Thursday, March 12, 2009

Radio rage

I don't know if there is something about ham radio that causes people to develop a blinkered view of the world in which their opinion is always right, or whether radio makes them angry and intolerant. A couple of years ago I ran a blog on this site and tried to stir up participation by making some deliberately controversial comments. I expected disagreements - that was the point. What I did not expect was the number of people who could not express their views as a reasoned argument, but who resorted to personal abuse instead. In the end I deleted the entire blog.

These days I try to avoid controversy. But it still often surprises me that some innocent comment or intended-to-be-helpful post produces a strong negative response. On the Elecraft email reflector this morning someone asked whether it was really worth upgrading from a K2 to a K3. This was my response:

I have a K2, and went for the K3 because of its much improved support for digimodes (which were really an afterthought on the K2) and FM (which isn't catered for at all.) The fact that the currency exchange rates were favourable at the time I ordered it, and the credit crunch hadn't happened, had a bearing on it too.

I think the K2 and K3 are like apples and oranges. The K2 is a more basic radio with an emphasis on portability (small size, light weight, low current consumption, facility for internal battery.) Plus it has the unique benefit that you get to build it. The K3 is clearly designed to be more of a high end desktop radio for those who want the ultimate in receiver performance. And even if you'd prefer to build it, you only get to assemble it.

If you aren't sure you need the K3 then in my opinion you probably don't. I don't chase DX, I only contest casually, and I don't really need a high end radio. If Elecraft had brought out a K2 Mk II with 1Hz VFO resolution and dedicated input/outputs for digi modes it would probably have done the job for me, even without FM. So your decision will surely depend on whether there are things you want to do that the K2 can't do.

I received a nice reply from Gary KI4GGX who complimented me that "my post was one of the more thoughtful of the bunch." But I received another, from a ham who shall remain nameless, that consisted simply of the word "NO!" plus his name and call. He had put it in something like a 72pt font to make sure I understood. That, to me, is not an argument.

When I express my opinions, on the web or anywhere else, I expect that some people will disagree. But if everyone who disagreed with me sent me email to say "You're wrong" my inbox would be full. I always like to hear the other point of view, if it is politely expressed. Sometimes I may even learn something. But if you can't be bothered to explain why you don't agree with me, don't bother writing at all, because I'm not counting votes.

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