Rare Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Amateur (ham) radio
Knowledge of Morse Code is no longer required, but interest in radio technology
appears to have been supplanted by computers and the Internet, and the ranks of
amateur radio operators have been dwindling for several years.
Amateur (ham) radio

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There are 11 comments for this item.

Posted by Ed Sawicki at 10:28 pm (PST) on Wed December 21, 2022   
Before getting a technician class license and buying a Heathkit Twoer, my father purchased a HiFi unit with an FM receiver. The salesman convinced him he needed an FM-band, multi-element, Yagi-style antenna, and rotator. I used it at night to listen to FM stations that were not local and requested QSL cards from those stations.

When I got my technician class license and a Heathkit Twoer, I simply needed to buy a taller mast for the rotator, and I installed my 2-meter beam above my father's antenna. I was on the ladder doing the work while some neighbors watched. I pretended to lose my footing once, and a woman rang the doorbell and said to my mom, "Joanne, do you know your son is standing on the top of your chimney?"
You could say that amateur radio helped eliminate my fear of heights.
Posted by Ed Sawicki at 10:09 pm (PST) on Wed December 21, 2022   
I had a technician class amateur license when I was a teenager in New York (I had a novice before that). I bought a Heathkit "Twoer," a 2-meter,  5-watt, AM modulation, crystal-controlled transmitter with a super-regenerative receiver - a simple and inexpensive rig.

It wasn't long before I met a guy online with a wicked powerful signal. He lived about eight blocks away. We became best friends. He also had a Twoer.

We both had 7-element Yagi beam antennas on the roof sitting on a rotator. When we had our beams pointed at each other, and he powered on his Twoer, its super-regenerative receiver leaked RF signals to the antenna, and I could easily hear it. I'd transmit, "Good evening, Mike," and he'd wonder how I knew his rig was powered on. I told him months later. Sadly, he began dating an ex-girlfriend of mine, and our friendship waned.
Posted by Robert Hutchison at 1:05 pm (PDT) on Tue August 30, 2016   
As a Boy Scout I learned Morse Code and Semiphore Signals but the only Morse Code I remember is for SOS (...---...)! But, if you believe Star Trek, Morse Code will still be used to stage a jail break in the 23rd Century!
Posted by LoyalTubist at 8:12 pm (PDT) on Sat July 30, 2016   
I never got into amateur radio but I loved regular shortwave broadcasts. Some of my acquaintances knew I was an SWLer but thought that was synonymous with a ham. It was a little difficult to explain the difference.

Incidentally, shortwave, as a government form of propaganda is virtually dead. Voice of America, BBC, and a few smaller outlets are about all that is left.
Posted by packratjohn at 7:10 pm (PDT) on Wed May 13, 2015   
It may seem as though there are fewer hams, but in reality, we're growing!
Here's a quote from the ARRL:

As 2012 came to a close, ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, had a good reason to cheer: The number of radio amateurs in the US reached an all-time high of almost 710,000. “2012 was definitely a banner year for the number of Amateur Radio operators here in the US,” she said. “It is amazing to see these new numbers and to know that Amateur Radio is experiencing such a healthy trend.”
Posted by CJ at 5:34 pm (PDT) on Wed May 13, 2015   
With the dwindling interest in Amateur Radio...what will that do to MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System)?
Posted by Chuck Kopsho at 11:53 am (PST) on Mon February 10, 2014   
I remember my dad's radio shack. He had an early 2 meter radio, HF tranceivers, a teletype to receive transmitted ASCII art over the airwaves, oh. I also remember he had a Morse code key as well. I never followed in his footsteps, but he gave me his Hallicrafters SX-88 communications receiver and had a blast getting programming from foriegn broadcasts, listening to HF QSO's going on around the world and such. I had it plugged into my dad's antenna, and, brother, I was pulling in all kinds of signals from everywhere.
Posted by packratjohn at 7:52 pm (PST) on Sat February 25, 2012   
1968 - listened every night to Radio Prague's English language broadcast on a Heath Mohican receiver. One night I got distracted doing other things, and missed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, including the takeover of all media. History, and I missed it.
Posted by packratjohn at 7:50 pm (PST) on Sat February 25, 2012   
We had a Ham Club in high school in the late 60s. I still hear from the instructor from time to time. Learned code, but didn't take the test til much later, about 78 if I remember. Took it at the FCC office in Chicago. Like the above post, I, too, didn't go for Novice, instead getting the technician. Didn't think I'd like HF. Turns out I did, though. I won first place in Indiana for Technician Class in the Novice Roundup in 81, and TRIPLED my code speed! That same week I test for General, and have been happy with that ever since.
Posted by billk at 1:11 am (PDT) on Sun October 24, 2010   
I still remember my trek down to the FCC office at 701 varick street in New York to take my test in 1977. I only took the technician, and have never upgraded. I was more interested in VHF than HF anyway. I later returned there to take my 1st class radiotelephone license exam.

My most fun in ham radio was competing in the June and September VHF contests as part of the W2SZ multioperator team on the summit of Mt. Greylock in western Massachusetts.
Posted by Duff at 1:16 am (PST) on Wed November 25, 2009   
That's me in the photo, operating Novice-class station WN2ZPD/1 at Granite Lake Camp, Munsonville, NH in the summer of 1967. The main equipment (left to right): a Heathkit GR-91 shortwave receiver owned, I think, by the camp; my Hallicrafters HT-40 AM/CW transmitter, and my Lafayette Radio Electronics HE-30 receiver. I took the test for a General-class license three times, but never managed to pass the Morse Code portion of the test. (After the third try, I realized that the receiving exam used the same text each time: "receiver used for monitoring 9600 kilohertz and frequency range of...," but I never made a fourth attempt.)

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