Am I a Dinosaur? – May 2016

| April 26, 2016

Geoff Stainton, G1MQQ

Maybe you are, but the dinosaurs ruled the earth for a lot longer than we humans! Surely, what makes amateur radio unique is its autonomy. Once our communications rely on the availability of an internet connection provided by a third party ISP, or even a repeater whose operation or otherwise is outside the operator’s control, we become little different from the ‘smartphone’ user.

Let’s hear it for the dinosaurs!


Mike, GW1SXT

I would like to comment my own opinion for what it’s worth, although it could be considered opening a can of worms. Can the use of computers to make instant contacts to far distance stations be called real radio? In my view, not really. It’s not antenna to antenna: it’s artificial if it uses the internet. I ask myself, where is the fun in that? It’s clever stuff, is an instant hit and, perhaps, takes the boredom out of calling CQ on a the radio. But making real radio contacts on a real radio frequency is what the hobby is all about as far as I am concerned. Internet connected radio is a good thing but I join the dinosaurs out there.


David Pennison, 2E0DDF

I completely concur with Ivor Lee, MM0IEL. I too am a dinosaur, if that’s what you want to call me—and proud of it too. I get great satisfaction of DX hunting on VHF, UHF and HF from 20 through to 10—and six when conditions allow. Spending more time listening for the obscure location to try and work and with good success. I really don’t see the point of passing the exams, then chatting through my laptop: to me, that’s not radio—it’s Skype without the visuals. I have been licensed since 2013 and 68 years old and am part of a group of amateurs who chat on 144MHz SSB. There are upwards of 18 of us most in North London but also in Essex, Kent and Shropshire, with ages ranging from early 20s to mid-80s and, out of the 18, only three or four also use a laptop to work through repeaters around the world. I rest my case.


Alan Dodson, G3MGU

How sad to read of Ivor’s plight with his internet friends labeling him ‘a dinosaur’. How sad to read of his concern that those friends will likely claim awards and, presumably, get their name into the much revered DX Hall of Fame. How sad to read that he felt the need to absolve himself by adding that he extensively used his computer to control his rig, log and upload his QSOs. How sad to read that he extensively uses Cluster to make his QSOs. My heart bleeds.

How nice to read that he worked 130 countries with just 10 or 50W. I congratulate him.

Ivor, sadly, you are not a dinosaur, far from it. Dinosaurs are a very rare breed rapidly becoming extinct by the disease called Ham. Very sadly you’re a Ham not a dinosaur. I’m one of the few active dinosaurs remaining, I am a radio amateur. Sadly, my hobby, amateur radio, as it was known many, many decades ago went down the tubes with the advent of the influx of commercially made transceivers from the far east and finally laid to rest with the advent of the credit card. We radio amateurs achieved all what you’ve achieved decades ago without the use of computers, without the use of the internet and certainly without the use of Cluster. In most cases using home-brewed transmitters and receivers.

With a nod to the Monty Python team. On my right stands an engineer. He’s worked hard earning his degree in electronic engineering, he designs and makes things. I look up to him.

On my left stands a Ham. He’s worked hard earning his degree in how to use a credit card. He buys things, perhaps tires of them and then buys something with more bells and whistles. I look down on him. It is we radio amateurs that are the true dinosaurs. But we’re not a proud species as it has all been achieved before in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Homebrew was very popular them and very satisfying.

I use two home-brewed transmitters. I made my first SSB Tx at the age of 23 in 1965. It still works and is in frequent operation even after 50 years of service. It uses valves and was designed by G2DAF who wrote technical articles entitled ‘SSB’ for the RSGB—I look up to him.

I used it to exchange QSL confirmed SSB reports on 80m with Randy, KH6XX in Honolulu. Not bad—and all without the use of a computer. To me, that’s amateur radio. My other Tx was not only home-brewed but also self-designed. It uses a self-made printed circuit and transistors. I made it in 2011 at the age of 69—to me that’s amateur radio.

Sadly, for many, those days have gone and we live in a throwaway age and, one day perhaps, ‘Siri’ or whatever your computer voice is called, will tune the rig, make the contact, log and upload the QSO and claim the award to go on the wall. That’s not my kind of amateur radio.

Don’t worry about the awards and contests. There is life outside of amateur radio. My wife and I share several interests—but not radio—and we celebrated our 50th anniversary last year. Radio had nothing to do with the success of our marriage, it was our shared interests. I could, if I had to, give up radio without too many regrets, but not my wife.

Category: The Last Word