AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS DO MORE THAN TALK...
A newly licensed ham quickly discovers that one of the most important items in his communication arsenal is a really good antenna. Some people buy 'ready made antennas'... others build them. Every Club has members who understand the basics of good 'wire antenna' design and who are willing to share that information with newcomers to the hobby. The ham who fabricates and installs his/her own antenna will often tell you that it's the only way to go! We build antennas.
Some hams build their own radios. Often these take the form of low power (QRP) transmitters and separate receivers. Designs for CW and SSB transmitters are readily available in the literature and, if you're into 'hands-on radio' you can easily develop the skills necessary to 'do it yourself.' We build radios.
We sometimes build remote-controlled radio systems that allow us to control our transmitter/receiver combinations over the Internet. This is useful if you live in a community that does not permit 'outside antennas' or you live in an 'electronic hole' where radio signals do not easily propogate. We build remote controls.
We train to provide public service and emergency communications to our community. We help with parades, marathons, triathlons, bike races and 'walk-a-thons' by providing communications support. And we work with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Emergency Management officials to provide fall-back communications systems in a disaster. We're involved in public service.
We hold Swap-Fests where hams who build things gather to exchange ideas and buy/sell parts, antennas and/or radios. Often we can find some really great bargins at these events. We hold and participate in SwapFests.
We hold regional and national "Hamventions." Here we learn what others are doing to advance the hobby and electronics. We talk computers, radios, systems. We discuss building techniques and procedures using the latest integrated circuits and surface-mount components. We compare notes on the latest RF transistors and learn about new gigahertz radio concepts and limitations.
We never stop learning about new technologies.
We participate in Amateur Radio Contests. There is a contest of one form or another every week of the year. Hams practice and sharpen their communications skills in contests while striving to achieve the most contacts with other amateurs possible in a specific time frame and/or using a specific communications mode or band. Our annual national Field Day event is both a contest and an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to quickly set up a fully-functioning communication complex within a short period of time 'in the field.' Many of us enjoy Contesting.
We have and often share other hobbies! Many hams enjoy more than one hobby...some build model trains; some love robotics and help others, especially high school students, with their projects; some hams love painting; some enjoy wood-working; some build and fly model airplanes (radio-controlled, of course.)
Hams are, by nature it seems, very curious people. This often leads to improvements in our radio equipment and, sometimes, in our relationships with others on the planet. We enjoy working with others and sharing ideas.
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