The January 2010 edition of RadCom arrived today. In the letters column was a long letter by John Tuke GM3BST apparently complaining about those who advocate the use of WSPR on the 600m band instead of modes that involve two-way communication.
I felt this merited a reply. This is what I wrote:
I write in response to GM3BST's letter about WSPR on 600 metres. John says that "amateur radio has always been about communications between individuals or groups." I don't think that's true. I seem to recall that amateur radio began with "artificial aerial" licenses that allowed people to test transmitters without communicating at all.
Though two-way communication undoubtedly forms the majority of amateur activity these days there are still many for whom building and testing equipment or carrying out propagation experiments is the main interest. The medium is more important than the message, which these days can often be more effectively communicated via the internet.
Modes such as WSPR reveal a lot about propagation and their use probably contributes more to an individual's self-training than participation in the local club net. Transmitting a signal and seeing where it can be received is a tradition that goes right back to the first experiments by Marconi, and is therefore surely a part of our amateur radio heritage.