Why Be a HAM

SARA Why Be A Ham ~ last update: 19 Oct 2022

Note we are adding sub-menu pages to this topic {November, 2022}. These may be of interest if you are starting you ham radio journey! Click on the little 'drop-down' arrow in front of 'Why be a Ham' on the menu.

Why be a HAM?

Advancing S.T.E.M. Learning and Making Friends all over the world are two great reasons! STEM is an abbreviation standing for: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM]. Learning is these areas is currently under a focused attempt to improve the level across American society. These types of skills are critical to a great future for us all. Technology advances require a large work force that commands these areas, thus a true requirement for people looking to the future of our society.

You can increase your technical expertise and learn problem solving techniques, very useful skills for you to use for the rest of your life. But, the key reason is to understand that the ham hobby is great fun and allows you to increase your social environment and interactions ~ almost without bounds.

A hiker in the wilderness, a pilot crossing over a route, a college student setting up a volcano experiment in Chile, and a sheep farmer in another country are just a few examples of the interesting people you may encounter "on-the-air". Others can include: a sailor on the high seas, someone in their home relaxing, an astronaut on the ISS, and the many endless 'other' possibilities, all through the power of amateur radio. Spend some constructive time and all people could become friends! Friends can help you with any thing you wish to pursue.

Hands-on Experimentation Skills

Amateur Radio provides unique opportunities to experiment with, design, build and implement many electronic and antenna projects. In today's environment, program coding and the use of computers are fully integrated into ham radio. These skills will improve your ability to tackle and solve real problems. Many of the innovators and leaders in technology and business areas have been ham radio operators. The 'technically inclined' knowledge possibilities and skill learning are endless. Astronomy, electronics, communication methods, computers and networking, electro-mechanical projects (using many facets including robotics), and the many local and world-wide social impacts are very huge opportunities for someone with a ham license. Hams learn to 'solve problems' in a structured logical manner, which is a great skill and actually becomes an art form.

Provide Public Service

Ham radio operators have a distinguished history of community service, especially in times of natural disaster and other emergencies. As an amateur radio operator, you can participate in severe weather spotting "nets" (called 'Skywarn'), provide communications during local community events, and assist in emergency communications and other community activities through organizations like the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). Following a disaster, hams often provide the only communications links to the outside world from an impacted area, they tend to be in the first line of volunteers for emergency operation communications in the disaster area. Opportunities for overseas community service are increased with the ability to use ham radio. World wide support for disaster relief rely on ham radio for effective communication and supports many relief efforts. Opportunities for volunteers are almost universally required.

Lifetime Motivation Skills

Hams learn and use several Lifetime Lessons: (such as)

These are items {skills} used by any and every  successful person. These skills are used by good amateur radio operators daily and appear to be improved for those actively involved. Join us and improve yourself and learn these advanced life skills to be successful!

"CQ - Amateur Radio", a magazine for hams, published '65 Great Things about Ham Radio' in a series of articles. They later posted that information on their web site and make it free to use and view. The only requirement is that we provide a link to their Website: https://www.cq-amateur-radio.com ~ Home Site. We suggest you take a minute to read that list {it is NOT all inclusive}. Oh, they have a large number of books on ham radio for you to choose from and can be very informative.

What Do I Do With a HAM LICENSE?

Communicate 'Around the WORLD'

Access to a cell phone or internet is NOT required! You control your own ability to 'talk around the world'.  If available, the internet and cell phone abilities add to the ham radio capabilities (think expanded control and increased possibilities on a world wide interfaced networks - with no hard wiring). Voice, text, video and many various digital communication methods are yours to dominate. Do SMS texting from your radio to any enabled cell phone (over comes the 'no cell service' issues in sparse areas). Some areas have no cell or WiFi available.  Control and operate your ham station remotely from your cell phone. Meet new people anywhere in the world via radio links, direct communications or link through amateur radio satellites. If the local internet is working, you can or go radio-internet-radio linking to extend the communication end points, linking around the world at any time you choose (no wires being required)! You can additionally plan on meeting your new friends at ham radio events or through private travel plans ('Hams' are very friendly people). Oh, did I mention that there is no added costs once you have your equipment for all the radio portions. It just takes network communication and some operational skills.

Provide Community Service

Help you Community plan and prepare for disaster situations. Work and practice with local Emergency Operations Center linking your local/state/country/world areas.

Become a weather spotter and report to National Weather Service [NWS] during severe weather {called 'Skywarn'}. You become the eyes and ears for the NWS with the actual information being provided to local radio and television stations. No hams means that the weather bureau and TV have no local real time on scene observations to report.

Provide free communication capabilities to community group events such as: races, fairs, or whatever the needs may be. Audio, video and digital capabilities (like email) are some services you can provide. Mesh networking on 'ham radio' using MESH techniques can provide services that are truly amazing to see in action (say a live video feed at a marathon event from start to finish and places in the middle with several simultaneous feeds).

Work with scouting, youth groups and schools to expand the minds of youth! Great exposure to 'technical knowledge' areas of education. (Youth here meaning anyone younger in age than you and/or a knowledge basis comparison ~ it is not just age.) Learn to support S.T.E.M. training in your local community. Add in a robotics club, they have a 'technological' interest that hams can assist them in covering.

Search and Rescue group communications are another area of community service that hams provide.

The development of a large 'trained technical pool' of people for community usage is a huge benefit back to your community and is a great reason for the amateur radio spectrum assignments. We are granted these assignments due to our ability to assist.

Making Radio 'Work for You'

Robots, drones and various other controlled models can have improved by using your amateur radio license, using increased r.f. powers (distances) not available to other users can be achieved . Combine this with improved network skills and many "Wow" things get very doable. Perhaps a "higher power" WiFi system at your location or 'live video' feeds of remote locations.

Take ham radio along on hikes, camping or visits to special places. Hams are and have been active in the National and State Parks, special local events, and many other places. Become an operator to provide service and publicity for the special locations and events in your area.

Collect weather and flight information by launching and tracking high-altitude balloons. Provide data access to schools and the general public.

Setup your own 'private' networks for connecting computers. It can provide you an education on computer networking that is difficult to master from other sources. The proper method for logical problem solving will become a second nature to use in your future. This is a great skill to master and can lead to technical advancement in your life and vocation.

Improve Your Personal Knowledge and Skills

Quoting the 'SolderSmoke Podcast':   If you know stuff... you can do stuff.

You can design, build and utilize your own communication systems (hardware and software and instrumentation). Mechanical, electrical, programming and networking skills are used with various communication techniques. As you learn and work to gain 'hands on' knowledge in these areas, your knowledge becomes 'first rate' and can be used to accelerate you in many work areas. Problems in complex operation becomes a given, learn the skills to divide and overcome issues and problems. These skills are very commercial and can provide excellent work experience and useful additions in your resume. Personal detailed knowledge in these areas makes you very desirable in the current and future job markets. High Tech always translates to higher wages! Become a Ham and improve your professional outlook. Efficient Problem Solving is a huge learned skill and is highly sought by all business entities  (not just the technical areas, but financial, retail and wholesale marketing, and almost every area). The skill to solve problems is worth real money to you.

As electronics becomes more and more integrated in to daily lives, control software application knowledge is a growing job worthy skill. Learn to integrate micro-controllers, microcomputers, and large programmable systems into the communications systems and networks. These are huge in today's ham radio arena and in the average person's life. Some recent examples include: Bluetooth and WiFi, networked television, Internet of Things, small home robot technologies (vacuum cleaners, mowers, etc.). Interconnect the many communication networks into your personal system, expanding your capabilities. Add on the "What will happen" in these areas (constantly expanding) in the next few years and there will be a growing improved future for you.

Radio science that powers cell phones, Bluetooth, WiFi, Internet of Things, and all wireless technologies are just the starting point, you can use skills in these areas to your advantage. Radio amateurs have the ability to legally use much more power in their design and research projects. This usually leads to increased circles of influence with their systems. This constantly pushes you to further future improvements. Artificial intelligence [AI] is a large area that uses the same type of skills and promises to become ever more important.

Radio astronomy, satellite communications (satellite repeaters and communication to the International Space Station), hunting for hidden radio signals (Fox Hunting), GPS applications, combining radio and network technologies, video transmissions, Moon bouncing signals, and many other areas have strong ham radio followings. The applications seem endless and continues growing everyday.

Basic low power communication (Morse code - CW and low power [QRP] ) or many digital protocols, Antenna Designs (RF transmission and reception), contesting activities, and many other areas offer further areas for you to investigate.

Where can I get local help?

You have found SARA for the local support here. Contact us and start coming to club meetings as a guest or now use 'Zoom Meeting' skill and attend virtually. We can assist with an 'Elmer' to help you get started and obtain your license. An 'Elmer' is a specific  live person to initially and directly assist you in your learning. SARA always welcomes guests!

Not in our area? - then check out our Michigan Amateur Radio Clubs page or go to and look for clubs near you. A look around will most probably turn up a real person in your area that can share information about any topic or direct you to someone geographically close that can help you.

... Ham Radio is what you make of it and has truly endless opportunities.

    Oh, lets mention, you will have a very large amount of FUN awaiting you when you get your license!

Meeting and making many new friends along the way is a huge added plus (local and foreign)!