|This symbol is recognized worldwide as signifying amateur radio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
We all bring to our treasured hobby our particular (some might say peculiar, hi hi) personalities, talents, experiences, and motivations. From these we derive our own individual meaning and satisfaction about ham radio.
So, I offer up my, unordered, list of what I like best about this hobby. I invite you to share your favorite aspects of ham radio in the comments.
|English: Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, Expedition 22 flight engineer, conducts a ham radio session in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
- The call sign - It's our unique badge, not a random number. It becomes part of your personality, your identity.
- Instant camaraderie - You're in a big club, literally millions of members worldwide. As I'm sure you've experienced many times, your fellow hams extend to you friendship automatically that you wouldn't usually receive otherwise from a stranger.
- Lifetime learning - A lifetime, and then some, of learning about physics, electronics, operating modes and techniques. It's learning without end. There is always a new challenge to keep us busy.
- Freedom - Sure, your key or mic needs to go in the key or mic jack, respectively. Station equipment has to be connected properly to operate correctly. Other than that, however, we are pretty free in how we configure our personal stations, which radios we use, which accessories to buy, which antennas (my favorite of favorites) to use. We decide if we're going to buy or build. We get the satisfaction of trying new combinations, going QRP or QRO, fixed or portable, CW, SSB, Digi-modes and more, which contest, and also the freedom to tear it all down and start over if that's what we want.
- Opportunities to help others - Amateur radio plays a big part in disaster communications, which is probably the single most important assistance provided by our hobby. Many of us, though, help out in numerous small ways every day. We elmer a new ham, help another ham analyze his or her signal, offer troubleshooting suggestions for equipment that's on the fritz, and apply what we learn from the hobby to other areas, such as computers and electronics.
- Meeting new people - When I'm on the air I'm not usually talking to the same ops repeatedly. Every new contact is another person I've "met", maybe someone from a new country. Sometimes there is followup via a QSL card or an e-mail and I get to know that person a little better. Even when I'm off the air, it's often that I have interaction with someone new, another ham or someone thinking about being a ham. And let's not forget the ultimate social interaction of the hamfest!
- On the facetious side, I also enjoy the many sensual delights of the hobby, such as the blinking lights, the fans, the hums and buzzes, the static, the meters bouncing up and down, the "feel" of taking apart a radio for repair, the smell of solder smoke and the heat of the iron, and especially the glow of the tubes in a boatanchor rig. I also love the opportunity to use the stylish "Zed" or "Zulu"!
|Amateur radio station of DJ4PI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|