It is the annual combined Huntsville Amateur Radio Club (HARC)/North Alabama Repeater Association (NARA) meeting. This meeting is generally the first meeting after New Years and the program is a state of the North Alabama Repeaters report along with a preview of some of the enhancements that are planned for the coming year. It is probably the largest meeting of hams in Huntsville except for the annual ham fest that is in August.
The membership numbers of HARC have been growing in the past couple of years. I don’t know for sure but I suspect the membership in NARA has grown as well. I’m not exactly sure why. I suspect it is a combination of several factors. For one thing, the license structure has gotten simpler in recent years. The morse code requirement has been dropped and there are only three levels of license instead of five. The tests questions and answers are published so that you can target your study to the specific topics that you will be tested upon.
Another factor is the proliferation of less expensive ham radio gear. Many of the new radios are based on high speed digital circuitry instead of analog circuits. This results in much more capable radios that are cheaper to build. It also makes home brew radios simpler to design and put together.
And yet another factor is a resurgence in interest in providing emergency communications and relief during disasters both natural and man made. There are also a number of hams that are still interested in the competitive nature of collecting contacts with other hams in other countries around the world. There is also an element of competition during contests to see how many contacts one can make in a given time period.
Whatever the reason, the hobby is growing faster than at any other time that I remember and I’ve been following it for well over forty years. I just thought of another reason that it may be growing so much lately. People have gotten a taste for global social interaction from the internet but they are getting a bit tired of the bad behavior that seems so prevalent in many venues on the internet. Radio is largely self policing and is a much friendlier community in general than the internet. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.