While the number of licensed operators is increasing, ham operators face misconceptions and stereotypes that ham radio is an outdated pastime reserved for geeks and misfits. But ham radio is a powerful, personal, and dedicated communication tool that can be used in a number of ways to help you in your daily life.
The truth about ham radio might surprise you… Ham radio is not dead. In fact, it’s very much alive and growing in popularity.
Reason #1:It’s Never Been More Popular
Despite some misconceptions, ham radio is popular in certain circles and in some is increasingly expanding.
The number of ham radio operators in the United States has been steadily increasing since the 80s, now numbering over 700,000. According to the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015, over 89% of US households are within range of VHF or UHF ham radios. Visit this site to learn more
Reason #2: Ham radio is more than a hobby. It’s a vital, reliable public service tool.
On the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Southern Louisiana was under an emergency. The levees protecting the city had broken and it was flooded. In the aftermath of the hurricane, communication was difficult, at best. But ham radio operators served as communication lifelines for local, state, and national officials to talk to each other and coordinate their response efforts.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio was the go-to communication method when all other methods failed. Hams were even able to bounce signals off the moon!
And it’s not just in disaster situations where ham radio is useful. The Amateur Radio service is a public-service communications provider in many natural and man-made emergency situations throughout the world. Amateur Radio volunteers also provide emergency communications during local events such as marathons and other large city events where cell phone towers are crowded.
So, if you want to keep public service communications open, whether it’s across town or across the world, global or local, rely on ham radio operators.
Reason #3: Amateur Radio is a community
Ham radio is not dead because it’s not just about radios. Amateur radio is a community! Yes, we use radios to communicate with other radio amateurs, but we also use our skills and knowledge to help people in emergency and disaster situations. In addition to emergency response services, ham radio operators volunteer their time and talents to serve their communities as public service communication providers (PSCs).
Hams provide valuable public communications to local communities including VHF simplex and repeater communications for fire departments, police departments, Search & Rescue organizations, and even local utility companies. If the power goes out, hams are ready to provide reliable two-way communications between emergency responders and the public.
Reason #4: Amateur Radio is fun
It’s true that amateur radio operators have been using computers and digital modes for decades now. But guess what? There’s still nothing like sending and receiving a CW (Morse code) transmission on an airwave that stretches across North America. A lot of hams I know are also using digital modes (such as PSK31) but they still enjoy knowing Morse Code because 1) it helps keep their CW skills sharp and 2) there is just something about tapping out dots and dashes on a paddle.
Reason #5: It’s simple!
You can start listening to the world right away, without needing to know how to set up a station. You don’t need to think about radio frequencies or band conditions. Everything is already there when you turn the radio on.
Reason #6: You are never alone!
Picking up a frequency is as easy as turning a dial, and you will be surrounded by people who love the same things you do!
Reason #7: It’s flexible!
You can operate from almost anywhere in the world and be part of an international community. From mountaintops to the ocean depths, this is an activity for everyone who likes to live on the edge!
Reason #8: It’s green.
Ham radio is green! You can communicate from almost anywhere on earth with no need for outside power sources. Even a solar flare or a power failure won’t keep you from staying in touch. And if something is working, it doesn’t produce much of an environmental footprint. Using a ham rig for emergency communications keeps you off the grid and out of the way of the big players that require massive backup generators and huge transformers. Even if you don’t use your radio every day, keeping it charged up and ready to go at a moment’s notice means you’ll be there when your community needs you.
Conclusion: Amateur radio has been around for over 100 years, and the 21st century will be no different. We’re not going anywhere.