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Thread: Is anyone else worried about amateur radio being able to survive the demand for more spectrum

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    Default Is anyone else worried about amateur radio being able to survive the demand for more spectrum

    There is such an enormous demand for radio frequencies these days that I'm worried our days on the upper frequencies are limited, particularly at 70, 33, and 23 cm. Everyone wants to do everything wireless these days. There's even talk that 5G will be the beginning of the end for wired (or fiber) broadband Internet connections. The problem is, radio frequencies are not unlimited, and they additional space will have to come from somewhere. There's big money in spectrum auctions, and a lot of that spectrum has already been sold.

    Amateur radio has huge chunks of spectrum set aside, and although there have been band reductions in the past for emerging technologies, we have been left pretty much alone for a long time. Increased efficiency with narrowband channels and digital TV have freed up a lot of spectrum, but the demand will continue, and we'll likely be defending our bands soon.

    Many people don't understand the benefit of the amateur radio operators being able to provide communications during natural disasters, so that argument is going to mean less going forward, and it seems there is less interest in the younger crowd of involvement with amateur radio, so I don't see a lot of public support for free radio spectrum for us to continue to operate.

    I fell away from the hobby for a number of years, and haven't kept up with what's going on in the regulatory arena, so for all I know there could already be reductions already coming. If not, I look for it soon. It'll probably result in smaller allocations in the upper bands, and we'll be crowded into less space, and maybe narrowband pushed on us for more efficient use of spectrum. I'm not agains that, but a lot of folks will suddenly have worthless equipment on their hands.

    Am I worried for nothing?

    73's,

    Jim, KY1H


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    There's millions of radios within North American that transmit on 70cm. Trying to hijack spectrum from hams (even though we're secondary users on 70cm) would not go well for anyone. I know I'd continue to keep transmitting there, regardless of any spectrum sales. Good luck to the FCC and ISED (Canada) enforcing any complaints. Both have slashed staff and don't investigate anything except public-safety interference (at least in Canada).

    As for 33cm (902-928), it's turned into a garbage band. My group of bastards had a 927/902 (pair) Quantar on the air. We had lots of fun from about 2010-2012 with P25 on 900. Before that, it was analog. Then the band progressively got worse, because of ISM and wireless networking crap. Take a look at that band on a spectrum analyzer in any major metro area, and you'll see it's saturated with yahoos. One solution (don't tell anyone..sssssh) is to put the input of your repeater somewhere in the 896-902 area. Beware of railway transponder assignments already there. I seriously doubt anyone cares about a 2.5 kHz signal (low power, too) in that area. Just make damn sure you don't interfere with anyone.

    23cm is another one of those weirdo bands for hams. Back in the 80s and 90s, all kinds of FM gear was made by the big three. 1.2 is very popular in Japan. Now, there's practically nothing available that operates in that spectrum, aside from transverter kits and expensive all-mode base stations which are inclusive of the band via an "add on" module. Hey, don't get me wrong -- I think 1296 SSB and weak signal work is the bomb. It's just not an easy band to get active on.

    One band we've already lost is the 13cm (2.3-2.4 GHz) band. Dickhead Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) have illegally configured their gear to transmit on ham frequencies and in some areas, have made the band unusable. It's very frustrating. There's a group of guys in Winnipeg (search VA4WAN) who do wireless ham networking. Good people. 2.3 was ruined for them and no one cares. ISED says hams are supposed to be "self policing". Yeah, we'll make some false warrants up and kick some doors down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    ISED says hams are supposed to be "self policing". Yeah, we'll make some false warrants up and kick some doors down.
    Now that's funny. The idea that a regulatory agency would try to argue "self-policing" extends to non-amateurs encroaching on amateurs is hilarious. I can see it now, a pack of vigilante hams going after some dude for hijacking a frequency in the ham bands.

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    Ham allocations on 70 and 33 cm are secondary so no worries there, and lower frequency spectrum is less valuable. I could see the rest of 220 potentially getting slurped up, but the other 30 MHz and up bands I'm less worried about.

    Also... I'm kind of tired of hearing people gripe about "less interest in the younger crowd." If y'all want more young blood in the hobby, make it more interesting. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to someone who got interested in radio, bought a Baofeng off Amazon, dialed up some local repeaters, got turned off by listening to the OFs, and threw it back in the box and never touched it again. More than once I've heard grouchy OFs bemoan the lack of young people in the hobby while ****-talking millenials in the same conversation. Y'all are your own worst enemies.
    "The Girl Scouts found several hungry REACT members at the finish line..."

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    Devil's advocate here: One less Baofeng on the air isn't a bad thing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    One less Baofeng on the air isn't a bad thing!
    I mean, yes but unfortunately that genie ain't going back in the bottle. Repeaters have been the gateway to amateur radio since the 80s, and with the cheap and abundant availability of Chinese radios through Amazon it's a no-brainer for a cash-strapped teenager or college kid who wants to dip their toes in the pool.

    Now, the adults who buy Chinese radios and not only don't bother/care to learn and understand their shortcomings but cling to them religiously... that's a whole other kettle of fish.
    "The Girl Scouts found several hungry REACT members at the finish line..."

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    I think HF/6M is safe since the possible bandwidth is limited. And most communication is becoming focused on shorter trips for mesh type networks.

    As long as there are other users near the 2 cm meter band, such as government, aviation, and business users, I don't see the 4 mhz being that useful to anyone. As 5G rolls out and the need for traditional voice communication decreases further, perhaps the other users will start to abandon. While technology advances quickly, the government does not. My bet is at least another 20 years before any real threat. Similar with 70CM. All other ham allocations could easily go away with a little lobbying.

    I think the biggest lobbying for frequencies will be of the current digital TV allocations.

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    I've had locals tell me I'm a "Motorola elitist" for using Moto. "You must be rich! I guess I should throw my ICOM in the garbage just to please you". These people are actually mad/upset when making these comments.

    The truth is, I use older Moto analog stuff for hamming. MCS2000 ($50). HT1550 (VHF and UHF). About $150/each. I did use ASTRO Spectras ($100-150) in my truck for a while, but I have upgraded to DMR stuff. But still.

    The cost of a new ICOM DSTAR mobile is huge (for Canadians). Gigaparts shows $370 USD. To get it to Canada, is about $650-700 after exchange rate, taxes (federal and provincial), shipping and a broker handling fee (usually $10-20). That's how bad we get corn-holed up here.

    So to hear my $50 MCS2000 is "elitist" and I'm rich, is actually quite funny. The performance of these legacy Moto products far exceeds that of any ham (especially CCR) product. Granted, you may have to give up some functionality (VFO, FPP of tones, etc.) but I'll take the performer. A ham would also be required to purchase a RIB and cables, but over time, it's not a huge burden.

    These CCR fans need to learn about the secondary commercial market. I think it's safe to assume all of us have purchased from this market.

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    Ham bands are international... I think it takes a bit more than one country or two to just grab a band... But what do I know, I'm not a Ham.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPECIAL_EYE View Post
    Ham bands are international... I think it takes a bit more than one country or two to just grab a band... But what do I know, I'm not a Ham.
    Below 50 MHz, yes. There are international bands for 10m and lower, but above that some countries do not have all bands, this is one of the reasons there is very little ham stuff for 220, 900 MHz and 1.2 GHz. None of those bands exist in Japan, for example (AFAIK). That's why there is a lack of Japanese (Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, etc.) and newer Chinese radios on those bands. They did make a few for the U.S. export market, but only a very few models and of them, small production runs made of each due to no international interest in those U.S.-only bands.

    As Otaku mentioned, believe it or not, the Government is actually your friend here - on 70 and 33 cm we're secondary users, with DoD (Gov't) being primary. Like a twisted Big Brother, they keep the evil forces of wanton corporate greed from sucking up those bands, but thankfully they never really need to use them much, if ever, so we have a nice gift there that is very difficult for interlopers to snatch out from under us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    Below 50 MHz, yes. There are international bands for 10m and lower, but above that some countries do not have all bands, this is one of the reasons there is very little ham stuff for 220, 900 MHz and 1.2 GHz. None of those bands exist in Japan, for example (AFAIK). That's why there is a lack of Japanese (Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, etc.) and newer Chinese radios on those bands. They did make a few for the U.S. export market, but only a very few models and of them, small production runs made of each due to no international interest in those U.S.-only bands.
    I believe 1.2GHz exists in Japan and is a very popular band. To my knowledge, this had at least some influence in ICOM creating the 1.2GHz DSTAR radios.

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    I wasn't absolutely sure about 1.2G in Japan, thanks! (That's why I qualified it with AFAIK!)

    I relax in my easy chair corrected.

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    Now if they could just release a more economical 1.2G radio using something other than DSTAR...

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    What bothers me the most about CCRs and me using commercial gear is that the signal coming out of the CCRs is as wide as a barn door and their audio clips. Most of the other CCR users don't notice, so they all think everything is fine. You try to explain to them that their signal is wider than it is supposed to be and they get upset. Most hams love the CCR and care not that their audio is clipping and that they are splattering all over the place. I end up just leaving my radio off. I have never owned, used, programmed or otherwise been affiliated with a CCR - Ever. Now if someone wants me to blast one to bits with a full-auto Uzi or MAC10/45, just send it to me and I'll video its demise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rescue161 View Post
    What bothers me the most about CCRs and me using commercial gear is that the signal coming out of the CCRs is as wide as a barn door and their audio clips. Most of the other CCR users don't notice, so they all think everything is fine. You try to explain to them that their signal is wider than it is supposed to be and they get upset. Most hams love the CCR and care not that their audio is clipping and that they are splattering all over the place. I end up just leaving my radio off. I have never owned, used, programmed or otherwise been affiliated with a CCR - Ever. Now if someone wants me to blast one to bits with a full-auto Uzi or MAC10/45, just send it to me and I'll video its demise.
    Almost with it to buy a few CCR's just to watch the destruction

    Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
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    Quote Originally Posted by rescue161 View Post
    What bothers me the most about CCRs and me using commercial gear is that the signal coming out of the CCRs is as wide as a barn door and their audio clips. Most of the other CCR users don't notice, so they all think everything is fine. You try to explain to them that their signal is wider than it is supposed to be and they get upset. Most hams love the CCR and care not that their audio is clipping and that they are splattering all over the place.
    Astro25 radios are especially bad about this... their DSP receiver parameters are so tight if someone is modulating at 5.005 kHz the A25 radio will clip. APX radios and older stuff are much more forgiving.

    I think you hit the nail on the head here in regards to how people respond when the shortcomings of their cheap radios are brought up. Someone who's truly interested in learning the craft will listen and take it to heart, while the lids will just get defensive. How you present it can make a difference, of course. I try to cut folks a break if they show an inclination of being willing to learn.
    "The Girl Scouts found several hungry REACT members at the finish line..."

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    Default Is anyone else worried about amateur radio being able to survive the demand for more spectrum

    My elitist $150 Baoturd killer.

    IMG_6646.jpg

    P.S. ive been told this radio is not type accepted for ham radio. Heh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    My elitist $150 Baoturd killer.

    IMG_6646.jpg

    P.S. i’ve been told this radio is not “type accepted“ for ham radio. Heh.
    You should NOT be asking Peter Wilt for technical information....
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    Default Is anyone else worried about amateur radio being able to survive the demand for more spectrum

    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    You should NOT be asking Peter Wilt for technical information....
    The only thing I would ever ask of Peter Wilt is for him to commit suicide, while his family watches and he streams it on LiveLeak for the world to enjoy.

    Peter Wilt is of the same level of uselessness to this world as Ray Kelly was. Funny, as they both met each other. I can only urge Peter to consider doing whats honorable given what he did and got away with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    My elitist $150 Baoturd killer.


    IMG_6646.jpg


    P.S. i’ve been told this radio is not “type accepted“ for ham radio. Heh.
    When they hear your MDC chirp and scream "NO DIGITAL"...

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    With regard to the OP:

    Yes, I'm very concerned. Local repeaters are dead - analog, digital, it doesn't matter.

    Everybody wants their own hotspot so they can do whatever they want, the way they want to do it (everybody want their own talkgroup as well). My fear is that the FCC will limit amateur radio users to 100mw and just say "use the internet to talk across with a hotspot". Then they will sell off the spectrum and add standard disclaimers that hams can't cause any harmful interference and must be able to accept interference from other services using the bands.

    Just go to aprs.fi and look how many hotspost type devices show up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motorola_otaku View Post
    Repeaters have been the gateway to amateur radio since the 80s
    Before that, actually. THE status symbol of the mid-1970s was an HT220 with "Da Knob," giving 8 or 16 freq pairs. There were a lot of MOTRAC and MOTRAN installs in SoCal as early as the 1960s. Tama Denki was shipping HTs with the 34/94 pair (standard) in 1972.

    The problem today isn't the hardware, it's the EXPECTATION. We OFs got so used to promoting what ham radio DID, we stopped talking about how to DO it.

    Consider: The objective of the game of golf is NOT to put the ball in the hole. You can do that by picking up the ball, walking to the hole, pending down and dropping it it. The actual objective is to OVERCOME CONDITIONS which might prevent you from getting the ball into the hole, starting with having to stand hundreds of yards away and whang the ball with a bent stick.

    The objective of "hobby" ham radio is not merely to communicate, but to do so despite conditions which make it more difficult.

    We need to sell younger folks on the PROCESS, not merely the ability to do what they are doing with the phones in their pockets. It's the achievement which counts -- talking to someone on a radio that you built from plans and parts, or QRP to Japan, or the first time you find the transmitter in a fox hunt. It's that antenna that you made from a PL-259 and a chunk of brass welding rod. It's that signal you pull out of the pileup, and find yourself talking for Kiribati. It's when you hear someone halfway around the world, for whom English is the second or fifth language, trying to make contact with YOUR callsign. It's setting up in a city park for Field Day or another contest, when the number of contacts is less important than showing people what ham radio is about, and letting some 10-year-old call CQ.

    It's the PROCESS that counts. The blue ribbon for being first at the finish line is meaningless, if you didn't run the race to get there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoloCDR View Post
    Before that, actually. THE status symbol of the mid-1970s was an HT220 with "Da Knob," giving 8 or 16 freq pairs. There were a lot of MOTRAC and MOTRAN installs in SoCal as early as the 1960s. Tama Denki was shipping HTs with the 34/94 pair (standard) in 1972.
    Heh, my first ham mobile had a dynamotor!
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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    Heh, my first ham mobile had a dynamotor!
    Old man. lol. Mine was a vibrator powered mobile on low band. It was a big deal to upgrade to t-power. Even then we were still using crystal ovens. Channel elements came later. And, yeah, I had a UHF HT-220. It started out as a slimline model which I upgraded to an omni housing so that I could add a pl deck.

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    Dynamotors. Ovens. Mix and match upgrades.

    These are the things I'm talking about. It took EFFORT, it was an achievement to make the first contact after each new bit of hardware was put together.

    I miss the HT-220, and wish that I had kept mine. I don't get that same kind of feeling with I pick up my XPR7550, but get some of it with the Astro Sabers.

    Now, if each of us can infuse just one young person with that same interest, we will still have ham spectrum in 10 years.

    On the other side of the coin, I'm happy to have people using DMR, Baofeng, etc., because some of those people will be useful for disaster response when they are needed.