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ARKAN Newsletter -- Page Three


Ambassadors of Amateur Radio

Keep in mind these events coming up.

APRIL Fort Smith

April 2

by Steve Barrington, N9NSO “. . . Holding an amateur license and being a radio amateur are not necessarily the same thing!” – Roger Barker, G4IDE (sk)

Anyone who’s been around for awhile has seen our world evolve into an instant gratification, plug-n-play society. Many of the products we purchase these days don’t require any skills to operate and rarely is any assembly required. Has this influence crept into Amateur Radio?


Take a look ahead at upcoming meeting dates and program topics

Roger Barker, G4IDE (sk) – quoted above - was a developer of software for amateur radio. His philosophy has been that of the Amateur Radio community since its inception . . . self-training and experimentation. However, this philosophy is slowly and unwittingly being eradicated.

APRIL Getting into HF Don Banta, K5DB

April 25

MAY Field Day preparations Steve Barrington, N9NSO

May 23

When I first became interested in Amateur Radio, I was drawn by the skills and knowledge required to become a licensed Ham. I was drawn by the challenges to experiment and learn about new technology. Back then, amateurs who held an “Extra Class” ticket were revered and looked upon as the few who have mastered the radio arts! If the General or Advanced Class Hams didn’t have the answer, the Extra Class surely would. It also used to mean something to put “License Amateur Radio Operator” on an application or resume under the heading of “skills”. It meant you had the discipline to learn basic electronic skills. Unfortunately, this is no longer true.

JUNE Grounding systems Local power company

June 27

Agree or disagree, getting an amateur license has never been easier. The only skill necessary in obtaining a license is a half-way decent, short-term memory and a wad of cash. All the questions with all the correct answers are readily available in books and on the Internet. No longer are skills or basic electronic knowledge needed to be demonstrated. How many new (and not so new) Hams can apply Ohm’s Law to calculate voltage, current, resistance, or power? Now there are discussions about the 5-words-per-minute code requirement being eliminated from the already vanishing list of skills. Some have even suggested that, just like the rest of our society, Amateur Radio has been “dumbed down”.

For example, the radios we purchase today are essentially “plug-n-play”, and come with “Quick Start Guides” which mean you’ll know enough to operate it until you hit the wrong button. Then you’re condemned to reading the manual! Where’s the skill? Where’s the learning? Instant gratification! Yeah, baby!

I know that this is not true of all newly licensed Hams. In fact, it’s been very refreshing to recently meet some new Hams who have the same enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge and skill development that many of us had when we first became Hams. It is important that the rest of us nurture and encourage these and all new Hams to become good Ambassadors of Amateur Radio.

Amateur Radio is in the fight of its life. While big commercial communication conglomerates are greasing the political palms to buy up any available frequency in the radio spectrum, public opinion of Amateur Radio is extremely critical for our survival. The public monitors our transmis- sions, especially on the repeater frequencies. What we say and how we say it (how we operate) provides an image of Amateur Radio to the general public. Breaking into the middle of a QSO on a repeater (which is extremely rude) and saying something unkind about one of the operators (even though it is done in jest), does not provide a good image of Amateur Radio. There are other radio services where this type of behavior is common, but it is not for Amateur Radio. When I mentioned that the general public monitors our repeater frequencies, I include public officials. These are the people who will decide if they want to utilize the services of Amateur Radio in times of emergency. We need to become better Ambassadors of Amateur Radio. Even though our hobby is called Amateur Radio, it has been noted in the past that the way we operate is more professional than amateur. Let’s keep up the traditions of the radio arts and hone our operating skills and bring a little pride back into this great hobby. Let’s be good Ambassadors of Amateur Radio!

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