If you're a subscriber to WorldRadio Online, be sure to check out the article on Page 16 in the January 2014 edition. There's an article by Cory GB Sickles, WA3UUV, which is entitled ""Elmering" in the Age of the Internet", and it deserves your attention.
Prominently featured are several folks who should be easily recognized by just about any serious QRPer, and they are Rem Donnelly K6BBQ (whose videos are often posted here), Steve Galchutt WG0AT (ditto), and Chuck Carpenter W5USJ. Also mentioned is Randy Hall K7AGE. Rem, Steve and Randy are noted for their informative, fun and educational videos that appear on YouTube (and here). Chuck is noted for his great website and all the informative and helpful topics that he covers there. And the help and advice he offers in the Rockmite and other e-mail reflectors is worth its weight in gold.
These guys deserve the title "Elmer" which is so sorely needed this day and age. When I attended an Amateur Radio licensing course back in the late 1970's, I had a course teacher, but no true "Elmer". After I got my ticket, most of what I learned was by trial and error, often proverbially hitting my thumb with that hammer. Things would have gone infinitely smoother (but not necessarily better!) had there be someone I could go to, to ask for advice and encouragement.
These days, however, it seems that when people seek new knowledge, the first place they head to is Google, Bing or some other search engine. The service that the above mentioned Hams provide is so invaluable - and by no means are they the only ones. There are so many great resources of Amateur Radio information out there, like we've never had before. The Internet is ripe for the picking of this treasure trove of information.
That being said, what are you doing to help this effort along? Don't think you don't have anything valuable to add, because you do. Your help is constantly needed not only to encourage those who are thinking of getting licensed, but also those who are recently licensed and are unsure of themselves. There are so many things you can do, I'll list just a few here:
1) Become a Volunteer Examiner. Not only will you meet people who are just entering the hobby, but you can befriend them and explain to them about the whole new world that is opening up to them. Tell them about local clubs and Ham Radio activities, invite them to come out to a local Hamfest or club meeting, or even the occasional Saturday breakfast "with the guys" - remember, for the bit of time that they are taking "The Exam", they are a captive audience. Strike while the iron is hot.
2) Make a YouTube video and share it with the world. Got a new idea, process or invention? Have a unique or new way of doing something in Amateur radio that's never been done before? Make a video and post it! They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, then a good video is worth about ten million! To this day, I owe as great deal of thanks to TJ W0EA, for posting a video about the LowePro Traveler 150 camera bag and how he uses it to carry his QRP gear. It convinced me to go out and buy mine, and as of now, I wouldn't think of using anything else for that purpose. I had been struggling to find a good solution for quite some time when I happened upon his video, it was just what I needed to see, at just the right time.
3) Start a Website or a blog. A fine example is Chuck's website, and for a fine example of Amateur Radio blogs - just look down the right edge of this site. You think I list a lot? Maybe, but even more are needed. Do you have a new or unique idea that no one's covered before, that's just waiting to be shared? You say that you don't want to start a blog, but have something you'd like to cover and are not sure how to do it? Contact me. I'll gladly lend you space here. (or see #5 below). I'll even help you put your idea into words if you like, and YOU'LL receive all the credit that you'll so richly deserve! And your story needn't be technically minded. Just sharing a story of how you accomplished hanging your antenna or putting together your station or how you configured your computer and radio for WSPR or PSK31 may be all the encouragement that is needed by someone who is attempting to do the same thing - but has no one to ask, or may be too shy to ask, or maybe has been reading articles, but just doesn't "get it".
4) Get on your local repeater, ESPECIALLY when you hear a "new" call. Nothing is more special that being welcomed and acknowledged on the air. Don't be afraid to talk to new and any younger voices that you hear on the air. The welcome that you extend today will exist long into the future, and will be an inspiration as to how new Hams years down the road will be treated.
5) Write an article, as mentioned above in bullet point #3. Have a unique idea or maybe a new perspective on something that's tried and true? Write something about it! While it would be nice to see your name in QST or CQ, there are other "niche" publications out there - literally begging for contributions. For the CW and QRP crowd, right off the top of my head, I can think of The Keynote (FISTS), SPRAT (GQRP), QRP Quarterly (QRP ARCI), and the K9YA Telegraph e-zine (CW enthusiasts). For other facets of the hobby, I am sure there are just as many outlets available.
6) Always keep the kids in mind. If you get the opportunity to demonstrate this hobby to kids, especially younger ones - don't let the chance slip through your fingers. You may think that kids look upon this hobby as "dull", "uninteresting", or "ancient". Maybe some do, but even more don't. Some of the best times I've had have been explaining Amateur Radio to school kids, Boy Scouts, etc. The looks on the their faces, and their enthusiasm will warm your heart and will in turn, encourage you and keep you young.
7) Teach a license class. This is maybe one of the best ways to pass along your love of this hobby to the next generation of Hams. Don't know where to begin? Get in touch with the ARRL, they have a whole department that is willing to help you get started. And it doesn't have to be just kids that you aim your teaching sights on. Most high schools give opportunities for free or low cost continuing education courses for adults. often held on weekday evenings. Offer to teach a radio license course for them. They'll do a lot of the groundwork and advertising for you - you just need to supply the teaching part. You'd be very surprised how many retired folks there are out there, looking for a new hobby.
The main idea here is to share, to help not only those thinking about becoming Hams, but also to put out the helping hand to those who are recently licensed. And you'll also find that you'll be helping yourself by keeping your enthusiasm for this wonderful hobby vibrant in your own life.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!