Fwd: "Time in Grade" or "Time Machine" Requirement?

Mike O'Dell mo at ccr.org
Sat Aug 25 13:27:03 CDT 2012

I just lobbed this over the transom.....


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	"Time in Grade" or "Time Machine" Requirement?
Date: 	Sat, 25 Aug 2012 14:21:49 -0400
From: 	Mike O'Dell <mo at ccr.org>
To: 	qst at arrl.org

In the June 2012 "Letters from the Aether",
Paul Eaton, KR4IN, adds his voice to the choir of
eternal lamentations about the death of
"Ham Radio As We Knew It".

As proof, he offers his observation of a "new" ham
struggling to tune-up a Heathkit HW-101 at Field Day
and managing to release the *magic smoke* from
the antenna tuner in the process. Mr. Eaton then suggests
this is proof that "hams still need to spend at least two
years in each license class before upgrading."

This suggested evidence of a "problem"
completely mis-identifies the underlying issue and
as a result, the proposed "solution" is simply
unrelated to the suggested problem.

Unless one is an aficionado of "boat anchors" (including
high-power amplifiers, most of which exploit *valves*),
any ham licensed in the last 2 decades has likely
never examined, much less operated, a rig with narrow-band
stages (which demand tuning) and devoid of automatic protection
from the likes of high VSWR. This is a *feature*, not a bug.

Modern radio design and microprocessor implementation has
given us features like DSP IF stages with performance
unimaginable in the heyday of the HW-101. Broadband
design leveraging semiconductors instead of tubes has also
made rituals like "dip the plate and peak the load"
as relevant to the average 100watt ham as the average motorist
knowing how to start a Model T Ford without breaking your wrist.
Absolutely, if you buy a Model T, you had best learn that ritual
*pronto* or make a hefty payment of The Stupid Tax.
But making such knowledge a universal requirement to buy
any car, say a plug-in hybrid, is hardly rational.

As for the suggestion that additional "time in grade" could instill
these ancient rituals, one could spend the rest of one's life as a
100watt General and *never* learn to operate such a rig unless
one has ready access to a time machine. (Friendly QCWA
members might count toward that requirement.)

Lest anyone misunderstand, I am "vintage" enough to wax
nostalgic for the warm glow of Big Tubes and heartily
support reducing the supply of "Lids".
(how many understand that term today?
see http://www.qsl.net/dl4tt/w5vsr.html)

But making new rules does not improve marginal skills;
mentoring those people *can* improve their skills.

     Mike O'Dell
     "Welfare Extra" and proud of it.

(A term of disparagement I heard in an HF roundtable.)

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