Coming up on my 30th ham radio licensing anniversary, I remain amazed at how dramatically technology has changed in some aspects, and remains the same in others. There is equal fascination in the technological advancement of computer interfacing, digital modes, internet linking and software defined radios (SDR) with one of the first of communication methods in morse code (which is gaining additional popularity year after year). Having an appreciation of the basics of radio operating with the pursuit of technological advancement is what make amateur radio great. No doubt, for the new amateur radio operator, there are a plethora of options.
Having such a wide range of options can be overwhelming, even for the 30-year ham veteran. As amateur radio is both a service and a hobby, the hobbyist side of me wants to try it all and try it all right away. However, I quickly realize that I spin my wheels, both from an appreciation standpoint and a financial standpoint. Taking my time in wanting to try something new has helped me gain not only a better appreciation for the technology, but has allowed me to truly understand and master how it all works. No matter if you are programming your first analog radio, learning (or continually re-learning) morse code, or tinkering with a Raspberry Pi SDR receiver, trying to do it all at once can get frustrating quickly. A colleague of mine that was in the military taught me some sage advice, “sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.” How true those words are when we look at all that is available within amateur radio.
One key aspect behind all this learning is having the bravery of asking for help. At our fingertips, we have wonderful resources like YouTube that provide instructional videos. However, learning in-person and having that one/one contact takes learning to another level, both for the instructor, and the learner. No matter if you are licensed for 3-months or 30-years, asking for help should be an easy and non-embarrassing process. Nothing is more frustrating than hearing, “you know, that was on the Technician exam,” when someone asks for help. As our fellow sisters and brothers in amateur radio ask for our insight and guidance, it is a special opportunity to exhaust and showcase our unique time, talent, and treasures. That simple ask of assistance may make or break someone’s future in amateur radio. I know that I never want to be the curmudgeon that destroys someone’s interest because I did not help them when asked.
As our activities pick up with our upcoming Field Day, portable operation outings, and Wings-Over-The-Rockies, may we continue to be aware of our influence. May we error on the side of slowing down to speed up someone’s learning and appreciation of amateur radio. Being cognitively aware that we have the ability to wonderfully share our time, talent and treasures will only continue to promote the amateur radio service in such a way that people say, “I want to do that.”
Dan – N2SRK
Parker Radio Association