MARC - Cincinnati's Club For Amateur Radio - 147.345+

Kids are Not the Future of Ham Radio

I got my General license when I was a “kid” fifty years ago this year! I agree with Bob’s assessment of targeting the 25 to 30 year old age group. Of course, we encourage and promote amateur radio to all age groups! What do you think? What age did you get your license? Provide your input in the comment section.

73, Steve K8JI

By Bob Witte, K0NR

You’ve heard it a million times: our kids are the future. That statement gets applied to almost everything, including amateur radio. How can you argue with an obvious fact like that?

But I am starting to think it is incorrect.

We’ve had really good success on creating new hams of all ages in our Technician License Class (at the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association). We’ve been doing this for a while now and I think I am seeing a pattern emerge. We’ve been able to attract middle schoolers to the class and help them get their ham radio license. I’ve talked to many of them on the air. They’ve helped out with public service events. They seem to have fun playing with radios.

Then this thing called high school happens. The high school phase in the US is filled with tons of stuff to do: studying, homework, AP classes, science competitions, sports, dating, movies, driving and after school jobs. Way too much stuff. Ham radio starts to take a backseat to these normal high school activities. Then we don’t see the kids at the radio club meetings or chatting on the local repeater because they are busy doing other things. Have we lost them forever? Not sure.

High school is often followed by college which has its own set of challenges: a totally new environment, away from home, a new set of people, new studies, etc. There might be a ham radio club on campus but maybe not. If a kid is not off to college they are (hopefully) out doing something to establish themselves in this world. Eventually they emerge on the other side, get a job, get themselves established, sometimes with a spouse and maybe a kid or two. By this time they are 25 to 30 years old, depending on the individual.

I recently posted about the demographics of our students in the Tech License Class. The chart below shows the age distribution of our students from our most recent class. Hmmm, clearly most of our students are 30 or older. (Sorry, we have not collected age data with finer resolution.) This particular class is light on the under 18 crowd…sometimes we have a clump of kids in the mix.


For whatever reason, it seems that most people find themselves in a situation as an adult that causes them to say “I want to get my ham radio license.” When asked why they want to get their ham license, the top response is always emergency/disaster communications, followed by backcountry communications, pursuing electronics as a hobby and learning about radio communications. I suspect that starting to be established in a community and having some disposable income also play a role.

My hypothesis is that the most effective way of growing a vibrant ham radio community is to target adults ages 25 to 40.

This age range is more equipped and ready to be ham radio operators and are still young enough that they will be around for a while. Of course, we still want to work with all age groups, including kids and retirees. We’ve all seen very young hams get the bug for ham radio early and carry it throughout their life. And we also see plenty of older folks get interested in the hobby as they approach or enter retirement. We don’t want to miss out on either of those groups.

So that’s my read on the situation. I’ve got some data to support my theory but I can’t really prove it. What do you think? What are you seeing in your ham radio community?

A new Heathkit! So, why am I not excited?

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from Heathkit. Yes, the NEW Heathkit. you might remember that a couple of years ago, there was all this hype about a “new” Heathkit and how they were going to start designing new kits as well as revive popular old designs.

Then, nothing. They went completely quiet-—until a couple of weeks ago. In an e-mail sent to their “insiders,” they say:

“Dear Heathkit Insider,

‘What I really hope Heathkit will produce,’ a Silicon Valley colleague recently told me, ‘is a new radio kit with a beautiful finish, maybe in rosewood.’ Something great to enjoy building and learn from, and also visually stunning, so he could put it in his living room and keep it forever.

“Today, my friend gets his wish.

They then go on to explain all of the work they’ve been doing in relocating Heathkit to Santa Cruz, CA, acquiring a second company, and securing all the intellectual property rights to the old Heathkit manuals and logos (meaning no more bootleg copies on the Internet). The e-mail continues:

“That’s a lot, but there’s more. We’ve designed and developed a wide range of entirely new kit products. We authored the manuals for these kits, complete with the beautiful line art you rely on, preserving and respecting our iconic historic Heathkit style. We developed many new inventions and filed patents on them……We built the back office infrastructure, vendor and supply chain relationships, systems, procedures, operations methods, and well-thought-out corporate structure that a manufacturing company needs to support its customers, to allow us to scale instantly the day we resume major kit sales. All this effort enables us to introduce a fleet of new kits and helps ensure Heathkit can grow, prosper, and continue to bring you great new products for a very long time.”

So, what’s the exciting news? A new QRP transceiver? Maybe a shortwave radio? A new 100-in-1 experimenter kit for Makers?

Uh-uh. Sorry. The “exciting” news is a tuned radio frequency (TRF) AM band (yes, I said AM band) radio kit that costs $150. Not only is that crazy expensive for an AM radio, it doesn’t even come with a speaker. On top of that, there’s no soldering. You screw all of the components to the board. I’m speechless (well, figuratively, not literally).

I’m not sure what the target market is for this product. It’s certainly not amateur radio operators, who expect a lot more (in terms of both functionality and “fun”) for their money. Nor is it the “Maker” folks, who want something more challenging than an AM radio. I think that if I took this to show off at the local Ann Arbor Maker group, they’d laugh me out of the place.

I really hope that they have something better up their sleeves. A strong Heathkit would be good for the Maker movement and for ham radio.


When not thinking about what kit to build next, Dan, KB6NU, operates CW on the HF bands (mostly 40m and 30m). His #1-rated amateur radio blog can be found at KB6NU.Com, and you can e-mail questions, comments, or complaints to

President’s Message for November 2015

November is election time for Milford Amateur Radio Club. We have the following nominations for Officers for 2016:

  • President – Mike Kieffer (KD8OUT)
  • Vice President – Ron Brooks (AC8MA)
  • Secretary – Mark Tannert (WN8U)
  • Treasurer – Chris Spiess (AE8TT)

Nominations ended 11/1/15. We do have write-in blanks on the ballots. The presentation for November’s meeting, after the elections, is by Chris Spiess on “Coax Connectors”. We will have license testing from 6pm to 7pm and the elections will start at 7:30pm on 11/12/15.

Don’t forget that December, 10th is our “Holiday Hors-d’oeuvre Party” instead of our regular meeting. We will not have testing in December. Instead, we will have the holiday party, with light finger food and beverages, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. We are not planning to have a business meeting in December.

Vacancy: MARC Secretary

From Mike Kieffer, President Milford Amateur Radio Club. "On 10/24/15, the Board Members of Milford Amateur Radio Club met electronically (per Article VI, section 4) and voted to appoint Mark Tannert as club Secretary to finish out Andrew Rhone’s … [Continue reading]

Ohio State Parks On The Air 2015 – Update

From the OSPOTA committee: The 2015 Ohio State Parks On The Air contest was held on September 12th. Much of the state had pretty lousy weather, but the OSPOTA participants got out there, set up stations and had a fun radio day! Reports that have … [Continue reading]

Club Member To Be Published in QST Magazine


By KD8OUT, Mike Kieffer, President. We all want to congratulate Dr. Jack Purdum(W8TEE) on the acceptance of his article for an upcoming issue of QST. Summary below. Those who attended the July meeting will recall the presentation given by Jack … [Continue reading]

Presidents Supplemental Message for September

Based on comments at the September meeting, we are going to do a special presentation at the 10/8/15 meeting. “I got my license, now what do I do?”  I plan to cover: - Got my Technician license, now what? - Got my General license, what equipment, … [Continue reading]

Presidents Message for September

The September meeting (Thursday 9/10/15 at 7:30pm) presentation topic is “Receiving with a magnetic loop antenna”, by Randy Smith, W8UF. Ron Brooks has donated a hand held radio to raffle off at the meeting. Bring your singles to purchase … [Continue reading]

Ohio State Parks On The Air & Club Picnic


The Milford Amateur radio club will be operating from the Indian Mounds Shelter in East Fork State Park during Ohio State Parks On The Air on September 12, 2015. Enter the park from 125 and go past the park headquarters. Follow the signs toward … [Continue reading]