SOMEONE ASKED ABOUT NOSTALGIA
Nostalgia is a two-edged sword. The "good old days" were not always so good, but our memory tends to push the bad times off the stove and put the pleasant memories on the front burner.
That is true, whether we are thinking of cars, airplanes, cameras, computers, ham radios, or women. Some of us enjoyed the 3 cent stamp, and the 15 cent loaf of bread, and gasoline at 26 cents a
gallon. But along with that came pulling over onto the shoulder of the road, jacking up the car, taking the wheel off, taking the tire off the rim, pulling out the inner tube, patching it, putting it
back into the tire, putting the tire onto the rim, pumping it up with a hand or foot pump, and putting it all back on the car. Even at my age, I had to do that as a teen with my first car. And I
had to do it often!
Amateur radio perhaps has a lot more good memories than bad. As a brand new
Novice, I didn't know anything about Collins Slines, or big, shiny radios. All of my high school ham buddies had small, low power rigs, and a simple crystal controlled Heathkit was a deluxe item
I hoped one day to afford, even if it only put out 10 watts CW. It was the best I had seen, belonging to a friend whose father was, in my language, rich.
I think as we look back on the way we came along in any endeavor, as time makes it something from the distant past, it is
selfenhancing. That's a good thing, for it allows us tales to impart to those just beginning, such as you. And certainly we had a wonderful time! Since I didn't know shiny, new radios even
existed, as I had never seen one, as far as I knew this was as good as it gets, my little homebrew 40 meter CW transmitter, with two crystals. If all a dog ever tastes as a treat is an empty bone from
a Tbone steak, he's a happy mutt. He thinks that is what his people are eating, too, and he's right up there with them. Don't ever tell him they get the meat and he gets the bone.
You will make your own memories. You might want to think about them now, and I believe you are.
You can make them good, or bad, or just mediocre. It is your choice. The problem is, you do not yet have enough experience, and enough diverse experience, to make such a choice. It is easy
to get shunted down a single path, and then wind up one day looking around and asking "Is that all there is?" This happens to thousands of Technician hams to get shunted onto two meter
repeaters, and spent a decade or two in that one room shack, never realizing there are mansions whose doors are wide open. One day they drop out. Sadly, they drop out with either no memories, or
no good memories.
Ham radio, just like computers, is a large dinner plate with many delicacies.
But if you eat only the beans, you will never know what the rest is all about. And that's awfully easy to do. Ham radio is far more political in nature than computers, at least that has
been my observation, and you will find many who tell you that you must not venture down this path or that one. Some will say you should not attempt HF until code testing goes away. Some will say you
should never try the digital modes. Some will tell you that only a sound card mode is correct. Some will tell you that you must do emergency communications, and that must be the sole thrust of your
participation in this hobby.
Ham radio, like computers, has changed dramatically over several
decades. The future of it is so different from what the future of it appeared to be in, say, 1960, it doesn't look like or feel like the same hobby at all. Many relative newcomers look back
and think, probably, "how the heck did those guys have any fun?" Many old timers look to the present and the future and think, 'Where did the radio go?"
Your interest is in nostalgia, and it is there to be seen and shared. You don't have to give up the present or the
future. If it is your choice to explore what many of us call the "Golden Age Of Amateur Radio," you will run into many naysayers who tell you it is a waste of time. And for them, it is.
That's OK. You have to decide what YOU want out of amateur radio, and not what others want you get from it. But you can't make that decision with any degree of accuracy until you have looked at
the big picture. That is where so many newcomers fail. They see "today" but they can't see "yesterday." And "yesterday' is a part of it, just as it was part of cars, and
airplanes, and boats, and cameras and computers.
I hope you find the past interesting.
And that you create your own past while doing so. There are many here who will help you.
It is my belief that, in order to know where you are going, you must understand where you have been. To know where ham radio is going, you must know where it has been.
You will find that, if you look and listen and learn.
I must strongly, though, advise you against buying a handheld radio as your sole radio. You will be buying that plate of beans, and there will be no meat at
all. Assuming you are a Technician, you will find yourself limited to VHF and up. That is not a bad place to be, by any means, but it confines you to that one room shack. And you will
quickly get bored, and very, very bored at that.
Put your Technician money into an allmode
dual band radio. Yeah, it's more expensive. But it will show you many other doors in the mansion of ham radio. If you think you are going to upgrade (or perhaps you have upgraded!) try hard
not to limit yourself to just VHF/UHF, even all mode. Pick one of the new multimode HF/VHF/UHF radios. You can figure about a kilobuck plus for one, but it is the key to all of the past, the
present, and the future of amateur radio. For roughly $1,000, you can get the Icom 706Mark II G, and for about the same price the Yaesu FT857. Spend $1500 and you can buy a new Kenwood TS2000, or
an FT897, or an Icom IC2000. These radios give your Technician class license a workout on 2 meters, not just on FM but on sideband and CW and digital modes. And they offer the same on 70
centimeters (440 MHZ.) Then, as you upgrade, they offer you literally the whole world on your desk, on HF.
Yeah, you have to buy a power supply, and you have to put up an antenna. Always something, huh? But think about that computer. You also have to
have a printer, and a scanner (or a combo) and perhaps some other things. No antenna, though.
So get the all band multimode. Then, if you have pocket change left over, get a handheld for those moments of short distance fun. Get the 7 course
meal, not a tuna sandwich.
Welcome. Start making your memories.