The Conejo Valley Amateur Radio Club is a not-for-profit international organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. We provide education forums, publications and peer interaction opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skill and professional growth of our members.
Andy Ludlum – K6AGL
I was watching a video of eight year olds puzzling over old technology that many of us remember as state of the art. In their eyes, you could see genuine concern for the confusing and primitive lifestyles we must have led as they handled rotary telephones, cassette recorders, Game Boys and floppy disks for the first and most certainly, the last time.
It got me thinking about amateur radio.
The number of ham radio licensees has reached an all-time high. But according to an ARRL survey, slightly more than half the active radio amateurs in the United States are between the ages of 55 and 74. Probably the biggest concern is that 45% of the newcomers to the hobby were 55+.
Obviously for CVARC, it is important we attract and keep enough younger members or the club will just disappear in a matter of years. We have to offer a variety of activities and educational opportunities that are compatible with busy family schedules. Without neglecting the past, we have to embrace and promote the new technologies that will attract younger members.
Sometimes while I’m waiting for a packet message to go through during monthly tests for ACS, I feel like those eight year olds in the video who know there are better, faster ways to send a few lines of text. With the ever-increasing demand for spectrum, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect most amateur radio communication in the future to be digital. And if you watch one of those eight year olds handle an iPhone you’ll begin to understand why future communications systems will likely be based on wireless network computing technologies.
A few years ago I was talking about ham radio with some friends at work. I mentioned I could even connect to some ham radio repeaters with my iPhone. From a conference room on the Miracle Mile, I used the EchoLink (I know, it’s not ham radio!) app on my iPhone to connect to a repeater in Kansas City. I called CQ and heard back from a guy on I-35 who was driving home. I could see my friends were beginning to think maybe there was a little more to ham radio than antiquated technology.
There’s something to interest everyone in ham radio, young and old. Some things have been around for a long time like CW, AM, SSB, FM, HF, UHF, VHF, packet and RTTY. Newer technologies came along like microwave, satellite, wireless mesh networks and digital modes like D-Star, Fusion and DMR. New and old technologies have been blended and used for a wide range of activities from education, contesting and DXing, to public service, ARES, APRS and fox hunting. Kit building is taking on a whole new look with the tiny, inexpensive Arduino and Raspberry Pi computers.
Later this month we have a great opportunity to tell the story of amateur radio. Not just its past, or the present, but also its future. The annual Field Day event is not only a time for fun and fellowship, it’s also our best opportunity to introduce new people to our hobby. Many of you were probably introduced to ham radio at a young age. Maybe it became a lifelong pursuit. Or for others, life got in the way and you came back to it at a later age. Regardless of when, someone sparked your interest in ham radio.
Beyond the 24 hours of operating, all the contacts, and not to mention the great BBQ – let’s challenge ourselves to be that someone who sparks an interest in a hobby we know has an exciting and interesting future.
Field Day is the weekend of June 25th and 26th. CVARC’s event will be at Maple Elementary School, 3501 Kimber Drive in Newbury Park. I hope to see you there!