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Comment: a few points to consider (Score 1) 358

by rnd() (#38141540) Attached to: Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

I've been a ham since I was 12 (in 1989) and got seriously sidetracked with writing code over the past 12 years or so. It's been absolutely *amazing*.

However lately I set up my old station again, upgraded to a new Elecraft K3 transceiver, and have been having a blast. The Elecraft K3 has the best receiver ever tested by most of the labs that have run tests on it. It's an ingenious hybrid of analog and digital circuitry, created by a company in Aptos California. Until recently most of the highly desirable gear was from Japanese manufacturers, and with all the advantages in manufacturing that exist in Asia, I thought it unlikely that US firms would be able to continue to compete. But Elecraft has done a remarkable job.

Getting on the air again after about a decade off the air, I've noticed that CW (morse code) is more popular than ever. And better receiver tech has made it even more effective than it was in the past. Much of the equipment used by hams today has DSP, and for the first time I'm seriously considering getting into low power (QRP) operation just b/c of this. Finally, probably thanks to the removal of the requirement, morse code is appreciated as a fun activity.

Some fun things to do: HF Contesting is my favorite, particularly on CW (morse). Much like meditation, it clears the mind of distractions and I come away from it feeling refreshed and exhilarated. And CW is quite musical compared to RTTY which I find fatiguing to hear -- even though the computer is doing the "work" of decoding it, some audio is needed to help zero beat signals.

I've noticed that there has been a big movement toward scientific thinking about radio performance and antenna performance. Antennas and propagation are full of mystery, but they are ultimately constrained by the laws of nature, and hams are doing away with superstition and using antenna modeling software and the scientific method to create very cool designs, particularly with under-appreciated low-loss feedlines.

There is a young ham radio superstar, callsign NO3M who has destroyed the competition in some of the most hard core CW contests. This guy apparently races motorcycles as well. Highly impressive. This guy is the DHH of ham radio.

I think that among the type of people who love building things, who love understanding things, tinkering, etc., ham radio will always have an appeal. Worldwide hams are extremely nice and friendly people, who are always willing to help someone new. Sure there are a few kooks on 75m but I think 75m can safely be ignored except during (and immediately after) contests ;) The rest is pure awesome.

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