Electronics > RF, Microwave, Ham Radio

Whatever Happened to Ham Radio?

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xrunner:
I have (or had, I think the license is expired now because I didn't renew it) a General Class license. I was big into morse code in junior high school, but lost interest over the years.

Ham radio used to be the ultimate electronics hobby. I mean it was the Big Time thing if you wanted to experiment with electronics. You really had to know your shit.

I realized the other day, I never, and I mean never, hear about a ham hobbyist on electronics forums. I'm sure they have their forums, but it seems to be a dying hobby. I don't know if computers are killing it or the internet, but something happened, for me anyway. I just didn't see the challenge in it at some point. Maybe it was that you could go buy the most elegantly engineered radios and given that, there was no more challenge to it.  :(

Thoughts?

ve7xen:
I think it has a lot to do with how easy and cheap it is communicate internationally now. Before my day, it was actually difficult and/or expensive to communicate with people in other parts of the world. Now we do it every day, essentially for free.

That said I'm a (not very active) operator and have a fair bit of interest in applying more modern design to old ideas. Not modern design, but something more modern than we would have done in the 80s. APRS is a good example. Most of the TNCs out there are still based on 1980s analog demodulators. SDR is really interesting too, as are some of the crazy new digital modes.

Still lots going on :).

Hydrawerk:
Well, my father could not easily send messages from Czech Republic (middle Europe) to a guy from Australia in early 1980s.

xrunner:

--- Quote from: ve7xen on June 08, 2013, 12:59:22 am ---I think it has a lot to do with how easy and cheap it is communicate internationally now. Before my day, it was actually difficult and/or expensive to communicate with people in other parts of the world. Now we do it every day, essentially for free.

--- End quote ---

Yea I think you're right. Back in the day (I mean early 1970's) there was no way to talk to other countries, other than some sort of expensive international call or a letter.  :P

Ham radio was a really neat way to do something many people simply couldn't do or even really understand how to do. I got tutored by a Ham operator and that how I got into electronincs. Shoot - I knew things that many grown-ups didn't have a clue about.

Even before that, I got into shortwave listening because I got kits from Radio Shack. I listened to WWV and foreign nations and thought I was doing things that nobody else could do.

I still have a JRC communications receiver - not made anymore but man it's a kick-ass receiver. But do I use it for anytning now? No.

It's the damn internet!  :rant:

Radio Tech:
I am a General class operator.  Not qute as active as I was 2 years ago but  when I am in the shop the radios are on and monitoring. There are serveral ham radio forums. qrz.com being the biggest. But it is not ham radio. I do agree that the internet and cell phones has took alot out of the hobby. But it is not dieing. Put up a decent antenna, listen to the bands. They are very active. I am talking about HF freqencies. Not VHF or UHF.

The only reason I am not as active is because of the shop. When I am in the shop I am working on HF rigs or amplifiers. Most power supplies in these are between 2 to 3KV. Not every body wants to work on these. Like the new breed of ham operators. Not that I have anything at all against them. It is just at one time most ham operators could repair thier on stuff. Now that the FCC has made becoming a ham op easier, there are folks in the hobby with no electronic back ground at all.  So I started repairing more and more radio equipment for ham operators.  So I am still enjoying the hobby.

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