October 1997 - Page 8
WHERE HAVE ALL THE UPGRADES GONE?
all the upgrades gone
A few short years ago, the Albany/Troy Volunteer Examiner Team (ATVET) had monthly exam sessions with 30 to 40 candidates per outing. Lately, the numbers have been more like 5 to 10; in fact, the most recent exam had only a single candidate! Where did everybody go? Perhaps you may think that some of our VEs had failed to shower regularly, but in fact, these declining numbers are occurring across the nation. The rate of upgrades in the U.S. has been in a steep slide, resulting in a license-class distribution in which about 50% of all hams have Technician-class licenses. The Tech license was originally introduced as an entry-class license, and apparently, a lot of people only want one foot in the door of Amateur Radio. That's such a pity, because Amateur Radio has so much more to offer than can be experienced with the limited privileges of an entry-class license.
Another disturbing trend that has been superimposed on the declining numbers of upgrades is the growing proportion of candidates who are apparently trying to guess their way to an upgrade. They do not seem to realize that understanding the material being tested is what makes one a ham, and that the license itself is just a learner's permit to allow one to make the transition -- through practice, experimentation, and experience.
What we find so puzzling is why so many folks are attracted enough to Amateur Radio to get a license, and then seem so reluctant to learn anything about it. We have seen too many faces at too many club meetings that are totally glazed over when any radio-related topic is being discussed. What is wrong? What were they expecting? Why did they want a license in the first place? Can they be brought into the fold? We hope we can find some answers to these questions before they are lost from the hobby forever.
Ready or Not
Wow doesn't it seem like only yesterday we were trying to beat the heat of Field Day and now we're talking Sweepstakes. It just doesn't seem right!
Anyway for those of you who enjoy contesting, and have some kind of HF privilages, it's show time. We're sure that there are at least a few who are interested enought to contest this year, let's hope so anyway! For some of you who have recently upgraded it's now you're time to shine. Over the years we've lost a lot of good contestors and we need you to fill the void, if we want to be competitive. If you've never tried contesting before you'll find this contest to be fun. That's right fun!
One thing we do know, we've heard a few of you working on the antenna sys- tems over the summer months and now you're ready to reap the benifits, that's good. Let's hope you break a few S-meters.
Those of you who need the rules for this contest should try the ARRL's Home Page at : http://www. arrl.org/ or refer to page 116 of October's QST. If any of you need some kind of assistance please try contacting our HF contest experts, Walt, WA1KKM, and Sue, N2LBR. However DON'T wait until the last minute, then expect these people to be able to help you out. If you have questions call them now at 456-3637.
Sweepstakes is broken up into 2 parts over the month of November. The first full weekend of the month is CW portion. The third full weekend is for phone. You don't have to enter both in order to participate! You can pick either one or both if you so choose. The exchange you'll use is a consecutive serial number, precedence ("A" if you run 150 watts or less, "B" if more than 150 watts, or "Q" if 5 watts or less), your call sign, check (last two digits of the year you were first licensed) and your ARRL/RAC Section. Good Luck!
SAMPLE SWEEPSTAKES EXCHANGE