People Still Do That?

This was a statement a friend of mine made after I told him I was the president of my amateur radio club. I wasn’t surprised by his question. He then admitted that his favorite pastime seemed to be declining too (flying model aircraft). It seems our interests are turning much more to the virtual and much less to the real 3-d world of non-simulated physics. But I digress.

Amateur radio seemed to enjoy a bit of a renaissance during the pandemic. People stuck at home decided to learn about radio and eventually even take their FCC exams online. I was excited by this. Radio isn’t my first love, but I do enjoy it, enough to eventually volunteer to help lead my radio club when a lot of the long-time club members decided they didn’t want to do it any more or had passed away. I’ve even managed to encourage my wife to get her license and join me as a club officer!

So, in the days of mobile phones and the Internet, why are people interested in radio? Well, for those of us who are technologically inclined, it’s seems a natural extension of technology and communication. The idea of being able to keep in touch even if the infrastructure takes a hit, appeals to many (myself included). I’ve lived long enough to see, first hand, a widespread power blackout that lasted long enough to make telephone service of all kinds, questionable. Self-sufficiency still has it’s adherents.

Further, in this post-modern world, operators have combined radio and the Internet to create opportunities for people to use all sorts of different technologies to communicate in all sorts of modes. Amateur radio is not longer just reclusive nerds tapping morse code to one-another around the world, contesting to see who can fill in all the boxes to get a certificate. And in some less developed countries, volunteer amateur operators still help facilitate communication when grids are down and the normal lines of communication simply aren’t available.

Ham radio lends itself heavily to do-it-yourself types, with many operators building radios from kits, building their own antennas, and of course, installing and using their equipment in their own homes and vehicles. I didn’t get interested in amateur radio until I was almost forty, but it bit me pretty hard after that. I now have several radios and participate in a various volunteer activities.

If you’re interested in amateur radio and all that it entails, reach out to your local ham radio club. If you can’t find your local club through Google, reach out to the Amateur Radio Relay League (the advocacy group for amateur radio in the United States), or click on this link:

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