Amateur Radio Operators Do More Than Talk
We Build Antennas
A newly-licensed ham quickly discovers that one of the most important items in his communication arsenal is a really good antenna. Some people buy ready made antennas... others build them. Every club has members who understand the basics of good wire antenna design and who are willing to share that information with newcomers to the hobby. The hams who fabricate and install their own antennas will often tell you that it's the only way to go!
We Build Radios
Some hams build their own radios. Often these take the form of low power (QRP) transmitters and separate receivers. Designs for CW and SSB transmitters are readily available in the literature, and if you're into hands-on radio, you can easily develop the skills necessary to do it yourself.
We Build Remote Controls
We sometimes build remote-controlled radio systems that allow us to control our transmitter/receiver combinations over the Internet. This is useful if you live in a community that does not permit outside antennas or you live in an electronic hole where radio signals do not easily propagate.
We're Involved in Pulbic Service
We train to provide public service and emergency communications to our community. We help with parades, marathons, triathlons, bike races and walk-a-thons, by providing communications support. And we work with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Emergency Management officials to provide fall-back communications systems in a disaster.
We Hold and Participate in SwapFests
We hold Swap-Fests where hams who build things gather to exchange ideas and buy and sell parts, antennas, and radios. Often we can find some really great bargains at these events.
We Never Stop Learning About New Technologies
We hold regional and national "Hamventions". Here we learn what others are doing to advance the hobby and electronics. We talk computers, radios, systems. We discuss building techniques and procedures using the latest integrated circuits and surface-mount components. We compare notes on the latest RF transistors and learn about new gigahertz radio concepts and limitations.
We Enjoy Contesting
We participate in amateur radio contests. There is a contest of one form or another every week of the year. Hams practice and sharpen their communications skills in contests while striving to achieve the most contacts with other amateurs possible in a specific time frame and/or using a specific communications mode or band. Our annual national Field Day event is both a contest and an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to quickly set up a fully-functioning communication complex within a short period of time in the field.
We Have and Often Share Other Hobbies!
Many hams enjoy more than one hobby... some build model trains; some love robotics and help others, especially high school students, with their projects; some hams love painting; some enjoy wood-working; some build and fly model airplanes (radio-controlled, of course.)
We Enjoy Working with Others and Sharing Ideas
Hams are, by nature it seems, very curious people. This often leads to improvements in our radio equipment and sometimes in our relationships with others on the planet.