All you amateur operators out there, what does your hobby of amateur radio mean to you? Just a hobby involving telecommunications? Or so much more than that?
In the amateur radio handbook published by the IDA of Singapore, it is stated that:
“The Amateur Service is a radio-communication service for the purpose of self-
training, inter-communication and technical investigations carried out by
amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely
with a personal aim and without pecuniary (monetary) interest.”
People may say: “Oh c’mon, you old amateur radio operators! Who needs radio to communicate when I can just pick up my phone (also a radio!) and call people, even when they are overseas? Give up! Your precious hobby is dying, and so are you!”
To people who say this, look: What happens if a disaster, natural or man-made were to take out all of the cell-towers and the Internet Service Providers? How is your smart phone or laptop going to call anyone or access the ‘net now?
When I was a nine year old child, whenever I went to my uncle’s place, I’d notice a copper pole of some sort connected to huge looking equipment, sticking out my uncle’s window. I asked my dad about it, and he told me this: “With that equipment, even if the whole Internet were to go down, your uncle could pick the microphone and say ‘hello’ to the other side of the world.” I had unwittingly stumbled on amateur radio, without realizing it until now.
Thinking about it, what my dad had said then still holds true. In a major disaster, amateur radio operators can set-up a few dipole antennas, tune it, and voila! Regional communications could be easily set-up within hours of the on-set of a disaster.
You may then say: “I guess its true if you live in a disaster prone area, but in Singapore, we ain’t going to face any natural disaster for at least a few million years, when the tectonic plates shift! As I said, just give up!”
Wait a minute! Did you know that when flight MH370 was found missing, radio amateurs were helping out to try to find any trace of the plane? Yes, the plane is still not found, but, it shows that no-matter what happens, most radio amateurs are ready to help and serve the community!
“Yeah” you say, “But what about in non-emergency situations? Is amateur radio of ANY use at all?”
Read the definition of the amateur service that I posted above. It is stated that: “
technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique”.
Did you realize that in order to become an amateur radio operator, you need to be licensed?
And to get a license entails taking an exam, which is about radio communication and electronics? Do you see where I am going here? Many of the amateur radio operators I have met at SARTS are actually involved in electronics engineering. So, for those operators who started getting involved in the hobby when they are young, what are the odds that they grow up to work in electronics engineering, which in turn, create the laptops and phones you talk about now?
As for the amateurs reading this, we as amateur radio operators must pull ourselves together. We must learn to accept and embrace new technology and work on it, not say that radio is radio and computers are computers, and treat them as if they had nothing to do with each other. We must learn to work with new technologies, so as to be able to experiment further, and create new technologies that benefit people, including those outside the field.
Thanks for reading my article! ^.^