The Radio Amateur’s Code

The Radio Amateur's Code

CONSIDERATE...He/[She] never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL...He/[She] offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, the IARU Radio Society in his/[her] country, through which Amateur Radio in his/[her] country is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE...He/[She] keeps his/[her] station up to date.  It is well-built and efficient.  His/[Her] operating practice is above reproach.

FRIENDLY...He/[She] operates slowly and patiently when requested; offers friendly advice and counsel to beginners; kind assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the marks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC...His/[Her] station and skills are always ready for service to country and community.

The original version of this was written in 1928, by Paul M Segal W9EEA, and it's been modified over the years as things change with the times. The core message remains the same though, as it's pretty much timeless.

The one trait that I want to touch upon today, is the "Balanced" one.

The Radio Amateur is:

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

Sometimes, I think we forget this one the most, and the evidence is not that hard to find. Take a wander on over to Facebook, or listen to a repeater and it's pretty obvious that some of us become seriously preoccupied or obsessed with such activities as NPOTA, contesting, DXing, county hunting, SOTA, etc.

Amateur Radio, on the whole, and these activities in particular are good and wholesome things. For instance, I'm certain that a lot of our wives, husbands and significant others would rather have us in the shack, yakking away on our radios than spending the month's mortgage money in bars,saloons, casinos or race tracks.

But it's easy to lose focus and become obsessed.  Radio sport that involves chasing that elusive country, county, SOTA peak, NPOTA entity or whatever should never become the focus of our lives, or our reason for being.  Just as purchasing that new rig, antenna, or piece of test equipment should never result in being unable to pay the mortgage, rent or put food on the table. It should also never result in the kid's college fund being raided.

Do you enter the shack on a Friday night for a contest, only to emerge late Sunday evening or early Monday morning?  That's not good, my friends.

Even an essential thing can become bad, if you're not careful. Are you that someone who HAS to be at every civic function or training class?  Even public service, as worthy and noble a cause as it is, should never become between you and your family.  Before going out to respond to any disaster or emergency, the health and welfare of your loved ones should always be your top priority. If they're not taken care of, you don't go.

The bottom line is that there's more to life than Amateur Radio. In our quest to satisfy our passion, sometimes we forget that. Family, friends, loved ones and those relationships are way more important, and should always come before getting that high score, or working that 300th country or buying that newest, latest and greatest radio.

Always keep in the back of your mind that the greatest gift you can give your family is your time. If you're doing OK with that, then you're doing a good job with the "Balanced" part of The Radio Amateur's Code.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “The Radio Amateur’s Code”

  • Mike, WV2ZOW:

    Well said Larry, thanks for reminding us. When I hear about a code of conduct, I always chuckle recalling my favorite (and only memorable) line from “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” on the Pirates Code, delivered by Hector Barbossa “The Code is more what you call guidelines, than actual rules … “

  • g4est:

    All this of course goes out of the window when in comes to contest operating. Many parts of the data spectrum are wiped out with high power stations using a mode outside of the normal modes zone, especially the weak signal areas which become totally unusable due to PSK RTTY etc.
    Phone QSO’s / Nets are abandoned due to stations calling CQ in close proximity to the net frequency. Happened on a net I was part of where a station came on 1 Kc away with full legal limit in the UK. He ignored polite requests to QSY so I came back as a contest reply and was advised by him that he was in a contest so refused point blank.
    Consideration / courtesy / balance totally lost on some people, perhaps a reflection of modern society.

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