Something is quietly going on in the world of Ham Radio and it is virtual Ham Radio. Ham Sphere adds a new definition to the meaning of Ham Radio operating. Also in competition with Ham Sphere is QsoNet and its virtual ionospheric experience as well.
For me, virtual Ham Radio is the recruiting bandwagon for our hobby, why do I say that?
- Virtual Ham Radio is a great training tool.
- Basic version of Ham Sphere is free.
- Accessibility from a laptop connected to WiFi at an airport to one's personal computer at home.
- Start-up cost is nearly $0 in terms of equipment.
- No antenna systems.
- No RFI problems.
- No license.
Imagine that. It is the power of the Internet to bring about change while bypassing traditional regulations, rules, and conventions. Soon, forums of non-licensed virtual Ham Radio operators, will spring to life with all the trappings i.e. awards, contests, QSL cards, log books, etc.
Just suppose with me for a minute. What would happen if the American Radio Relay League offered virtual Ham Radio to a non-licensed individual on its website?
The great experiment of letting go of Morse code as a licensing requirement, like it or not, moved Ham Radio in a new direction. Some but not all are inspired and learning the art but, virtual Ham Radio without a license represents a new direction as well.
Virtual Ham Radio circumvents the tradition of traditions; testing and license. Would an individual, once exposed to the fun and excitement of virtual Ham Radio, want to seek out a license? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps it depends on packaging and marketing.
Ham Sphere and QsoNet are innovative and accessible for a licensee and the non-licensed. Both have greater appeal moreso than the great Morse code experiment. Furthermore, virtual Ham Radio has enormous positive potential for the hobby depending on its acceptance within the greater community.
Something is quietly happening to Ham Radio and its virtual.