Being a ham radio operator puts you in a unique class. 0.22% of the United States population holds an amateur radio license, even fewer are active on a regular basis. We all have unique stories on what got us interested in the hobby. Some grew up in the prime of Citizens Band (CB) radio, others got interested thanks to public service opportunities or the engineering aspects. However, are you a true ham radio operator? Here are five signs you fit that bill.
You stare at radio towers when traveling
If you’re the real deal, then you’ve done it. You’re passing a beautiful 1,200 ft broadcast tower and can’t help but admire its beauty. You nudge your wife in the seat next to you, “You see that antenna on the tower over there?” She replies, “Yeah.” — “That’s a 11 Ghz microwave backbone.” In return, she responds with a blank stare and wonders why she married you in the first place.
You can’t help but notice every business radio
You’re checking into the hotel on a family trip. At the counter, the clerk has a radio, and it steals your entire focus. You can’t even hear what she’s saying at that point. You’re wondering what frequency are they using? Is it analog or digital? Perhaps they’re trunked? You snap back to reality and lock eyes with the clerk. She asks, “Are you okay?,” because she believes you just had a seizure from your long gaze down at the counter. It was no seizure, it was radio curiosity.
The last weekend in June is a sacred holiday
It happens predictably once a year. Some people clear their calendar for the Super Bowl, but not you. You clear it for the Super Bowl of ham radio. That’s right — we’re talking about ARRL Field Day. This sacred event brings out over 35,000 amateur radio operators from the U.S. and Canada to operate remotely from around North America. The bands are packed from edge-to-edge, and many contacts are made, but equally as much beer is consumed. You tell your wife months in advance to not book that family vacation over the Super Bowl of ham radio. If so, you’ll just have to miss that family trip.
Your home looks like a NASA Moon base
If you’re an amateur radio operator your house is the most talked about home on the block. Neighbors drive-by in disgust as you’re “impacting the neighborhood’s aesthetic” with your 75′ Rohn 45G, 80M monoband Yagi and associated dipoles. When you’re outside working on your guy wires you can’t even get a friendly wave and Bob hasn’t talked to you since you blew out his Plasma television set with your 1,000 watt FT8 signal. But to you, all of this is worth it. I mean, do they realize you were 599 into Bouvet Island?
You’ve talked out of this world using ham radio…literally
The one thing you can tell your colleagues at this year’s Christmas party to impress them is you’ve talked to outer space. It could be that you’ve made contact with the International Space Station, or used the Moon’s lunar surface to bounce your radio signal back to earth. Either of those will impress any normal person. (normal meaning unlicensed) It presents the opportunity for you to invite them to your shack and bounce their voice off meteors falling to earth to make some new DX contacts. After an experience like that, they’ll wonder what planet you’re really from.
The correct answer is Planet HRO.
Did I miss any other signs of a true ham radio operator? Comment them down below!