I recently read a reddit post about a gentleman that was having a hard time thinking of why he should get his ham radio license. He stated that he had heard about just the talking aspect of it, but he couldn’t “justify” doing the studying for the license and buying the radios just for talking and was asking what else the hobby had to offer.
On one hand, I have to think to myself, If you have to talk yourself into getting a ham license or justify spending was is basically about 10 hours worth of studying for your technician license, then maybe ham radio is not for you. That maybe you will be like so many others that have gotten their license, use it for a few months then let it lapse, or keep it just to keep it and probably never use it again.
On the other hand, equipment for this hobby can be rather expensive! Even with the little Chinese HT’s, you are still looking at around $100 to get a decent setup that has more than just the radio and rubber duck. I think a lot of people get into the hobby for one reason or another and they typically have a reason behind doing it.
When I got my license it was because of the community service end of things. My church handles the clothing distribution aspect during major disasters and had run up a $2000 cell phone bill during a flood in Houston, TX. On top of the outrageous bill, they also had communication issues that you normally see during a major event. So they wanted another way to deal with communications. The director at the time, knew a little something about amateur radio and knew that it could be the answer that they were looking for, so he approached my father with the idea of starting a ham club that could assist.
My dad approached me after being asked, seeing if I wanted to get my license as well. I was about 15-16 at the time and thought, sure why not. I had always enjoyed talking on my CB radio and I enjoyed helping others so it seemed like a good idea. We both got out license and started a ham club and we both have been officers in it ever since.
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I’m sure that if you ask any ham why they got into the hobby, most of them would say a specific reason. Maybe they got in because a family member was a ham or maybe because they wanted to storm spot, or maybe they just like to talk. Any reason is a good reason to get into the hobby, and the best part is, there is so much you can do in the hobby that you shouldn’t get tired of it, but if you do, it is a hobby that you can leave for a little bit and come back to later and pick up right where you left off.
Here are a few examples of things that you can do in this hobby:
- Talk to people (rag chewing; could be local or long-range)
- Talk to people on Voice,
- Talk to people using Morse Code
- If you don’t like to talk, You can use Digitial Modes – Ep 67 – PSK31
- Make contacts via microwave
- Work DX (long-distance contacts, foreign countries) – ETH015 & ETH062
- Make low-power contacts (QRP) – Ep 60
- Exchange QSL cards with stations you’ve contacted – Ep 59
- Out of this world experiences
- Make contacts via VHF/UHF satellites (OSCAR – orbiting satellites carrying amateur radio)
- Talk to astronauts on the ISS
- Bounce signals off of the moon (EME – earth-moon-earth)
- Bounce signals off of meteor trails
- Bounce signals off of aurora (northern lights)
- Contesting, Awards and Special Events
- Work towards some ham radio awards (confirmed contacts in all 50 states, or 100 different countries, or other awards) – Ep 19
- Participate in contests (see how many stations you can contact within a certain time period and certain rules for the contest)
- Travel to faraway places and operate (DXpedition) – Ep 62
- Special event stations (commemorating an event in history, etc.)
- Summits On The Air(SOTA) – Ep 17
- Run a repeater – Ep 34
- Interlink repeaters with IRLP, Echolink or Allstar VoIP or RF links
- Community Service
- Military Auxiliary Radio Service – Ep 58
- Providing email to ships at sea (pskmail, winlink)
- Track a high-altitude balloon (ARHAB)
- Remote control a plane with first person live video being transmitted from the plane (FPV) – Ep 70
- Study the ionosphere and produce ionograms
- Make friends at a local club – ARRL Find A Club Page
- Run an APRS node, such as: position tracking, weather station, digipeater – Ep 6
- Find a hidden transmitter (Fox Hunting / Radio Direction Finding) – Ep 25
- Explore digital signal processing and software defined radios (SDR) – Ep 76
- Create an 802.11 (WiFi) mesh node and explore wireless networking – Ep 29
- Amateur Television
- SSTV (Slow Scan Television), still images
- ATV (Amateur Fast Scan Television), live video feed
This list is by no means complete, and I am sure that there are so much more you can do with this hobby. If you can think of something that I need to add to this list, please let me know. Also, If you see something on this list that you are knowledgeable about and I don’t already have an episode recorded on the topic, please come on my show so other can share in your knowledge. I am always looking for someone to come on and talk about this great hobby and to help teach me and all of yall about a subject.
If you would like to come on my podcast, please send me an email to k5clm at everythinghamradio.com and let me know what topic you would like to talk about.
Until next time,
73 de Curtis, K5CLM
Creator and Owner of Everything Ham Radio
Owner of 2xC Products at 2xcproducts.com