Friday, February 22, 2013

The Benifits of Amateur Radio

So, I've been asked a few times, what's the point of Amateur Radio? Why does the FCC (And virtually every other country) give a portion of their valuable frequency for use with Amateur Radio? There's a few things which I've been able to decode so far, that I thought I would share.

  1. Fundementally, Ham radio is all about communication. You can talk to people with all sorts of interesting backgrounds. Also, people with Amateur Radio licenses know about electronics, at least enough to pass the test, so they tend to make interesting people to talk with.
  2. Hams love to tinker with electronics. I've only really been a Ham for about 2 weeks as of writing this, and yet I find myself wanting to make my own antennas, radio, supporting electronics, and probably some other fun stuff too:-) Those who have been in longer love it even more.
  3. Emergency Preparedness. On any of the major networks, one can participate in networks to demonstrate the preparedness for emergencies. Many Hams are able to power their gear with batteries, or even generators/solar power. When normal communication fails, Hams can get their messages through, and have come through in many disasters. In addition, they provide communication for events, and other activities.
  4. Talking to people very far away. I've been on several radio nets listening to how people have talked to far away countries, on a regular basis. I haven't managed to do that yet, as that requires an HF rig for the most part, but I hope to some day soon!
  5. Communication in remote areas. This could work great for, say, Boy Scouts hiking in the mountains to maintain communication.
So, just to finish this off, I've got a list of things that we can all thank Hams for, as they were the first to demonstrate the particular technology. Note that I haven't been able to confirm any of this yet, but I'll try to add links as I can to prove it.

  • First digital radio
  • First transmission from spacecraft to spacecraft
  • Multi-band patch antennas (Commonly used in Cell Phones, etc today)
  • The discovery of Skywave propagation, by which HF (And MF) signals can be heard from across the world.

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