HAM Operators - What do you enjoy about it?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Jack Bourne, May 3, 2009.

  1. Jack Bourne

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 30, 2008
    Just wondering why you enjoy it.
  2. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    This is the introduction to my "Opus of Amateur Radio Knowledge and Lore." I think this will explain a lot. Enjoy!




    It may be only a dim and distant memory. At some time in your hazy past, you may have remembered descending a neighbor’s basement stairs, to be greeted with frightening, yet intriguing sounds and smells. Or you may have wondered why that house down the street had a clothesline on the roof, and the lights from the corner window room blazed all night, every night. Every neighborhood had one of them. They seemed to live amongst us, but never quite with us.
    No, it wasn’t your imagination. What you encountered was the Radio Amateur, more commonly known as the ham. And, they are still amongst us. To be certain, their form has changed; their mysterious activities are no longer as likely to turn their house into a smoldering pile of rubble, or take out a large portion of the power grid, but they are there, nevertheless.
    Amateur Radio is as old as radio itself. The hobby is populated by that unique brand of person that can never leave well enough alone. It is because of that distaste for the status quo that radio was “invented” in the first place. (We are careful to use quotes around invented because discovered is a much more appropriate term. Much more on this topic will be explored in the following pages).
    There are few endeavors in life where people are pretty much free to explore their wildest scientific whims, within some quite reasonable governmental restrictions, as they are within Amateur Radio. Most of society takes a pretty dim view of kitchen-counter biological experimentation, for instance, which is why we don’t hear much these days about Amateur Medicine. Likewise, the opportunities for garage nuclear experimentation are rather limited, despite one lad’s well-publicized and unfortunate experience with this “hobby.” (For further bizarre reading, check out recent Internet references to The Nuclear Boy Scout).
    Where else but in Amateur Radio, can one collect a few spare parts from a garage sale, fling together a zero-budget radio transmitter, toss a wire over a tree, and communicate with other like-minded people on the other side of the world with no commercial or government infrastructure whatsoever, and do it perfectly legally? Where else but in Amateur Radio can an ambitious youth (or oldster, for that matter), for the price of a high-performance gaming computer, bounce radio signals off the Moon from his own back yard? Where else but Amateur Radio, can Joe Six-Pack make a significant contribution to scientific knowledge without a massive government research grant?
    Where, indeed?
    Now, any human activity that’s been around for as long as Amateur Radio is bound to accumulate a certain amount of mythology along the way. Although Amateur Radio is a highly scientific endeavor, it’s also a very artistic one. In fact, one of the key points of our very charter, as spelled out by the government entity that regulates Amateur Radio, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is the stipulation that we “...advance the state of the radio art...”
    It’s both curious and significant that the FCC specifically uses the term art instead of science, or, more contemporarily, technology. This is explicit acknowledgement that there is always more than one way to shoe a horse...or skin a rabbit...or do just about any human task. Although the laws of physics under which Amateur Radio operates are absolutely fixed, how we decide to take advantage of those underlying laws is, indeed, an art form. This is where the magic, poetry, mythology, and lore of Amateur Radio comes in. The development of the Amateur Radio art has followed a winding path, with dead ends, forks, and countless rickety bridges along the way. In fact, it consists of many parallel paths, each blazed by enterprising experimenters who had to find their own way through the wilderness...not a wilderness of place, but a wilderness of knowledge.
    And the journey is far from over. The Handbook of Amateur Radio Knowledge and Lore will help you, the curious potential radio amateur, to find your way through this wilderness, and help you blaze your own trails.

    Eric P. Nichols, KL7AJ
    North Pole, AK 2009