I got my Amateur Radio License before I got my Driver's License. In the over 25 years since, a lot has changed, both in the hobby and in the world.
I currently hold a General Class license, which I earned about 5 years ago. I started as a Novice and quickly upgraded to Technician. Then life happened
and the hobby took a backseat. However, after graduating from The University of Georgia
, getting married, starting a
career as a software consultant/developer and starting a family, I got back into the hobby. The first thing I did was study for and earn a General Class License.
This opened a huge window of opportunity in what I could do. If you are currently a Technician Class operator or don't hold a license, I would
strongly encourage you to go for at least General (I'm studying for Extra right now) because there is so much fun to be had on the lower bands.
As I said, a lot has changed in the hobby since I first got started. The biggest, and most obvious change, is in the, what seems to be, dozens of now available digital modes and
the many opperating opportunities the computer has provided. It's exciting that one can, using a handheld and a local repeater properly configured, talk around the world. Maybe you
are stuck in traffic on your drive home. You can find somebody to chat with around on the other side of the world while you wait it out with a local repeater. Talk about making the world a smaller place!
There are plenty of other opportunities using the latest and greatest technology to communicate with one another if you choose. I truly enjoy the HF digital modes and find the different chirps and whistles of
PSK31, OLIVIA, RTTY and the others to be music to my ears.
But the really neat thing about this hobby is that, if you are not into the latest and greatest, you can still, very easily, communicate with other hams
using the very methods Guglielmo Marconi used back when radio was invented. Those same methods work just as the newest, latest and greatest. Regardless of the mode, the goal is the same:
to communicate effectively and get the message from point A to point B.
I will close with this. In the United States, there are a little of 800,000 amateur radio operators walking the streets every day, and over 2 Million operators world-wide. I am
thankful for this brother and sisterhood to which I belong. If you are a fellow amateur radio operator, I hope to speak with you one day soon. If you are not, I encourage you to get busy learning and get licensed into
the greatest hobby in the world!