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Ham Radio Operators Are Heroes In Oregon

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the the-first-responders dept.

Communications 326

An anonymous reader writes "We all know the impact that Ham radio can have in emergencies, but that often slips by the public and the authorities. Not so in Oregon, where a day after getting inundated with torrential rains and winds and suffering from the usual calamities those cause, Oregon's Governor called the local Ham radio operators heroes. When discussing how the storm affected communications, the governor stated: "I'm going to tell you who the heroes were from the very beginning of this...the ham radio operators." Kudos to the Oregon Ham operators for helping out in a bad situation, and getting the recognition they deserve."

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326 comments

Not Just In Oregon (5, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593827)

A friend of mine (Randy Cassingham of This Is True [thisistrue.com] ) is a HAM radio operator and he's helped provide communications for emergency responders [thisistrue.com] during disasters near where he lives in Colorado. When the chips are down, it seems that radio hobbyists are ready, willing, and able to help out. It's nice to see that they're getting some positive press.

Hopefully much of this thread will be kudos for Ham radio operators around the world. A lot of them use their powers for good more often than you might think.

- Greg

Re:Not Just In Oregon (5, Insightful)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593983)

FWIW, the "ham" in ham radio radio is not an abbreviation. It's just ham.

There's no definitive answer on the matter, but it goes back to the days when ham radio operators had better sets than the old Navy radios (in spark-gap radio days). Amateur radio operators had more efficient radios and were more powerful than the "professional" radio sets at the time, when a Navy radio operator would try to use the frequency his set was tuned for he may hear some guys "hamming it up" on the air. After a while the saying was commonplace and the term "ham" stuck.

Officially it's known as Amateur Radio, but most people just refer to it as ham radio.

"And now you know the rest of the story, good day!"

Re:Not Just In Oregon (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594303)

I had always assumed that it's a play on words: Radio Amateur, Radio Am, Ham.

END MODERATOR ABUSES NOW - A MANIFESTO OF EPIC PRO (-1, Offtopic)

Taco Meat (1104291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594181)

I have again been the victim of moderator abuse http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=366293&cid=21424075 [slashdot.org] . MOD me up to correct this injustice. Mod me down if you think I am a moron. Of course, in the immortal words of PeeWee: "I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you".

Too many moderators use Insightful as "I agree". Too many moderators fall for unoriginal groupthink and mod it up. People complain about trolls, but the REAL line noise on slashdot comes from the posts modded +4 or +5 that contribute NOTHING to an intelligent discussion. You can't filter that out, and even if you have your thresholds set high, you still see all the stupid stuff that you've already seen. That's why digg sucks and will never be anything but a place for 1338 high-skool haxx0rs. And it's happening here. So I used this account to call shenanigans on sucky posts. I getted modded into oblivion for pointing out truth. I guess that's how it goes. Most of you are a bunch of mindless sheeple.

You know, I once suggested that IQ tests be given to moderators to separate the wheat from the chaff. I think that wouldn't help. I kind of like having idiot moderators. MORONS! DOPES! Bring it, tubers!

I salute you (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594493)

I salute you.
I had to click through 4, 5? posts before I could get to your original unfairly modded post. You are determined.

You are also right. The Mod system is broken. There needs to be an I agree/I disagree options which can be filtered out and are not karma related.

I noticed a few years ago and started trolling as a way to eat up mod points.
And then I just meta-mod most people as unfair.

But really it is like trying to catch a hurricane in a tea cup.

Re:END MODERATOR ABUSES NOW - A MANIFESTO OF EPIC (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594495)

I have again been the victim of moderator abuse.

LOL!

Re:END MODERATOR ABUSES NOW - A MANIFESTO OF EPIC (0, Offtopic)

smorken (990019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594543)

leave Britney..er Taco Meat alone! just leave him alone!!!

Re:Not Just In Oregon (5, Informative)

kb0hae (956598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594229)

Hi Guys. Try searching on NF5B in your favorite search engine. You will get quite a few results, but a few are links to stories about NF5B and his role in saving lives during Katrina. I am fortunate enough to be a good friend of Richard and Kathleed. This legally blind musician and his Lady (who is wheelchair bound most of the time) are true heros, as are many others who seldome get the press coverage, or the recognition that they deserve. Richard and Kathleed also participate in the Maritime Mobile Service Net. This net is composed of Amateir Operators who give their time and use their radio equipment to help ships at sea, and also others in parts of the world who have no other means of communication except for Amateur Radio. The members of this net have saved many lives, and helped countless mariners communicate with loved ones. I monitor this net when conditions permit.

There are many unsung heros among the ranks of Amateur Radio operators.

Ham's day is over, probably (4, Interesting)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593861)

I got my first Ham license back in the 1980s. Back then you had to be able to do 20wpm morse code to get to the highest license.

Nowadays they've watered it down so that it's extremely easy to get the licenses. In addition, with the Internet you can basically walk to your computer and email the person you just talked to halfway around the world.

Anyway, in my experience the people left on the airwaves are all at least 60 years old.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593865)

"Anyway, in my experience the people left on the airwaves are all at least 60 years old."

The barriers to entry that kept the hobby purist worked a bit too well.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (4, Interesting)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594319)

Purist or Elitist? I've got a General license and I find that particularly on the internet, old hams are dickheads. They act as if we new hams are invading their private paradise, and instead of assisting and community building, they bitch and moan and howl about how ham radio is turning into CB, and how the sky is falling. Those old farts still on the air are just as crotchety as you'd expect, whining about how all the new hams are walking on their amateur band lawns.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594541)

Purist or Elitist? I've got a General license and I find that particularly on the internet, old hams are dickheads. They act as if we new hams are invading their private paradise, and instead of assisting and community building, they bitch and moan and howl about how ham radio is turning into CB, and how the sky is falling. Those old farts still on the air are just as crotchety as you'd expect, whining about how all the new hams are walking on their amateur band lawns.

About 20 years ago a friend was the president of a local amateur radio club and he along with other members encouraged people to learn and get a license. They held classes frequently so people could learn and get their license.

Falcon

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21593903)

In America, airwaves are for old people?

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

rubin (45308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593921)

"Anyway, in my experience the people left on the airwaves are all at least 60 years old."

There's quite a few of us in their 30's to 50's, particularly here in Australia. Due to the introduction of a new Foundation Class (simple, entry level exam) there is also new wave of people under 30 entering the hobby. I'm 38 and and have been licensed since 1983.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (5, Insightful)

Scud (1607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593933)

That's the problem.

Guys like me (50 years old) don't care to, or are able to, do 5 WPM in Morse code. And as far as that goes, learning Morse never made sense to me anyways, not since the advent of the PC. Hell, I've had an Icom 735 for over 25 years without a license. I like to lurk. :)

So how do you attract new blood to an activity that's waaay too geeky to begin with? Kids aren't going to bother learning Morse when they can use a program to do the same thing - why would they bother?

So faced with either keeping the hobby "pure" and watching it die out as the oldtimer's keys go silent, or conceding to reality and making membership more attactive to younger folks, which would you choose?

But you're right, it's definitely not the same as it was 20 - 30 years ago.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593993)

While I agree with you (mostly) that ham shouldn't just be about the Morse code, Morse has a huge advantage in reception -- a weak signal may be useless for voice, but tones can still be recognized.

Also, disasters strike in many different ways. It's conceivable that there might be an occasion where the only viable communications medium you have is boolean (a carrier wave with no microphone or modulator circuit, or hammers and pipes in a cave-in, or whatever.) If that's the case, it's Morse or nothing.

Ham radio operators pride themselves on being able to communicate when absolutely nothing else works, and the world is crashing down (or blowing up) around them. Morse is another tool in the toolbox.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (5, Informative)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594281)

Funny how I've seen PSK-31 (a digital mode) work perfectly without a detectable (to my Field Day trained ear) signal. Morse may be better than voice... but a computer can outdo a human ear.

Note that I say this as a computer scientist and as a ham radio operator myself. I'm not suggesting that Morse is obsolete or useless... just that it's not automatically the best thing ever. The wonderful thing about this hobby is that it breeds innovation. From the earliest days of ultra-wide-bandwidth spark gap generators to a complete packet transceiver the size of an Altoids tin, the world of amateur radio, and the amateurs that have built it, is nothing short of amazing. However, if we really want to bring life back in this hobby, we need to stop all the infighting and think. We need to look at each operating mode honestly and attempt to appreciate the merits and the shortcomings of each of them. For every great thing you can name about the code, I can name another mode that does it better. But that's not what the hobby is about.

In response to the article, good on the Oregon hams, and congrats to them for getting recognized. They deserve it.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594009)

And as far as that goes, learning Morse never made sense to me anyways, not since the advent of the PC.

That's because, as a fallback, nothing really beats CW/Morse Code for efficiency. The bandwidth for a CW transmission is 500 Hz. And it'll get through in conditions where SSB or FM voice transmissions won't.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594023)

Yes, but you kind of missed the point. The point is that the Morse requirement was driving away potential HAM operators, and so they went on to other hobbies. You can reply until you're blue in the face about how great Morse is, but that's not relevant to the topic at hand.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594107)

Not really. Were you around when 11 Meters really took off back in the 70's? They didn't call it 'Childrens Band' for nothing. All the hams I knew back in The Day were always going on about how it was an exclusive hobby that catered to the more altruistic natures of the hams involved. And no, they didn't want their hobby diluted by the lunacy happening up on CB. They were always going on about how once a year they did Field Day as part of their emergency preparations, and how they'd get through when nobody else could.

No, I never learned Morse Code. No, I never got my ham ticket. But I listened to a lot of shortwave back in The Day, and probably would have gotten my ticket if I'd been able to schedule time to learn the code, and find somebody to give me the exam.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (2, Insightful)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594305)

I'm a HAM radio operator, and the requirement of learning Morse code to be allowed to operate on shortwave has always baffled me. Yes, I can imagine that knowing your dahs from your dits can be an advantage in bad reception conditions and in emergencies, but there is so much more.

For shortwave, knowledge of radio propagation and atmospheric conditions, good antenna design and particularly good Operating Practice are way more important IMO.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594241)

Actually, you're not correct, on several important aspects:
CW bandwidth is much narrower than 500 Hz (that's just what people use on their receivers)
There are many modulation schemes that send the same or more data in less bandwidth at worse SNR. If for no other reason than the keep the transmitter on all the time, as opposed to turning it on and off. There's a reason why they don't use morse code to send data at 8 bps back and forth to spacecraft in deep space.

It IS true that a morse code transmitter is probably the simplest. But as a "system" with a receiver, that's probably not the case (because you need a BFO or equivalent in the receiver).

Low bandwidth, high noise resistance (4, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594255)

These advantages are shared by computer-generated modulation schemes such as PSK31, which theoretically fits into 31 Hz (though in practice many signals are distorted and splatter over more spectrum than that) and which can be decoded when it's too faint to be heard through the noise.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594265)

The Morse Code signal may get through under those conditions. But will there be anyone on the other end who understands it if no one is interested in learning it anymore?

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594345)

Morse code is overrated, but useful. I had to pass the 5 WPM test, but I don't feel bad that I never had to take the 20 WPM test to get my extra class license - I think coding Bell 202, PSK-31, and SSTV modems from scratch in an 8-bit micro makes up for that. CW (Morse code) was long retained as an artificial barrier to keep out those who weren't serious more than it was to ensure aptitude in a useful skill. There are MANY other ways the average Slashdot nerd can prove their 'worthiness' and stay true to the spirit of the hobby without learning CW.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

NorthwestWolf (941862) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594555)

"There are MANY other ways the average Slashdot nerd can prove their 'worthiness' and stay true to the spirit of the hobby without learning CW."

Bingo!

I feel exactly the same way, and less than a year ago, after many years of not being part of a club I decided to put all mt reservations about the ham radio community aside. However what I found was what I expected and worse. I found a broad range of older and more experienced folks who liked to place anyone with less than a few decades of experience, especially us younger folks, into the category of "doesn't know crud and needs to be taught". Heck the local club even had a line in their newsletter "Unless you have an EE degree you are just as green as all of us were when we started". Really? I came into the hobby already having years of electronics and electrical experience as well as some background in RF. I could solder, I could make up PCBs, test components, etc. Frankly I found it insulting.

There truly is a strong disregard for us younger folks in the amateur radio community. The old guard even lumps us tech savvy and experienced folks in the "stupid new guy" category. They seem to not understand that there are new ways of learning and obtaining information, and that there are many of us playing with electronics from an early age and have taught ourselves quite a bit. We don't all need to be held by the hand and taught everything. I know when I need to ask a question that can't be answered and would be bet found in the experience of an elmer. These folks are so tuned out from the rest of the tech scene that they aren't seeing the huge resurgence of DIY electronics, homebrew electronics guys as well as the wifi experimenters. Yet they bitch and moan about how the "kids" are so stupid and uninterested, and how nobody is in to their tech anymore.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (5, Informative)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594467)

The code requirement for license to operate on radio bands that are considered long distance is mandatory by the treaties that setup a global radiospace for ham radio.

The code-free tech license is in bands that are for all intents (near Canada/mexico border would be the exception) are US only.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

jtara (133429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594571)

The Morse Code requirement was dropped for all classes of amateur radio license in the U.S. in February of this year:

http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2007/01/24/100/?nc=1 [arrl.org]

It had been a requirement imposed by international treaties until a few years ago. The FCC kept this archaic requirement for a few years longer. The U.S. military dropped Morse Code a few years ago as well.

I agree, though, about the crotchety old farts. I had an Advanced Class license when I was in high school and college, but let it drop. A few years ago I bought a scanner and a cheap digital SW receiver to see if I might want to re-license. Listening to the local VHF repeaters was a hoot, listening to the geezers (OK, I guess they are my age...) get twisted in a knot.

While I never was able to copy the 25WPM needed for the Extra license, I still copy in my head when watching WWII war movies. They can be pretty amusing. Yes, they are usually sending real Morse code, but it isn't always in context. :)

While tuning-around with my recent toys, I had a brief fascination with QPSK, a very narrow-band digital technique used on shortwave frequencies. Typically done by running the audio output of your receiver into a computer sound card and running a DSP application on your PC. The PC applications are able to copy several conversations from around the world at once out of the slice of spectrum pumped into the sound card. Kinda like IRC on (slow) steroids.

While disaster communications is not the be all and end-all for amateur radio (it's just one of the justifications for it's existence - experimentation is another - some of the first communication satellites were designed and constructed by hams and launched as "ballast" by the U.S. Air Force and then NASA. Amsat Oscar I was launched in 1961.) and it's not something I've ever been involved in, my hat is off to those who've helped out in the NW floods. Most of the time, these people wait around and train for disasters that never happen, and then have to deal with officials who keep them on a long leash. In this case, they really were needed, and thankfully the officials weren't obstructive, and the training and innovative spirit of these hams appears to have been put to good use, and has been truly helpful and perhaps life-saving.

My favorite quote from my mother: "What's all this about radio? Television is the thing now!" If not for ham radio, I'd probably not have wire-wrapped that 8008 computer, and would probably be another out-of-work real estate agent.

(Ex-WB8DBN - "Detroit's Bad Novice", from my WN8 days...)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594579)

What is the same as it was 20-30 years ago. Not even sex!
There are numerous digital modes, the IRLP (look it up) and APRS to entice newcomers to ham radio.
Morse code is obsolete but still popular among those with the patience to do it. I'm sure the radio mfgrs are glad it has been made easier to get HF privelages too!
73
W6AMH
(Just to prove I'm no anonymous coward)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (3, Interesting)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593947)

I'm not 60.
A vast majority are, but ham radio was the "cool" thing when they were younger, now we have these new-fangled computers and Internets with it's tubes and everything. All the old-school hackers were hams. In the 70s and 80s they all moved toward computers. There's still a subset of younger hams (I'm 27 and almost always younger than anyone I meet on the air.).

Also of note is the fact that Morse code was dropped from ham testing almost a year ago. The jury was out on whether licensing would pick up or not change. After monitoring and graphing the growth in a horribly ugly script, the number are in and - nothing changed really. There was a spike of "lazy" or tone-deaf hams upgrading, but that was about it.
Here's my ugly graph: http://n5dux.com/ham/issued/ [n5dux.com]

73, de N5DUX (Extra with code)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (2, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593949)

Anyway, in my experience the people left on the airwaves are all at least 60 years old.

Perhaps that's because they've had their houses since before subdividers began putting a stop to amateur radio with covenants against antennas.

rj

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594031)

I bet we would have more young ham radio ops if no licensing were required or if the licensing was more decentralised (why not have individual ham radio non-profits do the licensing?)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594073)

licensing was more decentralised (why not have individual ham radio non-profits do the licensing?)

You mean something like this [arrl.org] ?

From that page:

# The ARRL VEC program began in July 1984 (After the FCC stopped testing at FCC Field Offices, they created the VEC system in 1983). ARRL/VEC has over 20 years of Service to Radio Amateurs, operating as a knowledgeable information source for a wide-range of licensing issues.

# Today, the ARRL VEC is the largest of the 14 VECs, representing more than 65% of all exams given (at one point there were over 25 VECs).

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594435)

That's what CB Radio turned out to be in the 70's, and it was pretty much a disaster. Well, it kept Radio Shack in business and inspired a lot of country songs about truckers, but some might consider that to be a disaster, too :-)

Technically you needed a license (more of a user fee) but it was rarely enforced.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

joto (134244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594563)

Nah. I guess ham radio is just too boring for todays youth. Kids these days already have the Internet. Why bother with a slow, unfashionable, quirky medium that requires expensive equipment and training, when you can just drag your notebook to somewhere with wi-fi, and use fresh and fashionable GUIs to talk to someone who is actually your age (and not a boring ham-radio-geek)?

I'm sure the geeky boys did flint-knapping 10000 years ago. The world has moved on. No matter how much you simplify the requirements to be a licensed flint-knapper, you won't be able to recruite more kids.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594093)

okay one, I don't think HAM can get through the center of the Earth and 2, we have satellite phones that run on batteries now that don't require a license and sound better. I thought with your post title you'd mention something like that.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (5, Informative)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594219)

I don't think HAM can get through the center of the Earth

Why bother going through the center of the Earth when the ionosphere can easily bounce radio waves.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

lostguru (987112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594425)

satellite phones aren't exactly gonna work, the satelite phone system IRC is still based on the land line system and land based stations to work properly (the better to bill you my precious) little nextel cell walkie talkies ain't gonna cut it either if the base it out, the other problem is that when a disaster occurs and cell phones do work everybody and his great aunt starts calling their dog to tell them they're fine, system gets overloaded

2m and 440 don't need any infrastructure, 10 and 20 meters are still there, I have backup power for my transmitter that will last for hours of transmit, and I have a crow bar that would work great for extracting car batteries

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594195)

Yeah, "Ham is dead." If only we could go back to the days of artificially limiting the number of people who are able to respond during emergencies. But hey, at least we were keeping an ancient code alive.

I think Morse code is a vital piece of human invention -- no sarcasm. Truly, it was the first Huffman-style code. And that was a century before Huffman thought of it. But how can allowing people who do NOT know Morse code to operate radios possibly hurt anything? If you think that dropping the requirement would lead to the complete loss of Morse code in a practical sense, then I think you place too much importance in yourself. Yes, it expands the set of potential users, so I realize it impinges on your "elite group," but if you can tell me some technical reason why we shouldn't have a larger base of people to draw on for communications during emergencies, I would love to hear it.

(I'm lucky that I only got a few fallen branches out of this ordeal, and the power never went out. It is completely surreal to watch the news showing pictures of places I had visited only weeks before which have been completely inundated. I won't blow this thing out of proportion, but it was BAD.)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

Tom Rothamel (16) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594199)

In addition, with the Internet you can basically walk to your computer and email the person you just talked to halfway around the world.


The thing is, I can talk to and email people around the world without first contacting them using a radio. That is, I think, the fundamental change that's hurting ham radio as a hobby. Things like this article, which talks about the usefulness of ham in emergency situations, is what might motivate me to get into it... talking to people around the world is not anything to write home about anymore.

(For the record, I have a license, but never really used it, since I wasn't in a position to invest in hardware.)

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594387)

I know a couple of ham operators(around age 45). One of them pointed out now that if he wanted to talk to strangers from around the world, he could just go on the internet. Plenty of voice chat software, chat rooms, even video. He admits that newer technology has covered a lot of reasons he got into it originally. Internet, cell phones, etc. That doesn't mean that ham radios aren't useful, it just means that the basic functions can be handled by the current existing infrastructure. When that infrastructure collapses......

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

GrendelT (252901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594489)

True, you can talk to someone around the world in a ton of different ways, but can you do it point-to-point without any other infrastructure? I'm still amazed at times when I talk from my home (or car) here in Northeast Texas to someone in California, Kansas or New York. (I can just flip on the radio and work those stations with a coat hanger for an antenna.) Or can you reach another person over 500miles away off of a radio running off a 9V battery inside an Altoids tin? [qsl.net]

For me, it's the technical side of the hobby that interests me. Sure I can go buy a radio and spend hundreds of dollars on some new commercialized antenna design, but do you really know how that thing works? How about with a radio you built on a wire dipole you measured out and cut to the precise frequency? That's where the magic is. When you understand every step along the way that makes the electrons in your mic excite electrons on the other guy's speaker. It's fascinating to actually do. Reading it in a book or online, understanding the theory is cool, but actually doing it - that's where I get my enjoyment.
(Which is probably why I abhor the guys that just go buy an HT and talk on local repeaters and act like some bastard step-child of the local police or fire department.)

I think some of the luster of the hobby was lost when the technical understanding required in the hobby went out the window. So many guys use radios they've just bought and have little or no understanding of how radio works. So often guys have no notion of how AM, SSB, FM or CW are different. I don't know many guys that can crack open a radio and pin point where the "front end" of their radio is or find the oscillator - if something just stops working on their little mass-produced HT, they just buy a new one so they can check into their weekly net.
To me, the true ham is a technically capable individual that has the skill set, equipment and ingenuity to see himself through a situation like the upper west coast has seen recently.

ham radio license requirements (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594601)

To me, the true ham is a technically capable individual that has the skill set, equipment and ingenuity to see himself through a situation like the upper west coast has seen recently.

I can see requiring someone who wants to get a license to build their own transceiver, but I'm glad they got rid of the Morse code requirement. Maybe require it for higher licenses but not for beginners.

Falcon

Re:Ham's day is over NOT!!!!!! (1)

kb0hae (956598) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594299)

You are dead wrong on all counts! The morse code has been rightly recognozed as just another mode of operation. It has nothing to do with how good or bad an operator someone is. There are young people, and indeed people of all ages that are attracted to Amateur Radio. Amateur radio is not dead, not dying, and is in fact as healthy as it ever was. But things do change. Not just in Amateur Radio, but everywhere areound us. Its those that are resistant to benificial change (such as the Morse Code testing requirement being dropped) that are the biggest problem. Please note that morse cosd has not been eliminated...only the requirement that a code test be passed to get an Amateir Radio License. Morse code is alive and well on the air, and will continue to be used as long as anyone wants to use it. As to the testing beimg "diluted", that is not true either. The testing to get an Amateur Radio License has been changed to reflect more practical matters, as well as being adapted to better cover current technology. Amateur Radio is here to stay!

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594365)

or 16?

im 16 years old and have had my license since 2002, there are a lot of people from all age groups on the air and active in their local ares or other emergency service groups, it may be easier to get your license, but you still have to want to get it

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594375)

This is actually typical of your standard amateur radio operator. I too got my license back when you had to pass a morse code test, but I'm somewhat shocked (not really) that you'd use this forum to bring up an age old debate instead if encouraging people to learn about the hobby and become operators themselves.

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

vonart (1033056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594509)

Well, there's a few young hams about. I'm an Extra class ham myself, 25 years of age. K1PUP at your service. A good friend of mine is also 25 and an Extra, K1QV. I'm happy they dropped the high-speed morse requirement, though I can get by the lower one well enough. Knowing code is actually rather nice, in my opinion. It's useful to identify repeaters in the area, and to talk (well code) in less than optimal conditions. There's a few other younger hams in the area -- you just have to hunt around for us!

Amateur radio license (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594517)

I got my first Ham license back in the 1980s. Back then you had to be able to do 20wpm morse code to get to the highest license.

Morse code is what held me back from getting my license. I was able to build my own transceiver but was bad with Morse code. I was glad they got rid of the requirement for Morse code.

Falcon

Re:Ham's day is over, probably (1)

smorken (990019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594559)

In addition, with the Internet you can basically walk to your computer and email the person you just talked to halfway around the world.
You are assuming that people on slashdot actually get up from their computer.

New form of file sharing! (3, Interesting)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593867)

If one could account for signal distortion/degradation, ham radio sets could conceivably be used for broadcasting files. And I mean as a binary ogg/mp3/aac/flac/whatever, not as audio that can be played by any radio.

Re:New form of file sharing! (5, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593907)

You mean something like Packet Radio [wikipedia.org]

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593957)

Well, this is embarrassing. How popular is it? Also, what kind of bandwidth is there?

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594047)

Actually I think it is quite slow, similar to modem speeds. Its advantage is the range and durability of the signal, not throughput. Also, you can't encrypt anything sent over Packet Radio, since it is technically an Ameture radio band.

I love how 3 of us gave the exact same link to wikipedia...

Re:New form of file sharing! (5, Informative)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594249)

Up to 802.11b speeds are in general use - mostly using 802.11b equipment, in fact. Megabit range data links aren't uncommon for microwave frequencies.

Myself, I stick mostly to slow but useful 1200 baud AFSK on VHF. When you're passing things like short text messages, telemetry, and position reports, you don't NEED huge amounts of speed. What you need is a system to get the most critical information to where it will do the most good. And 1200 baud has a big advantage in that you can use it over damn near anything that'll pass a voice signal. You can fit an entire modem and protocol stack in a $2, 8-bit microcontroller, too - no fancy ASICs or DSPs needed (see my link below).

As for the long-distance HF communications people usually associate with ham radio, there's PSK-31 which is a very robust and efficient mode designed for keyboard-to-keyboard use. It's slow, but works when almost nothing else does. It can be encoded with the above-mentioned MCU (I do that for propagation beacons and such) but most people just use a sound card and PC.

Pactor III and other modes give you speeds suitable for email on the HF bands, and they're used for that quite a bit.

Ham radio in emergency situations is less about fancy toys, though, and more about having people with the training and knowledge to be able to use them, and to improvise when things go wrong. That's another reason I stick with relatively low-tech stuff - I'd rather build low-cost devices that can be kludged into doing all sorts of useful things than to focus on finicky, expensive, cutting-edge stuff that's going to fall apart when the fecal matter hits the air circulating device.

Yes, there are a lot of crusty old guys on the radio. But keep in mind that ham radio is what nerds did BEFORE computers and Slashdot, and a lot of them remember that spirit, even if they've fallen behind the curve a bit in technology. There's also a growing number of young hams developing exciting things like GNU Radio, and the open source philosophy is increasingly prevalent in the community. I'm certain that in the next decade open source will be THE major driving force in the hobby.

In the end, it's really just a return to the hobby's roots. There's always been a great deal of information sharing and experimentation, but much of that spirit has dwindled in recent years because of the aging population and the increasing complexity and manufacturing costs associated with modern gear. Open source software, plus DSP, FPGAs, fast computers, and software-defined radios, as well as increased ease of collaboration and access to contract manufacturing are swinging things back the other way.

Think of it this way - a weekend's worth of dedicated cramming can get you a license that grants access to some rather large chunks of spectrum, often with relatively little in the way of restrictions on how you use it. That's the sort of resource that corporations spend millions for - look at the 700 MHz auctions going on now. That license gets you a huge radio frequency playground that's not only wide open for experimentation, it NEEDS active experimentation and exploitation or it will be taken away and auctioned off to the corporations. Don't wait for Google's Android to save wireless communications from the likes of AT&T - go develop an open replacement for a proprietary mode (start with Pactor III or D*Star's AMBE codec), or start a solar-powered 802.11b backbone, or SOMETHING.

Hell, just to make things interesting - I'll send one of my OpenTracker+ [n1vg.net] kits, free, anywhere in the world, to anyone with a Slashdot account that already exists as of today who gets a license before the end of February 2008. It may not be everyone's thing, but A) it's free and B) it comes with source code. Email scott@argentdata.com.

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

mpeg4codec (581587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594357)

Packet isn't terribly popular (since most ham bands are positively dominated by FM or SSB voice), and the bandwidth is absolutely abyssmal. Prices of 1200 baud TNCs (the packet radio equivalent of modems) are in the 100-200 US dollar range. 9600 baud to 19.2 kilobaud are outrageously pricey. In other words, it's unlikely that you'd be able to get any useful bandwidth for a reasonable price.

On the other hand, it turns out that 802.11b channel 1 is within the ham band. This means that, as a ham, you can use this channel under FCC part 97 instead of unlicenced FCC part 15. In other words, as long as you broadcast your callsign every ten minutes (say as the contents of an ICMP packet or the essid), you can legally use up to 1 watt and drown out all neighbouring signals. Additionally, there's no question of the legality of using high gain directional antennae as long as don't exceed one watt peak output power.

Re:New form of file sharing! (4, Informative)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594061)

Actually, I prefer D-Star ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-STAR [wikipedia.org] ) over packet radio.

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594287)

Actually, I prefer D-Star over packet radio.
Oh, you must be rich.

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594327)

Oh, you must be rich.

I said I preferred D-Star, not that I operate D-Star or even own a D-Star capable radio.

Re:New form of file sharing! (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594453)

Looks nice, except for the horrible caged-up lion AMBE licensing. Say goodbye to open-source AMBE codecs, they just won't happen.

Re:New form of file sharing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21593915)

Dude- you should totally invent this. And call it packet radio [wikipedia.org] !

Packet Radio (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593955)

If one could account for signal distortion/degradation, ham radio sets could conceivably be used for broadcasting files. And I mean as a binary ogg/mp3/aac/flac/whatever, not as audio that can be played by any radio.

It's called Packet Radio [wikipedia.org] , and has been around about as long as the internet itself. In fact, one of the first demonstrations of TCP/IP's versatility was the connecting of a satellite network, a packet radio network, and the ARPANet. This happened back in 1977.

Re:Packet Radio (1)

superswede (729509) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594045)

Yup, it's good to know your history!

Somewhat related: I remember in early 80s that someone broadcast files over the radio and my guess was that it came from Germany. I cannot remember that someone was actually talking, but it sounded like when you listen to your Sinclair Spectrum program files stored on regular tapes. There was a clear header section followed by the data section. ZX:ers, you know what I'm talking about. I cannot remember if I ever figured out what it was/contained.

A MUG A BARELL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21593873)

F1RST POST

Left Something Out (0)

Prius (1170883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593885)

What about western washington? We suffered little better. This is a picture of I-5: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2004054526.html [nwsource.com]

Flood Pics and Info (3, Informative)

SmoothTom (455688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594069)

Actually, SW Washington state probably got hit the worst this particular time.

Here is a site just put up by the folks there:

http://flood.dothelp.net/ [dothelp.net]

Links to lots of pics and such.

--
Tomas

Peace of mind (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593889)

Cell phones are very convenient, but what gives me peace of mind is knowing my quad-band (70cm, 1.25m, 2m, 6m), wide-receive, submersible Yaesu VX-7R hand-held transceiver is close at hand. If James Kim would have had even a basic Amateur hand-held transceiver with him things would have probably turned out much different.

Dan East

Re:Peace of mind (2, Interesting)

Bl4ckJ3sus (1081165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594077)

If James Kim had a $100.00 handheld GPS with him, things would have been different.

Re:Peace of mind (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594217)

If they had been adequately prepared and hadn't made countless mistakes and/or bad decisions, things would have been different.

Re:Peace of mind (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594423)

Uh, I think they had a GPS unit in the car, oddly enough. Would it have saved him? No, probably knowing which road he was on, and the "Oregon Gazeteer" book by DeLorme, he could have dead-reckoned from the map, even though it's 1:150,000.

Hey, it could have been 99% of most Americans. Stressed husband, stressed wife, running late might lose reservation at the inn, wife bitching about how he didn't/wouldn't stop for directions, him saying, "I am pretty sure this is the right way to go" but feeling bad because she's right, heavy snow fall can't see shit, it's night time, the kids freaking out because mom and dad are bitching at each other; lather, rinse, repeat. GPS unit showing them this cool looking road (but no topo lines possibly indicating that maybe it's not the best road to go on)...

Maybe a hand-held HAM radio could have saved him. Or a CB. But maybe not.

Sometimes we're all just wrong-lucky at the wrong time/wrong side of the bell curve.

Re:Peace of mind (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594205)

Link for those (like me) who aren't familiar with the story: James Kim [wikipedia.org] .

Sure, having a basic radio could have saved James' life. So could have a GPS, or if the gate had been locked, or if he hadn't decided to leave the car, or if his family had taken the train. Anybody can think of dozens of ways he could be alive. Tragedies like this are always the result of a long sequence of events going wrong -- if any had gone right, it would have been avoided.

That's not at all specific to ham radios, though. Ham radios aren't magic, and won't solve every crisis. It's just the nature of tragedies.

It's still a mess (5, Informative)

Z80xxc! (1111479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593891)

I live in Oregon, and let me say, things are still a huge mess around here. Although I personally didn't need rescuing (although someone I know did!), I must say that the HAM operators are an invaluable asset in an event like this. On the coast, communications are still spotty, if existent at all. There was an article in the Oregonian [oregonlive.com] today about how some places on the coast don't even have 911 service, since all of the fiber links for phones are out, and the 911 center doesn't have power anyway - the gas for the generator ran out. It's situations like this where HAM radio operators are particularly useful.

It's still a mess out here. Lots of roads are still closed - Interstate 5 is closed in Washington, effectively cutting off all transportation between Portland and Seattle. Thousands of cars, and most importantly, trucks, travel[ed] this highway daily. The train tracks are closed too, so there's no amtrak or freight trains. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens... things are improving, but in no speedy fashion.

Re:It's still a mess (1)

mr_josh (1001605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594019)

It's interesting what a large disconnect there is in the NW. I'm in Corvallis and we really haven't been so much as inconvenienced by the few days of rain and a little excess wind. OSU campus went on "yellow alert" for a couple of days because of the falling tree danger, but nothing ever came of it. I'm originally from the souther part of the state and they are carrying on as usual there, too. I'm not trivializing anything that has occurred elsewhere in the state or in Washington, but it's just interesting how those of us who don't keep a very great handle on the news all of the time (especially when finals week comes along) don't really get a sense of what is happening in our own back yard.

Doesn't cover (1, Funny)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593899)

Sure, HAM operators may be saving lives, but what naive soul thinks it compensates for their digging into RIAA's pockets, erm, scratch that, I mean villaneously spreading communism by pirating songs and stealing intellectual property?

Re:Doesn't cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21593963)

Yeah, sue their ass!

I'm a Hero! (4, Funny)

Abuzar (732558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593943)

Yay! Finally! Someone recognizes I'm important! Now, if only I could get a date...
Goddess, I just wish there would be a natural disaster and a cute girl for me to save ;-)

Re:I'm a Hero! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594051)

This is how Bond villains are created...

Re:I'm a Hero! (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594159)

You sir, made my evening :-)

Oh Sure... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593953)

Yeah, they're heroes today, but when Oregon's power utilities decide to start providing Internet over their power lines, turning their electrical grid into one vast RF radiator that wipes out HAM frequencies, we'll have all those all-knowing /.ers declaring HAM radio a thing of the past, that they should get a life, and my personal favorite "Don't worry, when the power goes out, we can turn on your HAM radio sets and save us all, so what's the problem?"

Re:Oh Sure... (4, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594015)

Yeah, they're heroes today, but when Oregon's power utilities decide to start providing Internet over their power lines, turning their electrical grid into one vast RF radiator that wipes out HAM frequencies, we'll have all those all-knowing /.ers declaring HAM radio a thing of the past, that they should get a life, and my personal favorite "Don't worry, when the power goes out, we can turn on your HAM radio sets and save us all, so what's the problem?"


I was actually thinking the same thing. I mean, I'm all in favor of a new form of broadband to promote competition, but IMHO wiping out HAM to do it just isn't worth the price. Frankly, I wouldn't mind a few states including a few weeks of basic HAM instruction as part of the standard high school curriculum so that people are more aware of an incredibly important resource in emergencies.

Re:Oh Sure... (1)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594153)

Ham radio is the remaining long range communication technology that is only controlled by the government as long as the participants agree. Unlike cellular, POTS, or the Internet, you can't shut down ham radio communications by cutting wires in a few critical spots. It's also only traceable by general physical location, and again the courtesy of those involved taking the extra step of identifying themselves.

Why would you think that a government would take significant steps to preserve such a medium? So that a few thousand citizens might get more help during emergencies? Not the priority here.

Re:Oh Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594269)

Nothing like taking an idea that's not in the implementation stages to it's illogically extreme conclusion in the name of paranoia. Very healthy sign.

Re:Oh Sure... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594457)

I think we need to stop relying on ham's for emergencies. Most people will never be a ham. In this day and age there's no reason it should take special skills or licensing to keep emergency communications open. Maybe what we need is airborn cellphone stations that can orbit over disaster areas. (Feel free to suggest something better).

Note, I'm not saying we do not today rely on hams, only that new technology should be introduced to obviate it.

Mmmmmm.... Hammm.... (1, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21593961)

Someone had to say it.

</Homer>

Re:Mmmmmm.... Hammm.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594259)

I can appreciate holding on to old ways, but the frequencies put out by these rejects and their 50 foot towers far outweighs the 20 minutes of good they do for society. The heroes you're talking about are blowing the reception of everything in your house while they sit at their local Oregon VFW drinking Olympia and talking about their days in the pacific as a Navy sea-bee aboard the U.S.S. who gives a crap. Good thing winter is coming; they'll soon be driving their truck and camper down to Arizona or Vegas.

mode them flamebait/troll (0, Offtopic)

Simple-Simmian (710342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594279)

This should be modded flamebait or troll since it is.

Another hundred year flood ? (3, Insightful)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594005)

I live in the Portland-Metro area and can confirm we (as in the Pacific NW) had a doozy of a storm. Mist - rain - horizontal rain - and rain like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

This is basically a repeat of what we got in 1996 which I believe was rated as a hundred year flood -- so within 10yrs we have another event. Wonder how all this maps into the whole climate change picture.

And yes - thanks to the Hams for helping out as they always do. In any major disaster where public communications infrastructure will be damaged --- independent radio operators can make critical connections

Re:Another hundred year flood ? (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594439)

Not as bad in PDX as it is up in Seattle, the coast, Vernonia, Tillamook or Clatsop counties, or Centralia/Chehalis WA. I live outside of McMinnville...

Golf Oscar Oscar Delta Juliet Oscar Bravo! (2, Funny)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594027)

i.e. good job

Viva la HAM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594065)

HAM/Shortwave radio was the web. My older brother received one for a gift on his 10th birthday. I remember listening to late night, anonymous conversations taking place somewhere in space - and halfway around the world. We would fall asleep to global station ids, appalachian preachers, data transfers and space noise. we'd tune in to eastern bloc radio and wonder how it was that they could be "evil communists" (keep in mind, that is the early 70's). When I was a teenager, I learned how to play "Stairway to Heaven" with the BFO Pitch. While I wasn't a techie with it, my experience was truley amazing and wonderful.

Years later, I dug it out the attic and and hooked it up to some effects processors and ran it thru a dj mixer with some foot pedals. Beyond providing otherworldly broadcasts it produced sweeps that were so ridulously thick and warm. It actually has made it onto a couple of our recordings (MySpace) [myspace.com] over the years. The sad thing is that being on the road, it is kind of beat up and needs a bit of TLC ... guess that means it is time.

kudos as well.. (3, Informative)

Hillview (1113491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594123)

To the governor mentioned, for giving credit where it was due. All too rare these days.

Good job! (4, Informative)

SamMichaels (213605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594145)

It's good to see some publicity about amateur radio.

Pretty easy to get your license, too. About a week's worth of studying will get you on the air. The ARRL [arrl.org] (American Radio Relay League) has a ton of info about getting licensed.

It's exciting that you can IM someone through the internet and have it appear in a couple milliseconds........but how about sending a transmission through the air to someone on the other side of the world at the speed of light using something half the size of your laptop and an antenna as long as that crazy cat-5 wire you have stretched across 3 rooms?

73 de KB3OOJ

Re:Good job! (3, Informative)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594301)

It's exciting that you can IM someone through the internet and have it appear in a couple milliseconds........but how about sending a transmission through the air to someone on the other side of the world at the speed of light using something half the size of your laptop and an antenna as long as that crazy cat-5 wire you have stretched across 3 rooms?


Even better... sending that transmission using less than a watt of power through a homemade antenna to the other side of the world.

73. W9QNY

Re:Good job! (1)

prakslash (681585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594355)

How about using a cellphone?

I hear they are pretty fast too - and smaller still.

Thanks to the Hams!!! (3, Informative)

SmoothTom (455688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594171)

I live north of most of the problems, but have friends right in the middle of the flood disaster in SW Washington state: http://flood.dothelp.net/ [dothelp.net]

Much of the communication is out due to drowned central offices, soaked cables, power outages, and such. Even the remaining working cell towers are in serious trouble, seriously overloaded, and communications is very spotty.

20 miles of Interstrate 5 are closed, with a several hundred mile detour over a mountain range, and the highway will likely be closed for a week, possibly more. Some parts of it were ten feet under water yesterday, and there was a lot of damage to the highway and it's foundation.

In conditions like this, hams with mobile or portable radios, or with emergency generators are often the ONLY communication to the outside.

http://flood.dothelp.net/ [dothelp.net] has a lot of information about the damage, rescue efforts, pictures, etc. (The server itself is OUTSIDE the disaster area.)

Thanks to the hams!!!

--
Tomas

The hobby is growing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594213)

Here in Canada amateur radio is a integral part of almost every city/town. Many radio clubs/societies receive grants from municipal and provincial government bodies to purchase gear, train new members,etc.

A good 1/3 of our members now are under 30. With such a young crew we can invest in and easily learn cutting edge technology to further assist the population in a time of need. We actually run asterisk based voip, video conferencing, instant messaging and of course email between our EOC's (emergency operation centres). Connectivity is done by way of 11Mbps wireless data on the 2.4ghz amateur radio band (non-802.11). We also make use of low speed packet based systems on VHF/UHF for your basic email (winlink: http://www.winlink.org/ [winlink.org] ) and message handling.

Lol (0, Offtopic)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594329)

first post!

Just kidding.

Article missing details (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594309)

Typical journalism. Not a single mention in TFA of the cheerleader that was saved.

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21594481)

what works and what doesn't

what will u do when u can share

waste of frequency (-1, Troll)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594573)

when will the damned ham operators die and give the airwaves to those of us who need it to download pr0n??

In my old HAM Club... (2, Insightful)

TekGnos (624334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21594581)

There was a guy who not only used his 5 Watt HAM radio to communicate directly with the Space Station, but he also bounced radio waves off of the moon to communicate with someone in the other hemisphere! I don't know his exact setup, but he was into some serious HAM. Its amazing how great the spectrum they use is... Oh and passing the HAM test is probably doable without any studying. Its multiple choice and pretty damn easy if you can take those kinds of tests. I took it so I could operate an amateur TV transmitter from a model airplane. But thats another story...
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