I was browsing Facebook today when I saw this sad post (not verbatim) in the Amateur Radio group. "I am leaving the hobby after 10 years. I am tired of having people tell me that unless I have thousands of dollars of equipment, and lots of land for antennas that I am not a "real Ham" (I hate that phrase!). Have a nice life."
I feel badly for this individual, and I suspect there's more going on here under the surface. But, if that's the definition of a "real Ham" then I'm not one, either ...... and I've been at this "Ham Radio thing" for 38 years now.
I am not going to insult anyone's intelligence by feigning that I don't own expensive Amateur Radio equipment. I do. But when you look at my shack compared to a lot of others out there, mine is relatively modest. No, I'm way beyond two tin cans and a wire, but I'm also do not own enough equipment that would equal the GDP of a small nation.
In the same breath, let me say that I do NOT begrudge anyone from owning enough equipment that would equal the GDP of a small nation. Hey, if you are wealthy enough, and you're not ignoring the basic needs of yourself or your family in order to fund your hobby - more power to you.
The second part of his definition is nearer and dearer to my heart, though. I have never been in a situation where I felt I could put up the kind of antennas that I would like to have. At both my QTHs, the one in East Brunswick, where I grew up, and the one in South Plainfield where I currently live - both are typical NJ suburban lots that are 50 feet wide by 100 feet long. (15M X 30M).
I had a G5RV here in South Plainfield that took so may twists and turns that it looked like I was playing the three dimensional chess board from Star Trek. Everything I have has to fit on my property, even the radials under by Butternut have twists and angles to them. I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. Do I wish I had plenty of land where I could lay out a classic Beverage antenna for 160 Meters - or even put up a half wave dipole for 160 Meters? You're darn tootin' I would. But I don't, so I'm not going to shed tears over it. As bad as my case is, at least I can have outdoor antennas. A lot of people have to live with a lot less than I have, and I think about that every time I am tempted to complain or feel sorry for myself.
In the end, you make do with what you have. I'll probably never make DXCC Honor Roll, but I am closing in on 200 countries worked. Given the antennas that I have (and had), I think that's a pretty fair accomplishment.
The bottom line is that you can't let another person dictate to you what something as wide in scope as Amateur Radio..... is. Amateur Radio is many things to many people. My excitement over working Australia with 5 Watts might make you yawn. Your excitement over having your 100th message passed this month might earn just a shrug of my shoulders from me. Are either of us wrong? No, both of us are enjoying what we like best in a hobby that has enough room for everyone!
So the next time someone tells you that you're not a "real Ham", just smile and walk away. Anyone who truly thinks they know what a "real Ham' is, is just kidding themselves, anyway.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!