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Ham Radio – CQ: Personal Mastery Through Hobbies (medium.com)
98 points by solidist on Dec 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

The article stopped and made me reflect on what I gained through ham radio:

1. Piercing the mystery - Taking a handful of parts and building a working device. It gave me self confidence and totally changed how I look at electronics.

2. Mastery of a niche - I joined a club and found that in certain areas that I gained instant respect as a teenager from guys in their seventies. Where else could a teenager do that? Likewise these elders taught me lots of stuff.

3. Leading a team - When I went off to college and put together a team to compete in a multi-operator multi-transmitter weekend contest. It was my first time assembling a team and doing something complex. Lots of obstacles to overcome. It is also where I learned to just do something and ask permission later! That rather bad habit both helped and hurt my future career;<).

4. Being part of a fraternity with it's own language of terms. I would soon find that every profession would have its own rituals and language - including startups.

I have found the best part of taking up amateur radio as a hobby to be the book learning aspect. The world of electromagnetism is fascinating.

When I started communicating locally, my thrill was squashed by uninterested complaining old men who thought my equipment was not expensive enough.

But radio theory and engineering, that's great stuff worth learning.

Same. Rushed my way to Extra class license by feeding on EM fascination, enjoyed meeting some super-cool tech-oriented locals (in particular retired telecom engineers) and then slowly faded out as the less-interesting but super-talkative people droned on about cats and grocery stores and their particular equipment. I went on to start learning Morse Code and wrote a little trainer program for it so that was fun as a brain skill but the HF bands from my urban townhouse can't get past the HV cables right outside my window and I can't be bothered to go set up a tree-based antenna in a nearby park very frequently. Even when I do get on HF it's impossible to find anything but contesting it seems. I heard ragchewing happens in Morse Code but never got good enough to keep up.

The amateurradio subreddit seems like a pretty cool place to find like-minded people. Seems like cheating but you can get on there and ask people far away if they can hear you on certain frequencies, etc.

The emergency preparedness element seems cool too but that's naturally populated by some personalities too. I guess that's humanity for ya.

> enjoyed meeting some super-cool tech-oriented locals (in particular retired telecom engineers) and then slowly faded out as the less-interesting but super-talkative people droned on about cats and grocery stores and their particular equipment.

Sounds like web development today.

If it's any consolation: Those "uninterested complaining old men" were there even in the 70s, when I got started. Hell, it's probably the same bunch of guys. :) So don't let that deter you.

Electromagnetism is indeed fascinating.

I've found those people in tech, motorcycles, beer brewing ..geeze they're everywhere.

that said .. I've found just as many if not more of the opposite - welcoming people who are genuinely happy others are joining "the club" and taking part in a shared interest.

I'm on the path to getting my first license. I have done the studying, but now I need to find a club willing to administer the tests...if the hobby is to survive clubs really need to jump on 'new blood'. It's amazing to me that many of the regional clubs have domains pointing to dead websites, that are still registered as the correct contact by the governing body!

The old man image is going to be hard for the hobby to shake off whilst this remains true.

https://www.laurelvec.com/ Is a list of places that do free exams.

If you are in Seattle, it happens every month (I know it still goes on as I’m occasionally one of the examiners).

Thanks for that. I should have said I am in the UK. Everything else in this thread rings true!

Dead websites aren’t confined to amateur radio. Facebook has dramatically reduced the incentive to maintain a website for clubs, restaurants, any number of other organizations.

I don’t find that to be a positive trend, but I don’t see any easy escape.

It is such a shame isn't it. I don't do Facebook, so I don't get to read their sites

Makes is seem more than it is. The existential pleasures of Ham Radio.

Ever been to a Hamfest? Made the mistake of taking my wife once. How about being crushed between a table and scooter by someone who smells like they haven’t bathed in weeks.

I do RF/Microwave design for a living. Ham radio has mostly lost its luster.


Huh, sounds like you wouldn't like Field Day. Too amateur. Guess you need to find one set up in Chez Rene's that only allows real engineers. Or on a yacht in the Caribbean.

For those who don't know, CQ means "who's there?" in HAM code. It's an invitation.


CQ does not mean "Who's there?" It means "Calling any station." The abbreviation for "Who is calling me?" is QRZ?

And it's "Ham," not "HAM."

Super timely as I just passed my tech and am studying for my general. It’s been a very long time since I undertook a learning endeavor that was not related to my profession. Really enjoying the process.

I’d encourage anyone interested to take a practice exam for a technician license. I was shocked at how much I picked up over the years via osmosis and got pretty close to passing the first practice test I took.


I like his perspective and agree with many of his points, but his writing style needs some work.

It’s a blog post about ham radio, not a cringy thesis paper.

Short snippet: >Next, as we seek those truths, let’s examine what an axiom is. An axiom is short hand for a kernel of truth. A poster sign. It is a spoken reduction of events and their goals that are self evident. Personal mastery and their axioms feed on one another. And the axioms contain vocabularies which allow us to understand skill and culture.

It’s far too academic and elevated for the medium (buh-boosh), and frankly it even borders on pretentious

It struck me as a poor ripoff of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance

Funny, I was thinking the same. Although at the same the article put into words what I've been thinking about my photography hobby that has gotten too serious.

yeah, as a ham i was pretty interested in what he had to say, but that's the point where i said "fuck this noize", skimmed a few more paragraphs to confirm suspicions, and wandered off.

Pedantic counterpoint: Academic papers would be less likely to even attempt explaining the jargon and how it functions, so on one level it might be appreciated that they are making that attempt to make a topic more accessible. But I do agree it could be less flowery to increase clarity.

Yet he seem to have a basic problems with plural.


And (without reading the post), it also seems wrong. That's not what an axiom is, by any definition of the word that I know. The term I know means more-less "something assumed as true, as a starting point for inference or discussion".

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