Of all the possessions I own the one that gives me most recreational satisfaction would have to be my amateur radio station. This is a hobby I became involved with at the age of twelve. You can talk with people in foreign countries, or just chat with someone across town. You can work towards several different awards, or enter into a variety of different contests. If you prefer you can just shoot the breeze with a fellow radio operator.
I first acquired my novice class radio license back in Iowa in 1973. At that time the first license, or level, was novice. Obtaining this license only required some basic knowledge of electronics, and being able to send and receive Morse code at a minimum of five words per minute. The novice class was also the most restricted. I was only allowed thirty-five watts of power and only a very small part of the radio spectrum to use it on.
And I was not given the luxury of talking into a microphone, only the tedious dots and dashes of a brass Morse code key. I have since that time acquired the licensing and equipment needed to enjoy all the hobby has to offer.
I probably get the most thrills out of contacting, or "working"ÃÂ stations in distant countries. This is a feeling that never seems to fade. I can easily sit down in front of my equipment, and in a few minutes be in touch with someone in South America, Australia, Europe, or Asia. The populous, more developed countries have an abundance of stations to work. The challenge is finding stations in the Middle East, small African countries, or any of tiny islands of the South Pacific. The other part is being able to get a confirmation post card to, and one in reply from these countries by mail.
This is done so that you have proof you did in fact work that particular station.
On the simpler side, I also have a small VHF radio in my car that allows me to chat with other local radio operators. Many of them I have met at the local grocery store or gas station.
Still others prefer other aspects of the hobby. There are certificates to strive for that are awarded for various achievements. Working all states, working all continents, or working one hundred or more countries are a few examples.
Others may prefer contesting. A contest is where you and any one else entered is given is given a specific time frame, usually twenty four hours in length, to contact as many stations in an many different states and countries as you are able to. Your scores are sent in, then tabulated and confirmed. Then a winner from each state is selected and their name and score is published in a monthly amateur radio journal. Contesting is for those who enjoy pushing their equipment and themselves to the limit without the incentive of a tangible reward.
One aspect of the hobby that is shared by us all is the opportunity to simply make new acquaintances. There are always the routine things to discuss. What kind of radio you have, what kind of antenna you are using, what the weather is like and so on. But occasionally you find someone that is from your home state, or maybe someone that is in the same line of work as you. You might talk for a few minutes and become bored with the other person, or you may find so much in common that you set up a schedule to meet on a nightly basis.
Although not the most material object that I own, my radio equipment and the knowledge to use it could very well be the most valuable