More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Real Full Fat Radio (no artificial ingredients)

Julian G4ILO comments on his blog about an article called "I've got my hobby back" and subtitled "CQ100 is an option for hams that can't get on the bands" published by none other than the ARRL. Pardon me he says, but I thought the first "R" in ARRL stood for "Radio." By encouraging the idea that unless you can put up outside antennas you'd be better off playing fake ham radio on the Internet the ARRL is doing the entire hobby a disservice. Let's hope the government agencies don't get wind of this or someone may start to wonder why we need all that valuable spectrum space at all.

Julian seems to have walked firmly up to the hornet’s nest and given it a damn good kicking and I must say I agree with him 100%. There is nothing wrong with CQ100 but the way the thing work is all a bit silly.

I have heard one or two regular nets using it (or something similar) on 80m when the band was a bit dead to keep those on the reception fringes in the loop and I have heard stations come on to 20m who arranged a hook up over either CQ100 or Echolink so these services do have their place in real radio too.

If you think that maybe you might one day hook up and get into an interesting QSO with a DX station that you might never hear again. These VOIP services give us the chance to finish a conversation that was lost to fading signals.

Personally I have only ever bothered with Echolink for the purpose of listening in to distant repeaters when things are quiet on the ten or so bands I usually monitor. At least that does not have a daft radio style interface and most users don't pretend they are on the radio when the make a direct link.

I occasionally rant on about how repeaters are not real radio and often I am using a repeater at the time, it can be fun. It usually happens when some idiot tells me I am 5/9 - Duh! No the repeater is 5/9.

The truth is real radio or not repeaters and VOIP can be fun and the whole idea of any hobby is to enjoy ourselves. What worries me more is the divide and conquer syndrome; There so many different aspects to amateur radio that we become thin on the ground as we all practice our personal areas of interest. If we lose some to Echolink, some to CQ100 and some to D-Star etcetera soon the bands will start becoming a desert like 23cms. You at one time used to struggle to find a space on two metres on either FM or SSB in my area now you struggle to find a contact.


  1. Hello Steve, we all love radio in the old fashion way. Just my HF transceiver and a straight key. I got my license in 1976 and have been SWL since 1964. In the meantime there is a progression in technique. In principle we like 'wireless' communication. Or an eyeball qso at the club. Nowadays we can communicate with Internet or mobile telephone. I think we can use it in a certain way combined with the radio hobby. Such as CQ100, OK a bit silly to pretend you transmit with a transceiver on e.g. 80 meter, but in the other way people with the same interested in radio can communicate with each other. Why not. It becomes a define discussion what is ham radio. Everybody must do what he likes to do. There is a lot of choices nowadays and everybody is doing his thing. Nothing wrong with it. And indeed, in the eighties I could hardly find free space on 2 meter, Now the band seems to be abandoned, nothing to hear, even repeaters are silent. Where is everybody? What will be the future of ham radio? What will happen when our generation is silent key? And the sun refuses the produce sunspots anymore? CQ100 is the future or something like that, maybe... 73, Paul PC4T

  2. I agree with most of that, Steve. I wasn't aware that people were providing gateways from CQ100 to radio. But as far as finishing a QSO I think more people are likely to be signed up to the free Skype service than members of CQ100's commercial one.

    I am uneasy about the extent to which the internet encroaches upon ham radio and devalues the radio aspect of it. You raise the issue of lack of activity on two metres these days. The internet has already just about killed off packet radio. My concern is that newcomers to the hobby will find chatting to people half way round the world using CQ100 more interesting than trying to make a morse code contact with Germany using 5 watts to a bit of wire tacked round the picture rail, and people will start to question why we even need these radio frequencies.