New Directions Radio: Ham Radio as a Tool for Homesteaders

New Directions Radio shares news about using the ham radio as a tool for homesteaders and suggestions for its use, as well as a newsletter update.

  • New Directions radio shares information about using ham radios as a tool for homesteaders.
    New Directions radio shares information about using ham radios as a tool for homesteaders.
    Photo by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • New Directions radio shares information about using ham radios as a tool for homesteaders.

The New Directions Radio column shares the latest on radio activities, including using the ham radio as a tool for homesteaders.

Copthorne Macdonald is an amateur radio enthusiast, inventor of slow scan television, and founder of New Directions Radio. New Directions Radio article MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 52, July/August 1978.

Ham Radio as a Tool for Homesteaders

Remember that old saying: "Time flies when you're having fun"? Maybe it's that . . . or maybe it's the time speedup phenomenon that accompanies getting older. In any case, it recently struck me that New Directions Radio began five whole years ago . . . 30 MOTHER's into the past!

Those of you who were reading MOTHER back then may recall the two factors that gave birth to this column. The first was a profound disenchantment — on my part, and on the part of many other hams — with "mainstream ham radio", and the typical hello-goodbye, trivia-filled on-the-air "contact" or "QSO" that goes (or used to go) with it. The second factor was my (and other folks') realization that ham radio could be an exceedingly powerful tool for back-to-the-landers. Amateur radio can (among other things) help relieve "cabin fever", provide fast two-way communication in times of emergency, and act as a day-to-day conduit for the exchange of useful information.

So thanks, in part, to the contacts we've been able to make through MOTHER, a number of us who shared this particular understanding of ham radio's usefulness got together on the air, and gradually — over a period of years — a "new directions" network took shape and grew. During this same period, of course, the rest of the world hasn't exactly stood still either: In fact, mainstream society's attitudes and outlooks have begun to change dramatically . . . in our direction.

Last year, for instance, MOTHER reported the results of a Harris survey which showed that for a majority of Americans, increased material gains were no longer a top priority in life. The Stanford Research Institute recently reported to businessmen on a growing trend toward "voluntary simplicity" in daily living. Even politicians are beginning to see and admit the energy realities that only a few ecologists, whole system analysts, and MOTHER types saw five years ago. The point I'm leading up to is that mainstream amateur radio is a more "aware" place to hang out now than it used to be . . . and if you go about it the right way, it's possible to have some very meaningful, very interesting conversations these days with hams who may not be familiar with MOTHER — or New Directions Radio — at all.



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