Ham radio is whatever you want to make of it. It is the one hobby that I have found that covers the widest variety of my interests, plus a few things that I never knew I was interested in. How about talking to an astronaut at the International Space Station.
Here are just a few things that Ham Radio covers:
Computers - From hooking your radio up to the computer, to writing applications.
Science - No matter what kind of science you are interested in there are parts of ham radio that is covered. From Space to ground planes, it is a never ending opportunity to learn.
Maker Spaces - If you are into the Maker Space hobby, you would really like ham radio, where there is a will, there's a way.
Public Service - Weather Spotters, helping with communications at events, providing communications for all those in need.
Emergency Services - Ares and Races, help with communications during emergencies.
Learning new Cultures - Meet people from all over the world.
Chit Chat and All That - If you just want to talk, that is great also.
Almost all ham radio "Shacks" are populated with one or more (Mine currently has three) computers. Not only are some radios now Software Defined Radios (SDR), but computers are used for many other things. I'm a computer programmer by trade, and I have written a few things to help with my ham operations but I use many more programs to help with other functions.
Logging software is used to records and track all my contacts. Satellite tracking software so I can talk using satellites. Programming software to program my handheld Radios. This website, and much much more.
Did you ever wonder why cell phone towers are the size they are or located where they are. Ever wonder why the antenna on your car is vertical. You can design and build your own antennas at a very low price and use modeling software to know how it is going to perform before building it. Did you know that the angle of which you send out a radio signal determines how far a signal will go? did you know that the length of your wire antenna will determine which band will work better on your setup... We could go on and on.
Here is something you might not have thought of, your cell phone is just like a Ham Radio. It sends a signal to a repeater (Cell phone tower) that sends the signal to other repeaters and so on. Something you can do with a Ham Radio, you can’t do with a Cell Phone? actually talk to an astronaut on the International Space Station.
I truly believe that the Maker movement was born from Ham Radio. Anyone who has been a ham for a while has built something that was needed. Electronics are a large factor in Ham Radio, from building filters to keep noise down, to lights that go on when transmitting to even building their own transmitters. 3D printing is being used to print cases and mounts and switches (Oh My, sorry a little wizard of Oz humor there).
If you were ever involved in organizing or working with a group of people and thought communications were an issue? Ham Radio can help with things like Bike Races and Marathons, help organize Parades and assist at any kind of public event. Even if you are not able to get out and about, there are need of Net Operators who can organize and direct activities.
Ares is a great way to assist in an emergency. In events of Floods, tornados and storms many times cell connections are not available, Ham Radio still works and is needed. Recently many Hams went to Puerto Rico to help after the hurricanes. HF Nets were setup to track the hurricanes in Florida, and help relay emergency information, keep track of downed trees, electric issues and send messages to friends and relatives of people’s safety. When all other forms of communications are down, ham radio STILL WORKS.
Learning new Cultures and Hearing Real History:
I have had several opportunities to learn new things about people and places. I listened to a ham in Russia who was telling what it was like to be a ham radio operator during communist rule. I listened and talked to hams who were in the Korean War and Vietnam Wars who shared their experiences. Recently I talked to Nambia, I had to look it up and see where it was (about 8000 miles away). The gentleman was very friendly and answered many questions.
Chit Chat and All That;
If you just want to talk, you can do that also, there are Nets on HF that cover just about any subject you can think of. If you just want to hold conversations, we call that rag-chewing, that is greatly encouraged. If you would rather Text that is covered too. You can text to people all over the world.
People who are in Ham Radio are in it for several different things. The people I have met are some of the friendliest and helpful people in the world. We share a great hobby and would like to see you join us.
73’s (Ham Radio speak for “Good Will” and thanks)