Re: µBITX as a Tool for Recruiting New Hams

John McFadden <johnamcf@...>

I'm 36 and a chemical engineer by education (I'll also admit, I was not a big fan of my one electricity & magnetism class during undergrad), but a recent job change put me into the world of RF. Rather than slowly absorb it through PowerPoint at work, I decided to jump in with both feet and learn how it actually works. I sat for my technician and general in October of this year. The phone apps definitely helped study for the exams and now for learning CW.

Bitx is giving me a platform to try new things and do a lot more than just throw cash at HRO and walk out with an HF rig and antenna ready to run. It certainly dispels the "You need a $1,000 receiver to do HF" myth that many hams seem to perpetuate, even if at QRP levels.


On 12/15/2017 12:24 PM, Stephen Harrison wrote:

I'm 28, maybe I can share a bit of insight, being a millennial... I was first introduced to ham radio probably 20 years ago in cub scouts, found it fascinating.  The cost of entry was always the issue for me. 

In college I started playing around with the RTL-SDR dongles (~$25) and got really interested in decoding or listening to everything out there.. shortwave, air band, adsb, trunked p25, pagers, sstv, etc.  I built a lot of different antennas in this time and also learned a ton about radio and programming, mostly through reading websites and experimenting. 

I've always had a CB around for work or other reasons, and whenever I'd hear a signal from across the country I thought, "wow I really need to get in to ham radio, that's really cool."  I think about 3 years ago I came across the Baofeng HTs (~$35, yes I know..) and decided to finally get licensed. 

I used an app on my phone to study.  I'm a civil engineer, but the first few years of engineering school have a lot of overlap and I found the test to be very easy.  Probably the most fun I had was working SO-50 with a homemade yagi and my 5w HT shortly after I got my license.  Living in an apartment made it difficult to come up with a good HF antenna scheme.  Eventually I did get kind of bored with it. 

After moving to a house with space for an HF antenna, I came across the bitx40 which was a nice, affordable reason to go after my General.

I've tried to get a few friends in to it but so far it hasn't stuck with any of them.  One friend and I set up dipoles in our attics and put CBs in our houses so we could talk to each other, but that's as far as it went.  Another friend actually did get his Tech but still hasn't bought a radio.  I demonstrated working SO-50 to another friend who thought it was cool but wasn't really interested in pursuing a license.

Maybe that will help provide some insight?


On 12/15/2017 11:24 AM, Jack Purdum via Groups.Io wrote:
I changed the topic to narrow the focus. You're right, Joe, the social media sites have a lock on young people. My club gives the FCC exams every month (except Dec.) for free and we always have people show up; sometimes as many as three dozen. Most are going for the Tech license to get their toe wet. Then they buy a 2M HT and we never see them again. I did run into one guy almost a year later and asked how he was enjoying his license. He said: "I haven't done anything for the past several months. It doesn't even let me do what my cell phone does." We need to get Tech's more than just a small slice of 10M in the HF spectrum. Otherwise, I think they are missing out on 90% of what ham radio has to offer. When I was a Novice, we had small chunks of HF (e.g., 40M) to play with. True, you were rock-bound and limited to 75W and CW, but I spent almost all of my time on 40M. Britain has had more success than we have with young people, and I think part of the reason is because they give their Tech-equivalent hams small slices of spectrum on all bands, including HF. They are limited to 5W, but at least they can chase DX. Other than the rare atmospheric events, DX on 2M is a couple of counties away with the HT that most end up buying.

I look around at my club and I can almost hear the arteries calcifying. I can say that 'cuz I'm two years younger than dirt so I know the aging membership issues quite well. We need some younger members; perhaps younger than those who are recently married and starting their families. The real solution: I don't know, but there are things we can do. I have a FB account, but probably use it twice a year. I'm not on Twitter. I need to root around there for a while and see what I can do for the cause.

Jack, W8TEE

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