The time has come to rip another page off the calendar and move into another New Year. Resolutions will be made and soon enough discarded. I plan to avoid that by not making any hard and fast rules for 2019. But change is continuous and it wouldn’t do to avoid setting a few goals.
I expect to spend less time on the air this year. That might seem weird given that many resolve to operate more. The most cited ham radio resolution being to “make at least one contact a day for the entire year”. But I’ve operated enough and with these band conditions now seems a good time to catch up on other things.
Like building a new workbench and assembling a number of kits that I’ve collected but never built. Remodeling the shack is high on my to-do list. I feel like I could spend months liquidating a large cache of equipment that has stacked up over the years and it really needs to go.
I would like to plan several radio adventures from the field. My son and I have been talking about renting a cabin on a few weekends in the coming year and making them all about ham radio. Plus, I need to get back to working the amateur satellites. I have everything needed do do that and just need to get it done. VUCC via satellites was a 2018 goal that never materialized. Maybe it will happen in 2019.
Bottom line. Less time on HF and more time working around the edges of the hobby with some emphasis on portable operations including chasing the birds. What did I say last year? More fun, less stress. Yeah. Want that.
Making predictions for the coming New Year has become a tradition that can’t be ignored. With the caveat that I get it wrong more often than not. My crystal ball was dropped in 2009 and the resulting crack has made it harder to see the future than in days gone by. So this year, I’m reading tea leaves in a very large call sign coffee mug:
We will not hit solar minimum in 2019. Despite best wishes and hopes for better propagation you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Find other things to do that aren’t dependent on sun spots. Even stalwart QRP/CW enthusiast K3WWP who has made at least on QRP CW contact a day for the last 8,916 days without fail has taken up another hobby (model railroading) because life at HF has become about as much fun as watching paint dry (my words, not his but I can read between the lines of his diary). Expect that to continue for a long, long time.
FT8 will continue to dominate in its role as most favored mode in all of hamdom in 2019. Yeah, I know, you hoped it was going to be a short-lived diversion but it has only fortified its position as top mode. It’s easy to use, free, and works wonders. Waiting for hams to lose interest in FT8 is like waiting for teenagers to lose interest in sex. Ain’t gonna happen.
The number of licensed hams in the US will begin a long period of decline in 2019. We’ve enjoyed peak ham radio in the US over the last decade but we’ve about run out of steam. It’s becoming impossible to sustain growth through disaster prepping and pitching emergency communication opportunities. The infrastructure has become more robust and while there will always be exceptions, that line about “when all else fails” is rapidly going the way of “Dy-No-Mite!” and “Where’s the beef?”
The ICOM IC-9700 is going to be the “it” transceiver of 2019.
And finally, many ARRL members (and even those who aren’t) will soon discover that “throwing the bums out” and infusing the ARRL with “new blood” will have almost ZERO impact on changing the organization.
Bottom Line for 2019: Continued poor conditions, continued FT8 dominance, decline in licensees, one sizzling hot new transceiver, and disillusioned ARRL members. In other words, business as usual in the world of amateur radio.