There has been something of a resurgence in Amateur Radio in the past few years. The increased interest in the hobby can be traced to three primary sources.
- Emergency Communications:
Both 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina lead to more people realizing that a method of family communications and calling for help is necessary when all else fails. In many cases it took weeks to find out of loved-ones were safe after the Hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and the attacks of 9/11. After Katrina, thousands of people spent days trapped in their homes with no way to call for help. The earliest word about family member’s safety often came from volunteer Ham radio operators who provided the only reliable method of communicating for the public and for many government agencies.
- High Tech Changes to an Old Hobby:
Interest in the newer digital modes of radio communications are also leading to younger, more internet savvy people obtaining their licenses. The melding of open source software, internet, and radio communications is allowing new frontiers in experimentation on the ham radio airwaves.
Working digital ham radio today looks more like hacking in to the matrix than the old days stereotypical gathering of socially awkward dorks with questionable personal hygiene.
The latest ham radio satellite was launched (tossed out of the ISS) just last month.
- Baby Boomers have more time on their hands:
The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Baby Boomers as those born between January 1st, 1946 and December 31st, 1964. This year the first of the boomers are turning 65 and many will be retiring over the next 10 years. With more time on their hands many are already dusting off their old licenses or breaking out the books to study for the license tests.
There are plenty of additional reason for this new activity on the bands. There is no need to learn Morse Code, it is easier to obtain training and help online now, it’s easy to look like the coolest guy in the room when surrounded by hams, etc…
HAM Nation is a new TWiT (This Week in Tech) video podcast about ham radio that will let you “get your geek on” weekly.
Bob Heil (Maker of Peter Frampton’s Famous “Talk Box”), with co-hosts and guests like Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Larry Junstrom (Lynyrd Skynyrd & .38 Special), Leo Laporte (also an Emmy winner but not a rocker), and Gordon West (also not a rock legend) cover ham radio – from tossing an antenna wire in a tree allowing you to talk to the world, to the importance of ham radio operators in time of disasters. HAM Nation airs live each Tuesday at 6:00 PT/ 9:00 ET on http://twit.tv/show/ham-nation