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Reid Bristor wrote:

The homebrew concept has gone to the wayside.

Wayne replies:

I think homebrewing has just changed over the decades.

In the REALLY OLD days, homebrewing meant winding giant coils on oatmeal boxes, making condensors with glass plates and diodes with cat's whiskers, etc., in order to make very crude radio circuits.

Then in the OLD days, commercially-made components were available with far greater performance than could be attained with homemade components.  People started homebrewing circuits that were far more complex than what the pioneers used.  I have no doubt that some of the pioneers thought that it was "cheating" or "impure" to build fancy radios using all commercially-made components.

Nowadays, homebrewing has largely evolved into something completely different than circuit-building.  For some, it is "system" building, using a combination of purchased and home-built (or home-modified) modules.  For others, it is now a largely a software pursuit, experimenting with new computerized communication methods or using computers to control radios.

I suppose a smaller percentage of hams homebrew now - an inevitable result of a prosperous society and a well-developed amateur equipment industry that supplies inexpensive equipment with far better performance than what can be easily homebrewed.  But even the most deep-pocketed hams usually get involved with system design and construction as they put together a collection of transceivers, amplifiers, power supplies, transmission lines, towers, antennas, rotors, computers, etc.  Even the very simplest station, a handie-talkie, requires the buyer to learn about the band plan, local repeater frequencies and access codes, and how to program the radio.  Nothing in ham radio is as easy as paying your money at a car dealer and driving away with a new fully-functional car.

The explosion of communications in the world has taken away the appeal of ham radio as a "magic" communication medium (except for nostalgic purposes).  The appeal of ham radio to future generations will be technical experimentation.

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA
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