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Author Topic: What Attracted/Attracts You to Ham Radio  (Read 16189 times)
KC0MMY
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« on: July 16, 2010, 09:32:53 PM »

I was listening to one of the local 2 meter repeaters in my area, and happened to hear a couple of gentleman lamenting about the fact that younger kids (particularly between the ages of 12 and 20), aren't interested in ham radio.  It almost sounded degrading.  Apparently, one of the gentleman thought that today's youth doesn't know how to have a meaningful conversation.  Apparently, they couldn't find ways to connect with the youth. 

I really have two questions:
1).  If you're a youth, what attracts -- or has attracted -- you to ham radio?
2).  How can people in this radio service, regardless of gender or age, connect with you?  How can we help you? 

I'd be interested in reading your comments, because I feel that ham radio isn't dying, and I feel that hams, regardless of age or gender, should know how to connect and help any young person who has an interest in amateur radio.

Thanks for your time!


73 de Andre
KC0MMY
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W8AAZ
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2010, 05:00:44 AM »

Some people I know look into the crystal ball and only see darkness for our hobby. I am torn both ways but maybe I am in denial and maybe many of us are.  Certainly ham radio as a  means of chit chat back and forth is a dead end I suppose.  As far as R&D in the art of communications,  there are some folks doing that, look at QEX if you can grasp what they are doing.  But the run of the mill ham station is pretty much dated modes of communications if not the radios themselves.  This years radio pretty much does what the 1990 models do, SSB, CW, maybe AM etc.  Digital modes might attract some. Emcomm provides some purpose for us, when the regular lines shut down and the disinterested youths cannot text each other with a tiny shirtpocket device.  But I am still hopeful of a future for our hobby, but am I deluded?   
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N2EY
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 11:23:53 AM »

I'm not a youth any more but I still remember what it was that attracted me to ham radio back in the mid-1960s. (I was first licensed in 1967 at the age of 13).

It was the uniqueness of Amateur Radio. It offered things that couldn't be found anywhere else. Like the experience of building my own station from old TV sets and WW2 surplus, putting it on the air and contacting people all over the world. Being able to learn and use a communications mode (Morse Code) that was completely incomprehensible to most people. Communicating across great distances without any infrastructure but an unseen layer in the sky. Competing against others all over the country, or the world.

And being judged and accepted based on operating skill and signal quality, not age, income, location, education, job, etc. Accepted as an EQUAL.

Most of all it was about "radio for its own sake". Most people don't see the point in that. Our job is to reach the few that do.

IMHO, "youth" will not be attracted to ham radio as a substitute for the internet, cell phones, iPods, etc. 40+ years ago, youth was not attracted to ham radio as a substitute for Ma Bell, Top 40 AM radio, or just plain hanging out.

The attraction is the unique experiences, nothing more or less. And being accepted based on skills and knowledge.

73 de Jim, N2EY

   
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KJ4DHI
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2010, 03:37:31 PM »

I have been away from the hobby for well over 50 years. Got my license back and I'm having a ball. During the June VHF QSO party I worked Massachusets on 6m with 10 watts and a dipole at 12 ft. That's something the internet or cell phones can't offer. Seeing just how far you can toss that signal.
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K4IA
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2010, 05:29:14 PM »

It was the first time all that cr*p I learned in high school had a real use and it got me excited about learning.  My buddies said there was no use for it all but I could see how you might need it.

Math - geometry, trig, algebra
Science - astronomy, physics, chemistry, satellites
History - what happened to old countries?
Languages - Wie Gehts? 
Geography - where the heck is Mauritius and if it is French, why does everyone have an Indian name?

And best of all was reading Mutiny on the Bounty and then having a QSO with Tom Christian, VP6TC at the time, a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian - leader of the mutiny.  Oh Yeah!  My English teacher did not believe me until I brought in his QSL card about six months later.

Name me another hobby that has so much to offer.

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KC0MMY
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2010, 06:42:53 PM »

Thanks, everyone, for your replies!

W8AAZ:  No, I don't think you're deluded.  The radio service or "hobby" is changing some, but maybe not fast enough.  D-Star is out there as a new mode, but I don't think it's catching on as quickly as people had hoped.  Perhaps that's because there aren't a lot of rigs out there that offer the mode.  Hopefully that will change as other manufactures embrace the technology.

N2EY:  You bring up several different points that I hadn't thought about.  First, let me say that it seems that "building" your station/equipment is -- sadly -- a dying art.  On the flip side, kits -- albeit hard to find -- are still available.  Tubes, surprisingly enough, are still quite easy to find if you look in the right places.  I know, as about six months ago I needed tubes for an old tube receiver, and for an old tube ham radio transceiver that I've been restoring.  It's a lot of fun, and that's one part of the service that I hope doesn't die.

You bring up an interesting parallel between "today's youth" in comparison to the "youth of the '50s and '60s" citing reasons why they wouldn't be interested in ham radio.  So, perhaps, that facet of ham radio hasn't changed!  That's good news!  And yes, there is something to be said about being judged solely on your operating skills, and NOT your race, gender, age, economic status, et cetera. 

KJ4DHI:  I'm glad you were able to get "back into the hobby!"  Enjoy six meters!  I hope to make a 6 meter AM contact very soon with my Gonset Communicator III.

K4IA:  It sure is amazing what you can use ham radio for in everyday life, isn't it?  I've made some international contacts a few months ago, which interested my daughter and nephew!  It's even inspired me to take up a foreign language. My nephew is into math and science, so, perhaps I can get him interested in ham radio!  I, myself love to mark the world map with contacts I've made worldwide.  It also sparks my interest to learn more about that country, or corner of the world!  I haven't talked to anyone famous, or very popular yet, but you never know!  I couldn't agree with you more, this hobby does have a lot to offer!

Thanks again, everyone, for your replies!  Keep 'em coming!

73 de Andre
KC0MMY
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KD2AJO
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2011, 05:30:55 PM »

I am a new and young ham and think the best way to attract new hams is to change things around often instead of having the same nets and events repeatedly. To contribute to this my brother(kd2ajn) and I started a game net recently.
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KB3WIN
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2011, 10:23:57 AM »

I don't know if I count as youth (I'm 18). But I just got my technicians license almost a month ago and plan on taking my general class in a few weeks and am really loving it!

I don't understand why more people are not interested in it. I love the technology side of things, I've always been interested in communications technologies. I remember when I was really young around the age of 9 I used to love taking apart broken cassette decks and fixing them. I remember I used to take everything apart and tried fixing it, that's how I got into my other hobby computer repair which I will be going to collage for soon. Another thing that always attracted me to this hobby is the fact that you can build so many things yourself and I have always enjoyed doing that too. Just recently I even built a headphone amp kit which was very fun.

Not only is the technology fascinating but I have always enjoyed talking to people, especially older people who always seemed so wise to me. Unlike a lot of people that I know in my life I like to take peoples advise seriously and loved listening to those who are where wiser. Ham radio combines all of these very cool aspects into one making it very fun. I am just starting off mind you and have only made a few contacts via VHF on an HT but I, as I have mentioned plan on taking and getting my general class in a few weeks and when I have more money, which be a while haha, I plan on buying an full size rig and getting onto 20m. Since I will be likely living in an apartment soon I will have to put up a stealth antenna and maybe work QRP which should be fun!

Very interesting thread by the way, thank you for posting it!

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K1CJS
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2011, 05:08:38 AM »

....I don't understand why more people are not interested in it. I love the technology side of things, I've always been interested in communications technologies. I remember when I was really young around the age of 9 I used to love taking apart broken cassette decks and fixing them. I remember I used to take everything apart and tried fixing it, that's how I got into my other hobby computer repair which I will be going to collage for soon. Another thing that always attracted me to this hobby is the fact that you can build so many things yourself and I have always enjoyed doing that too. Just recently I even built a headphone amp kit which was very fun....

This is probably the reason that ham radio seems to be a 'geek' hobby now.  You are part of the less than one percent of the population that enjoys such things.  All too often, most people just 'throw away the broken thing and get another.'  Even less care about how things work--or how communications actually are done.  All too many want their 'instant gratification', and don't bother with anything else.  Add to that the fact that most of the newer electronics items today just aren't repairable outside of a specialized shop, and you can see how the amateur radio hobby has even less appeal now that it did years ago, especially for younger people who are being taught not to bother with how you get there, but just to get there as fast as you can.
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K0IZ
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2011, 03:24:18 PM »

Not everyone is attracted to technical hobbies.  But members of our radio club have conducted classes for, and licensed, over 150 new hams under age of 18 in last three years (plus 500 older).  ARRL Youth Editor was one of our kids.  Two were on the Youth DXpedition this year to Costa Rica.  Our club VP is 14, and was part of the ARRL Youth booth at Dayton Hamvention.

Besides running classes (Tech, General, and, yes Extra Class), our club also runs "Get on the Air" clinics to do hands on demos and help to new hams to actually use their VHF or HF equipment.   Not surprisingly, our club is the largest (and growing) club in the area.

John. 
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NK6Q
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2011, 08:56:24 AM »

Actually, one of the most magical experiences I remember as a kid was putting together a crystal radio kit that used the cardboard tube coil and a cat's whisker detector.  What a thrill to actually hear radio stations through the earpiece without any batteries! 

This was long before I knew about ham radio, but such "simple" technology amazed me.

Bill in Pasadena
NK6Q
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KC2KCF
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2011, 08:01:15 AM »

Actually, one of the most magical experiences I remember as a kid was putting together a crystal radio kit  [...]
This was long before I knew about ham radio, but such "simple" technology amazed me.

And there you have it: you can have fun with radio and be an electronics geek without holding an amateur license.

A license to transmit with home-built equipment may be the icing on the cake. But not essential. Especially not if amateurs project the attitude that emergency services would break down without them and that they are electric engineering experts, whereas people using license-free radio systems such as CB or FRS are technically illiterate.

Smart people of all ages, including kids, can smell this hypocrisy a mile against the wind. If amateurs and/or amateur organisations like the ARRL wouldn't carry this chip on their shoulder but be honest in that the only thing that separates them from the rest of the population is a license that requires minimal qualifications to obtain, people interested in radio might be less averse to the idea of getting one themselves.

The guy who inspired me to get my license didn't have any attitudes, but just enthusiasm for playing with radio stuff. Including building crystal radio sets with school children.
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KD0POP
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2011, 10:12:29 AM »

Thanks for this thread. I am not a youth, but my 12 year old son is a ham and I am wanting to start a club or club auxillary for kids in our area. I am just now exploring the why's and how's of getting started. One thing that I am struggling with is how to attract kids to join and preferably license. I have been a scout leader for about 6 years so I have some experience with working with youth. I have a local club that I could probably get plenty of support from, but coming up with a great and interesting program is a challenge. I am hoping to find a sponsor to help purchase equipment or provide a meeting place. I would love to teach the kids some basic electronics, but more importantly, teach them to explore on their own and expand their problem solving skills. Any tips or thoughts?

I should mention that I am a new ham myself and will be upgrading to general really soon. I do have several general and extras to call upon for technical leadership/guidance.

Daniel
KD0POP

Edited to add name and callsign
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