What is Amateur Radio?

The field of Amateur Radio is almost as wide open as the sky. It is kind of asking why do you like gazing at the stars. Some hams are fascinated by the old technology, some by the new. Some are simply using it to have a conversation (rag-chewing), others for a more specific use. Some don’t even talk with a voice, but use morse code or digital technologies. To stereotype Hams is like saying all stars are identical.

To me, it is a means to communications beyond the mainstream technologies. I was able to make a phone-patch before we had mobile phones (now called cell phones). I was able to communicate from computer to computer before we had internet. My first email address was my callsign on my own wireless email box (packet). It has allowed me to be the “first” in so many areas.

It also provided me an outlet for “high tech volunteering”. When communications was cost-prohibitive to grassroots events, I could be the techie guy who made it possible. This has lead to many years of seeing the right and the wrong way of organizing events. Amateur Radio now provides me with one of many sources of communications tools as we put events together. I guess my part of the hobby has become event support. No two stars are alike.

So, to the new or prospective ham – what do you want the hobby to be for you?
Only you can answer this. Do Not become what others think it is, take it to where you want to be. With this said, the “new” ham should;

  • Become a member of ARRL, if nothing else, to receive the best magazine the hobby currently has,
  • Visit ham-clubs (plural) to find a place where your interest will flourish, not be squelched,
  • Enjoy “your” part of the hobby and disregard what will disappoint you,
  • Don’t expect that other hams share interest in your segment of the hobby,
  • Don’t be discouraged – the sky is huge – there is a star for you out there,
  • Support the club whose repeater you may use, even if it is occasionally. I own several repeaters and understand the cost.

One final thing, the FCC has granted us millions of dollars worth of frequencies for free. Give back to the community by volunteering in Public Service Events – be a volunteer! Without us using this technology for the best interest of the people we probably can no longer justify the potential economic value they have awarded us.


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