Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Growing Amateur Radio by NA4IT

It has occurred to me that the among old and new hams, there are four basic types of “hams” or reasons that these “hams” got their license.
The first is the electronics geek that wants to truly learn about amateur radio. This person is more than willing to explore the many facets of what amateur radio has to offer. They are even open to serving the public through ARES, RACES, ACS, SATERN, or other groups. And they enjoy learning. They are like sponges, willing to self-study, and also learn from others. They love experimentation in antenna and equipment.
The second is the operator that while they do want to learn about amateur radio, they operate solely to “make contacts”. They want entries in the logbook. They aren't into conversations, passing traffic, serving the public. They just want the bragging rights to show off their operating prowess as it pertains to making the contact.
The third is the casual operator. They may or may not be interested in learning more about amateur radio, and are not interested in serving the public. All they care about is taking to others. And usually, they frequent only a few frequencies. Some even have a mentality that radio is “my four and no more”, meaning if you aren't a part of their circle, then don't bother talking to them.
Then there is the ham radio operator who is basically a “prepper”. They got into amateur radio simply to be able to communicate when the next disaster comes, or heaven forbid, the government should take over. Unfortunately, most ham radio preppers are so misguided in what they need to do to be able to communicate effectively, they are doomed to failure.
What should the ideal amateur radio operator look like? First, they don't have to be a geek. They do need to want to learn about amateur radio and be willing to explore. There is so much more than repeaters and "store bought" equipment and antennas. They should be interested in making contacts, but finding out how that other person is communicating. What kind of rig, antenna, etc? They should have a concern for being able to communicate when the chips are down, if no other reason to keep themselves and their family safe. And lastly, realize, there are a whole lot more people beside just their little circle of friends.
So, how do we grow amateur radio? Will it take a disaster hitting home? I hope not. But, some how, some way, old and new amateurs alike have to grow, when it comes to our craft. It's not enough to sit back and let the ARRL and FCC “call the shots”. We need learning and input from all. Just because someone is a new ham doesn't mean they don't have anything to offer. And by the same token, just because you have a new technician license doesn't mean you know everything.
A college adviser said this to me: “You can't learn it all in one day, but you should learn something every day. If you stop learning, you die mentally.”
What have you learned today? What have you shared with another ham today? Are you dying mentally as a ham radio operator?

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