Friday, March 25, 2011

HAM Radio; not just a hobby for nerds.

Yaesu FT-1802, one of the best 2 Meter rigs money can buy.
When I was young, I remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics about the possibility of HAM Radios being on the space shuttles, allowing Astronauts to talk to us normal people back on Earth. I was completely AMAZED by this, but at that age, Dad would not let me near a HAM radio, instead pushing me towards other things such as cars. Well, it only worked for a few years before I was at a high school party with a good buddy of mine, and there was someone with an HT (Hand-Held Transceiver) standing in the corner just talking away. Memories of Popular Mechanics rushed in.. and I had the bug.


Yaesu FT-890AT, my favorite HF radio ever made.
Two years later, the HT guy is a good HAM buddy of mine and I have grown into a nerdified radio geek. I have received formal complaints from my neighbors for the huge antenna towers and, in their minds, the "danger of radio waves" as quoted in a letter I received. They still have not found a lawyer to represent them. Hah.

Something I have noticed is the misunderstanding of HAM radio. People seem to think the hobby is for mouth breathing nerds who think they're radio DJ's with no life. While, sadly, this is half true for most of the HAM radio community, it's also a service to the community.

Many HAM radio operators are the first to respond in times of emergency and disaster. Radio waves are not dependent on existing infrastructure such as phone lines and cell towers. In the event of major power outages. HAM radios are easily converted to battery power. I can have my radios running on car batteries in 5 minutes with no preparation. In major disasters such as Haiti, entire portions of the HF bands were reserved for emergency radio traffic. Many operators within the US act as middle men, forwarding messages to stations that were otherwise unreachable by the original station. Organizations such as REACT often perform drills and volunteer for local  events such as parades, festivals, and other major events and also act as communications and support in the event of a major disaster.

With that said, in the event of a major natural disaster in your hometown, look for the HAMs! They can still talk to the outside world.

18 comments:

  1. who listens to radio these days though?

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  2. Well, it's not your average FM radio you have in your car. HAM radio operators talk to other operators over the air. In an emergency, they coordinate aid and resources and are the only source to an outside world.

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  3. lol @ the neighbors complaining about the "dangers of radiowaves"

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  4. lol the radiowaves. Loads of people listen to HAM and pirate music stations are going strong in the uk as well - people love to communicate and connect over the air

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  5. Great post! Was a really good read! thanks for sharing!

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  6. Enjoyed this post, definitely learned something. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

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  7. I have never met a radio geek. o.O

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  8. I listen only to online radios

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  9. I was once too on the edge to become a geek with this stuff. ^^'

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  10. i used to love messing with these radios

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  11. When I was youngh I used to play with the old resistor-radio of my grandmother. You could digitally tune to any frequency you wanted to. I never realised how much loud crap there actually is travelling through the skies. Be lucky you can't hear it!

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  12. haha i love screwing around with these, we used to do it at cadets

    followed

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  13. My dad is a ham operator :3

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  14. All those buttons and stuff, too complicated for me!

    ;D

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  15. Lol at the neighbors. You should give them routers and a prepaid cell phone for christmas :D

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  16. I always thought it would be good to have a HAM radio handy, but I never really got into is. Is there some kind of introductory book or something that you can recommend?

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