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KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1

ARRL: Love it? Hate it?

There's probably no dispute that the ARRL has been in the forefront of amateur radio for a long, long time, and has even served as the model for many if not most other, similar organizations serving ham enthusiasts in numerous countries. But it doesn't seem to be everyone's idea of what such an organization should be, and many feel that in some cases, it has either overstepped its bounds by lobbying Congress and the FCC without full support of its constituency, or failed to act in the best interest of amateur radio in some instances.

Significant case in point: The ARRL was instrumental in removing the code requirement from amateur licensing in this country, much to the dismay of a pretty good cross section of hams. Their feeling is that the FCC, and by implication the ARRL did much to dilute the hobby in that step.

Another sore point with some is the support that ARRL will provide to local ham radio clubs, but ONLY if a substantial pecentage of members are and maintain ARRL memberships. (I think it's in the 90+% area, not sure.) So joining your local club could conceivably cost you something like $20 of $25 for dues, PLUS $39 for the ARRL, although the local club may retain $15 of that if it processes the membership, I believe.

What's your feeling about the organization? Are you a member? Think it's overstepped its bounds, or it's out of reach of its membership?


GeekNJ
Premium
join:2000-09-23
Waldwick, NJ
Reviews:
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From the viewpoint of a newly licensed ham, so far they have been a valuable resource. I enjoy the monthly QST magazines and the information on the web site such as the review archive, etc.

Maybe a naive view of what I'm looking for in my "membership". I know there's more behind the scenes but I'm not a "political" type of guy and feel a donation/membership in organizations that are speaking for the majority of those involved is worthwhile. I wouldn't expect an individual to agree with everything someone/something else represents, but it's voluntary, and next year if they feel that their membership is not going to a group that represents them well they can withhold their ~$40.
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KA3SGM
- -... ...- -
Premium
join:2006-01-17
West Chester, PA
kudos:1
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reply to KeysCapt
*sign*- ARRL Member Here.

Agree with what they stand for in principle, but don't think they do enough to get people involved with the Hobby.

They seem to shun the more cutting edge hams, an example, they don't seem interested in the whole High Speed Multi Media(HSMM) arena.
You have hams out there running 50Mbps links with pretty much off-shelf WiFi gear over 50 mile hops(voice, video, and data), but ARRL tends to ignore those accomplishments,
and try to instead waste time trying to play nice with Illegal BPL providers.

We hams have a voice in Washington, but their priorities are all messed up.

QST runs both ways from month to month, some of it is interesting and informative, some of it I can't wait to use it to light the fireplace with.

I guess without ARRL though, we would have already seen many of our bands auctioned off already, so I can't fault them for that lobbying effort.

I do recognize they will shun the formation of Amateur Radio clubs that don't contain a sizable portion of ARRL members, when they should at least be glad that hams simply want to form a club and do their own thing.

I treat the membership fee as more of a magazine subscription, but the remainder of the organization does not necessarily represent the best of my interests.
--
"Lithium is no longer available on credit"


KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1
reply to KeysCapt
FWIW, I agree with both posts so far. The topic question was intended to foster some discussion.

I am also an ARRL member, and I do enjoy the magazine. I think some of the literature ARRL offers is exorbitantly expensive, but then some of it is seriously comprehensive, like the Handbook which is published every year.

In my personal opinion I'd like to see the organization return to the more grassroots hobbyist theme and get out of, or at least stop yelling about politics and regulatory matters, and become a little more user friendly. Ever try to do a search for a particular subject? What you get in many cases is a PDF file of QST articles, but no apparent way to access them.

This was the partial response to a search for "hygain". (Done for this topic, and not the genesis of it.) My point is that things like this cause people to go elsewhere, or wish they could.


Splitpair
Premium
join:2000-07-29
Cow Towne
kudos:3
reply to KeysCapt
Don't love don't hate it but I support it as I doubt I could find a Washington lobbyist who supports the hobby for less money.

Spectrum has value and the FCC has already tasted blood with the auction process a process noticed by a congress that has a never ending need for additional revenue.

Wayne
--
If you cannot fix it with a buttset and some beanies you ain't a technician.


Splitpair
Premium
join:2000-07-29
Cow Towne
kudos:3
reply to KeysCapt
said by KeysCapt:

Significant case in point: The ARRL was instrumental in removing the code requirement from amateur licensing in this country, much to the dismay of a pretty good cross section of hams. Their feeling is that the FCC, and by implication the ARRL did much to dilute the hobby in that step.
As an aside.

While I am sure it may seen to many as a dumbing down of the requirements I do believe in the end it will save the hobby. Personally I saw it as archaic and while I had to learn code as a job requirement I’d be danged if I was going to use it to pass a test for a license that I was not required to have. But that’s just me.

Wayne
--
If you cannot fix it with a buttset and some beanies you ain't a technician.


KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1
Actually, I think you could make a case that removing the code requirement probably brought many into the hobby who otherwise didn't want to be bothered learning it.

I don't have a dog in that hunt ... but I hope that CW never just slips away.


Splitpair
Premium
join:2000-07-29
Cow Towne
kudos:3
said by KeysCapt:

but I hope that CW never just slips away.
I don’t think that’s gonna happen as it has a “secret handshake” factor that will always attract a certain percentage of the hobby.

To some it means nothing and to others it presents a challenge to be met and beaten and regardless of the reason it keeps the gears of the mind turning preventing gumming up and failure and isn’t that the nice part of ham radio and other “thought involved” hobbies?

Wayne
--
If you cannot fix it with a buttset and some beanies you ain't a technician.


KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1
Agreed.
The other positive is that one may often make and hold a contact with CW when nothing else is making the trip.


drjim
Premium,MVM
join:2000-06-13
Long Beach, CA
kudos:3
No to go too far OT, but while I'm *very* sad to see CW dropped, especially for the Extra class exam, I know people who take exception to having to learn digital mode stuff, VE stuff, and satellite stuff because "I'LL never use it, and could care less about it".
I feel that to get the top class of license, you should demonstrate a wide ranging knowledge of Amateur Radio. I found the Advanced class license to be far more challenging than the Extra class, one of the reasons I kept my Advanced class callsign when I upgraded.
Back to the original topic...
I've been an ARRL member since 1964, when I was first licensed. Like it or not, the world changes, and I think the ARRL has tried to keep up with the changes. They tick off a lot of people when it seems they're not catering to the complainer's special interest, but I think as a whole they have the best interests of Amateur Radio at heart.
--
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n1zuk
making really tiny tech things
Premium
join:2001-10-24
Malta
kudos:2
reply to KeysCapt
said by KeysCapt:

Actually, I think you could make a case that removing the code requirement probably brought many into the hobby who otherwise didn't want to be bothered learning it.
Bringing people into the hobby may certainly be good for holding onto spectrum, but it isn't always a win.

A good example is when the "No Code Technician" license become available. There was a huge jump in the number of people getting licensed. Ten years later, there was a substantial drop in the number of licensed amateurs -- as many of those people who got their license at that time never continued with the hobby.

A greater perceived value is always given to those things hard earned. Spending hours to learn CW (even at 5 WPM), and then sitting down for a code exam element, will give one both the satisfaction of something hard earned and valued to them. These are the people who would likely be involved in the hobby for the long haul.

I've been using CW as an example in this post, but my feelings are mixed on the subject of its elimination as a requirement. You can't blame the ARRL for their position that they presented to the FCC. The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) had already changed its position regarding the CW requirements for HF amateur licensing, and several countries preceded the US in dropping the CW requirement. The ARRL, as a respected party by the FCC, presented what was felt as a reasonable proposal on how it should look. After all, who would you rather trust, the ARRL, or the FCC, when it comes to decisions on what is best for amateur radio?
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mocycler
Premium
join:2001-01-22
kudos:1
reply to KeysCapt
I'm not an ARRL member, never have been. I don't really have anything against them, but no one ever gave me a compelling reason to join up, either.

I've had my ticket since the 20 wpm Extra days. I learned it, took the test, and forgot it. Had the requirement not been dropped, ham radio would probably have faded away. Kids are growing up in a world of 100+ megabit networks and instant-everything; there is no practical value in tippy-tapping dits and dahs at 10 or 20 wpm. Ninety-nine percent of the "know code" crowd were cranky old farts who couldn't offer any better reason for it other than "I had to learn it, so everyone else should too," as if code were some fraternity hazing ritual or caste system.

I do wish the ARRL and ham radio well. It is a fun and interesting hobby that I will always enjoy with or without a formal structure.

mocycler



GeekGirl1
Premium
join:2007-01-28
Morrisville, PA
kudos:2

4 edits
reply to KeysCapt
I think the original question breaks down into:

How has the ARRL done regarding the lobbying of amateur radio interests in the Broadband over Power Line battles? Commercial interests vs. public spectrum.

How has the ARRL done in the CW requirement relaxation? International regulation vs. state-of-the-art.

How valuable is the ARRL to me for help with regulations and technical information? Personal interest.

I'm a life member without QST (it was a lot cheaper). Got it a really long time ago. Will check with the ARRL if it's still in their records.

I was one of those HF CW nuts who could copy 20+ wpm in my head. Fast-forward a lot of years, and today it gets a "resounding yawn" when compared to current technology which has left it in the dust. However, it still has a place (weak-signal work)- which is getting smaller as time passes on.

k3yl


Piggie
I Actually use Windstream
Premium
join:2005-11-23
Orange Springs, FL
I didn't like the idea at first of killing the code, but soon realized it was needed. However I feel like the other poster that making the Extra Class code free was over the top.

This may sound archaic now but I would not bother upgrading at this point to Extra. I kept my old Novice call. At the time I upgraded WD's were not considered a novice call but they ran out of WBs in 4 land. About 10 years later they came out with the advanced calls but by then so many knew my old call I didn't change it. Now I sorta wish I had applied for an Advanced 2x2, oh well.

I figure CW will die to a point, if it's not already there. And below about 35cm everyone already knows what works. Receivers aren't getting much quieter, antenna's are all about the same. But the thrill of weak signal is still there for some.

As far as the league goes, I signed up decades ago as a lifer for about $300 I believe. The magazine keeps coming and they probably have lost a ton of money on me.

Every hamfest I ever went to or club meeting someone didn't like the ARRL local or regional person. I never paid it any mind, too much like a soap opera to me.

My biggest beef was when we lost part of 220MHz. Me and allot of people were ready to roll out what was then wideband links in Florida and that put the stop to that. We tried building 900 rigs to replace them. That worked but the antenna were expensive, limited range, etc etc. Pretty much killed things for years. Then UPS never used the band. As far as I know it was never used.

I remember the leagues position on 220 then was save what we can, not fight like heck to keep it. I guess I can also add that to the list of reasons I stopped operating much. I move to building 220MHz FM repeaters around N. FL. We had them all linked, and that was fun for 1992 era.

But last, wow I am sure I have worked on heard you on the bands decades ago, if you always has that call geek girl.
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N3OGH
Yo Soy Col. "Bat" Guano
Premium
join:2003-11-11
Philly burbs
kudos:2
reply to KeysCapt
I was an ARRL member back when I first started, and then I let it lapse. For the most part, I think they're a good thing. I agree we wouldn't have half the spectrum we have now if it wasn't for the league being in Washington keeping an eye on the store.

They've also helped hold up the deployment of BPL. An important issue IMHO. No one can ignore the importance of PRB-1

I started out as a no code tech back in the early 90's, and later upgraded to General with my 12 WPM. I've got me a touch of that dyslexia thing, so leaning the code was tough for me. I was pretty active on the CW bands back during the last peak in the cycle, but most of it has left me at this point, and I've long since put my paddles away.

Even though learning the code was a struggle for me, I don't begrudge the removal of the requirement. Most countries around the world have dropped it. I don't really think it's going to bring about the apocalyptic result people think it will. Truth be told, it was dropped at the bottom of the cycle, and the small percentage of idiots and morons that would "act out" on the bands will sniff, take their swipe, and go away not realizing what the bands can do when they "open".

All and all, I would have to give the ARRL the "seal of approval". They do more good than bad.
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tigers

join:2001-01-14
Irmo, SC
reply to KeysCapt
Wow. I've been inactive in the hobby for a long time (1992 or so). Obviously I'm out of touch, but they dropped the code requirement for the Extra class license? Wow. I can understand eliminating the cw requirement for the majority of the licenses, but not for the Extra. I worked long and hard for my Extra class and actually got up to 35-40 wpm with CW (thought it's probably around 5 now, LOL) and now I feel like my hard work is cheapened a bit.

jay_rm

join:2002-04-12
Netville

1 recommendation

reply to KA3SGM
said by KA3SGM:

They seem to shun the more cutting edge hams
They're an organization trying to reflect the cross section of ALL members. Amateur radio is filled with more "special interest groups" then are countable. They made a decision to reflect the median interest in QST, which is more low-tech and newcomer friendly.

I've been a ham for 33 years and a life member of ARRL for almost all of it. Maybe if I had to pay a yearly membership fee, I'd feel different, but I support them 100%.

Sorry for the late post but I just discovered the forum


GeekGirl1
Premium
join:2007-01-28
Morrisville, PA
kudos:2
Yes, you can certainly feel differently if you have to pay a yearly membership fee.

I just checked my "life" membership. Turns out that if you joined as part of a household and then move out of the household, your "life" membership is null and void. Even if you didn't subscribe to QST.

The nice wooden "lifetime" membership plaque is now scrap. Not worth $39 / year.

jay_rm

join:2002-04-12
Netville
said by GeekGirl1:

I just checked my "life" membership. Turns out that if you joined as part of a household and then move out of the household, your "life" membership is null and void. Even if you didn't subscribe to QST.

The nice wooden "lifetime" membership plaque is now scrap. Not worth $39 / year.
Interesting - I didn't know such a membership existed. How much more did it cost over a normal individual life membership? How much of the original life member fee was allocated to you personally ?


GeekGirl1
Premium
join:2007-01-28
Morrisville, PA
kudos:2

2 edits
I don't remember how much I paid when I joined. However, it's buried in the membership renewal site: »www.arrl.org/forms/membership/
$975.00 Lifetime Regular Membership
$900.00 Lifetime 65+ Membership

Lifetime Family Memberships cost $200.00 for each additional household member. You may also purchase Family Memberships in annual increments for $8.00 per year.
Update: Here's the ARRL by-laws that relate to dues and Life Membership. »www.arrl.org/aabl.html
Dues

7. A special dues rate of 20% of the annual rate established in Bylaw 4, rounded to the nearest dollar, with all membership privileges except the receipt of QST, shall apply to any Member who meets either of the following criteria:

(a) is legally blind; or

(b) is the husband or wife, brother or sister, son or daughter, or father or mother of another member who lives at the same address and is either a Life Member or is paying dues in accordance with By-Law 4 or 5. In the event of the decease of such principal member, his or her spouse will continue to receive QST until the expiration of the current family membership.

Life Membership

8. Life Membership in the League is available upon payment of twenty-five times the annual dues rates set forth above.

9. Life Membership is not transferable; however, upon the death of a Life Member, it may pass to a surviving spouse upon request, if he or she is a Family Member and licensed at the time of the Life Member's death. A new Life Member plaque, if desired, will be available for a one-time fee of $25.00.

10. Should a Life Member who paid dues at a multiple of the special rate established in By-Law 7 cease to be eligible for the special rate, his membership shall cease and the amount paid shall be creditable toward a Life Membership, including receipt of QST, at the then-current rate.


GeekGirl1
Premium
join:2007-01-28
Morrisville, PA
kudos:2
Bump. I just updated the life membership criteria in my previous post. Turns out that the ARRL by-laws do indeed state that your membership is null and void if you move out of the "family" household.


KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1
That seems pretty cheesy, to me. As long as only one person actually accesses the life membership, what's the problem? To render it null and void is crummy, unless what they're saying is someone else, a licensed ham still in the household, retains the membership.

Otherwise I'd be pretty unhappy, if it were me.


GeekGirl1
Premium
join:2007-01-28
Morrisville, PA
kudos:2

4 edits
It is me, and I am pretty unhappy. They are saying that if the family member (the one who isn't the full life member) moves to a different location than the main life member, that person's membership is null and void.

IMO, the ARRL doesn't seem to understand the difference between the services offered and the price paid for the service. They are selling a life membership. You get a discount if someone who lives in your house also joins. Both get life memberships. Done deal. The benefit to the ARRL is that they get revenue for 2 memberships where otherwise they would get only 1. The ARRL offers a "credit" towards full membership, which is really just a way of getting back the perceived "lost" revenue from that 2nd member.

They don't get it. Their revenue would have been zero in the first place. Would you spend $200 knowing that you may move within the next year or 2? Too many situations where this can occur (both good and bad) and I won't go OT with a list. The pricing structure is a risk on their part of attracting members vs. revenue. Give me a discount as a family member and I'll join.

The problem is that the terms "life" and "family" member are in conflict. A standard "family" member ceases to exist if you move out. That's accepted by just about everyone. However, a "life" member means just that, regardless of location. They need to adjust their by-laws to remove the conflict.

As my membership has ceased to exist, I can't petition to change the by-laws. I'm voting with my credit card. Zero to ARRL.


KeysCapt
FAQ Master
join:2001-07-11
Carson City, NV
kudos:1
said by GeekGirl1:

I'm voting with my credit card. Zero to ARRL.
I'm wit' dat.
Only problem is, they don't get the feedback, but oh well.