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RE: Digital is worthless

> Field day was great for our club out in the open and on a 
> hill in north 
> Baltimore county. One thing was noticed when trying to 
> operate APRS, packet 
> and the sats.  Digital modes are worthless for any type of 
> emergency, either 
> simulated or contest setup. The time it takes to  get them 
> setup and working 
> is not worth the effort at all. Computer screens cannot be 
> seen during 

Well, that depends on the setup.  Yes, digital modes can be a pain to setup.
However, with modes like APRS, there's usually less setup in the field,
provided you can find a local base station or two (especially useful if the
base stations are like myself and have several hours of emergency power
capability - at this stage, only the radios are covered, but I'm looking for
a laptop that will run off 13.8V (or use a low powered inverter with a
laptop) to run the APRS station on, so it can have emergency power too).

It should be reasonably easy to deploy the Kenwoods with a GPS as well.  Of
course, there's also the fallback option of voice back to a base who can put
information into the APRS network.
More thn one way to skin the digital cat. ;-)

> daylight hours oudoors, various rigs will not work with just 
> any TNC etc.  
> Our club has found that the only dependable means of 
> communicating every 
> single time is the use of CW. A message can get through just 
> by touching two 
> wires together if need be. Fortunately there is still much 
> use of CW in the 

Quite true, CW can't be dismissed either.  It's simple, cheap and efficient.
Just the shot for bare bones comms.

> HF bands where we racked up a very good score because CW 
> contacts were worth 
> 2 points this year on Field Day. The visitors that brought 
> the digital 
> equipment to try and help our score had no expertise 
> whatsoever in using CW 
> and had to just sit around and listen, ( we used them for the 
> labor part of 
> breaking down ).  Anyway, is is terrible that many hams no longer are 
> interested in using the simplest and most reliable mode of 
> communications.  

I think the future of CW lies in the hands of the practitioners, as does the
rest of amateur radio.  it's up to those with the interest to carry the
torch and pass it on to others who show any interest.  I think the future
dropping of the Morse exams could turn out to be a good thing if we play our
cards right.  It takes the "compulsion" out of the code, and places it
alongside all the other modes.  I feel a lot of people will _want_ to learn
Morse and work CW, simply because (a) it's there, and (b), it works under a
lot of adverse circumstances.  Good timing, last night, I hauled out the
Morse practice software and wound the speed beyond 20 WPM and had a short
session.  Hope to make that a habit, and become competent at the code,
instead of merely being able to pass the exams (I have 5WPM, and am a little
below 10, which I won't worry about, with the 5WPM changes imminent here).

If we want the code to stay as a mode, it's up to us to "sell" it to those
hams who haven't given it a try.  It's not everyone's cup of tea, but the
reaction of a few young people on seeing the key at a public demonstration
indicates that at least some newcomers to the hobby are likely to give Morse
a go, for their own interest. :-)
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