About Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is still relevant

In a world full of cell phones and FRS/GMRS radios and the Internet, amateur radio’s role in society has changed. Amateur Radio still provides a fun, challenging and rewarding experience including:

  • Mobile two-way communications via our well situated VHF FM Repeater – This is not a substitute for cell phones of course, but still provides a party line style of communications that still has a place in modern society.
  • Worldwide Shortwave Communications via the HF Bands – Not a substitute for the Internet, but still a fun and practical way to contact someone around the world with just a radio, an antenna and no additional infrastructure.
  • Digital Communications – The PC with sound-card has revolutionized methods for sending digital data over the ham bands. Many applications relay messages much like cell phone texting.
  • Morse Code, but only if you want – Morse code is no longer a requirement for testing and some are saddened by this change. However, this has elevated morse code from a must-do task to a voluntary and skillful art-form. Don’t let the code hold you back from getting your license. You can ignore it or learn it at your own pace. Shhh, I’ll tell you a secret… Some of us use our sound-cards to decode morse ; )
  • Confidence – Being a ham means you have more communications options to help yourself and others in need. In the very rare chance infrastructure fails, you have one more trick up your sleeve. As unlikely as this is, additional peace of mind is nice.
  • Public Service – Occasionally we receive requests to help provide communications for local events in Virginia. In the 21st century, these needs can often be met with other means. For the times where the unique qualities of ham radio equipment and operating techniques are helpful, FARA steps in.

You may be thinking this is all well and good, but wonder how amateur radio competes with other forms of entertainment in the 21st century. The answer may be with something known as “Radio Sport” or “Contesting.”

A good overview of the fun of amateur radio is this video produced by Montanta PBS stations called simply HAM.


Contesting involves many operators participating in an organized on the air event where each station makes contact with as many others as possible despite the challenges presented by mother nature on the radio signals. Whether operating from the comfort of your home “ham shack,” a remote camp ground or “roving” in your car, contesting combines construction, electronic, electrical, scientific, endurance and everyday skills plus operating into one focused goal of attaining the highest possible score.

As a group, FARA participates in two contests annually: Virginia QSO Party and the ARRL Field Day. Many members participate individually in many other contests.

The competitive spirit in contesting provides hours of fun for many operators and FARA is very active.

Don’t have a license yet?

Visit our Education page for information and resources to get you started in this fun hobby.

Become a member

If you are interested in joining our merry band of amateur radio operators please visit any of our meetings as our guest anytime. We have our regular meetings the second Thursday evening every month.

If you like what you see, plan to attend a regular meeting for new membership voting.  Details about our meetings and membership including the membership form can be found on our Club Membership.