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  #61   Report Post  
Old May 3rd 07, 08:01 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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wrote on Wed, 2 May 2007 23:36:41 EDT

On May 2, 9:52?pm, wrote:
On Apr 26, 5:49?am, wrote:



There's not been ten cents worth of promotion of the new
licenure requirements in the non-Amateur press, ie: Pop Science, Pop
Mechanics, etc etc etc...


Do those mags even exist anymore? What's their circulation?


Popular Science and Popular Mechanics are both newsstand
periodicals and my barber and my dentist include those in their
waiting area. :-) By scan of their contents, both seem to cover
whatever high-tech is "in" regarding all of science and technology.

At one time in the 1940s and 1950s, Popular Science did have
a few hobby projects concerning radio and home music systems
(of their day), none of them more complicated than using one to
three vacuum tubes. The largest such article that I recall was a
multi-part construction article of a (then) wideband (10 MHz or so)
oscilloscope authored by John Wood Campbell, then Editor in
Chief of Astounding Science Fiction magazine (later "Analog").



Nope...I think we're getting all the "influx" now that we will.
I've said it before and here it is again...Amateur Radio does NOT need
"big numbers"...We need to have QUALITY licensees..


Why can't we have both?


What defines "quality?" That is a popular descriptor yet is not
defined
fully by any of its users.

All who are licensed in a particular radio service should obey the
applicable laws concerning that radio service. As to what they
do within that radio service should be up to the individual. The FCC
gives all licensed U.S. radio amateurs quite a bit of freedom to do
what the individual wants to do. As such, the "quality" aspect would
seem largely subjective on the part of whoever uses that word.



And even if FCC could somehow be convinced to take over the whole test
preparation and administration process, somebody could just repeat
Dick Bash's tricks of 30+ years ago, and the tests wouldn't stay
secret.


That's a presumption that Mr. Bash was the only one to do "tricks."
It belies the hard-cover "Q and A" books that were available as far
back as the 1950s. Those "Q and A" books were available on all
current classes of FCC tests and a number of state licensing tests
for various state licenses.

Point of personal history: I tried to get one for the FCC Commercial
license test in 1956, but local bookstores did not have them
available. I borrowed the (then format) FCC Regulations loose-leaf
binder and memorized as much as possible of the entire set as
applied to all. There were fewer radio services then than 51 years
later.


The one thing that *can* be done is to make the pools so big that it's
easier to learn the material than to learn the test.


A popular presumption is that all "just memorize the questions and
answers" prior to a test. That is difficult to prove since each
applicant's efforts are unique to the individual. Certainly certain
regulations must be memorized. However the questions regarding
theory and operation depend on the experience and previous
knowledge of each individual.

As to the actual number of questions-answers in the pools, the
following are hand counts of all three current question pools from
a print-out of them made prior to my 25 February 2007 exam:

Technician: 35 questions, Minimum required in pool 350, Actual
number in pool 392. Ratio of pool to test questions = 11.20:1

General: 35 questions, Minimum required in pool 350, Actual
number in pool 485. Ratio of pool to test questions = 13.86:1

Extra: 50 questions, Minimum required in pool 500, Actual
number in pool 802. Ratio of pool to test questions = 16.04:1

All three classes: 120 questions total, Minimum required (total)
1200, Actual number in pool 1679. Ratio of pools to test
questions 13.99:1 average.

Note: The above is not a scientific study and the actual count may
be
off by a few questions. As it is now (General will change in
mid-2007),
the actual pool question quantity is over the minimum regulatory
number of ten pool choices per required test question, all classes.

I have been suggesting elsewhere (for several years) that a "cure"
for
the presumption that all "just memorize the pool to pass" is to
increase the QP size. Very few commented on that elsewhere.
I don't personally believe in that presumption yet it is frequently
stated by others elsewhere.

To some degree the increase in QP size that has already been done
by the NCVEC Question Pool Committee. Having had a recent
exposure to all three class pools in a test environment, I would
judge
that the NCVEC QPC has done a good job overall for the current QPs.
In review, post-test, I would say that the NCVEC QPC has introduced
enough 'distractor' questions to make an applicant pay closer
attention to both questions and choice of answers.

Considering the present-day scope of possible activity by licensed
radio amateurs in the U.S., the type and kind of questions in a
NCVEC QP can have a large variety. Part 97 Title 47 CFR gives
licensees that variety. The choice of which questions to include can
be difficult under such a situation...especially so when there is
random choice of which questions to include within a specific type
and kind on any exam.

Anyone can submit questions to the QPC.


Their website is at www.ncvec.org

73, Len AF6AY


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Old May 4th 07, 12:22 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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wrote:

Nope...I think we're getting all the "influx" now that we will.


The decline in licensing continues unabated.

With the exception of a minor uptick in October '06, the number of licensed
amateurs has been in decline since '03
..
Feb 07: 655,477. Mar 07: 655,048 Apr 07: 654,940

Where are the "hoards of technically savvy" people in the wings "just
waiting for the code requirement to disappear"?


I've said it before and here it is again...Amateur Radio does NOT need
"big numbers"...We need to have QUALITY licensees...That means solid
skills and a NON-COMPROMISED question pool like we have today.


Exactly. History has proven time and time again that quality, not quantity,
is the solution to most problems.


73
kh6hz

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Old May 5th 07, 05:02 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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wrote:
Nope...I think we're getting all the "influx" now that we will.


The decline in licensing continues unabated.

With the exception of a minor uptick in October '06, the number of licensed
amateurs has been in decline since '03
.
Feb 07: 655,477. Mar 07: 655,048 Apr 07: 654,940


I disagree with the above. Based just on the www.hamdata.com info
(as opposed to ARRL "active-only" listings), the number of new
licensees is now above the number of expirations. As of 3 May 07
the New v. Expiration numbers for USA licensees a

Last 30 days (total): New = 2,742 Expirations = 2,658

Last 60 days (total): New = 6, 417 Expirations = 5.494

Last 90 days (total): New = 8,972 Expirations = 7,767

Compared to the total number of licensees of 2 years prior
(total of 733,147) there are 10,957 fewer licensees as of 3 May 07.
The drop in total licensees is about 1.5% in two years.

By my observation, the trend of newcomers surpassing the
number of expirations in the USA appears to have begun. Yes,
it may be "a statistical anamoly" in numbers but the only way
to prove such a refutation is to jump ahead to 2008 and
produce numbers from then, something not yet within scientific
grasp. :-)


Where are the "hoards of technically savvy" people in the wings "just
waiting for the code requirement to disappear"?


I'm not sure that was anything but some convenient scapegoat
phrase (i.e., 'urban myth') used by those desiring the
continuation of the status quo as of the early 1990s.

The hordes of "technically-savvy people" are busily engaged in
a number of very technical avocations in areas like: Personal
computing (both hardware and software), Robotics (of more
tangible appeal to youngsters), Automotive electronics,
Amateur Scientific experimentation, Radio-control, Music
Systems from guitar amplifiers to high-end sound systems,
Home Security Systems, just to name a few. Add to those
Blog maintenance and web-surfing and non-electronic-but-
technically-complex hobbies like genealogy and computer
graphics construction (of photos as well as original art) and
all of the above is just a tip of the iceberg of interesting and
challenging personal activities available to all in the last two
decades.

Personal radio communication without the available infra-
structure of other personal communications means has been
faced with a great deal of competition for everyone's free time.
Amateur radio - in and of itself in the old paradigms - hasn't
come up with enough attraction to be competitive in the hobby
area. Having always been older than the FCC, I can recall
that amateur radio was an attractive hobby in the 1950s and
1960s. That was the 'baby boomer' era where youngsters
were made aware of "radio" and the ability to talk around the
world. But, that high-technology of its time was 50 to 40
years ago and technology of communications has made
several quantum jumps in abilities of all to communicate
since then. The Internet went public in 1991, just 16 years
ago, has now become part and parcel of USA society today.

"Technically-savvy people' are generally engaged in work on
savvy technology for a living. They are creating the savvy
technology that others will enjoy next year or a few years
later. That these "technically-savvy people" want to pursue
free-time hobbies on other things than communicating by
their own personal radios is not their fault. They have so
many possible choices to occupy their free time that few
will fall back on half-century-old 'technological' hobbies such
as 'radio sport' contesting and/or collecting QSOs.

Given all the actual new technology made available for all
to use in hobbies of the last two decades, those alleged
"hordes of technically-savvy people" no doubt have taken
up other technically-savvy hobbies and discarded the idea
of emulating what the old pioneers of radio did long ago.
I submit that many just got tired of waiting for the code test
to be eliminated from testing and went on to other things.

73, Len AF6AY

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Old May 5th 07, 05:03 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On May 4, 3:22?am, "KH6HZ" wrote:
wrote:


snip

I've said it before and here it is again...Amateur Radio does NOT need
"big numbers"...We need to have QUALITY licensees...That means solid
skills and a NON-COMPROMISED question pool like we have today.


Exactly. History has proven time and time again that quality, not quantity,
is the solution to most problems.


The word "quality" is both subjective and ambiguous used
above. Amateur radio is not an occupation. It can be an
enjoyable avocation for many in a "technically-savvy"
activity...without the requirement of years of formal education
or the necessity of enduring certain levels of accomplishment
as in a guild, union, or craft trade.

In most administrations of the world, the only requirement is
that all in amateur radio operate according to their regulations.
Disobeying regulations will result in 'firing' an amateur (loss of
license, fines, etc., depending on an administration's laws).
Otherwise, every licensed amateur retains their license for
whatever term an administration lawfully specifies. Their
quality of operating is up to the individual and whatever peer
pressure might ensue within a country.

In the USA I think that "quantity" is important to the health
and welfare of future amateur radio here. Primarily for the
"presence" of so many licensees having an effect on law-
makers' future decisions. Secondarily on the market presence
to insure that equipment and components will be available in
the future.

As to "history proving anything" for "solutions," I submit the
Roman Empire as an example. Roman engineering of its day
was the epitome then, resulting in roads over most of known
Europe, water supply and waste disposal, ships and trade over
all the long reaches of its empire. Historians have written that
the Roman Empire failed from within, not from the quality of
its civil engineering and other innovations for civilization of its
time.

"Radio" as a communications means is only 111 years old.
The radio of now is vastly different from early radio, not just in
technology but also in that elusive word "quality." To attempt
pinning some specific era as the baseline for such "quality"
is tantamount to trying to nail jelly to a tree... :-)

73, Len AF6AY

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Old May 5th 07, 01:20 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On May 4, 7:22´┐Żam, "KH6HZ" wrote:
wrote:
Nope...I think we're getting all the "influx" now that we will.


The decline in licensing continues unabated.


Well, maybe. But according to the numbers I've seen and posted in
recent months, the number of current, unexpired FCC-issued amateur
licenses held by individuals seems to have leveled off at around
655,000.

With the exception of a minor uptick in October '06, the number of licens

ed
amateurs has been in decline since '03
.
Feb 07: 655,477. Mar 07: 655,048 Apr 07: 654,940


The number I have for May 1, 2007 is 655,069. However, it should be
noted that the total number can vary up and down a couple of hundred
in just a few days.

Where are the "hoards of technically savvy" people in the wings "just
waiting for the code requirement to disappear"?

There are three possibilities:

1) They don't know the rules changed back in February.

2) They're busy studying for the written test, finding a VE session,
etc.

3) They don't exist.

---

There's also the idea that one of the purposes of amateur radio is to
*create* technically-savvy people. That's one reason for the emphasis
on young people. Like a kid who got his first license years before
high school, and the Extra years before college.


I've said it before and here it is again...Amateur Radio does NOT need
"big numbers"...We need to have QUALITY licensees...That means solid
skills and a NON-COMPROMISED question pool like we have today.


Exactly. History has proven time and time again that quality, not quantit

y,
is the solution to most problems.


Why can't we have both quality and big numbers?

And just what are "big numbers", anyway?

Back in the late 1940s, all through the 1950s and into the early
1960s, the number of US hams grew from about 60,000 just after VJ-Day
to about 250,000 in 1964, even though all hams back then had to pass
Morse Code exams and "secret" written tests.

Yet ham radio was far less popular back then than it is today, because
the ratio of hams to total US population was much lower then than
today.

The 1970s and early 1980s were another period of fast growth, even
though the license test requirements had been considerably increased
by the "incentive licensing" changes of 1968 and 1969.

73 de Jim, N2EY



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Old May 5th 07, 06:02 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Before and After Cessation of Code Testing

"KH6HZ" wrote:

[...]
Where are the "hoards of technically savvy" people in the wings "just
waiting for the code requirement to disappear"?



Answer: They know nothing whatever about any of this.

When the Internet opened to the public in the early 1990's, there was
a level of media interest that was almost indescribable. Have you made
any attempt to draw the media into this?

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Old May 5th 07, 09:54 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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wrote on Sat, 5 May 2007 08:20:29 EDT

On May 4, 7:22?am, "KH6HZ" wrote:
wrote:


Nope...I think we're getting all the "influx" now that we will.


The decline in licensing continues unabated.


Well, maybe. But according to the numbers I've seen and posted in
recent months, the number of current, unexpired FCC-issued amateur
licenses held by individuals seems to have leveled off at around
655,000.


One of the reasons I used the www.hamdata.com figures is that there
is no differentiation between "active" and "inactive" in quoting the
New (never before licensed) versus the Expired (very definitely out of
their grace period). That dynamic shows - directly - the
'replacement'
of attrited licensees by newcomers.

... However, it should be
noted that the total number can vary up and down a couple of hundred
in just a few days.


Examining totals over a 30-day or longer period has an averaging
effect of minimizing the statistical anamolies occurring over just a
few days. "Smoothing the curve," so to speak.

Where are the "hoards of technically savvy" people in the wings "just
waiting for the code requirement to disappear"?


There are three possibilities:

1) They don't know the rules changed back in February.


That seems unlikely considering the FCC announced their decision
on 15 December 2006 and that news was then carried by the ARRL
in all their periodicals, in CQ magazine, in Popular Communications,
on www.qrz.com, on www.eham.net, on newsgroups oriented towards
amateur radio (and including SWL and CB enthusiasts), in major
electronics trade periodicals (EDN and Electronic Design, even
Microwaves & RF, the IEEE Spectrum membership magazine), even
in a few large newspapers. While the 'waiting period' was only
slightly longer than two months before legal activation, there had
been an NPRM and Comment period on it begun nearly a year and
a half prior in Docket 05-235 announced 19 July 2005. That NPRM
and Comments were also publicized by the major amateur radio
news providers in print and on the Internet. Anyone who is at all
concerned or interested in or about amateur radio in the USA is
bound to have found out about it ahead of time.

2) They're busy studying for the written test, finding a VE session,
etc.


While the more remote areas of the USA would still be difficult to
access a VEC examination location, those would also represent the
least populous areas. VEC exams exist in the urban centers and
are publicized by the dozen-plus VECs to those interested. In the
Greater Los Angeles area (population roughly 8 million) about half
of the exams scheduled were "walk-in," no advance notice
necessary. In close observation of all the Question Pools issued
by the NCVEC, there were very few questions directly concerning
morse code use that would be affected by FCC 06-178 so there
would be minimal studying any changes wrought by that R&O.

3) They don't exist.


Or, more likely, the phrase did not exist in the alleged wide use
claimed by some. :-)

A more likely possibility is that there are 'hoards' [sic] of
technically-
savvy people who simply gave up on the old requirements of ham
radio testing and went on to other, newer technology-related hobbies
that were more interesting to them. They just were not interested
in spending their own time on learning a skill they would never use
after passing an amateur radio examination.

73, Len AF6AY

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Old May 5th 07, 09:56 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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wrote on Sat, 5 May 2007 08:20:29 EDT:

On May 4, 7:22?am, "KH6HZ" wrote:


And just what are "big numbers", anyway?

Back in the late 1940s, all through the 1950s and into the early
1960s, the number of US hams grew from about 60,000 just after VJ-Day
to about 250,000 in 1964, even though all hams back then had to pass
Morse Code exams and "secret" written tests.


Yes, there was certainly a growth, but a number of factors were not
mentioned. Firstly, all amateur radio operation was forbidden during
the duration of World War II. Secondly, the wide use of radio for
communications by the military during that war was certainly one of
exposure to many military members that might have been mildly
interested in radio in general at the time. Third, the large numbers
of
"war surplus" radio equipment suitable for HF operation was a boon
for all interested at the time to become radio active at low cost.
I've
witnessed all of that first-hand.

Yet ham radio was far less popular back then than it is today, because
the ratio of hams to total US population was much lower then than
today.


I have to disagree with that for several reasons. Independent amateur
radio publications CQ and 73 began a many-decades publishing
existance in that period. Several other radio-interest publications
began and some pre-WWII publishers restarted in the late 1940s.
Publishing of electronics subjects in all areas began in earnest
during
the late 1940s and into the 1950s and those have increased up to
today.

Electronics in many applications flourished after WWII, even before
the invention of the transistor and first appearance of low-priced
production devices almost a decade later. With that increase in
general electronics production, not to mention the avalanche of
TV receivers being made, came an increase in the availability of
electronic components through distributors and dealers, most being
suitable for "radio" applications. Thousands of small start-up
businesses and proto-corporations involved in electronics began
during that period; few were directly involved with amateur radio per
se since all of the electronics industry was undergoing a rapid
expansion...something that hasn't stopped.

The immediate post-WWII period saw little change in amateur radio
technology or operation, the vast majority concerned with HF bands
as they were then, that mostly using radiotelegraphy mode. Voice
on HF ham bands required double-sideband AM techniques which
didn't begin to be replaced by new-fangled SSB until the late 1950s.
Data (actually RTTY then) was rare and confined to those who could
get surplus teleprinter terminals. Only a few knowledgeable amateur
experimenters were engaged in radio above 30 MHz, a part of the
spectrum considered almost "other-worldly" by so many HF hams
and inhabited only by TV, FM, and radars. :-) The first significant
change in worldwide amateur radio came about (in my observation)
at WARC-79 and the creation of new HF bands for amateurs. In the
USA there was little advancement in amateur radio regulations to
keep pace with the growing influence of electronics in all consumer
applications and radio for other purposes than broadcast or ham use.

CB on the former 11m ham band slice of HF had a notable growth
among U.S. radio producers after 1958. All of the bigger radio
makers were involved plus several start-up companies. Less than
a decade later came the off-shore produced CB sets at lower prices
and the explosion in CB set use on highways began. While there
are no easily-obtainable statistics now, estimates of CB set use
today outnumbers amateur radio licensees by at least 7:1. With
the off-shore production of CB transceivers came the off-shore
produced amateur radios having competitive quality and cost.

The 1970s and early 1980s were another period of fast growth, even
though the license test requirements had been considerably increased
by the "incentive licensing" changes of 1968 and 1969.


Not having taken any "incentive licensing era" tests for amateur
radio, I can't comment on "requirements being considerably
increased." I do note that the time period was one in which the
[Japanese] "Big3" of amateur radio designers-producers got started
and firmly established their position in the ham market.
Hallicrafters
of Chicago dissolved their business, National Radio went to all-
government contract work and morphed into other things, Collins
Radio dropped out of the amateur market though it is still heavy
into commercial and military radios as a division of Rockwell Intl.
Heath Company of Benton Harbor, MI, quit most of its fabled kit
business and changed owners. Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom rule in the
HF-VHF-UHF ham radios off the shelf today. All three plus the
smaller off-shore makers offer quality in production and design at
competitive prices. I would think that such would have a direct
bearing on whether any newcomers would be attracted to amateur
radio of today or of the 1980s and 1990s.

However, with such "fast growth" ('fast' being subjective) came the
increased demand to eliminate the code test for amateur radio
license exams. Several countries had established "T-hams" who
did not test for morse code skill but were restricted to VHF and up.
The USA lagged behind those other countries in finally establishing
the Technician class (no-code-test) license in 1991. The rest of the
radio world was giving up using any morse code modes...if it had
ever established it from a radio service's beginning.

In 1970 there was little competition for free time from the Internet
(made public 1991), Bulletin Board Systems (as yet a decade
away), personal computers (four years away for a beginning, a
decade away for the "IBM PC"), less than half of all homes had
color TV and most had screens smaller than 23 inches, nothing
like the 100 channels for model radio control at 72-74 MHz, few
amateur radios on the market for VHF and higher, cellular
telephone service just starting (at lower frequencies than L-band),
no standardization on Compact Disc recordings (magnetic
recordings had begun to compete with vinyl discs), no standard
magnetic tape recording system for television recordings, "Pong"
was just taking hold as a novelty electronic game in restaurants
and lounges (all-digital, first models did not use a
microprocessor), TTL digital devices were becoming a market-
demand leader for digital electronics, some specialty analog
ICs were new and available although most would be out of
production in three decades, "auto electronics" consisted of
an in-dash AM/FM radio and an ignition system little changed
from 1940 designs. Personal radio was limited to 11m CB that
was undergoing an explosive growth from inexpensive foreign
production and becoming popular with truckers. Electronic
music augmentation was just beginning and the first music
synthesizers had appeared.

Three decades later there is considerable competition for free
time and personal entertainment. One out of three Americans
has a cell phone subscription. One out of five American house-
holds has some form of Internet access. CDs have replaced
all previous formats of music recording and DVDs have replaced
former means television recordings. Retail dealers and renters
of both have been created. We are in the transition phase of
conversion to HDTV which has already shown a superior video
and audio service. Most U.S. households have multi-channel
television-music service by cable or satellite relay. We've had
direct-dial telephone service for two decades to any other
same-service telephone in the world. The Internet is firmly
established as part of U.S. social fabric and is found on all
continents of the world. We have license-free FRS HTs over
the counter as pairs for under $100. 11m CB is still with us
and still used on highways by the millions. Remote control of
models by radio in the 100 channels of license-free bands at
72 and 74 MHz is the standard for modelers, wireless local area
network equipment is off-the-shelf for businesses and
residences. Cell phone service is available on all major U.S.
highways, even in remote areas (excluding parts of Alaska).
We have cordless telephones that operate at 5.6 MHz, using
secure digital modulation as well as older 2.4 MHz units with
the same features, both a practical impossibility in 1970.

I've not included such things as voice-over-Internet protocol,
the ability of modern PCs to typeset a printed page as good as
any compositor plus include imagery as part of a finished
document. I've not included the (literally) thousands of different
games available for PCs. I've not even mentioned that the
average under-$1500 over-the-counter PC suite of today having
more processing power than any IBM-360 or RCA Spectra 70
mainframe computer of 1970. I've not mentioned that digital
electronics and photosensing have changed personal
photography from film to electronic form, capable of being
"developed" at any PC or added-function stand-alone printer.
I've not included the (license-free) radios that open car doors,
open garage doors, sound various music when wireless door
bells are pushed, activate electrical devices remotely, carry
security TV camera signals, or identify products by RF, all
using relatively-secure digital codings.

The preceding has been just a summary of the kinds of
things which can compete for free time for all Americans,
whether they are licensed in the amateur radio service or not.
It is that kind of competition that future amateur radio in the
USA has to work amongst to attract newcomers. Amateur
radio must attract newcomers or it won't survive as a radio
service. Amateur radio must change with the times or just
disappear as human attrition takes its toll on those who
refuse to adapt.

73, Len AF6AY




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