in any future global conflict. It is just too vulnerable. A deep understanding of RF propagation and how to use it will become very valuable then. So let's reinforce radio experimentation and skills development so that "when all else fails there's ham radio".

John, VA3KOT
Volunteer GBARC Net Manager
SKCC #11989T NAQCC #7155 FISTS #19777
May the Morse be with you.

Licencing could cerently be reworked.  I have trouble maintaining my knowladge.  But that applies to all aspectis of my life.  When I was trucking full time, I could recite regulations as if I was an evengalest quoating book and verse.  But now, when it comes time to renew my commercial licences, It's a stressfull study perid.  I am a licenced mechanic.  I don't do it full time, and as such, anything more complicated then an oil and lube job takes me longer then it really should.  The more complicated the repair, the more looking things up that I have to do.  I know that a final exam that I would never beable to get a passing grade on again unless I had done several months of refresher study.  Hunting regulations, I used to know them inside and out.  Bjut there have been so many changes, and I have not kept up.   Ham radio, well, I am not a shining example.  And now serving as the club president, my lack of know how, or know about really bothers me.  I've signed up for the online advanced course through RAC.  I've dusted off the text book.  The head aches that it gives me are just as intense now, as they were when I bought the book a number of years ago.  So.  Where does that leave me.  Do I just have a lack of suffecent intrest in any and all of the above actitivitys, am I ageing far more quickly then I should be?  Given the health problems I've had this past year, maybe I've had a stroke?  No, no stroke.  My lack of ability to hold knowladge has plauged me for as long as I can remember.  I have a keen intrest in repeaters, I would like to see the repeater system inproved.  I believe that if our repeaters worked better, and were linked better, they would see more use.  That take knowladge and money.  Something that our clubs lacks.  I'm trying to get my advanced, so that I can get more involved in the repeater lockations and operations.  I have no desire to build or rebuild components of the repeater.  I have a desire enough to say, Yep, Part X is not doing as it should, but all it's conections are good, and fellow componets are functioning as they should, change it.  Much like at work.  I have not rebuilt a starter or alternator sence highschool.  I remove and replavce it.  And they are far less involving.  Abs system problem, through the scanner on, inputs all good, change the controler, inputer missing from one sensor, check the harness, replace the senceso.  There is no designing cercituts, or assemblings bits in to a componant.  I have taken 3 starters and made one.  But that was out of desperation.  The other two were then sent out to be rebuilt.  And such is how I feel about HAM radio.  I'm not prepairing for the apopalix, I'm chatty (inspite of my quite nature), and I'm social (again inspite of my nature).  I'm not interested in fixing radios, I'll replace them, or send them to be fixed.  But without proving on a tests then I can take the covers off and test each bit, and assemble one on paper, I'm not able to own, host, operate a repeater.  Why we're not allowed to learn the regulations, buy three radios, a controler, an amp, and some filters, and assemble the components makes not sence to me.  So, I endevor to learn abunch of stuff I doubt that I will ever use, so that I can do something that makes logical sence.  And now, I sound like a high school student to my self.  So maybe in the end, it is a lack of intrest.  What do I know.  But I do think, that if I could operate at repeater with my Basic with honors, which I do feel that I am compantant to do, would I need an advanced.  No, I do not think it would be of intrest to me.I just have too many other things compeating for my time.  Had it not been for covid 19, I would not have concidered this online course.  I would see it as too expencive both in terms of money spent, as well as time spent.  I do not expect to pass, but, I'll be closer to it.

I'll not spell check this entry, I'll leave it as it is, as an explnation as to why I do prusue CW more agressivly.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)