Before you read this article to know the answer, quickly question yourself: What would you use for emergency calls when encountering disasters like cyclones, floods, and earthquakes?
Suppose the answer is your regular forms of communication like cell phones (or smartphones), landlines, and the Internet. How would you use them when those above disasters knock down electric poles and electrical cables, leading to the matter of power going out?
In reality, ham radio (or amateur radio) is frequently utilized in disasters and calamities instead of daily devices. However, this helpful tool is gradually disappearing. Read on to know why ham radio is dying.
Is Ham Radio Dead
There are several reasons, or in other means, is slowly being faded away. This article will show you two main points: the increase of the Internet over ham radio and the reduction in the number of this tool’s enthusiasts.
The development of the Internet
The inception of the Internet in 1990 coupled with the rise of technology in many years have demonstrated their ability to connect individuals worldwide, facilitate sales and conversations quickly.
Moreover, their convenience is indicated clearly when the globe has been experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Internet and smart devices help people have contactless payments. Gradually, they become the essential parts of every single aspect of people’s life.
The decline of licensed ham radio users
According to Joe Speroni, the Pacific Section’s Affiliated Club Coordinator who maintains a variety of interests related to amateur radio, US amateur licenses only grow 1% per year, meaning there are 7,000 new ones added.
Besides, the majority of these new license owners are in their 60s. This trend shows the younger generation’s lack of interest in ham radio usage. Therefore, many believe that when the baby boomers die off, the pastime will die out since fewer young generations are joining the ranks.
Uses of Ham Radio
Before getting to know what positive values ham radio brings to life, it is necessary to understand the way it functions.
The function of a ham radio
Ham radio operates using VHF FM (high-frequency modulation) and transmits one frequency while receiving another. It allows users to communicate within a city, a state, or worldwide by using the radio frequency spectrum regulated by national governments.
Also, it needs an amateur radio amplifier that makes use of the antenna space provided by TV station-tower owners in high buildings and mountains. As a result, a chain of these radios can be extended to long distances.
It requires amateur radio operators who have completed the FCC licensing examination (the Federal Communications Commission) to execute it successfully. They can be anyone from any industry such as experts like doctors, politicians or ordinary people like salesmen, students or you.
Ham radio – The precious asset in disasters
Due to the working principle, ham radio and the operators can become a national asset, especially during times of disaster or crisis. In truth, amateur radio stations have often acted as a viable second line of communication when established public, or government communication links have failed.
“When tragedy hits, amateur radio operators are the only ones able to put up their equipment in a short amount of time and communicate anywhere in the globe. Some people do not think this pastime can be used in such situations to provide crucial catastrophe communications,” asserted by radio amateur and weather enthusiast Ankur Puranik, who became interested in this tool as a youngster in 2003 and has aided the Maharashtra government in India several times subsequently.
Also, Puranik acknowledged that Indian ham radio operators had taken a crucial position in organizing emergency medical traffic on the air, setting up emergency communication networks, coordinating and organizing relief operations, and arranging medicines, food, and clothing for the affected people during previous calamities.
Up to now, they keep in regular contact with their respective state government disaster management units and are constantly prepared once catastrophe strikes.
Ham radio allows unlimited communication
As information provided by the photojournalist John Dabbs, ham radio allows people to communicate across the globe and in space. In reality, there are satellites operated by radio amateurs; thus, people from the ground can speak directly to astronauts in space and vice versa.
This permits people to recognize what happens globally (from the space view) and the space around the Earth. Now, one question: Can your regular devices of communication do this?
The Future of Ham Radio
Although the beneficial uses and positive values that ham radio brings to life, it is hard to identify the future of this tool. There is a statement that ham radio needs a renovation for adapting to the actual time and modern world. However, according to Dabbs, today’s technology is increasingly being incorporated into traditional tools.
For instance, computers, GPS, and the Internet can be integrated into ham radio. Frank Amaro, the administrator of Wind Up Radio, also indicated raspberry pi and ham radio combined can provide a huge impact. Therefore, this statement proves short-sighted.
Furthermore, during the current time, the Covid-19 has created in young generations perception of the incalculable danger of both the pandemic and other disasters, calamities, crises. It is hard to predict upcoming issues due to their complication.
Hence, it is essential to apprehend survival skills, including how to use ham radio. In some cases, communication through common technology devices may fail at some points, yet ham radio still works, and your knowledge at present rescues your life in the future.
What Can You Do
However, to keep the existence of ham radio as well as your future, there are several things you can do now:
- Learn how to use ham radio by researching documents or watching YouTube videos.
- Set goals for yourself to earn the license for owning the right to use it.
- In case you are interested in ham radio after learning about it, you can look for new ways to integrate it with current tools, or invent new methods to make it renovated and modern.
In summary, it is difficult for us to give you the exact reasons why ham radio is dying, although the Internet’s development and the decrease of ham radio licensed users have been the two typical causes leading to this circumstance.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny its great uses in disaster or calamity, which may stop the functional capability of daily technology devices, the things you may think possible for emergency calls.
What’s your thought? Please write down in the comment box below. Also, don’t forget to share this article if you like it.
Richard Pennington is the one to consult when you need professional insight into electronics. With over a decade of experience in the field of electronics and communication engineering, he now serves as our chief content editor.
He is an advisor for multiple articles and videos with topics revolving around ham radios, electronics devices, and communication.