After a 30 year gap SOTA got me back into radio. There were a couple of things that stood out as I turned on the new 817
1- Why was I getting S9 noise almost everywhere?
2- Where were the stations?
After some time, lots of torroids and repositioning of antennas away from the various wires surrounding this very rural QTH I managed to get the noise down to a better level (Usually S4-5 160 - 40 although today it is S8. I live in a very rural location, but still have niegbours with overhead ADSL and with teenage children every household socked is populated with a wall wart, and every bulb in the house is LED. Because (gamekeeper permitting) I can hide my wires between trees in the woodland accross the track I can escape most of the noise. In an urban garden - no chance! (I have done some activations and when powering up the rig I usually have to check the antenna is connected because the noise is missing!)
Having Reduced the noise there was still big gaps (Unless there is a contest) when I remember bands being jam packed. The Derby SDR (160m) is quite enlighening - apart from the FT8 it is sometimes difficult to find an amateur signal in the evening - and from the continental signals it isn’t always a propogation problem.
So - Where are the hams? When I first got my licence in 1979 I was one of the youngest hams on the air at the time (16). Listening on the bands ( and looking at the photo’s on the reflector) I think I am probably still one of the younger hams.
So - IMHO we need to encourage people into the hobby, and preferably ones that are younger, and judging from the cost of rural living probably urban. If they turn on a new rig and are met with S9+20 noise they are very unlikely to ever experience a QSO oh HF So my view ( for what it is worth) Live and let live. I don’t have to use an SDR to have a QSO, but if I did I would. It it gets more people on the air we might have a bigger voice to get rid of some of the noise - and if we dont use our bands we might loose them!
If I have the time (and a bit of money) with my shiny new fibre to the house connection I might even consider making a Web SDR so someone else might experiece what HF should sound like. perhaps it might encourage them to put their boots on and try from the top of a hill. It would be a good technical challenge!
Right - Now charging batteries - tomorrow morning Nine Standards Rig (If the roads are OK and not too icy) so I can let Andy FMF know how much swimming is involved… Hope to work as many as possible direct - or via SDR Best 73… Paul