Monday, October 22, 2012

Why I should quit the radio hobby

Where is my radio?
A shocking title. Yes. I've been thinking about quitting the HAM radio hobby for the time being the last couple of weeks. At least it's just a hobby and a way to spend time. Time which I absolutely don't have at the moment. The preliminary shack is a big mess and there is actually no room for my radio gear at the moment. Except for it to pack in the original boxes and store it with the other things we don't have room for at this moment. The antennamast is still down in the garden waiting for better times already for almost 5 years at the moment. There is  no time and money to set it up again at the moment. Then my new shack, I had only 45 minutes to work on it last weekend. That way it will take at least a year or longer to install all the equipment and be on the air again. Still waiting for more then a year now are the W5OLF WSPR TX kit and the PA1B design attenuator which I have the parts for. I still didn't finish my simple USB soundcard modem, only solved the small TX problem. Besides the time issue we probabely get into financial problems the next years, all because of the crisis and things getting very expensive these days. Last year we spend 200 KWh extra on our normal electricity consumption. Of course this is all my fault because of my energy wasting radio hobby. And yes I think that could be, having the radio and computer sometimes switched on 24 hours  for several days only to get a few new WSPR spots. This means I have to search for another (energy) solution for the new radio shack if I want to continue this hobby and enjoy for instance WSPR. I have a 45 hour job, more then 55 hours together with the time that I travel to get there and back.When I come home familylife is at the first place. After that I'm too tired to switch the radio on to listen or make a QSO before we go to bed. Most of the time I read some e-mail and blogs in the evening although I do that also in lunchbreak on the job. I don't know if it is valuable to continue with this hobby? I read about great propagation on 10m, great DXpeditions that are easy to work and very good WSPR results lately. Things I cannot take part in at the moment. I can only read and dream about it. A lot of HAM radio amateurs quit the hobby when they get kids and have to work hard earning money. Probabely that time has come for me! Probabely I write that I came back to the hobby in about 10 years?  I'll sleep a couple of nights to think about it. May be it's just a small dip...

Een schokkende titel. Ja. Afgelopen tijd heb ik wel eens zitten denken om voorlopig maar te stoppen met de radio hobby. Tenslotte is het maar een hobby en puur tijdverdrijf. Tijd wat ik absoluut op het moment niet heb. De voorlopige shack is een absolute chaos, eigenlijk is er geen ruimte meer voor de spullen behalve in hun originele doos en dan maar bij de rest van de spullen waar we geen ruimte voor hebben. De mast ligt hier al bijna 5 jaar in de tuin er is gewoon geen tijd voor en al helemaal geen geld om het ding weer op te zetten. Mijn nieuwe shack schiet ook nog niet op, dit weekend in 2 dagen tijd ongeveer 45 minuten tijd gehad in totaal om er aan te werken. Zo gaat het nog zeker een jaar of langer duren voordat ik mijn radio spullen er weer neer kan zetten. Dan heb ik nog allerlei projecten al meer dan een jaar liggen zoals de W5OLF WSPR TX kit, de verzwakker naar ontwerp van PA1B waar ik al onderdelen voor heb en natuurlijk het USB soundcard modem waarvan ik het TX probleem heb opgelost maar verder nog niets. Buiten dat komen we de komende tijd waarschijnlijk in financiële problemen, uiteraard heeft dat alles te maken met de crisis tijd en dingen die erg veel duurder worden. Aangezien we dit jaar meer dan 200 KWh extra elektriciteits verbruik hadden word dat volledig toegewezen aan mijn energie consumerende hobby. En terecht, immers voor WSPR had ik de computer en radio soms wel meerdere dagen 24 uur achter elkaar aan staan. Dit betekend dat er voor de nieuwe shack ook een andere (energie) oplossing moet komen wil ik doorgaan met de hobby en met name met WSPR. Op het moment werk ik 45 uur in de week en inclusief reistijden door de week meer dan 55 uur van huis. Als ik thuis kom komt het gezinsleven op de eerste plaats en 's avonds ben ik vaak te moe om nog de radio aan te zetten om er een half uurtje achter te kunnen zitten voordat we naar bed gaan. Meestal lees ik 's avonds de blogs van collega zendamateurs en de e-mail nog even door, iets wat ik door de week ook nog vaak even in de middagpauze doe. In het weekend kom ik er vaak niet eens aan toe. Op dit moment weet ik eigenlijk niet of het nog zin heeft om door te gaan met de hobby? De laatste tijd lees ik van de goede condities op 10m, de mooie DXpedities die vrij makkelijk te werken zijn, de zeer goede WSPR resultaten. Maar helaas kan ik nergens aan mee doen. Ik kan er alleen maar over lezen en dromen. Vaak lees ik van zendamateurs dat ze een tijd gestopt zijn rond de tijd dat men kinderen had en ze ook hard moesten werken voor hun geld. Misschien is die tijd voor mij ook gekomen en schrijf ik over een jaar of 10 dat ik weer helemaal terug ben met de hobby. Ik ga er nog eens een paar nachtjes over slapen en er goed over denken. Ach, misschien is het ook maar een dipje....


  1. Ach een dipje is normaal...

    Ook jaren op een laag pitje gestaan maar nu weer lekker bezig :-)



  2. Ha die Bas, dat dipje gaan we allemaal wel eens door, al dan niet gepland. Ik ben zelf nauwelijks actief momenteel, met van alles en nog wat bezig behalve radio. Dat is alweer een half jaartje zo.
    Om dan zomaar weer een paar uur te vinden en met de radio's bezig te zijn. Ik herken dit wel, ik ben de 1ste 4 jaar na de geboorte van Amber ook niet echt met de hobby bezig geweest, gewoon geen tijd. Komt vanzelf weer een moment dat je die tijd wel hebt!

    Goud goan!

    Kees PE2KM

  3. Don't do it Bas, you'll regret it.

    Keith, G6NHU

  4. Bas, what you describe is normal for a busy, responsible parent. I too have very little time with my radios and go months at a time between QSOs. I'm finding that as my children get older I am finding a little more time here and there to get on the air. For now my projects are in stacks like yours but I follow the advice of my XYL who says schedule a little time with your radios each week (or month) and do nothing else. If you aren't intentional and schedule shack time, you will rarely find the time.

    Good luck & 73.

    Phil, K4NE

  5. Bas,

    You should not feel guilty about doing other things whether it be hobbies or family. It is, as you say, a hobby and hobbies can and should be picked up and put down so they can be picked up again at a later time... or not. Life is way too short for not spending time with your family and on pursuits which excite you.

    Pack it away, use your money for your other needs and when the time comes that you are ready for it, pick it up again and enjoy it.


  6. Hallo Bas, Gezin gaat altijd voor, een hobby is maar een hobby. Ik hoop dat je financiële problemen van tijdelijke aard zijn. Ik heb die periodes ook gehad, alles opgezegd wat ik niet echt nodig had. etc. Misschien even afstand nemen van de radio, lekker gaan wandelen als je even tijd hebt met de kleine meid. De radio komt ooit wel weer een keer. Over 11 jaar is er weer een nieuwe zonnevlekken cyclus. ;-) Radio kan ook met een zendertje en een simpele draad. Meer doe ik eigenlijk ook niet. Je machtiging is voor het leven, dus... rustig aan, hoofd koel houden, 73 Paul

  7. I'll try to be pragmatic...
    1 - Energy: Ask the boys at Google in the harbor, they are nice people and will let you use some of their energy, the power plant is almost for them.
    2 - If number one doesn't work, then put a small solar panel or a wind turbine (better wind turbine on your case, I luckily have more sun than wind)
    3 - Do only QSO's at the weekend or when time permits, some people are happy doing a QSO with a pixie others have to do allband dxcc, both are ham's
    4 - Put screws holding the radios brackets to the operating table, you will loose the will to remove any radio (trust me, it works)
    5 - Don't have time to put the mast? Get a slingshot and send a piece of wire over your neighbor roof...
    6 - Get a good night sleep, I'm sure tomorrow it's another day!
    7 - Have fun!

  8. Hallo Bas,

    Met stoppen met deze prachte hobby los je echt niks mee op.
    Ik stuur je wel een email.

    Sterkte en 73,
    Hans, PE1BVQ

  9. Hi Bas,

    I know it's tough, last year I sold my Icom 746Pro which isn't the most expensive radio but when you have none they all seem expensive! I got out of the hobby for similar reasons but my wife told me she wanted me to try and get back into it because she knows how much I like it. Plus I tried not to interfere in family time much.

    I was given a Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V as a gift from a company I do a lot of contract work for which blew my mind. It's not that often a company does something like that but apparently they like my work so hard work can pay off.

    I have a similar commute as you do, I average 2 hours to work and 2 hours home. Combine that with working 75+ hour work weeks finding time for family becomes hard and harder.

    Since I got so lucky with the radio I bought a few dipoles that I'm working RF issues out with but in the mean time I set the rig up with remote control using either Super Control or Ham Radio Deluxe and then using Skype for the audio.

    I did this by remote controlling my Windows Home Server 2011 and calling my laptop with Skype so I get audio and I can control the rig with the server or with the laptop and Ham Radio Deluxe.

    You can even do this when spending time with the family using headphones. No PTT yet but I'm working on it!

    Now when I'm working late at night in a server room I can listen to some QSO's and not feel to bad about working at 3am!

    Utility bills have gone through the roof. Here in Illinois our taxes have gone up 67% in one year, the toll roads have gone up 600% over the last few years and property taxes are sky high even after most homes have lost 80 to 100,000 in value.

    It's tough for everybody these days, I wish you luck in sorting it out.



  10. First of all, calm down Bas. You are going through a series of crises which will eventually be resolved. Perhaps not as you would ideally wish for but resolved never the less. Electric bill (EDF here), is reduced by, well, less use of electricity. You don't need me to tell you how that is done. You already know the drill. Lights out when rooms are empty, energy efficient light-bulbs, washer/dryer used at off-hours, your's and kids' computers off more often, cut back on cell-phone use. etc. Good advice can be found from different consumer organizations.

    As far as work hours are concerned, consider yourself lucky. Think of those who remain unemployed for YEARS. At least you have a job to go to. And for the hours? Many USA workers must work a full day plus go to a part-time job when they finish the first. You have health insurance. Too many USA workers have none at all. And those that do, must pay thousands of $ to have it. I bring up the USA because I know it and am aware of the social programs it lacks.

    Amateur radio? Do more with less as the expression goes. Too much "Stuff"? Sell it! Including un-erected antennas. Make an end-fed wire antenna, make/get a QRP rig and 3-7 amp power supply. Practice cw during time available. 24-hour a day WSPR? Forget it. If your ears can't hear the other station, why bother?

    Take care of your health, practice meditation (no kidding). If you have a nervous breakdown, you will add to your family's woes.

    Keep your blog up and don't fret if your posts are less radio and more personal. You have friends out there who never had the pleasure of a QSO.

    73 Dick

  11. Don't give up, take a break if you need to, blog when you want to not because you feel you have to. If you sell up, you'll regret it one day for sure.


    Julian, G4ILO

  12. Good morning Bas, well it's my turn to sound off....:). I can remember when my two kids were young and work was a 16 hour day (plus 2 hour round trip drive) There was not much time at all for radio. I did keep it out but used it only now and then. But the now and then times were very calming and it allowed me to get some relaxing time. As others have said keep it out, don't sell it.

  13. Hi,
    Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Amateur Radio Community? Our members will appreciate it.
    Members include: Amateur radio broadcasters, Ham radio operators, Amateur radio enthusiasts and experts, clubs, etc.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Photos, Videos and Classifieds if you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    Please feel free to share as often and as much as you like.
    The Amateur Radio Community:
    I hope you consider sharing with us.
    Thank you,
    James Kaufman, Editor

  14. Hallo Bas, als opa, heb ik mij gerealiseerd, dat genieten het allerbelanrijkste is. Geniet van je gezin, radio, bloggen enz, maar het gaat niet allemaal tegelijk. Maar ik herken ook het gevoel van de verplichting. hi. 73, Bert

  15. Bas,this may be a hobby but for me, it's one of my few inexpensive sources of pleasure. Yes, your electric bill may have gone up but if you compare the fun and enjoyment that you get out of it, it's not that expensive. It's also a hobby that keeps you at home, which is a good thing for those with a family life.

    I think if the expense is getting to you, then just operating one day a week or during contest weekends lets say, might be a better way to have fun. At least on contest weekends, you can get lots of contacts in a short period of time. It's exciting, fun, and feeds the desire to enjoy the bands. I'm not very active in the summer months due to our short season but it sure helps me make it through the long, dark and cold winters here.

    Anyhow, the beauty of the license is that you can use it when you have time. I would imagine most of your equipment is paid for so it's not really costing you anything anyhow. You may regret the jump so I would just take a step back and rethink. On the opposite side of things,I've nearly been burned out so it can go the other way. I think the solution is finding that perfect balance between life and radio and sticking with it. I'm with many others here thinking you should stick it out and enjoy the solar peak while you can. It won't be long before 10 meters closes for several years and we bottom out again, solar cycle wise anyhow.

  16. Hello Bas,

    Family should always come first. Radio second. Don't feel bad about trying to resolve that issue. Play with radio when you can, and above all, "keep it simple". I've found that "one" radio is enough and it's irrelevant how many DX contacts I make. I never had the time for the hobby until I retired but even now, a simple "chat" with another QRP operator is the most satisfying of all. Keep the family first, and your responsibilities to it a priority. They'll be time for radio later. The skills you've learned will not be forgotten and the enjoyment will come back when it's supposed to. The great thing about acquiring any kind of knowledge is that it can never be taken away from you. You will be able to pick up where you left off when the appropriate time comes.

  17. Bas, mijn huub huub barbatruc: geen opstelling thuis maar wel spullen "standby" in de achterbak van de auto. En dan af en toe tussen werk en thuis een stop maken voor wat /P QSO's (soms maar 1 of 2).
    Ik heb dan nog de mazzel van een flexibele agenda zodat ik 1 tot 2 keer per maand een FF of kasteel op kan zoeken. Het leuke daaraan is dat je zoveel mensen spreekt dat je er wel weer even een tijdje tegen kunt.
    Succes met de work-life-balance-stress.

  18. Bas, I think it would be a very sad day for our hobby if you were to stop blogging about it !

    de EI2KC

  19. Hi Bas,
    I think that most of us ask this question to ourself for one of other reason.In my eyes the radio isn't only a hobby.
    I'm at home all days and for me it's to kill some time during the day.Not that i am 24/7 behind it or make alot of QSO's during the week...Even if it's looking at Clusters or listening to some Qso's..Enjoying the radio means for me also not thinking about pain or other matters.
    When i am contesting in the weekends...i don't feel the pain i normal do...but on mondays it's worse..i know why..

    radio is in your blood..and will never get out of it.Today you have less time or sometimes no time at all.Don't bother if others make easy qso's with DXpeditions...they talk about easy..but make maybe hours for it.

    You have now the family that come at number one..and thats very important and a good thing.I think there are plenty of OM that doesn't think that way and are more married to their radio's etc...Enjoy the way you want it..the radio doesn't go away.
    And what others can send on a simple wire..but you have your vertical antenne as well.
    And your blogging will be missed by many others...from your Radio Family..

    Best wishes Bas,

    Bernard PD7BZ

  20. Over dramatic trife. I get depressed the same way too. The problem is HF. The big antennas and radios and waste of space time and money and a huge inconvenient mess, I eventually grew out of shortwave stuff and saw how it was part of the problem sometime. You can still HAM and do family and work stuff. Just adapted a more minimalist attitude of nice simplicity and went more with UHF and VHF Just eleminated most things and got a nice handheld and a few nice whips and couple antennas though I usually keep the 15 inch whip on most of the time. When I wanna do something else I can, all it takes is the space for the little cradle charger it sits on. Good size to take everywhere with you if you want. Take it in the morning to school or work or shopping or whatever event you are at. Keep it in a bag, use it on lunch, during work on slow days, between things while walking around the store. I take mine lots of places and have lots of fun and still do other stuff at the same time too. Mixes it up. I use to carry mine in high school as well, show it off with friends, chat on simplex or sometimes repeater on lunch and between class and even during some classes as well as during the commute to and from and hanging out around the beach or having a snack at home after. Base station is nice but I'm a real HT lover now.


Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas