Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Radio clubs or why hams shouldn't meet

You've probably heard of group think. It's what happens when you put a bunch of people together in a room and try to discuss an issue. Pretty soon all logic leaves and you're left with opinions, half-facts, fighting, chaos, cats and dogs living together.

I'm a member of a radio club that's one of the oldest in the state. In my 40's, I'm one of the youngest members. And boy, it tries my patience every time I attend a meeting. You see, my day job as an IT manager is all about not having meetings. Meetings are just about useless - you put 30 people in a room and you're guaranteed to not get anything accomplished. So all day long I solve complex problems by putting the right people together, usually without a meeting.

Now comes the fourth Wednesday of the month...time for the radio club meeting. After the typical reading of the minutes, treasurer report, and updates on our nearly non-existent ARES group comes discussion about the local repeater. It's been around since FM was invented, sits on 146.94 and at 200ft AGL on a high-point still only has about a 8 mile range. It is in terrible need of some TLC. But it isn't because of the RF deck...it's because the feedline is shot, the 20 bay antenna is broke in the middle, and no one wants to climb the tower. Not to mention, the owner of the tower has no other tenants and could decide to tear the thing down any day. So what are we talking about tonight? Buying a Yaesu Fusion machine.

This is when the engineer in me just about loses it. You've got a problem - poor repeater performance. And you know the cause - bad feedline and a broken antenna. So you decide to spend what limited funds you have on a new RF deck. Geez.

KB6NU once wrote (and I'm paraphrasing) that if you don't like the radio club you're in, start your own. I'm lucky enough to be in another club that meets virtually either on the air or over email. No big group-think meetings, great technical discussions, and a shared interest in new technologies. For all that ham radio gives us, meeting in a room with a bunch of hams is the last thing we should be doing. Swapping stories on the air, helping each other out, rallying to solve a problem, meeting for coffee...those are great things. Meeting just to meet because that's what we do every 4th Wednesday is not ham radio.

In the end, some wiser club members decide that spending the limited funds on Fusion isn't the right thing to do. Instead, they will solicit some donations on the side. Will that solve the performance problems? Nope, not in the least. But hey, that's not why this club meets.

1 comment:

Satya said...

True and I agree, meetings are of no use and we don't accomplish anything end of it.