I have been re-kindling my interest in amateur radio. I bought a digital hot-spot recently and have been having fun with DMR. Anyway, I am just wondering if there would be any interest in doing an on air meet (net) sometime to discuss GPS and POIs?
I am also well aware that npw Memorial Day 2019 is here, people have a LOT of other things going on, too, at least I know that I do. One of the neat things about amateur radio is it gives users an opportunity to talk about other hobbies and interest, including GPS and POIs.
Anyway, if there would happen to be any interest, let me know here. What times or days would be helpful. I would likely do it on DMR, but which talk-groups is yet to be determined. For those with other digital modes, like YSF, D-Star, APCO P-25, NXDN, etc., my understanding is that there are ways to do cross-mode operation.
Anyway, if there is any interest, post it here and lets talk about it!
I'm getting into GMRS with an eye towards a General class Amateur ticket. Problem is none of the Ham groups around me are or appear to be willing to sit with anyone toard their ticket. The closest group willing to teach as listed by the ARRL is 80 miles away. And yes, I have my GMRS license,
Sadly, interest in amateur (HAM) radio has really fallen off over the past few decades, especially on HF (10-160 Meters).
According to the FCC Public Data Files, as of May 25, 2019 the number of Amateur Radio licenses is 757557. That is an all time record high.
The number of 'active' HAM radio operators has been dropping for decades. To help increase the activity the ARRL lobbied the FCC to lower the license requirements and decided to do away with requiring Morse code examination altogether for all license classes. While the number of licensed HAM radio operators may be at an all time high (due to it being easy to obtain a license) the actual status (health condition) of HAM radio is at an all time low with no bottom in sight as activity continues to decline year after year.
Activity on UHF and VHF is where beginners and Technician class operators seem to be most active nowadays using local repeaters. The HF bands (10-160 Meters) is what was most popular throughout the years with HAM radio operators that enjoyed rag-chewing, chasing DX, designing and making homebrew equipment and experimenting in RF and electronics. As the old-timers because 'silent keys' fewer and fewer young people took up the hobby of HAM radio because computers and cell phones became the newest means of communications. The increasing numbers of neighborhoods across the U.S. with HOA restrictions on antennas and towers, along with a dwindling amount of new equipment like transceivers, linear amplifiers, tuners, kits, etc. coming from equipment manufacturers steadily quickened the decline in HF activity.
When technology advanced to bring personal computers to literally anyone that was interested, that was the beginning of the downturn in the hobby of HAM radio.
I do believe that both of your points are valid and not inconsistent with one another. When I was a graduate student, and doing research, I would probably ask what the definition of 'active' ham is. I know in my own case, I am certainly not nearly as active as I once was. I think the reasons would be similar to many amateurs, too. My wife, who is also a ham, and I would use a local repeater to stay in touch. I would be at work or doing something else and she could reach me on the radio. As time went on, I was issued a Nextel from work. I eventually bought her a Nextel. We no longer needed it to stay in touch with one another.
From my perspective, amateur radio actually has many different activities under the larger umbrella. For example, I know someone who is all about CW. He could probably care less if he used voice.
I know others that are all about public service. They really want to help out with marathons, bike rides/races, parades and other activities where they can volunteer and use their radios.
I know still others that simply want to "chase paper". They is nothing they are more proud of than getting their WAS (Worked All States) award.
Some are about using satellites, ATV, moon bounce and other activities. In some ways those activities are very different than one another, but they are ALL amateur radio activities.
I have been a ham long enough I have heard and read about a number of controversies, too, in the hobby. I recall some saying, "You are not a REAL ham, unless you use HF." Some were very upset when the Morse code requirement vanished. A lot of the controversy I hear today involves the various digital modulation modes on VHF/UHF. This mode is better than that mode, for example. Lots of controversy about using digital hot-spots to access systems.
As for me, I just like having good conversation on the air. I don't need to be at a traffic control point during a bike race or marathon. I don't have to see how many contacts I can make on 20 meters or see how many states or counties I can work.
As for numbers, many hobbies have an ebb and flow of numbers. Some years back, I didn't hear a lot about automobile racing enthusiasts. Somewhat more recently I heard that it is now one of the fastest growing spectator sports.
I couple of my other hobbies are ATV riding and horseback riding. With regards to ATVing, my suspicion is that it is growing in numbers right now. I haven't researched it, but it seems quite popular.
Horses, on the other hand, I am slightly inclined to think that it isn't growing. It takes a significant amount of dedication to have a small farm or board horses elsewhere, not to mention the cost. I have a five acre hobby farm and I don't like having neighbors 2 feet from my closest window. I am not into competition with horses, either. I simply want to trail ride, so that is what I do. If I were to compete, the Cowboy Mounted Shooters competition does look fun. To me, watching that is a lot more fun than watching baseball, basketball, football, hockey or soccer. But, as I sometimes like to say, "Live And Let Live." Even though it doesn't interest me, I am glad that it does interest others.
I really enjoyed ragchewing with friends on 75 meters in the evenings all over the eastern half of the U.S. I also enjoyed going to hamfests, DXing and contesting on all the HF bands. I was never much interested in VHF and UHF. I didn't care much about using repeaters and communicating locally using line-of-sight - I much preferred knowing that my transmitted radio frequency signal was first going up into space and then was reflected off the ionosphere back to earth when communicating with people far away.
I found it exciting to communicate with people in remote faraway places where amateur radio was sometimes [even] prohibited by their government, or where most of the people in that land were tribes people, or where people lived a life far different from us where they barely knew the outside world that we take for granted.
I liked following the information as HAMs planned major DXpeditions where I could make contact with their temporary, makeshift stations they setup on tiny uninhabited remote islands (some of which are so small that they are only visible above water during low tide and/or only accessible by small boat) like Clipperton Island, Pitcairn Island, Campbell Island, North Cook Island, Heard Island and Easter Island. Those were much sought after contacts by all HAMs worldwide. Back-in-the-day making contact with someone in the deep jungles of Kampuchea, or North Korea, or in the frigidly frozen northern part of Siberia near the Arctic Ocean...or Mongolia or China was always a thrill because the U.S.S.R. and China were said to have killed people accused of operating a HAM radio station back then. The language barriers were largely nullified when using CW (continuous wave, a.k.a. Morse code), so you could communicate with virtually anyone, anywhere, using the Morse code abbreviations that all HAMs use and recognize worldwide regardless of their native language.
I became friends with Kings (such as his Majesty King Hussein of Jordan - call sign JY1), national television news anchors ( such as CBS evening news anchor Walter Cronkite - call sign KB2GSD), noted missionaries doing work throughout the world, politicians (such as Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater - call sign K7UGA), NASA astronauts, and a truly wonderful friend of mine - [blind] Nashville country music singer/songwriter Ronnie Milsap - call sign WB4KCG)...as well as scores of other HAM radio operators; from coal miners in West Virginia to Greek tycoons to powerful heads-of-state...and people of all-walks-of-life in between, all over planet Earth.
I also found it very rewarding to run phone patches for missionary workers (usually in Central America, South America, Africa, or the Caribbean islands) and maritime ships (wherever there was oceans or seas) so our U.S. sailors and marines could talk with their loved ones back home in the states from the other side of the world. I've always liked competing (e.g. golf tournaments) so contesting over 24 or 48 straight hours (against other HAMs all over the U.S. or the entire world) to see how many different stations I could work as the goal, with multipliers for difficult hard to work areas of the world, really appealed to me. I won the 40 meter Worldwide CW contest one year and 15 meter SSB another year, and came in top-10 on 20 meter SSB a number of times competing against large world-recognized DX teams in Western Europe with huge yagi antennas on 150 to 400 foot towers, running the best equipment and mega power. Lots of fun and very fond memories...
I became so proficient in copying code that I used to be able to (probably still can to some degree) work another station at 25-40 wpm on CW, watch television, and talk with someone in the room with me all at the same time.
I also enjoyed designing and building 'homebrew' linear amplifiers (that were much more powerful than the legal limit permitted by the FCC)...one pushing 15KW+ RF output, using semi-rigid Heliax hardline coaxial cable and massive baluns to the various antennas!
Now that I think about it - I miss HAM radio, but I know what I once enjoyed is gone forever.
PS - Another thing that limits HF (10-160 meters) communications now is the current sunspot cycle activity is low. But, even when the coming sunspot cycle 25 activity improves I suspect there will be fewer active HAM operators on the HF bands. Activity keeps ebbing lower and lower.
Here are some pictures (from years ago) of my hamshack (a.k.a. radio equipment room), tower/antennas, a homebrew linear amplifier that I designed and built, and the beginnings of another homebrew amplifier...and I threw in a picture of myself working a contact on 40 meter CW:
When technology advanced to bring personal computers to literally anyone that was interested, that was the beginning of the downturn in the hobby of HAM radio.
My Uncle was a HAM guy from the time he was a kid until he died in his 80's. He used to keep in touch with a lot of his WWII buddies, and people he met while overseas after the war.
Now days, that would all happen on Facebook, or some such social media. Not voice-to-voice, hearing your friends from far away. Facebook is just words out on the web and not as personal.
In my dotage I've discovered that I have remarkably (or maybe not-so-remarkably) little to say. Perhaps that was always true.
Alan - As a self-described dotard you should have a lot to say with your 74 years worth of wisdom.
Where were you licensed in '4 land' before you moved to CO?
In my early years during the late 1940's and 1950's, I remember my father (W2ERK) talking to people around the world on his ham rig. He had an impressive collection of QSL cards which I still have today.
He passed away in 2003 and I've been considering going through the process of getting my license and taking over his call sign. I've been a Skywarn Spotter for the Binghamton NY, office of the National Weather Service for many years and would like to join their ham radio emergency reporting program.
That would be nice and a good hobby for you. One thing about HAM radio, you can have fun with it rain or shine, day or night, summer or winter. As people become less active as they get older they oftentimes look for something to do to occupy their time that does not require the strength, reaction time, endurance or athleticism they once had, or requires unwanted travel, etc. yet is a lot of fun to do and keeps the mind sharp.
As you probably already know, and what Jim1348 touched on in his previous post, there are many facets or sectors of amateur (HAM) radio that attract a wide range of interests. Many people begin with a fascination of radio communication and then combine other personal interests to make pursuit of the hobby rewarding...and conversely, many people have a personal interest in something (like you being a Skywarn Spotter connected with the National Weather Service) and find that radio communication is fascinating and make HAM radio their hobby. You would likely be the perfect candidate to operate on UHF and VHF frequencies using the many UHF and VHF repeaters local HAM clubs have installed in your local area. This (UHF & VHF) is the sector of HAM radio that has remained active. You should look into it!
Once each year in June amateur (HAM) radio clubs conduct what is called 'Field Day'. Field Day is HAM radio's open house! Field Day is always held on the 4th full weekend in June - so this year (2019) it will be on June 22nd and 23rd.
Every June more than 40,000 HAMs (usually associated with local amateur radio clubs, a.k.a. ARCs) throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate HAM radio's science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been a popular annual event since 1933, and remains the single most popular event for amateur radio clubs.
Here is a video of some HAMs in California (Sierra Foothill Amateur Radio Club - Call Sign W6EK - Link: http://w6ek.org/) with their Field Day event from last year. Looks like they had a lot of fun!
If you are interested in dropping by a Field Day event near you on June 22nd or 23rd (always set up in public places for access to anyone), below is a locator link to obtain information from the amateur radio club about where their Field Day operation will be located.
and there are many internet practice testing sites
I used to be active in Ham Radio... Primarily 2 Meters... Though I did some RTTY using a TI-994A system that worked quite well... With my TS820....
Then (back in W95R2) I started in on Video Editing on PC.....
The more I did editing, the less I did Ham Radio....
I got the Video System to the point where I'm Totally Happy with it, and my SD/HD Editing, DVD/BR Authoring...
To the point where I've kept my License valid, but now I don't even own Ham Gear any more!!
I got my license when the morse code requirement was dropped. I just want the radio capability for emergencies for when I travel, etc. My only radio is a handheld, but it works for me. Built a Moxon that gets me some pretty good range. I'm good as is.
When I was on a ship with the marine corps, I had to call home using MARS (Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability) did anyone here work with that?
It helped me contact my family during a emergency while I was on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
I got my tech license in the '90s when cell phones were expensive to maintain and thought a handheld device with a local repeater with phone patch would give me help in an emergency.
Now that low-use cell phones (and even good smartphones) are available—Tracfone, for instance—I never use the handheld anymore. In spite of that, I did take and pass the General and Extra exams after the Morse requirement was dropped, just as something to do
CraigW, aka AD7xx
I think you mean MARS ('Military Auxiliary Radio System') instead of Britain’s MARS ('Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability') program.
The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is a United States Department of Defense sponsored program, established as a separately managed and operated program by the United States Army, and the United States Air Force. The United States Navy-Marine program has been closed. The program is a civilian auxiliary consisting primarily of licensed amateur (HAM) radio operators who are interested in assisting the military with communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to normal communications. The MARS programs also include active duty, reserve, and National Guard units; Navy, Marine Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ships, and Coast Guard cutters and shore stations.
MARS has a long history of providing worldwide auxiliary emergency communications during times of need. The combined two-service MARS programs (Army, and Air Force), volunteer force of over 3,000 dedicated and skilled amateur (HAM) radio operators provide the backbone of the MARS program. The main benefit of MARS membership is enjoying the amateur (HAM) radio hobby through an ever-expanding horizon of MARS service to the nation. MARS members work by the slogans "Proudly Serving Those Who Serve" and "Proud, Professional, and Ready."
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