May 03 2006

Ham Radio – 2

Published by at 7:54 am under retro

A few posts ago when writing about “Q Codes”, I mentioned that I got a ham radio license. I got the license because of the potential usefulness of a ham radio capability in a disaster; most likely an earthquake.

Since I got the license, I’ve spent a few hours trying to figure out what I want to do with the license and it turns out that ham radio is not easy to penetrate. Lots of shortcut jargon to decipher, a wide range of technical information and choices, and now I see that participants in this hobby are in the midst of a verbal ‘civil war’.

Apparently, the licensing rules were changed in the early 90’s in a manner that made it easier to get the initial license; no Morse Code requirement and just pass a simple multiple choice test which is how I got my license. This makes one a “Technician” (or an NCT for ‘non code technician’). That’s what I am. It seems that a lot of the hard core old timers think NCT’s are the scum of the air waves and let them know it. This naturally turns off the new technicians who now have many other ways to communicate over long distances (cell phones, internet chat) and other more interesting technical attractions (internet, programming, video games). Hence they seem to disappear with some regularity. The war is over ‘what to do’ with ham radio; make it accessible? make it broadly interesting, or make it into a true museum of retro-technology?

I still haven’t decided what if anything I’m going to do. Will probably investigate more and then get an entry level 2m transceiver for use in emergencies. See how that goes.

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