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Kill amateur radio. Put it out of its misery once and for all.

As a lot of you out there know, I’m a ham radio operator. It’s a passing fancy of mine that goes very well with the general modus operandi of “tinkerer”: it’s allegedly a hobby about building and experimenting with radio technologies.

A whole lot of people (most of whom have nothing to do with the hobby of amateur radio as defined by regulatory bodies) have discovered that the Raspberry Pi can do a great job of generating a FM signal suitable for basically making a “pirate radio throwie“: a disposable device that generates a modest signal that can be heard on FM radios within a short radius.

“Huzzah!” I say to these experimenters and their toys. I salute any effort to promote the radio arts.. and I would love to take every one under my wing and show them how with a few simple extra parts (a low-pass filter and a transistor or two) they can make their signal slightly stronger.. and a whole lot cleaner for everyone on the radio dial.

So I recently get the crazy idea that, since this is in essence a 100% “software defined radio” it should be trivial to rework the “pifm” software into doing some bidding for me as an APRS device. If a wideband FM stereo signal can be generated, it’s just a matter of tweaking the bandwidth down to “narrowband” FM. I would as a matter of course add aforementioned “filtering” before I ever put this thing in amateur radio usage… but fundamentally it seems to me to be a logical conclusion, a fun weekend project, and even more importantly something to dust off the old brain cells and improve my skills as a radio geek.

God help me for the responses I’ve been getting on Reddit for *gasp* even considering it and vocalizing my intentions (and also wondering if I was reinventing the wheel).

Out came the Old Men of Henry Radio types, blasting me for even suggesting it. “Go buy a $20 transmitter that pretends it’s a real radio,” one response said.

So with that tone and attitude I simply have come to the conclusion that I can no longer support amateur radio as a hobby, and further, it needs to be killed. “Ham radio operators” are killing inventive ideas actively, and discouraging experimentation? What crazy wacko world do I live in where the very place we’re supposed to be innovative and cutting edge is the place I’m discouraged from even thinking about something that is expanding our knowledge of how to put a signal on the air.

So, since that’s the attitude of most hams nowadays, I can no longer support this hobby in any shape or form. And to that end, I’m even going to encourage its destruction. The next time there’s a Notice regarding the ham spectrum, my response to the FCC is going to be:

[ham] radio no longer serves the general good and has become nothing more than a waste of spectrum: mostly because the denizens of the spectrum today no longer encourage active experimentation and expanding of the radio art and instead discourage experiments and are hostile to young minds wanting to explore.

It’s time for these old men to turn off their old radios, hang up their antique microphones, and get out of the way of progress.

One Comment

  1. Archturiat wrote:

    FWIW, I deleted my post on /r/amatuurradio, and I unsubscribed. I’m done with the hobby as a whole, at least the sanctioned activities. I’m going back to where I started as a teenager, playing with radio IN SPITE OF the existence of “ham radio.” I don’t need a bunch of people putting me down for simply asking “why” and “how”: that’s why I got an amateur license in the first place.

    Monday, December 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

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