US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Talk about radio and non radio stuff in here, a place for Genral Chit Chat

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby m0lsx » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:37 am

lars wrote: If I were to propose, for example, that one lane of the M1 between, say, London and Peterborough were to be reserved exclusively for members of the Amateur Car-Builders Society to test their contraptions, I doubt that I would get much traction. But, in effect, that is what we are asking for in AR. We're asking for a chunk of a shared resource -- and a world-wide shared resource at that -- to be allocated exclusively to esoteric and non-practical purposes. That's going to be increasingly difficult to justify unless AR is either (a) socially or economically useful, or (b) has a broad membership.


OK, lets use that M1 example. What these people who want to dum down the hobby are asking for, is not that a car club is allowed exclusive use of a road or a lane of that road. But that the driving licence requirement is dropped altogether for those incapable capable of passing the required test.
Under your logic lets drop the requirements for the HGV or PSV driving licence down to that of a moped.
Do you fancy sharing the road with a heavy haulage vehicle were the driver cannot pass a medical or the basic driving test, just because some fool dummed the requirement down? Or how about allowing someone to drive a double decker bus on a provisional licence & a one day course like you can with a moped?
Do you remember the Glasgow dustcart accident of 2014? An HGV / PSV driver has to take regular medicals & neds to pass a stiffer test than most others, plus abide by stiffer rules, For example loose your driving licence & you get your licence back after the specified period with car, motorbike, moped etc. But not always with a HGV or a PSV. The Traffic Commissioners have a say on if that happens or not.
Radio amateurs are allowed a lot of privileges, it is not just black box operation, it is not restricted in the many ways that others are. That is because radio amateurs are trained & should understand what they are doing.
The use of wideband transceivers, even handheld transceivers, needs a level of understanding, to do so safely. Just look at some of the posts that have been made on this forum in the past by one or two individuals who have brought cheap transceivers off ebay with no knowledge, then you will see the reason why training is needed, even for small handheld radios.
Others can have their legal use of radio removed, if radio amateurs lack the knowledge to operate to a basic minimum standard.
If people want licence free radio then there is CB & 446.
In the same way you cannot drive a PSV or HGV or fly a small aircraft on a basic one day course, but you can ride a moped. Amateur radio licensing rules & requirements are different to CB for a reason & need to remain stiffer & different.
Buy a database from Kimmy JS19 via http://ukscanningdirectory.co.uk/
Or do Google search of this forum via https://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=partner-pub-6291336405621919:2662881632
73 De Alan (M0LSX.)
http://www.qrz.com/db/M0LSX"
User avatar
m0lsx
 
Posts: 5420
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:14 pm
Location: Norwich. TG21.

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby lars » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:56 pm

I'm not sure I intended my analogy to stretch that far; but let's see if we can pull its ends a little harder...

Access to road vehicles should of course focus on safety; and of course there are broader safety implications in driving an HGV than in driving a moped. But in neither case, so far as I am aware, are driving test candidates required to demonstrate that they know anything about the technology of their vehicles. My driving instructor back in the 70s told me that the purpose of the clutch pedal was to squirt oil into the ash-tray; apparently most of his pupils never challenged this, and it did not stop them driving adequately. Of course, anybody with even the slightest grasp of mechanical engineering would surely wonder why the ash-tray needed to be lubricated on each gear-change; but I suspect that most driving pupils did not (and probably still do not) know what a gearbox actually does anyway.

When I was learning to fly, however, I did have to demonstrate an understanding of the physics and engineering of flight. It's much less easy to fly a light aircraft by a series of rules and procedures learned parrot-fashion than it is to drive a car. You need to understand, for example, the effects that motion and weather have on your instruments, and be able to take account of that. You need to know about mass, weight, and centre-of-gravity to be able to carry cargo and passengers safely, etc.

The licensing conditions at foundation level should, in my view, require nothing more or less than a demonstration that the applicant can use 10W safely. There's no more reason for such a person to know circuit theory, or how to calculate the tuning length of a dipole, than there is for a driving test candidate to know what a spark plug does. If I cut my dipole wrongly then my transmitter won't work very well, and might even be damaged. But that isn't a safety problem, except to my bank balance.

Of course, 400W really does require some technical knowledge to use safely, just as flying an aeroplane does, and this should be tested.

I think a lot of long-term AR users get annoyed when newcomers don't understand the non-legal rules and etiquette. I can understand that but, again, it's not a safety issue. We don't take people's driving licences away because they drive metallic blue cars with fins on the back, with the windows down and crappy music blaring. Although, arguably, we should.

I agree that the foundation licence is a lot of licence for 19 correct multiple choice questions; but I suspect it is that way because abuse of 10W is unlikely to result in a life-threatening emergency. Irritation, yes; but on the whole we don't legislate to prevent people being irritated.
lars
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:03 am

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby m0lsx » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:06 pm

lars wrote: I agree that the foundation licence is a lot of licence for 19 correct multiple choice questions; but I suspect it is that way because abuse of 10W is unlikely to result in a life-threatening emergency. Irritation, yes; but on the whole we don't legislate to prevent people being irritated.


10 watts of power is only 10 watts of power into an antenna with no gain & foundation licensees are allowed to use 10 watts from the radio, not ERP. The legal ERP of a foundation licensee can be many times that 10 watts. And any issues are only likely to result in no life threatening emergency provided the licensee understands the rules & operates legally. Which most Foundation licensees currently do.
Even 5 watts of power into a radio where the user does not understand how to use a band plan & thus where they do not know where the band edges are, can easily result in a life threatening situation, especially where poor quality radios like the current crop of cheap far eastern radios are concerned.
I know two G stations who were investigated by Ofcom after they disrupted the radios of aircraft landing at Norwich Airport. They were operating a Scout Special Event Station & using a legal 2 meter radio & a legal & small amplifier giving an output of around 25 watts. I seem to remember.
Believe it or not an issue with the coax patch lead between the linear & the radio exassibated issues in the linear, which was clean & safe to use until that coax patch lead was used & a simple issue with the patch lead caused some big interference issues on the Norwich ATC frequency.
Imagine that if they had not used callsigns, or if they had been using CB slang, so they were harder to track down. As it was they had a visit by the airport, stopped using the radio immediately & then had a follow up visit & investigation by Ofcom, which cleared them of anything but bad luck.
I have no issues with the foundation licence level, but it should not be a long term licence, but renewed like a provisional motorbike licence, after a check to ensure they still know the rules.
My issue is with those who want to down grade the licence system even more, which is what is being proposed in America at the moment.
Buy a database from Kimmy JS19 via http://ukscanningdirectory.co.uk/
Or do Google search of this forum via https://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=partner-pub-6291336405621919:2662881632
73 De Alan (M0LSX.)
http://www.qrz.com/db/M0LSX"
User avatar
m0lsx
 
Posts: 5420
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:14 pm
Location: Norwich. TG21.

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby lars » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:10 pm

Sure, I understand your point, and to some extent I share your view.

However, justifying the allocation of spectrum space for non-economic, hobby activities is only possible if a substantial body of people are prepared to fight for it. And that has to start with a substantial number of people doing it -- there has to be a measure of self-interest to make it worth getting out of bed for.

My experience is that most people who grew up after the 70s aren't particularly interested in how things work. That's not their fault -- we have created a world that is so technologically sophisticated that we have disempowered them. Even kitchen appliances are more advanced than a mainframe computer of the 70s. It is impossible to understand any of the technology that surrounds us without being a specialist in some particular area. You push the button and it works. If it doesn't, you throw it away an buy another one -- it only cost a fiver anyway.

What seems to be happening in the US is a move to "commodify" AR, to generate interest by selling it as something that is actually useful. The tacit subtext there (and in the RSGB here) is that, if you can attract young(er) people as casual operators, you will gradually interest them in the technology, and eventually we will be back in a position where AR is seen as primarily a technical, self-training activity. _It won't work_. The under-30s are just not bothered about technology.

My son, who is as smart a young man as you could hope to meet, has never been able to get his head around even Ohm's law. He's grown up in a world where things like "current" are just meaningless, abstract concepts. He's never connected anything to a battery -- even the lamps on his bicycle are self-contained, throwaway items. He's never changed a plug, or known what is inside one, because it's now unlawful to sell an appliance without a plug. When I was at school, I could see that the tedious experiments we did with resistors and batteries were demonstrating the same concepts that made our appliances -- radios and TVs and whatnot -- actually work. You could look in the back of the TV set and see the resistors. These days the conceptual gap between what you can demonstrate in a classroom, and what you actually use, is unbridgeable. If you look in your mobile phone you won't see any resistors. Or, most likely, any wires. Even the battery doesn't look like something you find in a school physics class. I take if for granted that electronic apparatus is made up of components -- things you can connect together in particular ways to get particular behavior. But even that is not intuitively obvious any more -- again, where are the components in your mobile phone? If there are any, they are miniaturized to the extent that you need a microscope to see them.

So the kind of really fundamental stuff about electronics and radio -- the stuff you can actually teach -- simply doesn't connect to anything in the real world. It's difficult and boring to learn about stuff that you can't connect in any way to everyday experience.

I don't know if opening up AR to a wider bunch of less technically-minded people will save it from extinction. Maybe it won't. But I'm sure that trying to defend the use of public, shared resources by a dwindling bunch of technophiles is fighting a losing battle.
lars
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:03 am

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby G4RMT » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:08 am

I like the flying analogy - I tried to learn to fly three time in my life. The ground school stuff was no problem - studied, researched and got there - even the nav stuff was ok once I got to grips with it, but it was really hard work. The comms stuff was just a case of 'unlearning' a bit and re-learning it differently.

Trouble is I'm actually rubbish - TOTAL rubbish at flying. I was throwing money at it and making tiny amounts of progress, but more often falling backwards in that something else I had managed, suddenly just went. I have no spacial awareness. The instructor would suddenly cover the altimeter with his hand and say - how high? I'd gained 1000 feet and not noticed. Then I'd be flying straight and level and happy - he'd then ask me what was the town to our left, I'd missed fifteen miles and had no idea where I was. The one who finally told me I should give up was very happy for me to do the planning and the comms for the journey - this I managed 100%. I was pretty good at going up. Once up, however, it always went to cock, and I never ever managed to even get into a lined up position to even attempt a landing. I knew how to do it, I knew where I needed to be, I could match what I saw against the charts - but I just couldn't get the aircraft into that space. I can't do the simulators either.

Ham wise, I quite like the idea of advancement through the license levels, stopping when you begin to get out of your comfort zone, but it was a shock to see how hard it was to get on the HF, worldwide bands - as in the end point of the journey made available to anyone capable of memorising a few very simple facts.

My B class exam needed serious maths - which at 22, I found really, really hard. Being given values of capacitors, resistors and inductors and required to calculate the frequency they produced in combination was damn hard. I do see the point in an easier exam, but it should provide just Baofeng to Baofeng ability - a kind of PMR446-PLUS. More power, aerials and extra bands on demonstration you improved your ability.
G4RMT
 
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby m0lsx » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:19 pm

G4RMT wrote:I do see the point in an easier exam, but it should provide just Baofeng to Baofeng ability - a kind of PMR446-PLUS. More power, aerials and extra bands on demonstration you improved your ability.


That may actually increase activity on some of the bands as well.
For me foundation should be 10 meters & up only. Both 10 & 6 meters give great International coverage & 2 gives good all year round UK & near European coverage with little effort or equipment. Plus of course the likes of Satellites, Echolink etc gives good simple & cheap alternatives to SSB.
Foundation licencees use to be limited with bands. 10 meters for example was not permitted, plus foundation licence holders could not pass third party messages, so to take part in Raynet they needed a Intermediate licence. There use to be an advantage to moving through the levels other than watts. And that is not there now.

Edited to add. If it were for a very dummed down licence, I would not allow use of Baofeng type radios. As they need a knowledge of band plans to use safely. I would only allow the use of unmodified amateur radio equipment designed for use exclusively on amateur radio bands & to avoid excuses, I would also say only equipment bought new, which then removes the "I brought it second hand & did not realsie it was capable of that" excuse.
Buy a database from Kimmy JS19 via http://ukscanningdirectory.co.uk/
Or do Google search of this forum via https://www.google.com/cse/home?cx=partner-pub-6291336405621919:2662881632
73 De Alan (M0LSX.)
http://www.qrz.com/db/M0LSX"
User avatar
m0lsx
 
Posts: 5420
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:14 pm
Location: Norwich. TG21.

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby lars » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:21 pm

I guess it would be hard to exclude 10m, since CB is similar, allows 12W, and is unlicensed.

But, in general, I don't see a problem with having a Baofeng-to-Baefeng licence category for people with no technical interest. My recollection is that the US "technician" licence has similar restrictions. It seems reasonable to me that people who want to operate HF should have to get to grips with propagation and some theory related to antenna design and tuning.

I certainly see no problem with demanding a reasonable technical knowledge from people who want to operate at high powers and in ways that could be very disruptive. My concern is only that if you try to sell an entry-level licence as the first stage of a technical training program, rather than something useful in itself, you're not going to get a lot of interest from the under-40s.

Incidentally, my flying career went much the same way as G4RMT's -- I could handle the plane tolerably well, and could usually make a "great" landing (i.e., one where you could use the plane again). But the idea of flying beyond the local area on my own gave me panic attacks. Once in the air, I had absolutely no idea where I was. In those days light aircraft didn't have GPS, so you really need an idea where you'll be facing if you turned right. I used to be amazed that instructors could say "that's Manchester down there, and Birmingham under the port wing;" and then I realized that everybody could do that, except me. I often get lost within two miles of my house, so you can imagine how I handle a situation where you can cover a hundred miles in half an hour.
lars
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:03 am

Re: US new licensed hams - knowledge level pathetic

Postby G4RMT » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:20 pm

Annoyingly, one of my old college students, who then worked for me for a year or two, got left some money in a will to do something silly - and he learned how to fly. He now has a business producing those videos you get when you fly a spitfire, or other precious aircraft from places like Duxford. So he flies as part of his business. Constantly getting experience in magic aircraft - and attaching things to them. I make a much better passenger than a pilot, I've discovered.

I did a course on helicopter camerawork with the late ex-BBC Mike Smith, and part of the requirement is that anybody sitting in the spare seat should at least be capable of keeping the thing in the air, just in case. I failed the test. The helicopter hovered over a manhole on the airfield at 500ft. In the monitor is the view from the camera pod. The task? To keep that manhole in the frame for 30 seconds. I got the record. "You have control" - 2 secs later the manhole had gone, and I never got it back! My friend managed it, and did loads of aerial work for them. I got none!
Paul
G4RMT
 
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:45 pm

Previous

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests