Inside the world of Ham Radio

In an era when many hams are using social media to promote their businesses, ham radio is a throwback. It’s a hobby that unfolds largely in person, from the citywide gatherings of the ARRL Ham Radio Field Day to the smaller events, such as the monthly get-together at a Colonial Heights condo complex.

For ham radio operators like Tom Frame, the digital divide is a digital mystery.

The Hampton resident has been using two-way radios since he was a child in Alabama, relying on them to communicate with his parents after his father had a stroke.

Frame, 72, was among about 50 people in the community room of the King’s Point Condominiums on Jan. 10, tuning into static to simulate an emergency. As part of a monthly gathering of local amateur radio enthusiasts, the group was testing radios and planning for the eventuality of an emergency that could overwhelm regular communications.

The obsession with ham radio?

Well, it turns out that the traditional light bulb is just one of many electronic devices that can be adapted for ham radio use.

Mike Linday, KB8UMB is a Ham Engineer in the Dayton, Ohio area. Mike recently used a plastic bag to make a balloon ham radio antenna for the 2 meter band. Mike’s experiments show that this type of antenna exhibits some interesting properties that make it suitable for use in an emergency or other situation where normal communications has been disrupted

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So why the obsession with Ham Radio? At first I thought it was the cool antennae, but it turns out it’s a lot more than that!

Ham radio is fun! And the best part is that you can do it from home! It can be really simple or as complex as you want to make it. You can chat with people all around the world, join in on a net to help with emergencies, or just mess around for fun.

As you become more engrossed in this hobby (and believe me, you will) you can get into different levels of complexity. For instance there is SSTV (slow scan TV) which, in my opinion, is pretty cool. It’s like amateur tv! You can transmit pictures or text messages through the air and everyone else on your channel (or nearby) can sit and watch. It’s kind of a mix between an ft8 feed and the telegraphy tests we used to take in school.

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It can be really simple or as complex as you want to make it. You can chat with people all around the world, join in on a net to help with emergencies, or just mess around for fun.It’s also very chatty, or at least we were back in middle school. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a really relaxed community, with some of the guys I’ve met being very friendly and fun to talk to.

 


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