Are radio hams ‘makers’

This page was last updated : 18-Jul-23 16:57:54

Through this Soldersmoke blog post, I came across this blog post from Owen Duffy ex VK1OD now VK2OMD.

He asked him self  : Are radio hams 'makers' ? 

He discusses a piece of history and describes how in the 1980s the focus in the hobby shifted from DIY to ready-made equipment.

But as information and communications technologies advanced at an explosive rate through the 1980s, ham radio shifted focus from ‘home brewed’ equipment to commercial off the shelf equipment designed specifically for the ham market. . . .


As a result, according to him, many operators have shifted their interests from the technical field to collecting contacts and awards and maintaining a social network.

Today, the most popular activities in ham radio are: contesting, operating awards pursuits and other train-spotting like activities; and ‘rag chewing’, social chat about anything, well anything except meaningful discussion of radiocommunications technology (a bit like CB really, just a little more polite), usually in organised ‘nets’.


to come to the conclusion:

The thing that is rare is a ham who also qualifies as a maker!


I've let this sink in for a while and although he posted his blog post in 2013 and a lot has change, I have to admit I think he's right. Because DIY in our hobby, just like in other hobbies, has been replaced by purchasing ready-made equipment. Only a small group of die-hards still build their own.

But I also see beautiful new trends appearing in that group: OM's that offer their designs as kits or start joint construction projects through clubs. But you will also see new tools appearing: 3D printers for making parts, CNC milling for making (prototype) printed images, a converted 3D printer for exposing photosensitive prints and much more.

So yes: by no means all radio amateurs will be makers. But luckily they are still there.

Personal note :

When I started the hobby, it arose out of technological curiosity, the interest in understanding things and the will to make things myself (designing myself was not my main goal). It doesn't matter to me whether it is 100% DIY or a kit (such as HeathKit, Elecraft, QRP-Labs etc) which is modified or not after construction. Just having fun with the hobby and pushing boundaries. And yes I also have some off-the-shelf trancievers (I'm super happy with my FT817ND) and my QO-100 uplink is also a kit (which is then already soldered a little more than average). As far as new tools are concerned: here at home are 2 types of 3D printers, various tools for SMT assembly, and I have a nice workshop equipment for metal / plastic processing.

Am I a maker then? I wouldn't call myself that. Just like I don't call myself a hacker because I'm quite handy with computers, technology and have certain skills.
I'm just a hobbyist who wants to do fun things after work.


Update 2022-06-28 : I posted the same question in a Dutch hamradio forum and a few OM's where giving there opion / story (you can use google translate to translate it to you native language).