Thursday, March 12, 2009


The first time I became interested in getting a ham radio license was when I was in junior high. I bought a study book to help me learn and I studied it for a while, but then started doing other things. That is partly because it became very clear that I wouldn't be able to afford a radio for a loooooonnnnggg time. So last year my little brother Shaun got his license and I became interested again.

Last year after Shaun got his license I tried taking a practice license test. Without any studying, I missed passing by one question, so I thought my chances of passing a real test were pretty good. So I studied more and got ready to take the test, but before I could take it all the craziness of last summer got in the way and we moved to Washington. So now that we are all settled I had time to wrap it up.

One of my main motivations for this is emergency preparedness. Amateur radio emergency services (called ARES and RACES) have been in place almost as long as radio technology and they are indispensable in disaster situations where the communications infrastructure is rendered inoperable. Cell service is more fragile than landline communications and these both rely on the same basic infrastructure (once the cell service is recieved at the cell tower). With a backup power source amateur radios can be operated as stand-alone units or as part of nets with extensive range. That is what makes them so useful for the emergency preparedness role they have assumed. For me one of these radios belongs right alongside the 72-hour kit and food storage at home.

Another interest that I have in this equipment is the ability to use it in the backcountry for fun and emergencies. A handheld unit can be used when backpacking both to contact other amateurs and can be used to call for help when necessary. These also have the capability to use things called repeaters that retransmit your signal so you can talk to people that are far away. They also make some of these for your car that are about the size of a CB radio but have 10-15 times more power for much greater range.

I hope to be buying a handheld radio soon for the 72-hour kit and maybe over the next couple of years it will work out that I can permanently install one in the Landcruiser. Keep a lookout for me on the air.



At 9:53 AM, Blogger Packrat said...

You just gave us a reason to haul out my husband's old ham radio, if I can find it. He built it from a kit before we were married. It's just a receiver, though. (I think.) When we lived out in the boonies, we often used it to bring noise into the house. It was fun listening to it and trying to figure out where the people and stations were from.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger The Parkers said...

That sounds like fun. I think I am going to google it.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

OK - just watch, this is going to become another family wide interest like the 4-wheelers, the remote control airplanes....etc. If you let Blake, Spencer, Dave, and Dad all get a chance to play with yours suddenly the family would own stock in the business!!!

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I don't know if I see that happening.
By the way, I did some checking and if I do get a radio before the cruise, it's not allowed on the boat anyway, so I wouldn't have it with me.


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