The Golden Age of Amateur Radio is Now

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VK6FLAB, Nov 9, 2018.

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  1. VK6FLAB

    VK6FLAB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Foundations of Amateur Radio

    The Golden Age of Amateur Radio is Now

    Imagine a world where electronics are pervasive, a transceiver can be purchased for the price of two Big Macs, kits are designed and built using simple tools at home, software makes it possible to invent new methods of communication on an almost daily basis, where long distance contacts are made throughout the day using milliwatts while ionospheric propagation is at an all-time low, where national parks and peaks are being activated at an increasing rate, where new people join in every day, where it's easier and easier to obtain a license and where the word geek is held as a badge of honour.

    That world is here, it's now and when Rex, KE6MT writes that we're in the midst of a golden age of amateur radio, he hits the nail on the head, or should that be fist on the key?

    It's easy to notice that amateur radio is difficult, that it's big, that it's messy, that it's full of know-it-alls, but it's hard to remember that it's fun, that it's rewarding and that every day more and more people join in and enjoy this hobby. The ideals of investigation and exploration are alive and well and the urge to participate in activities, just to get out of the house and see some daylight is strong.

    While you're in the midst of a revolution, it's hard to see the wood for the trees, but make no mistake, the revolution is here, today, now, and you're smack bang in the middle of it.

    Today you can go online and find any number of different amateurs who share their skills and knowledge, you can find manufacturers and suppliers at the tap of a screen, find and draw schematics, order custom circuit boards at the click of a check-out button, print an enclosure in your bedroom using plans that you downloaded or designed minutes before.

    With the digitisation of amateur radio comes the promise of new adventures, with adaptive modes, with encoding and decoding in new and interesting ways, with the ability to hear what your station is producing by logging into a remote receiver anywhere on the planet, by sending messages to satellites overhead and talking to people in another country using a hand-held VHF radio.

    For some the loss of the valve radio is the loss of history, for others it's a sign of progress and improvement. The inventors of spark-gap transmitters were no doubt put out by the arrival of the valve when that became commonplace. Similarly, the transistor has essentially gone the way of the Dodo in the arrival of cheaply programmable integrated circuits.

    Our hobby keeps getting bigger, all the time.

    We didn't abandon valves or transistors, or the spark-gap for that matter, we improved on them. You can still build a spark-gap transmitter if you feel the urge, or ferret out a valve or two and build them into something wonderful, nobody is stopping you.

    Today we learn Morse Code because we want to, not because we have to.

    We introduce new people with new technology, new ideas, new innovations and hope that they pick up the cape to become the next superhero.

    You can bemoan the death of the hobby with the solar cycle at an all time low, the entry of stupid amateurs who need to learn from their betters, the passing of the valve and the abolition of Morse Code requirements, or you can celebrate the appearance of all the new and shiny toys that arrive in our hobby every day.

    The Golden Age of Amateur Radio is Now.

    I'm Onno VK6FLAB

    To listen to the podcast, visit the website: You can also use your podcast tool of choice and search for my callsign, VK6FLAB. Full instructions on how to listen are here:

    All podcast transcripts are collated and edited in an annual volume which you can find by searching for my callsign on your local Amazon store, or visit my author page: Volume 7 is out now.

    Feel free to get in touch directly via email:, follow on twitter: @VK6FLAB ( or check the website for more:

    If you'd like to join a weekly net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link and 2m FM via various repeaters.

    Attached Files:

    4X1ST, W6FYK and KB1ILS like this.
  2. WY7BG

    WY7BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with you Onno, and am glad to see you feel this way even though - quite ironically - you hail from one of the countries that erect the highest and most needless financial and logistical barriers to becoming a ham. (I've spoken to quite a few Aussies who either have dropped their licenses or never pursued one due to the high annual fees and bureaucracy.) The greatest danger to the hobby, IMHO, is from corporations eager to strip us of the spectrum we use to communicate and/or restrict our abilities to homebrew and experiment due to imagined threats of interference. Hopefully amateur radio will overcome this and continue to grow.
    W6FYK likes this.
  3. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I sure would like to know HOW valuable is "spectrum " which is at the mercy of Mother nature and technically limited to provide ever increasing "need" for bandwidth so
    "important stuff" can go viral.

    I wish people like Onno would quit elevating amateur radio into a level which it is not.

    It is a personal, private, has been hobby, same as stamp collecting once was.

    I hope every amateur radio "operator " is enjoying this hobby to the greatest extend possible and for HIS / HERS enjoyment.

    73 Shirley
    VK6ATS, VK6NSB and VK6APZ like this.
  4. WY7BG

    WY7BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Being an amateur radio operator is much more than a personal, private hobby like stamp collecting.

    Hams provide vital public service. We develop new and innovative technology. We teach the fundamentals of physics. We're makers. We're doers. We save lives.

    We need spectrum to do this. And, spectrum being the gold of our age, we are threatened by corporations seeking to take it away. The ARRL, under its new leadership, must fight hard for us. Let's hope it reverses course and, instead of remaining self-interested and unresponsive to its membership (as it did when it supported a version of the ARPA that allowed arbitrary neighbors to strip us of the right to operate), begins to advocate for us once again.
    W4RAV and W6FYK like this.
  5. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good article. I feel the Golden Age occurred around the moon landing era. It was pretty much state of art technology back then and a really big deal. Even when I got my license in the early 80s, your ticket received respect from others.

    I just feel today, there are so many technology alternatives, Ham falls in the muck of it all.
    VK6APZ, VK6ATS and VK6NO like this.
  6. KD2NOM

    KD2NOM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Another great podcast - thank you!
  7. KS5I

    KS5I Ham Member QRZ Page

    Its easy to live in the past. As a ham of over 50 years and being nearly 70 years old, I must confess I have complained about some of the things mentioned. Tubes, transistors, et al being replaced by new technology. Digital modes I cannot even list much more understand what they do.

    That said, its refreshing to hear your thoughts, Onno. One must continue to grow and
    learn or you just die. The excitement you so vividly described took me back to 1967 when I was first licensed. Transistors were just coming into their own and it was so wonderful to be learning about them. I thank God for that. Perhaps, its time for some of us more mature operators to release the past so our hands are free to grab hold of the future and share the enthusiasm of those who look ahead with the same hope and excitement that we had so many years ago..
    VK6FLAB, WA8FOZ and N4XRD like this.
  8. W6FYK

    W6FYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    dont like
  9. W6FYK

    W6FYK Ham Member QRZ Page

    IMG_2976.jpg Dont complain,Dont explain.

    Try optimism for a change.

    Ham for 345 years,dont solder,dont digi,dont code.

    Great hobby/service.

    Get outside and talk.

    WY7BG likes this.
  10. VK6NO

    VK6NO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Are we at the Golden Age of Ham radio?

    I believe we have always been there from day one. We accept changes as they become available so nothing has changed in this field.

    Are cheaper radios required? Oh yes please but I want the sale of this gear regulated by the government regulators so only Hams can purchase them. Can we ensure this? I’m afraid the answer is NO. Why NOT? Well already the VHF bands are being attacked by illegal operators etc buying this equipment. This has been going on since I became a ham. Remember our old 27 HF band that was given to the CB operators because hams and the government regulators lost control to millions of pirate stations. My solution is so easy. Unless ordered by a licensed operator, the product trying to enter the country gets fed into a crushing machine.

    Do we need cheaper and easier licences? Already here in Australia you can sit an overseas licence cheaper so it’s now happening. Australian citizens look for and find on social media where American licences exams are being held in our towns and cities. They pay little for the privilege of sitting an exam then ask the Australian authorities to honour the certificates under the reciprocal licence privileges. It’s being granted so all must be OK. It’s a pity tho the Australian government turns their back on those fine Australian hams that are trying so hard to encourage a growth in our numbers by holding courses exams etc. The government wants reform on the examination criteria but just ignores a problem raising its ugly head.

    Morse code is also mentioned in this article as a real beasty that used to upset the study requirements. The facts are that from 1954 you could obtain an Amateur Radio Licence here in Australia and NEVER have to press that pesky key once. It was called the Limited licence and gave you full power and every band in the VHF bands and above.

    Should we honour our geeks, nerds and scientific wizards with all the accolades they believe they deserve? Yes and NO is my answer. If something is introduced and it works 100% every day of the year and causes no problems the answer is a definite YES.

    When I’m chatting on a net on 2 meters and some faulty node connects via software etc and is annoying everyone with its noise then it’s a big NO. On the day I heard this garbage I asked for it to be turned off, but the answer was “Its ok, it’s no more annoying than the noise on 80 meters” so we will put up with it.

    Spectrum use. We already have a large slice of this today. Originally what we had was all ours but we wanted computers, mobile phones etc so big areas of it was slowly used up. We cannot manufacture new spectrum as that’s not possible so it’s an ongoing argument between the public and Hams.

    Yes HAM Radio is great and I enjoy it 73 VK6NO
    VK6NSB likes this.

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