Sunday, June 16, 2013

Amateur Radio in the 21st Century

Many of today’s experienced engineers got their start in electronics through amateur, or ham, radio.

Over the years, however, the demands of these engineers’ work, families, and communities took precedence, and many hams lost interest and let their licenses lapse. Meanwhile, with the rise of personal communications and Internet connectivity in homes, many young engineers never needed ham radio as a way to explore electronics. They’ve missed the opportunity that this fascinating hobby presents.

The first wireless communicators were by definition all amateurs. Guglielmo Marconi himself, generally regarded as the inventor of radio, once famously remarked that he considered himself an amateur.

Experimenters have created modulation schemes and accompanying protocols, complete with forward-error correction, which enable direct keyboard-to-keyboard contacts even with low power and small antennas.

(Intro taken from an excellent EDN Magazine article written by Doug K1DG)

Above are some current books that help us fulfill part of the basis and purpose of ham radio; to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

Ham radio is a hobby for those who like to learn (usually by experimentation) and would never be satisfied being just a mere consumer of today's technology and gadgets.

The engineer and hams mindset is "how does this work, how can I make it better?"

There is an excellent fairly new website that I stumbled into along this theme:

And old stand by is the website.

The local club that I belong to recently took a look at their bylaws basis and purpose.

1. The promotion of the interest in amateur radio communication and experimentation.
2. The establishment of amateur radio networks to provide electronic communications in the event of disasters or other emergencies.
3. The furtherance of the public welfare.
4. The advancement of the radio art.
5. The fostering and promotion of non-commercial inter-communication by electronic means throughout the world.
6. The fostering of education in the field of electronic communication.
7. The promotion and conduct of research and development to further development of electronic communications.
8. The dissemination of technical, educational and scientific information relating to electronic communication.
9. Provide encouragement and educational opportunities to any person interested in participating in the radio art.
10. The printing and publishing of documents, pamphlets and other information necessary or incidental to any of the above purposes.
The hard question is how specifically have we fulfilled these in the last year.

I think this is a good idea for clubs, to annually review what there have done in the name of what they are about.

An idea was presented at our most recent meeting to donate some ham radio books to the local libraries (both public libraries and at the colleges). A special committee was formed to investigate what is currently on the shelves.

Being on that committee, license manuals are at several public libraries, along with small scattering of other traditional books.

Ward Silver's "Ham Radio for Dummies" I feel replaces the old Now Your Talking Book. Now Your Talking was not only was a license manual, but also gave a pretty good explanation of the different facets of the hobby. Ward's book does a great job explaining the different facets. There were a few copies of this floating around at the different libraries, which is good.

At the local technical college, there weren't any books specific to ham radio. When I attended, QEX magazine was in the periodicals area. Today there isn't anything of the sort, nor any Circuit Cellar, Elektor, Nuts and Volts or really anything of the nature. I was saddened to see this.

So to help the hobby in the right direction, the books above, I'd love to see in the colleges.

If your club decides to donate books, you can put a sticker on the inside cover to read something like "Donated by the Green Bay Mike & Key Club." To point them in the right direction if the book interested them.

There is plenty of information about ham radio on the internet, but the newer areas currently being explored by hams, isn't as prominently displayed to would-be hams or even the existing hams.

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