?? Thoughts for the 21st Century

By Peter Delaney

A number of comments have been made in recent time about what the Club might look to do into the 21st century. Some of these relate to the future of ATV on 70cm, and the role of various Clubs or Societies in securing this. The following are some thoughts on this topic (personal, not ?official BATC policy?).

After around 20 years or so, I left RSGB as I felt it was not providing - me personally - with ?value for money?, or defending the whole spectrum (pun intended) of amateur radio modes and activities. Having said that, they are the ?recognised national association? with bodies such as IARU and so on. At Shuttleworth, I have to say, the RSGB representation did seem prepared to listen to what members had to say - and I mean ?listen? rather than ?hear?. Several, including the RSGB President, joined BATC, without any ?pressure? from us, and seemed to be genuinely interested. I think we should welcome and encourage this dialogue. An alternative group, the UKRS, has developed in recent years, but I have not yet seen anything to convince me that this group has any greater authority or influence than RSGB.

We need to work with others, not against them. That implies working with users of other modes etc, and so observance of a band plan of some kind - hopefully arrived at by mutually agreed negotiation. Without it, anarchy rules. Wideband ATV is desirable on 70cm, of course, but if digital packet could roam free wherever it wants, free from any band planning, I suspect that the analogue atv signals would far more suffer from the computer generated than vice versa. To this end discussion may need to take place with the RA, RSGB and UKRS on matters affecting ATV transmissions.

Several correspondents have mentioned that there is 70cm activity in their area. I am pleased to hear it. BUT, if they were to write about it (?like the committee of BATC who play in the upper reaches?, as one commented) in CQ-TV, to tell us about the station, when they have activity periods, and so on, then others might be encouraged to watch out for their signal/join in. I am not aware of ANY practical articles on ? a band where beginners can construct? from any of the correspondents concerned - although one did have a page about 70cm - and his local 23cm repeater - in CQ-TV 187. Graham Hankins has requested in several recent issues for more 70cm information, but if the only activity we hear about is ?higher bands?, and therefore put in CQ-TV, it is not unreasonable for ?the world at large? to think that is where the activity is. However, it is much easier for prospective members to watch 70cm ATV than the higher bands - many domestic sets, and even aerials, will receive it unmodified, which is a truly low cost mode, whilst it is more tolerant of intervening hills than higher bands, so aiding dx etc. If possible, we should keep the current allocation on 70cm for analogue ATV. As an example, I have received pictures here (Berkshire) from Devon or France that would not be possible on 23cm - and a hill seems to (just) block my path to the local repeater.

However, BATC members have traditionally been up with, or ahead of, the broadcasters over the past 50 years. Often we have achieved acceptable, if not broadcast, results for a fraction of the cost - colour transmissions come to mind, with Grant Dixon?s historic transmissions, and Mike Cox?s early colour camera. The amateur licence is for the self-training and improvement of the holder (etc). That does not happen by standing still. Yes, current digital technology is expensive, and not always perfect (and I have no interest whatsoever in subscribing to the digital ?entertainment? (?) system currently ?on offer?), but I believe the amateur television fraternity SHOULD look at ways to develop this as an ADDITIONAL mode in the next century. Whether that should/could be transmitted on 70cm or elsewhere is not the issue, but I think it would be short sighted not to investigate the possibilities. Then, IF fast scan analogue should be denied to us on 70cm at some time in the future, we would at least be prepared with an alternative way to utilise this band - with amateur ingenuity, maybe to dx over ?those there hills? down to the South Coast.

As a Club we should look ahead, without ignoring our heritage, and that applies as much to transmitting practice as to anything else. Many members may have different views, whilst others may be able to write an article on circuits, equipment or operating on 70cm - or just a note about activity in their own area. If so please share them in CQ-TV; the BATC Committee cannot possibly know of all the activity, all the ways to do things, or know of all the members views unless the members tell us!! And, if you all disagree I will be interested, and not offended, to read you well reasoned case in the magazine.