ham radio
Why I Prefer Digital Ham Radio Modes

Why I Prefer Digital Ham Radio Modes

It’s a big debate these days. One group in the amateur radio community would tell you digital modes like FT8 are killing the hobby. Ask another, and they will say digital modes are saving it. I’m not going to get into the guts of why each one may they the way they do. I’m simply here to talk about why I myself am not too interested in your traditional rag-chew.

Short Attention Span

A lot of this comes from the fact I’m a millennial. Millennials, as shown by study’s, have a much shorter attention span. I’m not afraid to admit that. After all, we grew up in an age of cell phones and 20 second internet videos. Some of it also comes down to how you value spending your time. I’m goal oriented. I like to chase DX, and make as many contacts as I can. Digital modes are the best way to do that. I don’t have to stop and talk 20 minutes every contact.

Empty Conversation

The really hard truth is I despise shallow drawn-out conversation. Unfortunately for me, this is the norm when you make voice contacts with someone over amateur radio. Every contact starts the same, introductions, where we are located. Then we move on to the weather, and eventually the guts of the rag-chew, our setup. Then somehow we try to draw this section out as long as possible. How high is the antenna? What gear do you have? How long have you had it? The conversation goes on until their is nothing left to be said, 73’s are given and it’s on to the next one. I can only talk about my gear so many times before it gets exhausting. A rag-chew to me is a competition to see how long you can talk about nothing. But perhaps it just comes down to different reasons for being there. Maybe my contact is lonely and just wants to chat. I only wish that we could talk about something with more depth or value.

I’m an Introvert

I’m an introvert. I usually go out of my way to have quiet time with myself. That reflects when I play radio. Digital modes allow me to explore the hobby in a way that is comfortable for me. I don’t have to “talk” to anyone, and I can continue making contacts regardless. Weather you are for or against digital modes, they are here to stay. I’m not here to cast shade on those who rag-chew. But maybe someone who wonders why some play digital will find this, and understand a little more.

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6 thoughts on “Why I Prefer Digital Ham Radio Modes

    • Author gravatar

      “Digital modes allow me to explore the hobby…” Can you please elaborate on what you can do with digital modes? Get as technical as you want, hardware, protocols, users, computer compatibility, etc. THANKS! 🙂

      • Author gravatar

        I guess its only limited to your technical ability. With a compromised antenna system, weak signal modes like psk31 allows me to still get dx when I could never on voice. (I guess CW would be an option though). I also like to tinker and link internet relay stations with RF. For example, sending email and sms over HF via JS8s ability function as an APRS gateway. I like to experiment, so earlier in my youtube channel I used PSK31 to send html webpages over 2m radio. In an emergency scenario, you can have proper weak signal long distance communication with an entry level HF radio, and a raspberry pi. .These are things I could never do without my ticket. But the hobby itself has allowed me learn much more about how RF works, and to use it in every day electronics projects where I’d have no clue before.

        • Author gravatar

          I realize that the ham radio hobby is going through a digital transformation (evolution) like many other things on Earth. The Internet seems to be affecting every communication technology on the planet including ham radio. Can someone suggest a book to read that covers this phenomenon? My new call sign is KJ7YQF.

    • Author gravatar

      A big advatege is also, you can hear Musik while playing Radio.
      Also a benefit for me …

    • Author gravatar

      I’m a boomer but I don’t care for superficial conversations either. I’m not terribly interested in your rig (or mine) unless there is something novel, unique, or genius about it. Informed conversations on useful topics can be a real treat. But the rules of amateur radio restrict some of those topics. So, yeah, digital modes and prepper matters are what hooked me. Odd locations too – like VE3KCL’s WSPR balloon flight of April 2016…what an extraordinary undertaking! Also, the fantastic kits from Hans Summers. The hobby wouldn’t be the same without them.

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