The future of ham radio?

This is a guest post by my friend Ovide, K8EV…

I was underwhelmed by an article on the future of ham radio in the April QST.  There was no mention of future technical developments driving and changing ham radio as a hobby!

I asked myself the question “what is the core activity that might bring and keep people in ham radio?”  The short answer is “the capability to communicate reliably with specified and unspecified people at close and distant locations.”  In addition, a critical feature that sets the amateur apart from ordinary mass-consumers is knowledge and interest in using radio devices that can be modified or constructed.

Here’s my entry for a future product/service that could build on ham radio’s existing platform:  Remote multiplex radio stations controllable from personal computers!  The stations would generate multiple radio frequency signals from the same transmitter–in contrast to single frequency stations that currently sell access to users one at a time.  Azimuth directionality could be handled using isoradiating antennas or multiple-user control versions of the directional loop antenna reviewed in April QST.  Software Defined Radio technology would allow frequencies in different bands or portion of bands to be selected from home computers.

The do-it-yourself component would be attractive to open-source code writers and radio equipment builders would find new challenges constructing multiplex receivers and transmitters for remote multiplex stations.  CC&R limitations would be obviated and the hobby would be opened up to lots of people who are currently unable to have stations in their home.

The only technological breakthrough required is the development of transmitters that can generate multiple signals without intermodulation products!