Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Technology is good for ham radio!

This post is a direct reply to G4ILO's neo-luddite post on his blog entitled "Is technology good for ham radio?" In it, he makes the startling comment, "The more high-tech ham radio becomes, the less magic there is."

Let me put it in short, simple words: there is no magic in ham radio. Ham radio is nothing but technology. Without technology, ham radio is nothing.

Yes, Julian makes a legitimate point regarding the possibility of amateur radio turning into poor copies of existing networks, and I agree with him on the lack of merit of D*STAR specifically. However, there is just as much "magic" in getting a network that combines computer and radio technologies up and running as there is in sending CW with a transmitter made out of parts salvaged from a compact fluorescent lightbulb.  Of course we need to keep the ability to do it "simple", because the complicated ways are, fundamentally, built on top of the simple ways. But that doesn't mean we have to stop at simple, and in fact if we do we shoot ourselves in the foot. (It should be noted that Julian states that he uses PSK31 and other digital modes, all of which are less than ten years old or so, so even he doesn't practice what he preaches.)

It never fails to amuse and amaze me how luddite some hams are. I just don't understand how someone who, thirty or forty or fifty years ago, was using a totally newfangled technology to do something can, now, today, be totally unwilling to even entertain the notion that there might be some merit to the newfangled way of doing things.