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Curate Technical Ideas for Ham Radio Hobbyists

curate technical ideas

We need a journal to curate technical ideas – good ones – for ham radio hobbyists. Does QST magazine still meet that mission?

Last month, I wrote about changes to content in QST magazine over the past 50 years. In doing so, I noticed a decline in commitment to good technical articles, which more than anything else, has been the QST legacy. I wondered if this was a supply issue (less writers), a demand issue (less reader interest) or a marketing issue (lack of interest in the traditional roles).

While I don’t know the answer, I had a conversation with some friends that led to one clear thought. A hobby needs someone to curate technical ideas – good ones – that stand up over time.

I still have boxes of old QST and other radio magazines that are a frequent source of information and inspiration. In fact, when I got into micro-computing in the 1970’s, my first software project was building an index database for my library. Researching topics is, of course, much easier for us today, but a lot of the information online varies considerably in quality. Good curated information is much more reliable.

A challenge with Google key words is that you must know what you are looking for. Back in the old days of paper libraries, we did something called “walking the stacks”. This means you browse and discover new things by accident, or with serendipity. QST provided tons of serendipity in its day.

My view is that a good hobby magazine should also provide many learning opportunities, at the right level for entry, on many relevant topics. We still have some of this from the ARRL, but it’s divided across four different magazines rather than the benchmark. Fortunately, we can access all four with one membership, but maybe some cross fertilization is in order.

Curate Technical Ideas – My Role, My Fault Maybe

One of my friends suggested maybe I was at fault. Instead of writing this blog, I should be writing for QST, he said. Maybe so. I could do both, if they asked me. And this is what I mean by a marketing issue. A good magazine will reach out proactively for contributions. QST has done this in recent years for antennas, but not other areas.

Sigh. In the meantime, if you want to read a really first class ham radio technical magazine, check our Ham Radio magazine 1968-1990 archives online. Yes, it’s dated. But those folks certainly knew how to curate technical ideas – good ones – for our hobby community.


  1. Guy Atkins says:

    Hi John, doesn’t the QEX magazine fulfill that technical role? I haven’t read it in years but I recall it had some pretty meaty tech articles.

    • John VE6EY says:

      Yes, Guy, you’re right. I will cover QEX shortly. But most QEX content is pretty hard core – great if you know a lot, but otherwise a bit over most heads. More on that soon. Cheers.

  2. Randy Hollingsworth says:

    John – in several recent issues, the ARRL has been asking for folks to consider writing for QST. See July 2022 issue, page 91 for an example.

    Randy, K0FA

  3. Colin Phoon AE3A says:

    You’ve written on a variety of topics… Whatever you would have the most fun with? I have only a basic understanding of most things electronic, since I am not an engineer by training. Topics I would welcome include: 1) A discussion of SDR equipment and what one might look for when purchasing; 2) A dissection of a beginner-intermediate transceiver kit (not a high-end Elecraft!) – The basics of each module (transmitter, receiver, amplifier), why things are laid out as they are, etc.; 3) Or even perhaps a history of how radio equipment evolved, including from tubes to solid state, etc. This would also serve to introduce fundamental electronics concepts that span all the different technologies.
    Heck, I don’t even know what test equipment to have handy around the shack and why/how to use them!
    Such an article would be above the level found in the new magazine, On The Air, but not so sophisticated as in QEX.
    I love to read about antennas, but as you mention, there are quite a few antenna articles out there.

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