OH8STN 2019 Year end review

Hello Operators.
First lets wish everyone a happy New Year, and welcome you all to 2020. It’s been an amazing year on the blog and channel. Even so, its still safe to say we are just geting started.

Channel statistics are always subjective, so it’s a good idea to look at them from one year to the next. We knew what our goals were coming out of 2018, so we can take look at the 2019 results, to see what we learned and if we achieved those goals. Keep in mind there is lots of background work going in to each video and blog. Background work which can’t be measured on its own. We can breakdown our wins/losses, by looking at growth, what was popular, and what we achieved with the previous year behind us.

The results for 2019 are:
  • 3.6M minutes watch time
  • +9100 New subscribers

Results from 2018:

  • 1.9M minutes watch time
  • +5400 new subscribers

One thing not easily seens from the stats;
The channel actually produced less content in 2019, compared to 2018.
More “rich content” and “timeless content” was published, over following a scheduled upload strategy.

So what have we learned?

Well the channel definately (defiantly) grew compared to 2018. The growth was directly related to understanding what was working on the channel, improving the required skillsets to present the concepts, taking the testing out to the field, and from the video production perspective, learning to tell a more interesting story .

In reality, the numbers themselves aren’t so important. It’s what we learn from them that should focus on. We’ve learnedare all critical topics on the channel.

This had lots to do with many of the weather events, natural disasters, and wild fires happening in Western USA and Australia. The hurricane and tropical storm destruction in the Caribbean, also reinforced the need for reliable communications for “The People”.

We’ve also learned many portable radio operators are not happy with the current offerings from ham radio manufacturers. Ham radio data modes are the fastest growing segment in amateur radio right now. Yet manufacturers continue telling us it is a “Temporary” thing, since the solar cycle could improve in the coming years. I beleive that enthusiasm is unjustified. Narrow-bandwidth data modes are here to stay, despite how good/not good propagation is.

Operators are choosing weak signal narrow bandwidth modes like FT8, and JS8Call because they are efficient modes, cutting through the noise, and helping HOA restricted operators continue operating. These operators are also interested in smarter radios, radios with features for operators interested in amateur radio data mode communications. Features like one wire for DATA and CAT Control, as offered with rigs from Icom and the mcHF. Operators are also interested in simplifying data modes operations, and extending their current rigs capabilities. The current trend is integrating a raspberry pi. This led us to the Raspberry Pi Field Computer Series, which continues in 2020.

We’ve also learned that tutorials, despite the amount of work going into them, are great for helping ham radio operators implement new technologies. Unfortunately, those same tutorials don’t always work well in attracting newcomers into the ham radio community. For that we need more pratical tutorials with greater emphasis on context. Context was the extra ingredient, bringing newcomers to the channel and community during 2019! Telling the entire story, not just clever titles, tags with a boring presentation or tutorial and no hook. This was a tough realization! Going forward, I’ll continue publishing tutorials, because they are important. However, for each tutorial there must be videos from both fixed and field perspective, providing the context viewers are asking for. We can no longer settle for the talking head to tell us how we should operate, what we should buy, … The community needs more context from creators who can explain “why”.

People want to know how to get setup, they want an overview of whats involved, they want to know why we go in the field, why we chose one system over another, why we choose a specific buck converter to power a raspberry pi. They also want to know what we do when we’re in the field, how to communicate when the lights go out in their homes, how to power their rigs when the grid is down, how to send that email from a sailing yacht in the middle of the Pacific, or how to (not to) cook sausages above the Arctic Circle in a tent. It wasn’t until the last quarter of 2019 that this realization finally hit me.

It is clear now what operators want from my channel and blog. That may be completely different for another channel (and should be). Each content contributor brings something unique to the community.  We need to inspire creators to build onto their strengths, rather than regurgitating what they see from other content creators.

What else have we learned?

Unfortunately, 2019 showed us how Plagiarism is alive and well in YouTubes ham radio community. Each time I publish a popular video, there are those channels, some big, some small, always following up with their own versions of my videos. They use my videos, blogs, terminology, parts lists, episode notes, break down my titles and tags, all as a guide to making their own “popular” videos. I suppose there’s only a couple of different things we can do to about it. 

  • Firstly, taking the compliment. After all, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery“.
  • Secondly, keep switching up the content published on this blog and YouTube channel. This makes it more difficult for plagiarists, since they are generally trying to be all things for all people.
Trying to hit a moving target, makes plagiarism much more difficult. Unfortunately, creators not capable of coming up with an original thought or content, will eventually run out of steam. This is a bad thing, and will hurt the community.

As a rule, I always mention the source content in my blogs and videos, if the ideas were not my own. This way we can drive traffic to lesser-known creators, as a thanks for their contributions. Perhaps we as a community, can encourage other creators to do the same!?

To stop plagiarism outright, readers, viewers, subscribers, supporters, all need to call-out the bloggers, the YouTubers, the live streamers by asking us the hard questions.  Make us show you the background work, the research going into the presented ideas, and not accepting the easy answer from us. Make us show you how and why we arrived at a specific conclusion. This will quickly expose the “fake experts”, who are generally trying to reach a wider audience, rather than actually trying to contribute to the ham radio, off grid, or preparedness communities. So please, ask the hard questions. Call us out. The community will be better for it.

Channel Supporters

Channel supporters have been a huge help and enormous influence on the channel. The individuals and companies who unconditionally support the channels goals, have made it possible to keep moving forward. Each and every one of you help me make a difference in these merging communities, we all enjoy and appreciate.

It is not always possible to thank each of you individually, but I’m always there to do what I can, making your journey easier. I still answer every email from every single channel supporter, and try to publish member and supporter only content whenever possible. The engagement with each and every one of you has been incredibly rewarding. Not only do you help shape the channels direction, you also keep me focused and on track.

A huge thanks to each and every one of you. This would not be possible without you.

Finally, 2019 channel statistics tell us people want to learn. The statistics also tell us they would like to be entertained. Entertainment doesn’t mean less serious, it means more rich. Fair enough, that is what the channel will keep on doing.

So the reality is, I’ve been holding back! Holding back while I try to understand the right recipe to present my community contributions. I get it now, I think we have the right recipe, so its time to push forward.

Let us end on a happy note. The new camera crew is a pleasure to work with. My camera crew made a test flight to inspect the tower, but also happened to grab a wonder video of the arctic sunset, from the view a few meters/yards above my tower.
If you’d like to help feed the camera crew, check out my sponsorship page.

Julian oh8stn

It has been a long time since standing in the the corridors and studios of BBC World Service at Bush House. Everything I learned there, the people who encouraged me there, have all led to this.

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