Everyone has seen the movie depiction of a Ham Radio operator during some great crisis, calling all over the world to pull together the critical information needed to help the hero save the day. While the plot is usually far-fetched, the reality of amateur radio isn't. Hams do talk all over the world ... using voice communications in most cases, but using morse code in others. How doesn't really matter. The key point is that they communicate.
To some it may seem a bit trivial today, with cellular phone use on a rapid rise. But, in emergency situations (bad weather, power failures, or natural disasters) phone service more likely won't be available. Ham operators train and practice for just such emergencies, so they can keep information flowing to those who need it.
But, Hams do most of their talking in everyday situations. Not because it's easier or cheaper, but because it's fun! Morse Code, for example, is an international language. You can talk with people around the world with a very small radio ... less than 1 watt. Morse code is, in fact, a new language you'll learn to "speak". It shouldn't be considered to be dots and dashes, but words and sentences ... just as English isn't separate letters, morse code isn't dits or dahs. With a morse code teaching tape or a computer training program, you can easily learn to send and hear morse code at 5 - 10 words per minute in a few weeks.
If morse code really turns you off, you should know that Amateur Radio licenses are available today without having to learn the code. Studying basic radio theory and operations will earn you a Technician license in a few weeks. You can quickly begin enjoying this fulfilling hobby in less time than it takes to become a bad player at golf. And, the advantages are much more useful.
Hams do regularly help out in community activities, providing behind-the-scenes networking of information at races, sporting events, and emergency drills. Every area of the country has numerous ham clubs where members share ideas, equipment, and training ... and, of course, just plain fun. Check out some of the links below to get more information on this really nice hobby.
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