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Foundations of Amateur Radio #179:

from Onno VK6FLAB on November 8, 2018
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The Golden Age of Amateur Radio is Now

Imagine a world where electronics are pervasive, a transceiver can be purchased for the price of two Big Macs, kits are designed and built using simple tools at home, software makes it possible to invent new methods of communication on an almost daily basis, where long distance contacts are made throughout the day using milliwatts while ionospheric propagation is at an all-time low, where national parks and peaks are being activated at an increasing rate, where new people join in every day, where it's easier and easier to obtain a license and where the word geek is held as a badge of honour.

That world is here, it's now and when Rex, KE6MT writes that we're in the midst of a golden age of amateur radio, he hits the nail on the head, or should that be fist on the key?

It's easy to notice that amateur radio is difficult, that it's big, that it's messy, that it's full of know-it-alls, but it's hard to remember that it's fun, that it's rewarding and that every day more and more people join in and enjoy this hobby. The ideals of investigation and exploration are alive and well and the urge to participate in activities, just to get out of the house and see some daylight is strong.

While you're in the midst of a revolution, it's hard to see the wood for the trees, but make no mistake, the revolution is here, today, now, and you're smack bang in the middle of it.

Today you can go online and find any number of different amateurs who share their skills and knowledge, you can find manufacturers and suppliers at the tap of a screen, find and draw schematics, order custom circuit boards at the click of a check-out button, print an enclosure in your bedroom using plans that you downloaded or designed minutes before.

With the digitisation of amateur radio comes the promise of new adventures, with adaptive modes, with encoding and decoding in new and interesting ways, with the ability to hear what your station is producing by logging into a remote receiver anywhere on the planet, by sending messages to satellites overhead and talking to people in another country using a hand-held VHF radio.

For some the loss of the valve radio is the loss of history, for others it's a sign of progress and improvement. The inventors of spark-gap transmitters were no doubt put out by the arrival of the valve when that became commonplace. Similarly, the transistor has essentially gone the way of the Dodo in the arrival of cheaply programmable integrated circuits.

Our hobby keeps getting bigger, all the time.

We didn't abandon valves or transistors, or the spark-gap for that matter, we improved on them. You can still build a spark-gap transmitter if you feel the urge, or ferret out a valve or two and build them into something wonderful, nobody is stopping you.

Today we learn Morse Code because we want to, not because we have to.

We introduce new people with new technology, new ideas, new innovations and hope that they pick up the cape to become the next superhero.

You can bemoan the death of the hobby with the solar cycle at an all time low, the entry of stupid amateurs who need to learn from their betters, the passing of the valve and the abolition of Morse Code requirements, or you can celebrate the appearance of all the new and shiny toys that arrive in our hobby every day.

The Golden Age of Amateur Radio is Now.

I'm Onno VK6FLAB

To listen to the podcast, visit the website: You can also use your podcast tool of choice and search for my callsign, VK6FLAB. Full instructions on how to listen are here:

All podcast transcripts are collated and edited in an annual volume which you can find by searching for my callsign on your local Amazon store, or visit my author page: Volume 7 is out now.

Feel free to get in touch directly via email:, follow on twitter: @vk6flab ( or check the website for more:

If you'd like to join a weekly net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link and 2m FM via various repeaters.

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