This post is about why I still use Hamsphere, even though I now hold an Amateur Extra US license..... There's some things about this program that I feel very strongly about.
First off, Hamsphere brought me back to the radio hobby after 30 years. Even though it's simulated, the sound of the static brought back the joy of radio in a couple of minutes... and the Bug Bit Hard. So I studied hard and worked through the exams in a few months.
That being said, why would a new ham, with all privileges, still use Hamsphere? Here's some points:
1. Elmering. There were a number of commercial radio professionals and hams on Hamsphere which helped me along with proper operating procedure, running nets, and encouraging me to get my ticket. I owe them the respect of doing the same thing they did: helping others. So I use Hamsphere to help other operators who are aspiring to get their ticket.
(Thanks to Gregory and Vic: you guys know who you are!)
2. It's fun! It's not real radio, but it's about as close as you can get without an antenna. Let's face it... one of the most enjoyable things about being a ham is having some of those long QSOs and getting to know someone. You can do that on Hamsphere.
3. Other hams: I'm constantly talking to other licensed operators on HS, who I nearly always try to make contact with on real HF.
4. I have access to two very well outfitted HF stations here in Michigan, one is actually a Yaesu FTDX-5000D with 500watts on a Carolina Windom at 90 feet. It's a great station... but it's not mine. So I can't just jump on it without a little planning. Hamsphere gives me the ability to do "radio stuff" when other options are unavailable.
5. 2 meter and 440 are enjoyable to me. Like above, when no one answers on the repeater, or you've been calling on the calling frequencies with no luck... there's Hamsphere.
6. Personally, the fact that Hamsphere welcomes unlicensed operators seems a massive plus to me. Hamsphere creates hams by allowing people to "get a taste", and many have moved up to getting their ticket. I truly wish there was a statistic available on how many licensees have been created by Hamsphere.
7. As radio amateurs, we always talk about "modes of operation". I would submit that Hamsphere, and other IP based amateur systems, are a "mode". The designations I like for Hamsphere is "Training Mode" or "Off Air Mode".
8. It's cheap. Really. I pay more for 3 months of Skype.
So in closing let me say that my comments are indeed overly positive. It's not like Hamsphere is the savior of amateur radio. But it does have extreme value to the hobby when viewed from the proper perspective.
Anyhow.. those are my thoughts. I do not have either a financial or personal relationship with the author of the software.