Amateur radio just isn’t exciting

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As President of the ARRL, [Rick Roderick, K5UR] spends a lot of time proselytizing. He has a standard amateur radio conversation that involves stories gleaned over his many decades as a licensee, and features QSL cards of rare DX contacts to show how radio amateurs talk all over the world.

He has given this speech countless times and is used to being well received by audiences impressed with what is possible with radio. But when he delivered it to a group of youngsters, as Southgate ARC reports, he was surprised to see a lack of interest from his audience, for whom DX or competition isn’t enough when they have grown up with the ubiquitous Internet. . Writing in the ARRL’s 2016 Annual Report, he said:

“Change is usually not easy for us. But when I looked at this group of young faces and saw their disinterest in traditional ham business, I realized I had to change. We must change. It won’t be easy, but it’s essential that we get to work now.

If you were to profile a typical group of radio amateurs, it wouldn’t be hard to see why [K5UR] found himself in this situation. This may be an unflattering portrait for some amateurs, but it’s fair to say that amateur radio is a hobby practiced primarily by older, more well-off men who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on commercial radio stations. It’s also fair to say that it’s hardly a prospect that would energize all but the most dedicated young radio enthusiasts. This is not a new phenomenon, where it is written, it was certainly the case when they issued call signs G7, for example.

If Hackaday found himself in the position of advising the ARRL on such matters, we would likely suggest a return to the roots of amateur radio, a time in the early 20th century when it was the technology that mattered rather than the collection of DXCCs. . entities or squares of the grid, and a hobbyist had to build their own gear first rather than just ordering a shiny radio before they could make contact. Give a room full of kids a kit building session, have them make a little radio. And pushing for construction to be an integral part of the licensing process it is indeed very sad that where it is written at least the lowest level of amateur radio license excludes radio equipment made House. Given all of this, why should it be surprising that for kids, amateur radio just isn’t exciting?

We’ve shown you some fantastic amateur radio builds over the years. If you have a youngster who is interested in radio, show them a BitX transceiver or the world of QRP.

Header image: enixii. [CC BY 2.0]. We hope those sleepy kids aren’t in the middle of a ham radio talk.


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