The Struggle


The struggle is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit. In this context, the struggle is having a limited amount of funds to spend on ham radio. For some, the struggle is real. Not everyone has an unlimited budget to spend on everything they want. The issue comes from the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers are the ones who feel that real ham radio is whatever they do. These typically consist of HF operators who spend more than 90% of their time on CW. They don’t use HTs as that is a piece of tech equipment. They swear that straight keys are the best, even though they use paddles. They hate new equipment with digital filters simply because “they isn’t real ham radio” to them. They have embraced the struggle. They want everyone to embrace it, regardless of economic status.

Reddit and QRZ Forums

I was on Reddit this weekend. Some guy posted a picture of five or more HTs, most of which were flagship (top of the line) or near it. I thought this was really awesome, probably because I do the same thing. I like HTs. They are small and portable. I can carry it with me. I gave it a like and went to see if he posted a follow-up in the comments. This was my fault. I knew I should have avoided the comments. At the time, only one comment was positive. The rest were berating him for spending so much money on HTs when he could have purchased an HF radio and an antenna (see point above). The old gatekeepers came in talking about how they don’t have HTs. Want to guess why? That is correct. “It isn’t real ham radio.” God forbid someone should enjoy the hobby the way they want. They primary focus of the comments was centered around all the money he “wasted” on HTs. One was an FT3DR, which has System Fusion. One was a Kenwood TH-D74, which does D-STAR. I believe he had an Anytone, which is DMR. They all filled a different role. There were a few more in the picture. I’m going to make an assumption. He enjoys digital voice. Because of this, he wanted options for digital voice. I see nothing wrong here. He wants to enjoy the hobby his way. Unfortunately, the negativity was too much.

This morning, I jumped onto QRZ and saw a post by a YouTuber about the IC-705 and a tuner. I don’t remember the YouTuber since most just produce the same content (read that as most, not all). I was interested since I have an IC-705, and my biggest complaint is the lack of an internal tuner. Again, the comments didn’t disappoint. They went after him for using a tuner and not having a resonant antenna, since it wouldn’t fit in a go-bag. The biggest complaint was the cost. The IC-705 is already a pricey radio for some. Tuners for it aren’t inexpensive. The AC-705 is around $300. But if you are going to invest in the IC-705, you should have enough to invest in the accessories, like a tuner or a case. This is like purchasing a Bugatti and complaining the tire change is $20k. If I spend $1,500 on a radio, another $200 for a tuner and $100 for a case is worth it. This isn’t my opinion. This is common sense thinking.

Maybe It Isn’t For You

This isn’t made to poor shame someone. I’ve made a comfortable living over my life and have a disposable income. I enjoy watch collecting, cycling, and ham radio. All three are relatively expensive hobbies. My daily wear watch is an Omega Seamaster. New, it is $5,200. It isn’t for made for everyone. If you think that is too much for a device that only tells the time, it isn’t made for you.

The IC-7851 is a $12,500. It does nearly everything that an HF radio can do. If you think it is too expensive, it isn’t made for you. It is missing a few features, like a wide-range antenna tuner. The internal tuner can do 3:1 on HF and 2.5:1 on 6 meters. But most people who can afford a $12,500 radio would most likely have or have no problem with getting an external wide range tuner. They wouldn’t complain that it is too much or that they use resonant antennas. They probably can’t hear the complaints over all the filters included in their radio.

The IC-705 is $1,300 on DX Engineering, which is on the pricier end of QRP. At the same time, it isn’t made for everyone. It is made for a particular group of people. If you think it is too expensive, maybe it isn’t for you.

There isn’t anything wrong with living in your budget. Not every radio is made for you. I don’t like the lab599 Discovery TX-500 (just rolls off the tongue) isn’t made for me. For someone wanting to get into QRP that doesn’t want to spend over $1,000, it is a great radio. I would mention the Yaesu FT-818, but that radio is terrible. Did you know you could still buy reel-to-reel audio tapes? They are still around and are decent sound quality. The tapes are $600. Buying a reel-to-reel tape is a better spend of $600 than the FT-818. Even if you don’t own a reel-to-reel player, it is a better purchase with your $600. The lab599 isn’t for me. The FT-818 isn’t for anyone.

Final Thoughts

It is just aggravating seeing the amateur radio community turn on each other, especially since there aren’t many of us to begin with. We need to band together as a community and be supportive of each other. The Radio Amateur’s Code on the ARRL website states that the radio amateur… “offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs,…”, meaning we need to act like a community. With everything that divides us as a nation, this should be the one thing that unites us as amateurs. Instead, some have found it as a way to shame others from enjoying this hobby their way.

I would encourage everyone to stop the negativity. It takes a simple comment. “We don’t shame others in amateur radio. We support them.” If you are one who is negative, what are you getting out of it? Have you ever seen someone come at you with a negative comments and thought to yourself, “Wow. I’ve been doing this wrong the whole time.”? Do you expect someone to see your comment and think the same thing? Shaming someone in amateur radio for spending their money on what they enjoy is sad. Don’t be that person. Be the person we want to make a contact with.

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