Given the passion of Hams, regarding their “hobby”, even the definition of Amateur Radio may generate debate. Wikipedia’s definition of Amateur Radio (also known as Ham Radio) is “the use of the designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication.” Although an accurate definition, most hams wouldn’t describe themselves in this manner.
It’s true, that hams are restricted to specific frequencies when transmitting; may not benefit financially from their use of these frequencies; are continually adding to their knowledge base; have difficulty using technology without some experimentation or modification and are definitely a national asset during times of disaster and emergency.
It is also true, that as hobbies go, few require a government approved (FCC) licensing process, certainly not one that is as technical and challenging as ours. In other words, you REALLY must want to be ham!
This brings me to my point.
All the hams I’ve had the privilege to know are in the hobby because it excites them. They’ve all overcome the licensing process and felt the rush that comes from earning the right to tap or speak the letters CQ CQ!
Some of us operate safely in our backyard shacks, basements, closets, and cars. The adventurous among us, venture into forests, mountains, and remote islands. Others, risk their lives to assist in environments most run from, whether that’s earthquakes, fires, floods, or hurricanes. Oh yes, some of us just happen to operate miles up in the heavens; bouncing their signals off satellites or the moon. Better yet, some physically occupy a cramped “shack” on a space station. Still others, the bravest of us, take it upon themselves to be the voice of freedom in war torn nations, providing the only link to a worried world.
Age, language, location, or gender does not divide us. Fame or fortune is inconsequential. One evening’s radio exchanges could be with a pipe fitter in Milan, a doctor in Milwaukee and/or Joe Walsh of The Eagles, (somewhere!).
It seems, we each have our own definition.
So, what does tie us together?
Well, we love the technical challenge. We are quick to use our know-how and equipment to help others in need. But, most of all, regardless of how long we’ve participated in amateur radio, it is the absolute thrill of breaking through the interference and confirming your receipt of a transmission from some exotic faraway place.
How great is that!!