If you have a ham radio license (or even if you are only thinking about getting a license), you probably know about the 11-year sunspot cycle and how the sunspot activity changes how far radio signals travel.

In other words, at the peak of the cycle you can basically make contact with other amateur radio operators all over the world. On the other hand, when the sunspot activity is in the low part of the cycle (like it is now) radio signals don’t normally travel very far — but sometimes they do and that uncertainty is one of the many things that make the hobby fun.

Right now in 2010 we are in the bottom of one of the lowest sunspot activity cycles in history. The good part about this is the ham radio bands are not crowded like they used to be. The bands are not crowded because signals don’t travel as far as they do during the high parts of the cycle and because not as many people are involved in the hobby right now.

To make more distance contacts consider Morse code. If you haven’t tried CW (code) lately, give it a try. The code bands are not crowded like they used to be and with the low sunspot activity using Morse code is an exciting way to make that rare DX contact.

Don’t worry that your code skills are not as good as they once were, your code proficiency will improve very fast with just a little practice.

And don’t worry about what kind of ham rig you have. Whether you have a vintage rig or one of the new high-tech rigs with all of the bells and whistles, now is the time to really enjoy your hobby.

Bottom line: The sunspot activity is on the way back up and now is a great time to get back into ham radio because every day for the next five or six years you will be able to talk to more distance stations. Whether you use code or voice mode, you’ll find a part of the hobby that’s just right for you.

Source by Jerry Minchey