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Clubs, Groups and Societies For discussions about various clubs, groups and societies relating to our hobbies, such as the BVWS (incl NVCF), BATC, RSGB, APTS, CLPGS, THG, TCC etc. This is NOT an official forum for any of these organisations.

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Old 6th Feb 2017, 9:02 pm   #1
Cobaltblue
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Default Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I was rather hoping someone else would start this thread

Briefly touched on in this thread https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=133264

The BVWS and our hobby overall needs to attract a lot of young people if there is to be a long term future for vintage equipment outside of museums.

So just to start the ball rolling I have gained permission to have a "show and tell" type event within our company.

I must say that the support received to date by senior management has been very solid.

This as a result of interest expressed by younger members of staff when I bring random small valve radios into the office.

I am planning to show first the end of the valve era with a display of post war battery valve sets.

I am getting resistance about the size of the display, but I am working on that as there is not a shortage of space in the area identified. I want to show at least 40 sets around 10 of those battery'd and working

There has been concern about physical contact until I pointed out I want people to touch the sets.

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Old 7th Feb 2017, 12:46 am   #2
Phil G4SPZ
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I was going to start it, Mike, but you beat me to it!

I have thought long and hard about this over the years, starting in the 1990s when I taught the old City & Guilds Radio Amateur's Exam and Morse Code at evening classes. Radio, both amateur transmitting and short wave listening, appears to be a declining hobby (or perhaps better described as 'increasingly niche') in the sense that the vast majority of its devotees continue to be men of a certain age, despite considerable efforts by the national society to attract younger members.

Vintage radio is quite different as there are already a goodly number of younger enthusiasts of both genders, whom I see at teaching workshops, the NVCF etc. Perhaps the attendees at RWB yesterday represented the older element of the membership, who probably have more flexibility than the younger element in how they spend their wealth.

I think that publicity is a great idea, though how we reach and motivate young people is not an easy question to answer. Buying, owning, restoring and collecting vintage radios, even in a small way, pre-supposes not only the technical interest, but also the permanent room space, floor area, workshop facilities and finance to do so. Youngsters of a technical bent can tinker with Arduinos on the family kitchen table, a facility probably denied to someone wishing to restore a Murphy A146!

I guess there'll be a lot of views on this topic, and it will be interesting to see whether a consensus emerges.
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 2:08 am   #3
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

In another thread, it was remarked that the member would have to live to 175 to finish his present 'to do' pile, and that what was needed was an apprentice.

That was the old way of training, and it worked well. If we could each find a local youngster with a bit of spark and take them under our wing, it may be a solution.

I know from my working life how frustrating it can be training an apprentice and advancing age reduces patience, but it is worth a try if the youngster is prepared to learn. The experience would also ensure that they learn common sense in staying alive rather than 'elf' and his mate 'saftie' looking after them.

Also to consider, youngsters don't read much unless its on line, something for the magazines to consider?
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 11:32 am   #4
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

Good point about reading, Sam. Like many on here I suspect, I started reading Practical Wireless when I was about ten years old. I didn't understand 90% of it, but I enjoyed reading the circuit descriptions that accompanied the constructional articles, plus of course the wonderful adverts...

This hobby, like many worthwhile endeavours, takes time to master. We are all some way along the road to mastery, if that's even possible, but the journey itself is full of interest. Like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces sometimes drop into place and improve your understanding, even after fifty years of playing with electronics.
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 3:43 pm   #5
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

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Originally Posted by Phil G4SPZ View Post
Like many on here I suspect, I started reading Practical Wireless when I was about ten years old. I didn't understand 90% of it, but I enjoyed reading the circuit descriptions that accompanied the constructional articles, plus of course the wonderful adverts... .
Yes, me too. I remember getting my first PW, and barely understood anything in it, but couldn't stop looking at it. But in the current era, I think it must be at least 5 years or more since I bought a copy of PW - it's a completely different animal now. Reading PW and SWM was a key part of my education back in the 60-70's. I'm not at all sure where the hobby is headed, in fact for that matter, I'm not at all sure where the planet is headed .

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Old 7th Feb 2017, 11:41 pm   #6
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I feel I can contribute in some way to this given at one stage I was the youngest member of this forum! Certainly all of my friends growing up have always liked and respected my radios- admired the sound quality of many and the styling too.
The problem for the vast majority comes with useability. I don't know of many young people who are collectors of anything in particular, therefore their way to vintage radio would be having a radio in use. As we know from the AM dying thread fewer younger people are listening to the radio, this is where things like adding Bluetooth etc comes into it's own. Vintage styling is very much in fashion- people are painting their homes and interiors pastel colours, driving Fiat 500s and Minis and are buying Roberts radios with 1950s styling. I have seen the prices of 50s and early 60s valve sets rise as a result, I remember a time when early 60s stuff couldn't be given away because most enthusiasts were more interested in 1930s HMVs but now a PCB VHF valve radio can sell for £50 if in good working order- unheard of a few years ago.

Whether those people would become enthusiasts I don't know. I have seen very little willingness amongst most of the people I have grown up with to do anything hands on. Those who are interested in things like engineering and electronics could potentially become interested if they knew such things existed.

As for the BVWS' future, I ceased to be a member when I became a proper 'student' as I could no longer afford it. Introduction of a concessionary rate may help, but there could be resistance from older members wanting a concessionary rate for their age group, and given that is probably the largest segment in the BVWS it could mean a drop in revenue.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 12:30 pm   #7
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I think, attract them young! Many of us here were dabbling in electronics of some type at 10 years old. Many went through repairing, constructing, then repairing and restoring and collecting while still in education, for some the collecting is something that comes much latter in life.

I believe there are children out there that could be attracted to our hobby but don't know about us, So I think we should advertise ourselves , not in the papers but on TV! I am thinking Blue Peter, Possibly a simple radio receiver based on the ZN414 now remarketed as the TA7642 and cost pennies. coupled to the LM386 again a few pence worth or £1.23 made up post free from China. Any forum member up to inspiring a generation? Anyone able to get a slot on Blue Peter ?

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Old 9th Feb 2017, 1:37 pm   #8
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I used to try to get my younger nephews and nieces interested in building and maintaining electronic stuff, both vintage and modern. I had no success whatever though and that was before the days when mobile phones could be used to receive radio programmes.

Crystal sets for example were described by them as naff and uncool.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 1:42 pm   #9
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

They may appreciate things that light up and make a noise more, low HT valve set maybe?
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 1:47 pm   #10
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I used to try to get my younger nephews and nieces interested in building and maintaining electronic stuff, both vintage and modern. I had no success whatever

Like wise with my Son he showed no interest in radios though I tried. I think maybe only 1 in a thousand would be interested. Do they do after class electronics in schools? I think it may be a start.

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Old 9th Feb 2017, 3:27 pm   #11
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

This is an interesting field that I have studied with my museum hat on and found to demand a certain amount of introspection.

Why do we want young people to take up vintage electronics as a hobby?
Whose interests will it serve - theirs or ours?
Is it even possible for them to have the experiences that we want them to have?

There are certainly some plausible reasons for encouraging a new generation to get involved:

* More constructive and educational than some alternative pursuits that media / peer pressure might direct them towards.
* Possibly a source of lasting pleasure if they get hooked.
* Maintaining a skill and knowledge base that will otherwise be lost, that might have broader applications amongst life skills.

And there are reasons that are mainly for our benefit, that are not per se justification for foisting our interests on others e.g.:

* Keep our beloved sets alive after we're gone.
* Moulding people in our image by having them re-tread our paths.
* Fear of the unknown alternatives that they would pursue instead.

There is no ancient tradition of repairing old radio and TVs, so it is not a pursuit that has a track record of developing the human spirit towards lofty ideals. I think it probably does, like many scientific hobbies, as it encourages clear and rational thought and launches enthusiasts on a quest for knowledge and technique by setting goals that demand genuine effort and commitment to achieve. However vintage electronics is but one field out of thousands, amongst which people who lack the nostalgia for the hardware might identify 'better' uses of their time that offer all these benefits and maybe more.

Did you or do you follow any of the interests and pursuits that your parents enjoyed? Grandparents? We generally have more leisure these days so pretty much anything they did, we could choose to do. But do we?
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 4:03 pm   #12
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

That final question has set me thinking. My great grandfather, who is the reason his descendents (including me) were born in Britain rather than Germany, apparently came over to Britain in the nineteenth century to work on the telegraph network. Although my interest (developed before I was made aware of the telegraphic heritage) is in telephones rather than telegraphs, I feel that I have inherited this particular trait, albeit with mutation. I believe my grandfather (his son) was into electronics and engineering, but my father less so, being more into what might be described as handicrafts (such as woodwork, leatherwork and upholstering among others). I seem to have reverted to these earlier generations in my interest in (mostly vintage these days) electronics. On the professional front, however, I got sidetracked by computer software from my intention to pursue electronics as a career.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 4:27 pm   #13
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

In the broader picture I think it is about understanding (even at a top level) of how things work. Lots of people rely on others to do it all for them (take your average 'smart 'phone) if there isn't a next generation of thinkers there will be no new stuff to enjoy and use. On the bright side it now seems to be OK to be a geek ('orible word for the technically savant). Once you understand something, anything (I was asked today how to put in and use a rawl plug, I said how it works and the chap was willing to give it a go) then it escalates to wanting to know lots more, all for the good!

I don't mind ignorance but an unwillingness to learn...
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 5:45 pm   #14
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

There is a growing interest in making, repairing, creating etc, known generally as the maker movement. It encompasses just about any field of interest that can be imagined and although there is alot of furniture and craft type stuff, many young people are incorporating electronics into their creations. So they are learning about a range of electronic applications, with micro, single board computers, like the Ras Pi etc being highly popular.
It wouldn't take much to introduce vintage electronics of all sorts to these inquisitive minded, creative young people via the maker door.
I know that very often when I mention and show vintage radio's and audio to youngsters they are amazed such things even exist! To see their faces when I try to explain how valves work is quite amusing!
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 8:12 pm   #15
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

In the 1980s I ran a series of RAE-exam courses at the local college - this was back in the time when CB was a big thing and plenty of CBers wanted to 'upgrade'. I had around 85% pass-rate for people getting Class-B licences. Lots of the people concerned were electronics-technicians from the emergent cellular-phone game, or ex-MoD techs.

Forward a decade-and-a-half: the coming of the RSGB's Novice/Intermediate/Full exams.

Having to go through what many described as "ten-year-old boy-scout training" before they could sit their RAE really put off loads of potential new amateurs; if you're working daily with Gigahertz RF-infrastructure you don't want to be treated like a kid.

Though an eternal cynic, I feel that perhaps the current resurgent interest in "Vinyl" could serve as a recruiting-agent to the vintage radio/hifi world. let people play with their cheap-and-nasty Crosleys and then tempt them up the scale to the world of Quads, Radfords, Leaks and Linn??

But MW/LW broadcast-radio is, I fear, dying-if-not-already-dead: there's no content there to attract the modern generation. Same goes for legacy 625-line CRT TVs and suchlike. I don't see Netflix or Amazon releasing their shows on tape to spawn a "VHS Revival" to match the current Vinyl-revival.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 8:21 pm   #16
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Crystal sets for example were described by them as naff and uncool.
No doubt because today there's honestly nothing-of-interest to anyone under-40 available to listen to on MW/LW. ... !
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 8:40 pm   #17
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I was talking abut the situation 20 years ago.

The reaction was on the lines of "Why would you want to build a radio which needs an aerial, earth and headphones, which looks nasty when you can buy a real one?

For me on the other hand, building my first radio receiver, radio transmitter and model steam engine were memorable epochs in my life.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 9:56 pm   #18
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I seem to remember there was another thread along similar lines with specific regard to TV, not that long ago. Being relatively young still, I find these conversations interesting.
My own interest is due in part to vintage electronics not being familiar- there's a huge attraction in the unusual, and the technology that surrounds us now can trace a direct line back to early radio and television.
One problem, I think, is the low public profile of the interest. Where do you go? Science Museum? Not much there, on my last visit. Dulwich is excellent, but I only found out about it after some time spent reading around the interest, so rather preaching to the choir. You won't see much on tv- I was rather disappointed with the 80th anniversary BBC programme, as I know many others here were. It's just not out there, which is a great shame. I'm hoping the forthcoming museum at AP will change this, but I'm amazed it's taken this long.
One other point I would- with some trepidation- make, is one of perception, rather a two-way street. There are young people who are feckless and disinterested, it's quite true. You'll never engage their interest, and most likely neither will anyone else, unil they grow in experience and mature out of it- but they're really not the majority. Some simply won't be interested, which is fair enough. But to those who may be, we should perhaps not be seen as viewing youth broadly with a jaundiced eye. Nothing drives the young away more efficiently! More subtly, and something I think I'd find hard myself, is that future generations may simply take the hobby in directions that we haven't thought of or may not approve of. Rest assured though, they will be out there. Railways, classic cars, vintage buses all have their young devotees, so it's not impossible.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 10:55 pm   #19
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There is a growing interest in making, repairing, creating etc, known generally as the maker movement... It wouldn't take much to introduce vintage electronics of all sorts to these inquisitive minded, creative young people via the maker door...
There's another possible route, and that's via the Repair Cafe movement. I volunteer at my local one every month, and there's a steady stream of radio and electronics gear coming through, nothing from the valve era (yet!) but lots of portable radios, clock radios, stereos etc. amongst the clocks, table lamps and vacuum cleaners. People are always amazed when they see how relatively easy it can be to bring a defunct item back to life, and our 'success rate' is over 75%.

We recruited one young-ish person (20 years younger than me) as a new repairer as a direct result of my showing him how to identify and replace a bulged electrolytic on a radio's SMPS board. Result - a £140 radio restored to working order for under a pound.

Many younger people are also unfamiliar with analogue test equipment, which is why I always bring a selection along!

Phil
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 11:06 pm   #20
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Default Re: Attracting younger members to Vintage Equipment

I hadn't heard of a repair cafe before. What a great idea, getting to play around with electrical junk and then not having to find space to keep it afterwards. Great stuff!
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