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Is DMR Real Ham Radio?

dmr real ham radio

When you ask the question “Is DMR real ham radio”, you are really asking about our ability to adapt to new technical, operational and social activities focused on radio.

So, I am sitting on my deck talking to a ham in India 12,000 kilometers away. We are both using DMR handheld radios and enjoyed a fine conversation for a quarter hour. Q5 copy and interesting chat about SDR. But when you realize that 99.9996% of this conversation – by distance – took place over the Internet, you might ask is DMR real ham radio?

We had this conversation a few years ago about FT8, which provides essentially non-human contacts using software. But at least FT8 is done over radio. With my DMR handheld and hotspot, I can span the world with very little radio actually involved. Perhaps 50 meters of radio in a 12,000 kilometer contact. And even with a DMR repeater rather than hotspot, the argument remains the same.

This brings us to the question of what is ham radio really about. In a recent Cycle 25 meeting, one of the participants described ham radio as having three essential aspects: technical, operational and social. For me, this idea – shown above – really hit home.

For most of us, being a ham involves technical, operational and social activities. Typically, all three are present in our ham radio activities. If we use these as criteria, we must answer “is DMR real ham radio” with a solid yes.

Would the same answer hold if we were doing network radio on our phones with apps like Zello or Peanut? I think not, as there is no real radio operation involved. But you could argue the point.

Is DMR Real Ham Radio – Adopt or Adapt

When we try to attract new entrants into the ham radio hobby, we have two choices. On one hand, we can simply require them to adopt our legacy behaviors. Or, we could adapt our behaviors and models to accommodate new interests and ways of doing things.

Too many hams and their clubs are stuck in “adopt” culture. Despite the fact that if new entrants just adopted old ways, we would all still be doing CW with spark transmitters. I suggest the real fun in, and future of ham radio is adapting to new ideas, interests and behaviors. As long as they maintain our core of technical, operational and social activities focused on radio.

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