Skip to comments.FreeRepublic, Amateur Radio's Cousin?
Posted on 02/27/2004 8:06:33 AM PST by rightcoast
I have been an amateur radio operator since 1999. For those unfamiliar with amateur radio -- 'ham radio' as it is more casually termed -- it is an FCC-licensed section of radio spectrum (i.e. radio frequencies) that is set aside for civilian use. Amateur radio operators (or 'hams') use two-way radios to talk on these frequencies for purposes ranging from idle chat, all the way up to and including assisting authorities in emergency and crisis management.
I mention amateur radio on this forum, because although it may not seem so on the surface, there are many similarities between amateur radio and FreeRepublic (FR).
Amateur radio has been around for nearly a century, and it's largest organizing force has been around since 1914. That organization -- the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) -- administers licensing exams for the FCC, and maintains and organizes several civilian emergency communications services.
In many ways, FR is like the ARRL. Use of amateur radio is free, and you do not have to be an ARRL dues-paying member to enjoy the benefits of an FCC-issued amateur radio license. However, it is to an amateur radio enthusiast's advantage to support the ARRL financially, as it keeps the service alive and vibrant.
In the same way, periodically donating to FR (or becoming a monthly donor) contributes to the success of the forum and keeps it going.
There are other similarities. FR members must be registered, and no anonymous posts are allowed. Similarly, amateur radio operators must have a license and use their call sign (much like a CB 'handle' but more formal) at all times. Abuse of rules in amateur radio is largely self-policed, as it is here in FR.
Another surprising similarity between amateur radio and the FreeRepublic is membership. I don't have any exact numbers in front of me, but my most recent understanding is that FR has about 100,000 registered members. This is not far off from the approximately 175,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the U.S.
Finally, amateur radio is used by many for casual conversation of current events, or just friendly chat. It's most active use, though, can be seen in the establishment of local ARRL chapters and volunteer services. Local chapters (amateur radio clubs) connect local hams, in much the same way as FR has its own local chapters. ARRL volunteer efforts include civilian communications services to the military, local and state governments, and civilian organizations.
Of course, FR has its own wide range of volunteer efforts, largely labeled here as 'activism.' FReepers stage local rallies and protests, and help others get involved in our common interest: a free and strong republic.
I'm not promoting amateur radio or the ARRL here. I simply wanted to state my observation for a simple purpose. The ARRL has been a thriving organization for 90 years, and it wouldn't hurt to emulate it's successful model. Obviously there are differences, but with some luck and continued participation, maybe this little slice of the web could be on its way to lasting as long, with a similar positive impact.
What do you think about the possible license class changes?
These newly proposed changes would eliminate my Technician license class and the Advanced class, reinstate a Novice (or similarly-named) class license, and increase HF privileges on all three license classes. A Morse Code requirement of only 5 wpm would be applicable only on the highest license class of Extra.
Personally, I'm for the license class changes for two reasons: one selfish, and one practical. The selfish reason is that since I have a no-code Tech license, I would be "grandfathered" into a General class license and instantly have HF privileges that I don't have, because I have been too lazy to learn Morse Code. The practical reason is that since I would suddenly enjoy HF privileges, I will definitely be playing around with HF bands, and I have no doubt that this would lead me to wanting an Extra class license. This would be the motivation I needed to learn Morse Code.
I firmly believe that the Morse Code requirement should always be in place at the highest license class level, and even at 5 wpm, it will be enough for people to be able to pass it easily, and play around with code as a curiosity, and maybe even learn to love it as many have.
I think that while this license changes could be perceived as hurting Morse Code in the short run, I actually think they will help curb Code's death in the long run, and certainly they will be a benefit to the long-term health of amateur radio as a hobby.
Is that a common occurance? He lives within blocks of me.
Seriously? That sounds like a CB'er using illegal power, and not an amateur radio operator (a.k.a. 'radio ham').
Guess I'll have to go to the Kenwood site. (G)
And plan a visit to my SIL in Columbus, Universal Radio doncha know!
Instead, you could look into adding some inexpensive measures (such as electronic filters) on your end to get rid of his interference. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL - www.arrl.org) referred to by the original poster has a lot of informative material that may help you. Some of it is on the web, and they also sell a book that goes into more technical detail on curing problems.
The problem is called "RFI", or "radio frequency interference". Here are a few web links that may help you, while a google search on RFI should bring up tons more: (it is possible that some of those links are only available to ARRL members, sorry if that is the case)
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