Along your journey, you should build and nurture your personal foundation for ham radio proficiency. Ideally, these are building blocks for growth.
Your foundation may be a station, a library or a workbench. Perhaps all three. Something to stand on as you move forwards. Ideally, each operating activity or electronics project prepares you for the next one.
In a technical hobby, it’s not surprising that you need knowledge and at least some theory. Fortunately these are readily available and theory generally applies broadly. Most of us are wide but only deep in a few selected areas. Proficiency in math really helps. (Enjoying math is a big piece of my foundation.)
In a technical hobby, practice and experience really count. They bridge the gap between books and simulation, and the real world. You learn to deal with surprises and limitations. And experience teaches you about how to focus your efforts into what matters most for a successful project. Increasing proficiency helps you understand the big picture of your efforts.
Most technical hobbies require tools and a supporting work environment. Learning to use the right tool for the job, including test equipment, is critical for success. Fortunately, these investments lend themselves to long term results and reuse. And these days, you can buy sophisticated tools at pretty low cost. (Thanks, China.)
For many years, my personal foundation was limited. Very basic radio theory, a soldering iron, and a simple station. I had lots of experience in operating but little in any sort of design or building.
Personal Foundation Grows in Retirement
Retirement provided a huge opportunity. I have moved well beyond Ohm’s Law and have a pretty good grasp of both analog and digital circuits at the competent level. Perhaps the biggest leap forward for me has been accumulating a decent electronics workbench. Also, mastering many open source tools for CAD, Simulation and Design.
At one time, my workbench fit into a drawer. Now it needs a whole room, which fortunately I have down the basement.
Lots of folks retire to play golf. For me, well I play radio!