Some things really aren't worth getting upset over, but it never fails to surprise me what ham radio operators will get their knickers in a twist about. Before I make my main point, let me set up an analogy:
Pilots fly real airplanes and also use computer simulators, either to hone their skills or just for fun. Non-pilots obviously also use simulators, and no one from the aviation community tells them to quit and go to flight school if they're that interested in airplanes. But in the sometimes judgmental world of amateur radio, there are operators upset over a simulation called HamSphere, an online program that looks and behaves just like shortwave radio.
|HamSphere 3.0 transceiver.|
HamSphere does not claim to be real ham radio, and Lindman wants to make that clear.
|HamSphere 4.0 transceiver.|
The simulation is open to licensed hams who can use their actual call signs, and to unlicensed users, who are assigned unique HamSphere call letters. Lindman has set up HamSphere DX contests, a spotting network, an awards program, online QSL cards for members and a quarterly newsletter. Yes, there is such a thing as rare dx on HamSphere, and operators spend as much time chasing it as their real world counterparts do.
I operate all three versions of HamSphere, including the iOS mobile version. They are all simple to download and operate, but it takes some tweaking of the audio input to get decent sounding "transmit" audio from the computer sound card to avoid distortion. Versions 3.0 and 4.0 don't interact with each other, and there still seems to be a lot less activity on 4.0, but it might have to do with the time that I log in, generally during the evenings, EST in the United States.
|A sampling of HamSphere awards.|
In closing, let me say HamSphere is a lot of fun. Maybe it's a training ground for potential hams, or maybe it isn't. Other users have told me that it's the closest they can get to amateur radio for any number of reasons; antenna restrictions, health problems and apartment dwelling among them.
There are over 16.000 registered users in 200 countries, and HamSphere has a very active Facebook group.