Sunday, November 4, 2018

A suggestion for young hams

Not all hams are OM!
When I got my Novice license in 1978 (no, that's not me in the photo!), we had amazing solar conditions. But we didn't have digital modes, personal computers or social media.

The entirety of ham radio consisted of phone, CW and RTTY. A few hams on the outer fringes operated SSTV with a Robot 400 and a few others even ventured up above 148 MHz. But mostly it was phone, CW & RTTY on the HF bands.

Despite the lack of digital modes and the easy DX they offer, even at QRP levels or with compromise antennas, we had fun.

As I hit my 40th year in ham radio I find myself wishing I had kept some sort of journal in addition to my station log. Ideally, I would have used it to document the changes in ham radio over the years and how I embraced or rejected this or that aspect of our very dynamic hobby.

What perplexed me about the FT-101 that I had, and why, specifically, did I eventually upgrade? What about that contact with a ham in Irkutsk in 1979 who didn't know that some countries were boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics  - he learned of that during a 20m SSB QSO.

I wish I'd written about the phone patch I had with my Dad (thanks to a ham in Dallas whose callsign I don't remember) while I was on a Navy ship near Guam. To have written about that moments after it occurred - those words would be worth gold to me today.

If blogs had existed back then, I would have written about it. Ditto for the Soviet ham and the rig upgrades over the years. Rigs that are now quaint and obsolete.

Changes happen today at a much increased pace compared to 40 years ago. Five or six years' worth of changes then occur in one or two years these days, with new modes being developed almost constantly. And then they and other changes will recede into history and fade from memory.

If you're new and young in this fascinating hobby, I urge you to keep some sort of record, not of your contacts, but of your experiences. Although it may not seem like it now, there will come a day when you'll enjoy reflecting on what may become a significant aspect of your life and of the friends you've yet to make.

Start today, for your older self.


  1. Great suggestion waiting for new blogs appearing ;-). Luckely I remember my radio adventures and wrote about it even before I was blogging. Now, after 10 years of blogging, I check my own archives more often. I hope young people will discover this hobby, however it lost some of the magic. I got several young people at my job that really don't understand this hobby at all....73, Bas

    1. Hi Bas,

      There are too many distractions nowadays for younger people, I think.

      You were smart to have kept a record of your experiences. I regret not doing so - I've forgotten a few things and details along the way. Maybe more than a few ;-)

      73 - John