About a month ago, I wrote a column titled “Let’s Get on the Maker Bandwagon.” Basically, it says that Makers are the kind of people we want in ham radio, and it would be a good thing if ham radio (meaning the ARRL) had a presence at the Maker Faires. Also, I noted that if Dayton wanted to appeal to more than the same old crowd that it would have to be more like the Maker Faire.
A couple of days ago, I got this response:
Thanks for your well thought out column…BUT…
Makers are inner directed people…You can’t make makers make what you want them to make. Nobody can. They aren’t kit builders who only make the designs of others. They are often original craftsmen and artists…Unfortunately there may be little left for Ham makers to make that isn’t now being made in Japan or China using surface mounted microchips. The joy of trying to build stuff with war surplus parts after reading Hugo Gernsback magazines and catalogs is gone. Soon all of us real hams will also be gone…along with the Tesla coils and spark gap transmitters…as well as the CW bugs….and analog instrumentation. I have been taking to writing about the history of radio…especially amateur radio…because unfortunately there is more in our past than there is in our future.
OK on Dayton. The Dayton converntions are attended by fewer hams every year…The hobby is going to survive for some time…but it is gradually fading like a dampened wave. You will see its demise as QST becomes smaller and QSX stops publishing. There is now only the hope that a major national depesssion may save it for a while because the “makers” who are unemployed may resort to making powerless green economy crystal sets again as they did in the 1930s…but I doubt it because they may be too busy trying to reprogram the hard drives of discared refurbished computers, which may cost less than the components of a crystal set and not even need any elaborate antennas.
You can make some people make all kinds of stuff some of the time,
And you can make many people make some kinds of stuff some of the time,
But you can’t make all kinds of people make ham radio stuff none of the time,
Because..Them days are gone forever!
Once the fiber optic cable enters your home…The magic is gone!
AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!! I am really tired of this kind of pessimism. I e-mailed back:
Boy, if we all were as pessimistic as you, we’d really be up a creek, now wouldn’t we? You’re a VE. If the picture was as grim as you paint it, why even bother with that? And what’s so magical about optical fiber? When anybody can do it, it’s no longer magical.
Fortunately, I think that there will be plenty of “real” hams following along behind us, IF we bring ham radio into the 21st century. And that was the point of the article. You may not be able to make Makers, but we should be trying to attract those with the Maker mentality into amateur radio. They may not be making IC-756PROs or Orion IIs, but they will be making other fun radio gadgets, developing interesting amateur radio software, and moving ham radio into directions we haven’t thought of yet.
They won’t be doing it if guys like you are already writing them off, however.
I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I pledge to counter this kind of negative attitude in any way that I can. I’m open to any and all ideas as to how to do this.