Friday, June 13, 2014

Amateur Radio: What good is it ?

 As I am sure that most of you know by now, I am an avid amateur radio operator. I constantly think about radio almost every waking hour. I work stations from all over the world using mostly CW (Morse Code) although I occasionally dig out the microphone and do some voice, or connect the radio equipment to my computer for the digital modes like PSK31 or RTTY. But what good is Ham radio and why do I drone on so much about it.

  Amateur Radio, or Ham radio as it is sometimes referred as, has been a favorite past time of mine over the years, and many times I get asked why bother, when I can do the same thing with a cell phone and a cell tower. The interesting part of that question is that without the developments made by Amateur Radio operators over the last 100 years or so, that fancy cell phone would not be possible. After all, it is basically a transmitter and receiver, or transceiver as it is often called.

  And what about that fast WiFi connection you have that feeds the internet to all the different computers in your house. Yep! Once again that is basically a development that you can thank Ham Radio for.

 That remote that you are using while sitting on the couch stuffing your face with chips and beer. Another low power transmitter.

 Like to fly model airplanes or other Radio Control equipment as a hobby. Amateur Radio is a perfect place to have no interference with your remote control device.

  Have a Garage door opener? What about the Remote door locks for your vehicle. All radio transmitters. SO what good is Amateur Radio ?

  Amateur Radio operators provide emergency communications during natural and man made disasters as well as sporting events, like the Boston marathon. They can setup a radio station on backup emergency power on a moments notice to help when disaster strikes.

  Ham radio operators also are allowed to experiment with different modes as well. They are also allowed to modify existing radio equipment for other services and make it work on the designated ham bands. They can try out new antenna systems to talk locally or worldwide.

  If you are interested in learning about electronics Ham radio is the perfect place to design and try out new radio gear. You can tinker with the older tube equipment or get in on the cutting edge Raspberry Pi or Arduino boards. With those boards you can also try your hand at programming. How cool is that.

 As you can see, the point of ham radio depends on what you give to it as well as what you take from it. Whatever interests you may have, Amateur radio is the perfect place to jump in and have some fun.