New hams use more technology..

Updated title for better reference. I hope you enjoy the read and share your thoughts.

The world of amateur radio has many different modes of operation. Among the different modes there are extremes of sorts. I’m not a master of any mode in ham radio and only jack of a few, but let’s talk about a few here, then we’ll tackle some more in another post.

I noticed a comment on the aging demographic post about the young hams and how much time it seems they spend looking at a phone screen or playing a video game to pick up a microphone. Let’s start here and see where it goes.

It’s no secret that the current generation, especially in the 18-30 range, is more likely than their elder counterparts to have a tech oriented lifestyle from the way they plan and work to the way they travel and play. In an effort to bring the younger crowd in, I think we need to be sure and introduce new young hams to Echolink.

The majority of young adults carry around a smartphone of some sort and Echolink gives a way to immediately take advantage of that technician license while they save up for an HT or mobile rig. As I sit here and type this post, I just answered an Echolink station, KN4TSK, from TN who recently got his tech ticket and a fellow ham was showing him how Echolink worked so he can begin taking advantage of it now.

The quicker we can get new hams on the air, the more likely we will be able to keep them on air and active in our area. Here’s my last 2 cents before moving on from this. I think we would benefit from having information on how to download, and setup, Echolink on Android and Apple devices as well as Windows at each testing session.

In this manner, when an individual successfully passes his/her technician exam, this information can be handed to them, and briefly discussed, before they leave. Within 3 days following the exam, once the individual has their call sign issued, another area ham could be tasked with reaching out to them to assist in getting them onboard with Echolink and making a contact on the W5YD repeater.

In addition to Echolink, there a number of other digital modes of communication that may be a draw for some. Personally, when I started learning a little about ways to marry my love for computers to my love for ham radio together in digital communication, it was exciting to me. I’m not head over heels about it, but it has stirred my curiosity to the point that I keep digging just a little bit more here and there to learn a little more about it.

SSTV, FT8, JS8 Call, FreeDV, PSK. RTTY, JT9, WSPR,… and more. The idea of picking up a microphone may not interest every potential new ham, so be ready with some information about other modes that might be of interest to pull them in. In this instance, we are sales people of a sort. We have a product, a service, that people will like and enjoy, but we have to listen to these people in order to understand what aspect of the product will most interest them in order for us to “close the sell” so to speak.

Be great stewards of ham radio, in general, and be involved in whatever ways you can in your area. Join your local ham radio club, take part in club activities, local nets, reach out to new hams, etc. You might not be able to take part in every activity, or be at every meeting, but you might be better positioned to elmer a new ham in some way.

What do you think?

Caleb, K5RFL

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