Ham Radio: The Old Guards vs Everyone Under 60

Submitted by gpmidi on Thu, 08/29/2019 - 17:01

For those who aren't aware, there is a bit of controversy in the ham radio community at the moment around Winlink. The tl;dr here is that a bunch of boaters started getting ham radio license so they could use Winlink to send and receive email when they're out at sea.

The problems started when a few of them started using it for more than personal use - they were using it commercially. This is strictly prohibited with ham radio. This is compounded by some of the boaters not using it properly; they'd use it on frequencies already in use by others at that time.

Both of these issues are pretty minor compared to the problems on the wasteland known as HF voice and some of the trolls on some repeaters. The problem should be dealt with using education and FCC and/or Winlink level enforcement.

Instead a ham, Ron K0IDT, got upset and is trying to get the FCC to ban Winlink over a few bad users. It's worth pointing out here that Winlink, an email over radio system, is the defecto communication protocol for large scale disasters that hams help with. It was heavily used in Puerto Rico recently and during Katrina to provide email for emergency personal and health-and-welfare messages for people in the affected areas.

Personally, I think this massively useful tool for both day-to-day ham radio usage is worth a lot. So much so that I'd rather have a closed protocol on the air than risk losing it. To be fair, I'd like to see cryptography allowed on ham bands too, but that's a topic for another post.

The old guard sees it as CW vs Winlink as it's usually CW (aka Morse code) conversations that get interrupted by inconsiderate Winlink users. They'd rather have CW (which has no practical uses anymore) over critical digital modes like Winlink.

Practically no one under 60 sides with killing off Winlink. The 60+ crew is split.

My stance is clear: Winlink and digital modes over CW

-Paulson / KG4TIH


PS I already emailed W2RU, the Roanoke Division ARRL director. All hams should do the same regardless of which side you stand on.