During this past weekend spending some time with my parents in Virginia (it was my mother’s birthday and she wanted to spend some time with her mother and sister) I’ve come back somewhat interested in getting into some of the more geeky hobbies of the years past Amateur Radio. Don’t be confused by the name Amateur Radio simply means it is non-commercial and they cannot be paid (with very few exceptions) for operating various stations across much of the US. Most of the “Amateurs” are very highly skilled electronic engineers (many without formal training) and build their own antennas and equipment for transmitting and receiving radio signals as well as analyzing.
A couple years ago for Christmas I got my dad a 2-Meter HT (Hand-held Transceiver) shortly after he received his Technician’s license (callsign KI4NDF) for operating a limited set of frequencies on Amateur bands. I had very little interest at that point, and was basically feeding his hobby. I saw modern day technologies as more interesting and my dad’s interest in repeaters seemed to be as close to talking on Skype or Ventrilo as anything else with a considerable less cost involved by using the latter. He has since tested for his General and Amateur Extra license and now has the callsign of AI4ZV.
It wasn’t until this past weekend that something actually piqued my interest… In helping my father teach the Radio Merit Badge it was mentioned that amateur radio can be used as packet radio or “PKT“. BANG! My interest was launched. It was then that I remembered stumbling across something awhile back mentioning amateurs had created a wireless network that (IIRC) spread over 800 miles from the midwest to somewhere here closer to the east coast. It was a fairly interesting read, and unfortunetly I have lost the article since. Packet radio is what’s likely going to be my demise into the world of Ham Radio.
I had stumbled across APRS articles before, which after getting some clarification from my dad as to their operation, kinda touch on my interest in GPS/hiking/geocaching with the hint of taking the Big Brother away from Big Brother (or at least put it into more trustworthy hands).
Another item I had stumbled upon in the past were EchoLink related articles before but it seemed like a cheaters way to do the long distance communications that some Amateur operators spend their time dotting up a cork board with all the places and people they’ve talked with over the radio. EchoLink is essentially a VoIP bridge to a remote repeater or uplink for use by Amateur operators. For instance, I could talk (once I get my liscence) to a repeater or uplink station in Ukraine, Australia, Yukon, or Denver via my computer without having the rigs that most amateur operators have that do that without the internet.
Looks like it was the third item that bridged me from modern interests to Amateur Radio. Amateur Radio is the open-source hardware of the terrestrial world. So, as I begin my studies for my Technician’s license (and likely my General) I’ll keep you up to date as best as I usually do. wink
If you have any tips or suggestions or wish to help me out, you can email me at n00tz-at-n00tz.net