The Decline of the Decline of Ham Radio?

While waiting in the doctor’s office today, I got to thinking about some of the issues that amateur radio is facing today. Here’s the list I came up with:

  • Lack of on-the-air activity
  • Low RAC membership
  • Lack of technical expertise
  • Aging of amateur radio operators
  • Amateur radio technology too advanced for most hams
  • Not enough time for the hobby
  • The high cost of amateur radio equipment
  • Too many modes to experiment with

How do we improve on this?

One example is our Ham Radio classes have focussed on practicality. Make a Jpole antenna and check tjhe SWR, using a multimeter to check voltage, continuity and ressitance. How to tune your antenna tuner…etc




  1. John Corby · February 23, 2017

    Ham radio was originally all about homebrewed equipment and experimentation. That remains the key for me personally. The arrival of the Internet certainly contributed to the hobby’s decline. I would like to see the Advanced licence exam involve practical tests, like soldering skills, circuit design and – dare I say it – sending and receiving Morse Code!

    VE3IPS Responds: Maybe we need 3 levels like in the USA. Basic, Advanced and Advanced Extra. We make Advanced as it is today and we have the non-Appliance Operator ham be the Advanced Extra with full privileges. No HF ability without an Extra. Also 2 letter calls only available to Advanced class hams. There are many basic with out honours hams with 2 letter calls.


  2. Pingback: The Decline of the Decline of Ham Radio? – VE3FKN
  3. N7MSD Mike · June 9

    I got my license just before no-code here down here. The written test was easy, but the code was incredibly hard! Now, 25 years or so later, I’ve upgraded to Extra, missing only 2 questions on that test. Recently I’ve also tried to re-learn Morse, and it is just as hard as it was back then!

    It is (or was) a known fact that some people can’t learn Morse no matter how hard they try, just like some people can’t learn another language or have trouble with math, etc. We’re all different. So I ask John and all the other ones who demand Morse proficiency: if I troubleshoot a radio down to the component level but I can’t do Morse, does that really disqualify me to be ham?

    FWIW, I got into ham radio because of packet and other digital modes, especially since at the time all the BBS’s were a long-distance (toll) call away! This is no longer true obviously. Today weak-signal digital modes like JT65 outperform CW.

    That brings up another thing: one of the big reasons why EMCOMM is emphasized now is because ham radio is mostly outdated in its original mission of experimentation. Someone (I don’t remember the link, sorry) pointed out that, to be proficient in modern circuit design requires a BSEE minimum. Advancements in cellular and wi-fi radio blows away other fields, perhaps even military in terms of bits/hertz. Hardly any hams care about the spectrum above 70cm and that spectrum is wanted VERY badly by commercial users: down here, we already lost 2305-2310 MHz to AT&T Wireless and 9cm is being eyed by several groups.

    I guess my point is that older hams are stuck in nostalgia and can’t see what’s going on NOW versus where they wish they could go back to, and because of this, we could lose it all (except, perhaps, HF) in the future.


  4. Carl · January 27

    I’ll agree with you on that. Very few young people (below 40 years old) are actually interested in ham radio because the technology is simply outdated! I’m working with software and wifi engineers and network programmers and nobody really want to waste their time on something that slow like the amateur radio! They’ve been working and experimenting with portable node system to create high speed mesh network that can stream HD or 4K in realtime.

    Free app like Fire Chat. FireChat works even without an Internet connection or cellular phone coverage. Use it anywhere: planes, public transportation, cruise ships, campuses, and crowded events. All you need is a few other people around you using FireChat.

    So why bother with amateur radio technology!! This is the type of technology that a lot of my friends are either interested too or are currently developing. 20 years ago it was mastered by amateur radio operators…. not anymore.

    The cellular network system is getting more and more robust. People are developing communication system that kids are starting to understand at 15 years old!!

    So yes, amateur radio is going away faster and faster. Yes it still going to be used for emergency…. unless new and faster tech will take over.



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