ARRL is reaching out to members of the Maker Movement to explore avenues of cooperation and collaboration, and perhaps to recruit some new radio amateurs. Considered an extension of the arts and crafts tradition, the Maker Movement gained its own magazine, Make, in 2005. The philosophy of the Maker Movement is reminiscent of an era when radio amateurs built their own equipment rather than buying it off the shelf. Those considering themselves makers have tended to focus on such areas as electronics and computers, robotics, 3D printing, metal and woodworking, and even Amateur Radio, among other avocations.
Recognizing the similar characteristics of radio amateurs and makers, the Ham Radio exhibition each summer in Friedrichshafen, Germany, has shared space with a Maker Faire, as maker gatherings are known, for the past few years. Maker Faires in the US have attracted thousands more attendees than even the largest hamfest; the Dayton of the Maker Movement takes place in San Mateo, California, and ARRL will have a presence at events in the Bay Area, both, set for April, and in Chicago later this year.
“Maker communities and makerspaces are springing up across the country, becoming the latest nexus of youthful aspirants and exotic technology, as well as the locus of highly innovative forms of experimentation — including Amateur Radio,” ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, wrote in his Second Century editorial, “Make It Happen,” appearing in April QST. Gallagher considers makers as “the next generation of hams.”
Gallagher suggests radio amateurs consider attending Maker Faires — not only to promote and give a presence to Amateur Radio but to learn what they have in common with makers, many of whom already are licensees. (An article in January 2017 QST, “Maker Faire Success for Ham Radio Clubs” by David Witkowski, W6DTW, is on Gallagher’s recommended reading list, as is an interview in the same issue with Jeri Ellsworth, AI6TK — well known in the Maker and gamer communities.)
Any radio amateur who enjoys tackling an Arduino or Raspberry Pi electronics project for the shack should find some common ground in the Maker Movement. Gallagher notes in his editorial that at last September’s Maker Faire in New York City, a club in Queens offered a simple build-a-code-practice-oscillator project, provided by QRPme.com, that only required five components. “The attendees were lined up six deep in two lines,” Gallagher recounted. “There is nothing to match the delight in the builder’s eyes when he or she first experiences the joy of oscillation.” He hinted that this could, in time, translate to new licensees.
Gallagher has more to say about the Maker Movement in his April “60-Second Century” video. ARRL began hosting these quick video clips in February, and each is posted on the ARRL YouTube channel as well as made available via social media. Each video will become available on the 10th of each month, coincident with the release of the digital QST, and will offer a glimpse at the content of each month’s QST editorial.
As Gallagher said about the Maker Movement in his April “60-Second Century” video, “It’s in our DNA. Explore, discover, create!”