Monday, April 26, 2004

What you can do to support ham radio 

Most of you taking the time to read what is going on at this pinpoint in cyber space are already licensed amateur radio operators. Also know as “ham radio operators” or “hams” in the world of radio. There have been various stories about how we came to have that moniker that I won’t go into here. I will tell you that one of the definitions of “amateur” is ‘one who engages in an art, science, study or other activity for personal fulfillment, achievement or love of the pursuit’ and I like to think that many in our ranks fall into that category

There are a number of people that monitor the weekly scanner net who are interested in amateur radio and one of the reasons that I do the net each week is to reach out to that group in the hopes that they will join the ranks of licensed operators. Amateur radio is first a service and second a hobby something that some involved lose site of on occasion. We need to continue to grow both in knowledge and numbers to justify the amount of valuable spectrum that is set aside for our use. That is why I reach out to and value those that come to the hobby from the world of citizen band radio, short wave listeners and scanner enthusiasts.

Having said that there is something that each of us can do to help promote and preserve the hobby and that is to join the American Radio Relay League. Every group that has membership numbers like those of amateur radio has one or more organizations that act as a unified voice to represent the body in matters that concern them all. In the world of amateur radio there is only one such organization that has the ability to be effective on a national basis.

The ARRL is a non-profit organization that currently has approximately 163,000 members.

Some of their stated goals are:
· promote interest in Amateur Radio communications and experimentation
· represent US radio amateurs in legislative matters, and
· maintain fraternalism and a high standard of conduct among Amateur Radio operators.

I am one of those 163,000 members and support their efforts especially on the legislative front. So far they have done much to help hams out at the federal, state and local levels. Something that others who claim to represent amateur radio have not done in the past. I think their work in all areas merits an annual membership from all who would like to see this service continue in the future providing a needed asset for the public and a rewarding hobby for individuals.

You do not have to be a licensed amateur to belong to the ARRL. All radio enthusiasts are welcome though only licensed individuals can vote for the people that make up the structure of the ARRL and it’s rules and bylaws. So if you currently were thinking about getting into amateur radio joining the ARRL would not be a bad starting point. Just about equal in importance to joining a local amateur radio club in your area. The ARRL publishes a monthly journal called QST that is a valuable resource of information for hams and potential hams.

I have heard some amateurs that are not happy with the ARRL and refuse to join and discourage others from doing likewise. That is their prerogative. I hear complaints about politics, how league money is spent and things that the complainers feel are important and are not being addressed. Well guess what? The ARRL is set up much like our government. The members elect the representatives that discharge the duties of the organization. It is a representative democracy. My feelings are if your wishes are not being fulfilled by those you elected then vote them out and elect someone who will. And if you can’t find someone who will carry fourth your point of view get yourself elected to that position. I am a realist and know that this is not always a practical. I do however feel that the least you can do is work within the organization by educating yourself on the issues that it deals with and taking the time to vote for its elected representatives.

I will step down now off my soapbox and hope that you are still reading. Join us if you like each week for the Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net on the 147.090 repeater and if you are one of the listeners who is not licensed and would like some help getting started just drop me a note and let me know.

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