Back to the freeband Bill Orr’s take in 1990

This was sent to me by my mate Ed in Canada…If you made a quad for CB in the 70’s or 80’s chances were you had that red quad CB hand book by your side. This is one of the guys that wrote it..I think there were 2 of them…been too long ago…

“I understand that the running number of radio Amateurs remains nearly constant. That is to say, the population is not increasing. To combat this, a no-code VHF license has been proposed that presumably will remove a large stumbling block for the would-be ham. The result will be more radio Amateurs in the long run, making the Amateur Radio service more viable and healthy. Right?
Perhaps. However, we may be barking up the wrong tree. I suggest you take an hour or so and listen to the spectrum between 26 and 29 MHz. CB radio, as it was known, has disappeared and a new form of “hobby” radio has grown up in its place. The full 3-MHz range is chock full of SSB stations going about their business in a “ham-like” attitude. Seemingly absent are the loud-mouthed ignoramuses who made CB radio a shambles a few years ago. In their place are thousands of operators, behaving themselves, and having fun! There’s plenty of OX in this range, too. I counted 14 countries in about 30 minutes listening time. Not much talk about equipment, but a lot of chatter about friendships and local color. It sounded very interesting. Too bad these thousands of operators are not hams!
But why should they be hams? What’s the advantage? They can converse and enjoy themselves with no danger from the FCC. They exchange OSL cards and other pleasantries – and they have 3 MHz of space to do itl More frequencies than any HF ham band. The future radio hams are already on the air, and I don’t see any chance of them becoming licensed Amateurs because there’s little in it for thern! They don’t need Amateur Radio as we know it. A 11odified ham transceiver and a store-bought beam puts the operator on the air, ready to work OX and make new friends. To add insult to injury, I recently received a QSL from an English Amateur. On the card were his call letters and also his “identifier” for CB radio. He had the best of all possible worlds.
As long as the FCC and other licensing bodies allow unlicensed communications to take place in the 27-MHz region, we can’t expect Amateur Radio to have much growth. The competition is too strong. And Amateur Radio shouldn’t be blamed for either this problem or the lack of growth of the Amateur population! I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do r<now that a lot of happy people are enjoying the fruits of Amateur Radio the easy way.
Can you blame them?
I propose that the ARRL initiate special broadcasts from W1AW in the 27-MHz range. This will, however. require special authorization from the FCC. These daily voice transmissions would include information about Amateur Radio, giving an address to send for more information on how to get a ham license. As time goes on, lessons in Morse code, rules and regulations of the Amateur service, and help with the Amateur exam could be given.
A regular on-the-air course in Amateur Radio should be initiated and it could be broadcast right where it’s most needed-in the middle of the “hobby” frequency range. I think that 1.5-kW PEP into a multi-element Yagi aimed at the heart of the country would gain a lot of attention among those who are potential radio Amateurs. Just as the Voice of America aims its broadcasts to selected areas of the world, the ARRL could aim its special 27-MHz transmissions at would-be Amateurs. Let’s convince them that there is value in getting an Amateur Radio license!
Bill Orr, W6SAI”

Can’t say I would relish the thought of a 1.5kw “I love Ham radio” signal sprayed across the country. How would they feel if we sprayed 20m with recordings from ch 35 lsb……?? That would get their attention..probably find the hams could dish it out pretty good too if they had to! Don’t really want to piss those hamsters off too much or they may turn their illegal ham sets and antennas to ch 35 and close down our beloved ch 35 with awful SSTV QRM. 

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4 Responses to Back to the freeband Bill Orr’s take in 1990

  1. Ed, VA3ES says:

    Just some background on the Bill Orr article:
    This editorial, originally published in March of 1990, by Bill Orr, W6SAI is still somewhat timely today. If you peruse the upper HF bands, specifically 25 to 28 MHz, you will find many radio operators enjoying HF operations just like legitimate hams do. This editorial addresses some of the issues involved with operations in the 11M band. This editorial was written back in 1990, before the code requirement was eliminated in most of the world’s licensing authorities, which is why it refers to CW operation and the CW licensing requirement

  2. Ed, VA3ES says:

    The likelihood of finding a 1.5KW PEP “I love Ham radio” signal on the freeband is “slim and none”! Ain’t going to happen.

    Back in 2003, there was also a thread on on freebanding: . It generated a lot of comments, many negative. In my opinion, many of the comments are either irrelevant, or elitist and snobbish, missing the point of the article entirely. I’m considering the possibility of reopening that thread. but from a 2013 perspective, understanding that in 23 years, many of the newer US amateurs are ex-freebanders themselves, and that attitudes have changed.

    • dave says:

      And like a reformed smoker or alcoholic the Ham ex freebander’s negativity towards the freeband can be worse than normal!!
      I wonder just how much of the freeband’s popularity is due to the fact it is illegal?
      But the one word that says it all is the word ‘FREE’. Free of rules and restrictions. It is a relaxed world there….. Right now it is an exciting place with signals coming in from all over the world. New radios are coming out every month…life is good!!!

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