How relevant is ham radio?

That’s the question emailed to me from my compatriot, Allen W!AGP, the media and public relations manager for the American Radio Relay League.

Allen was forwarding me an email sent to him from someone interested in ham radio who lives in Laval. Seems the sender wanted to become a ham but wasn’t sure of the relevance of the hobby in this day and age of Internet and Twitter (by the way I’m on Twitter as VE3HG).

I replied that there has never been a more exciting time to be a ham.

(Of course I wasn’t referring to the propagation conditions for DXing or contesting as they suck and aren’t likely to get much better for another year or so. But after that 🙂 )

You can get your ticket by passing a simple question and multiple answer exam administered by a licensed ham radio volunteer. How simple is it? A few hours of study or even just hanging around a local ham should give you enough information to pass.

Radio Amateurs of Canada has a new study guide which is just coming off the presses.

Better yet, do what my wife Marion did. She took lessons from the Oakville Amateur Radio Club and she’s now VE3HEN. (Don’t ask about the call sign. It was her decision. It’s at least memorable.)

With a little help from local hams and a visit or two to upcoming flea markets you can easily get on the air for next to nothing. And I mean it. There is some old tube equipment out there that goes for well under a $100 that works just fine for casual contacts.

If you’ve won the lottery, the best equipment in the world is available for the price of a good camera (I know as I teach photography. Makes ham radio look downright affordable.)

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