The reasons why I gave up this hobby...


As you can read in the 'History' section, I was a very motivated person since the 1980's. After having started as a CB operator, I soon went to a higher level and decided to dedicate most of my free time to hamradio. I also invested a huge amount of money in this hobby, so lots of people were surprised to see that I gave it up after being very active for more than 20 years.


I want to point out that it is not my intention to ventilate some kind of frustration here, I only want to give a view of hamradio as I experienced it.


It starts somewhere in the beginning of the 80's when I saw an announcement in a local newspaper appealing all those interested in hamradio to inscrive for a series of lessons given by ex-ON4DB, who was the chairman of the local hamradio club ON7LR of the UBA (Royal Belgian Amateur Radio Union). A very good friend of me, Jos N. who also obtained his ON-4 license a few years later, agreed that we would inscribe for this lessons and go for a hamradio license. To be as prepared as possible for the national exams, we also followed some extra lessons in Mechelen, given by the local section ,of the UBA, ON4MCL. All these efforts payed off when we passed our tests.


The overall relation with ON7LR and its indifferent attitude as I felt it


As could have been suspected, we both became enthousiastic hamradio operators, trying to get out as much of the hobby as possible. For instance, with the yearly field days, we dedicated the complete weekend helping ON7LR from the start to the end. Putting up antennas, operating the microphone during the night shifts, filling the generator fuel at night to provide all participants with sufficient electrical power and much more. We already noticed that some older members of ON7LR argued that the section should be careful to let 'CB-ers', as we were called contemptuously, perform some tasks of importance (e.g. operating the transmitters), despite the fact that the both of us made some nice contacts yielding extra points in the contest. We just ignored these remarks and just went on doing whatever we could for the benefit of the section. A few years later, Jos got married and moved to another town which meant we both could go on our own way from that moment, but we stayed in contact whenever possible.


From the point of my fundamental intrest in electronics, I tried to make my own equipment as much as possible. Realising that others in the section where specialists in their specific discipline, I sometimes asked for some help regarding a particular project I was working on. The reaction was astonishing as I was asked why I did not just go to a store and buy me what I needed instead of trying to build it myself. For me, experimenting was one of the major tasks for a ham operator as has been provid numerous times in history and so I tried to find out more by searching on the internet untill I succeeded in my projects giving me a lot of satisfaction to see my home-mae stuff work at last!


In 2008, I bought another house so the tower and all antenna had to be disassembled, so I asked the section to help me. None of the members responded, and when I asked it again, they told me they would help me only if I would donate the tower, all antenna, rotors, etc. to the section. I obviously refused and sold it all via the internet.


The story of the TX amplifier I never saw again...


At some time, the section organised some event where second-hand equipment would be buyed or sold by ham operators. At that time, I still was a student and had a part-time job as a waiter to earn some extra money for my hobby. One of the sellors, had a nice amplifier with professional CX250 tubes for sale. It had been confiscated from a local, illegal, broadcasting station and was intended to be used in the 100-120 MHz range. Although it came with at a considerable price, I bought it after another ham ON6PU promised me to adapt the inner Lecher lines for the 2 meter hamradio band (144-146 MHz). He took it home and I never saw it back. A few years later I asked for it and was told that an extra coaxial relay had to be bought for the adaptation, so I bought this component and delivered it to him two days later, never to be seen again as well in the 30+ years that has passed since then...


The lax attitude of ham operators in general


As I was trying to get me some awards (more info on this in the 'QSL' section), I sent a great amount of QSL cards to ham stations all over the world. For every contact I made a QSL card (and often more than once if I did not get any answer) was sent immediately, via the national bureau or directly.

Unfortunately, lots of ham operators don't want to do a little effort to send me their QSL card, needed to get the awards, and so I never succeeded in getting some of the wanted awards, despite the fact that I did forfill the qualifications but could not prove it.


As the years passed by, I noticed that the mentality of the hamradio world started to change. Due to the fact that the number of people interested in the hobby declined rapidly (which can partially be explained by the rise of the internet), the government decided to lower the required level to get a ON-call and the CW exam was abolished despite the fact that CW is used very frequently on almost all lower hamradio bands. From that time on, the mentality for which I initially wanted to get away from CB radio, entered the hamradio frequencies. And even more, in return new national regulations were approved meaning that every ham operator had to send in a extensive file with a lot of measurement results on electromagnetic radiation of his station, detailed plans with the antennas, etc. which eventually could result in getting some restrictions on matters that never had been questionned before.


The general loss of the 'thrill' contacting a station 1000's of miles away...


In the 1980's, as well as in the early 1990's, the internet was still mostly unknown to the general public. The same goes for mobile phones. So when I managed to contact e.g. a ham station from South-America or Africa, it was some sort of a triumph. Depending on the always changing composition of the different atmospheric layers one had to 'wait' untill a specific band was 'open' for long distance communication. Often, this was at night so you really had to plan it well in advance. Nowadays, everyone can contact any point in the world at any time just by using the internet or even a mobile phone.


So, was it all negative? No, that is why I also want to point out some positive thoughts...


I want to underline that I had a lot of fun with this hobby for about 20 years. My general know-how on electromagnetic radiation was enlarged substantially and due to my home-built projects, I learned a lot of skills. In contrast with many other members of the section, who, as I felt, regarded me as a outsider with my PhD degree in (Analytical) Chemistry amongst the technically educated hams, I had a very friendly relation with Staf Mees ON6UA (silent key), who took care of the weekly ATV broadcasts on thursday evening for many decades.


Being a teacher in a local high-school, I organised a voluntary electronics course on friday evenings after class, which lead to several new hamradio operators. So, at one time, I decided to organise a hamradio event during the annually open house of the school. Especially Leo, ON6LK who succeeded ON4DB (silent key) as chairman of ON7LR, helped me a lot, both on organising and on putting up some equipment at the school for demonstration purposes.