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Ham Radio Field Day Is Here 75

ArticulateArne writes: "The holiest day of the year is upon the Amateur Radio community. Field Day is here once again. Field Day is a 24 hour period during which ham radio operators go out into fields and set up radios and antennas and see how many other stations they can talk to. The idea is to simulate an emergency situation, but it's a lot of fun anyway. Here is a decent explanation of the festivities, see also the official rules and other miscellaneous info. Our club, the CBCARC, W5CBC, will be out working as well, so say hi if you hear us." Combine this with geocaching, and a whole new sport is born ...
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Ham Radio Field Day Is Here

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  • I was out off-roading [getcis.com] with some friends in my jeep [chrissnell.com] this weekend in the George Washington National Forest. We were driving along a high ridge in what appeared to be total wilderness when, all of the sudden, we came upon a bunch of RVs, campers, and pickups and some crazy looking antennas. These guys [jmu.edu] had a regular tent city set up on top of this mountain! It looked like a lot of fun.


    --
  • routing-schmouting! I heard that it was because of Taco tripped on a cord and landed head first on the server.
  • Do you remember A,b and C Classes? They were done away with in 1951. We are now back to them with Tech, General and Extra.

    Ham Radio is not antiquanted, heck there are some folks doing hi power 802.11 IP based networks. [qsl.net]
  • I agree with W1BMW. I worked the International Space Station today with this so-called "antiquated" technology...
  • "nothing but a generator, a radio, and 4 other fat, balding men"? Doesn't sound like the field days I went to.

    We'd run with several radios - HF, VHF (ssb and FM both) and UHF, as well as a few packet stations. We'd use big honking deep-cycle batteries that were charged by solor panels - some commercially-made, some home-built from individual cells, one year we had a battery of electrolytics (over a full farad, *that* was fun!) to even out fluctuations caused by clouds.

    Half of the rigs used were home-built. All of them were QRP - low-power for you non-hams - so that we'd be able to handle it with what we had for power. We were able to arrive, set up everything, operate all night and take it all down. It was fun :) especially when RS-10 would come into view - low-power FM contacts all over the USA - or running a solar-powered digipeater in the park :)

    Dead? Hardly. Maybe dead for those with deep pocketbooks, but for those running on a shoestring, things are different. It's still alive, and thriving, a challenge that can be used to simulate emergency communications during a disaster.

    It all depends on how you approach it, I guess.

  • We are running radio stations. They have the ability to do great harm if operated incorrectly - not just to "messing up someone's TV" (99% of the time it is the TV that is fault, btw) but also medical equipment, police and fire communications, aircraft communications and navigation.... THAT is why this information is publicly available - so the owner of said station can be contacted quickly and the problem fixed.

    It is also a way for public service departments to get in touch with us during real emergencies.

    Also, for the past 75+ years, the American Radio Relay League has been publishing QST magazine. It contains lots and lots of, gasp!, call signs in it! Ohhh! and there is CQ magazine too! And I bet one issue of CQ can potentially have more calls posted in it than an entire year of QST when the contest results get published.

    Give it a rest, dude.

    Randy NV0U
  • That is what I did with my K2 [elecraft.com]. Don't remember the actual parts count, but I think it was close to 1,000,000. :) Actually, I believe it was somewhere around 600. It took me a week to build the K2. The first night (a Thursday) was devoted to inventory. I soldered the first part in on Friday night, and worked every minute I was able to in order to finish the radio - so, that ended up being like 6 hours Friday, 25 hours spread over Sat and Sun, and 6 hours each night from Monday to Thursday... so pretty much right around 55 hours build time.

    There is no comparisson between building a PC and building a radio. You don't have to have any knowledge or talent to put a PC together.

    Randy NV0U
  • That is true, Craig. But there are plenty of rag chewers out there. I am one. I am also a contester. But when I do FD I always aim to do two things: have fun for myself and try to make it fun for everyone else.

    For example, I can't begin to tell you the number of young ops I heard. I am guessing they were just kids that were either harmonics or kids who happened to walk by some public field day and were invited to make a few contacts. I went straight for those.

    Worked a number of them - you could hear the fear in their voices of talking to someone over the radio. It was quite funny in that "I have been there myself" sort of way.

    As the day progressed and the youngsters went away I then started to listen for the guys who sounded like they were having fun and the guys who sounded like they had never worked a contest before (the ones who would stumble through the exchange) - those were the rag chewers. Had a number of nice two or three minute QSOs. It is also good to listen for people in your section. I was in KS this year, but just barely. So, I listened for KS and MO stations. Worked most of the stuff around the KC area, I think. All those resulted in some decent QSOs and as we heard each other as time progressed, we invariably would end up having yet another short QSO just to find out how things were.

    If you don't like how your club does FD, you might want to think about heading out with another club next year, or, better yet, head on out with some of your friends! That's what I have done in years past and never had a bad field day yet.

  • then no, it is not all that hard. Tricky and difficult at times? Maybe. It IS harder than plugging card A into slot B, which any trained monkey can do.

    I don't just slap a board together and consider it finished, though. There are modifications that can be made along the way. Although I have not made any to my Elecraft rig yet, I have heavily modified some other kits with my own designs.
  • I decided pretty much at the last minute that I should go on FD this year. So, I packed the car then headed out to my mom's house on the other side of town where she has plenty of land to put up big wire antennas. I ran class 1B-Battery this year, and was 100% solar powered for the duration.

    Setup was not much of a problem. I did blow a fuse in the PV combiner box (one of the wires to one of the solar panels came loose and shorted everything). Then the Rippoff Shack [radioshacksucks.com] cable I bought was screwed up - the idiots did not strip the center conductor of the coax when they made it. Note to RS: insulators make poor conductors. Note to self: Never by Radio Shack parts ever again as you can buy floor sweepings of much higher quality for much less money at the electronic junk stores.

    My K2 [elecraft.com] worked flawlessly. I got a few much needed QRP DX out of the way too, including KL7 and KH6 on 10, 15, and 20, voice and CW. Got a lot of new states too. Oh, and I broke a pileup with a SP8 on my first call while running 5 watts out on SSB. There were a bunch of QRO stations calling him too. I was impressed with myself.

    Not sure of my final count, but I don't care. I had fun and proved to myself that everything works. Well, kinda works. I fell asleep 12 hours into FD. I woke up a few hours later and got back on - only the MFJ tuner I was using decided to not give me any reading on the meters any more. Not sure if a bug has made a home in there or what as I have not been able to pull the cover off yet to look.

    Randy NV0U
  • I don't think the 5 WPM code test is that big of a deal. I am a no-code tech right now; but, learning code is something that is worthwhile. When all forms of communication aren't working, CW is the way to go. I am actually hoping to be able to get up to 20 wpm if I have time.

    Now, should the restrictions on HF be lessened for no code. I don't think it would hurt. I would open up limited space for non-code; but still leave most of it for those with CW as incentive to learn.

    KG4NGM

  • Had a lot of fun at my 1st field day. Spent the evening and wee hours working APRS stations! For those of you that are unfamillier with 'digital modes' APRS = Automatic Position Reporting System. It also has a built in 'intant messaging' system, which we are calling an 'unconventional digital mode' LOL...

    At any rate WRT the comment about geo-caching and field day... try fox hunting much more fun!
  • To be honest, I never really liked Field Day. I don't like the rules. I just want to ragchew. People at Field Day just want to rack up points by making as many contacts as possible in 60 seconds. Just my 2 cents. Ham radio is fun. Get your license. -Craig KC5UMA
  • I am 19 years old and got my ham license when I was 13. For a few years, I was active in the local club quite heavily (all the old, bald, fat guys, etc) but dropped out of any affiliation. The reason for that is quite simple, age gap. I was not even a quarter of the age of about 90% of the club and ran into a lot of difficulties because of it. For instance, I made approximately 90% of the CW (morse code) contacts for the club at field day for 2 years straight, yet I still got patronized as being a little kid by the majority of the people at the club.

    The straw that broke the camel's back, though, was when I wanted to gain a position in the club (since I had been secretary at a few meetings). At this time, I was 15 and already pretty disgusted with the club in general. When they pointed out some obscure, 50 year old rule that said a person had to be 18 or older to have a position, I had had enough.

    I have since gone to one meeting for the club, mostly to say hi/goodbye (this was right before I went to college last year) to the people I really did get along with (there were a few). I am still active on the air, mostly on aprs or psk, but have no club affiliations anymore (not even arrl).

    Ham radio is a dying hobby.I know it, all hams know it, but some have such a strong tenacity at being stubborn that they don't see it.
  • http://usw-sf-log.sourceforge.net/
  • other osdn pages where hit as well

    For a bit I thought the /. crew decided to sell out or something, but to take most of osdn with 'em I doubted it.

  • During the night I ran ping slashdot.org and I got 60 packets through at one point... some one must have been playing and did something right (only to quickly undo that)
  • 24 hour is a long stretch, but in an emergency...
    anyways, yeah, i only 18 hours, could have made it the full 24 if i started working as soon as i got up, not spent several hours setting up.
  • not all hams are old or fat. Some are, and the ones who people notice frequently are, they are the ones who are at club meets all the time, and have 60 antenna on the roof of the car. But there are also alot of hams who are neither old, nor fat. Ask your friends, i'll bet at least one of them is a ham.
    About the bleeding edge of tech stuff you mention, it might not all be bleeding edge, but i'll bet you didnt build your own pc. ANd some stuff is pretty bleeding edge, try telling the guys running data over 30ghz links with hardware that they built themselves that what they are doing is not bleeding edge.
    Also, not all hams are guys, i know at least one of the biger 10 meter stations on the west coast was being opperated by a female this weekend.
  • In some areas yes, the most visible Hams are the old ones, but there are lots of others.
    SO exactly how many transistors did you use to build your PC. When i ham talks of building a radio, they arent putting premade cards in a box, they are soldering things onto boards, winding coil, that sort of thing.
    That last part was a mistake on my part. So lets pretend i said 300ghz.
  • How ironic that whilst /. suffered an outage, so called "overweight, old, balding dorks" strung together a nation wide real time voice net using hand soldered rigs, solar panels, packet radio, etc etc...
    I realize your trolling here friend... just be sure to thank your local "overweight, old, balding dork" the next time you hoist your cell phone to your ear. Or dial long distance... or watch satellite tv... or...
    Hams mad it possible.
  • in 20 years! Ever since they no longer made people go down to the FCC and take a code copy test.
    Yes, they should have made them wrap their own coils and transformers and anneal their own alloys for their attennae also.

    Ham radio today is antiquated.
    Well, isn't that ironic.


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  • Let's see how many /. privacy advocates post nearly direct links to their home addresses and birth dates in this article.

    Just enter any callsign you see at this callsign database [buck.com] to find all a poster's personal info.

    Just thought I'd point out that little security leak to ya.

    I won't be posting my callsign here, or on usenet, for many many reasons. I advise other Hams to be just as careful with their callsign as they would their SS number.


    --

  • We are running radio stations. They have the ability to do great harm if operated incorrectly - not just to "messing up someone's TV" (99% of the time it is the TV that is fault, btw) but also medical equipment, police and fire communications, aircraft communications and navigation.... THAT is why this information is publicly available - so the owner of said station can be contacted quickly and the problem fixed.
    Thanks. Of course, I knew all of that long before I became a ham.

    It is also a way for public service departments to get in touch with us during real emergencies.
    Hopefully, you (or your local club) has met with the local Emergency Coordinator long before he has to resort to looking for you on the web.

    Also, for the past 75+ years, the American Radio Relay League has been publishing QST magazine. It contains lots and lots of, gasp!, call signs in it! Ohhh! and there is CQ magazine too! And I bet one issue of CQ can potentially have more calls posted in it than an entire year of QST when the contest results get published.
    I was not pointing out that your callsign was public knowledge. I was pointing out that using a quick direct link to your home address and birthdate as a signature in comments made here or on usenet might not be the best idea.

    I don't want the frist-post-natalie-portman-goat.cx kiddies to know where I live. Do you?


    --


  • dont know, but freshmeat, themes.org and thinkgeek were some other sites that were down too, coincident?
  • I guess that's the idea -- one weekend out of the year it's not about talking... there's a bit of competition to it... making the most contacts, contacting QRP stations, and getting through some of the QRM on popular bands. Field day this year was a blast, especially staying up all night making contacts. 73s, de N0YWI, working with W0ISU 4A IA
  • As per this post [slashdot.org]:

    Let's see how many /. privacy advocates post nearly direct links to their home addresses and birth dates in this article.
    Just enter any callsign you see at this callsign database to find all a poster's personal info.

    Just thought I'd point out that little security leak to ya.

    I won't be posting my callsign here, or on usenet, for many many reasons. I advise other Hams to be just as careful with their callsign as they would their SS number.


    Oops. [fcc.gov]

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  • Just enter any callsign you see at this callsign database to find all a poster's personal info.

    Bypass the middleman. [fcc.gov]

    --
  • That is sad, because a lot of exciting things are happening in HAM Radio now a days ... Like the sudden spurt of "new digial modes" that use the computer soundcard and the computer itself to do most of the digital signal processing (no external hardware for signal processing) - like PSK31, Feld-Hell, ... [arrl.org] Software defined radios, like the DSP-10 software defined 2m multimode transceiver ... [proaxis.com] The new Phase 3D satellite AO-40, ... [amsat.org]

    I met a lot of old times (who were inactive for a long time like you ...) recently on the air on the modes like PSK31 (which looks like a reliable modern version of RTTY ...), they were all really enthusiastic about the new developments ... Perhaps people got a bit fedup with the "code/no-code" debates :-) (I am a CW guy myself ...)

    Perhaps it is time for you to check back :-) Welcome back !!

  • I couldn't traceroute further than exodus.net, anybody else?
  • Oh slashdot how I missed you so much, I was so bored without you. Now... WHY WERE YOU DOWN?!
  • by icqqm ( 132707 ) on Sunday June 24, 2001 @03:28PM (#131212) Homepage Journal
    I just finished organizing Field Day for the Montreal club. Despite the fact that the point was not contesting, we still racked up about 1150 contacts over the 24 hours. More importantly, we setup in a bare field outside the fire department and showed them what we can do. We'll have pictures soon of a Bronto Skylift hoisting an HF tribander onto a 35-foot tower.

    The purpose of Field Day is setting up a station. That's why it's called Field Day. The contesting part just gives hams something to do for the 24 hours of operating.

    If you want a ragchew contest, check out the RAC Canada Day Contest next weekend (0000-2359 Jul 1) (and look for VC2A!)
  • yea, but there's one every year
  • Um, yes, I know. I submitted the story Friday night, it got posted Saturday morning, but nobody saw it because of the router meltdown.

    I too had dreams of working the whole 24 hours, but I only made it until 6 am. What you really need to do is work out a couple shifts, and that makes it a lot more bearable. We thought we had the shifts worked out better than we actually did, but even so, it was a good learning experience for all.

    73,

    Matt
    N9ZT

  • I remember working you guys. I remember last year working like a 26A or 24A, I think it might have been you. So, this year when I heard "N1FD, 24A", I wasn't surprised, but was still quite impressed. I hope you guys had a good time, I worked about 16 hours straight, was very glad to go home after that.

    73,

    Matt
    N9ZT (part of W5CBC for FD)

  • yup. but I heard it was due to a broken router (ddos maybe?)... much of OSDN was down. Suck it.
  • I heard it was a problem with a router.
  • in 20 years! Ever since they no longer made people go down to the FCC and take a code copy test.

    I have an Extra, and had First Phone (remember that?) and a First Class Radiotelegraph.

    Ham radio today is antiquated.

  • Actually, I'm all for dumping the code test! (And I'm an extra! Not some no-code tech with some ax to grind!)

    If it were up to me, the process for getting a licence would be:

    - You get a book of rules and regulations to read, which tell you how to operate equipment witout intefering with other services, some safety tips, etc.

    - You sign a form saying you've read and understood the rules

    You get your license back in the mail!


  • Neat. Good for you. I was just trying to make a point about the relative difficulty of building a PC and a radio.
  • So you do agree the most visble and active ones do in fact meet my description?

    In my area at least, no. The hams are mostly mid-20s to mid-50s. 50 is old, but not OLD. :)

    BTW, when a ham talks about building their own radio, they mean they are soldering transistors together, not sticking some prefab PCBs into a case. Building a PC is trivial compared to many ham projects.


  • Code is gone for the entry level. To get HF priveleges you need to pass a 5 WPM code test. Higher licenses require passing more written tests, but no more code. 5 WPM is tops now.

    Personally, I like the fact that the test requires you to study basic electronics. It seems appropriate that you should know how a radioworks before you get a license to operate one. I think the ham entry requirements are just about perfect right now... if they were dumbed down any more it would turn into CB radio. Yuck.
  • Hmmm... I always thought Ham Radio guys were big dorks... but I suppose if I had a set... and slashdot had a set, maybe I won't have gone in to withdrawal convulsions this weekend.
  • Hey fellow Ham Slashdotters-
    (Not that many that I can see though....
    where are all the Linux-Ham geeks? I know the linux-hams mailing list is pretty busy... are you all just not the /. type? heh)

    This was my first Field Day and it was quite fun. I sort of did a double shift- I visited the MESAC [spectron.net] site in Costa Mesa with my GF in the wee hours of Sunday morning, then I went to the site of one of the local clubs I am in, OCARC [w6ze.org] Orange County Amateur Radio Club for the rest of the day, and also helped them with teardown. (I am in So. CA)

    The most fun part for me really was to be able to operate on several different bands with really nice equipment (that I couldn't afford yet) on usually really cool beam antennas (that I couldn't afford yet) within a short period of time.

    Not many people can say they have a nice beam antenna and full size, full power radio for almost every Ham band in the spectrum- but during Field Day that's usually what you have, all packed nicely in a 1000' circle ;-).

    I actually made quite a few contacts once I got the hang of it, the longest distance was to a station in British Columbia, I am in Southern CA.

    This brings up another point, it is good for us to demonstrate to the public (in CA especially) that if the power winks out, you can still talk, via ham radio!

    For those that don't know what this Field Day hoopla was all about, its basically this:
    1. Drill/Simulation of Emergency communications, running from power sources OTHER than on the commercial mains (such as generators, car batteries, solar, NiCD battery pacs, etc)
    2. Contest, see how many stations you can contact within the 24h period
    3. Demonstration to the public about what Ham radio is, and what it can do (public services, especially in emergency, but also for special events such as marathons & parades etc; as well as the technical aspect- all the cool goodies)

    All in all my 1st Field Day was quite fun and I definitely will do it again next year.

    -------
    73 de K6LNX

    LinuxKnight


    PS The K6LNX is my callsign (I hold a Technician class ham license), and in case you were wondering, yes, the LNX stands for LINUX! I'm a Linux and Ham geek and proud of it!

    It is possible to obtain "vanity" callsigns from the FCC, only AFTER you already have a regular automatically assigned license. You submit a petition with up to 25 possible callsigns that you want, and you get the 1st one on your list that isn't already assigned to someone else. Luckily I got my first choice!

    You can check to see if a callsign is "available" from Ham callsign databases such as www.qrz.com [qrz.com]... but there might be other reasons a callsign isn't available at a certain time so you have to wait for word from the FCC itself.

    -----------
  • So, amateur radio is dead, is it? Cell phones make it redundent, do they?

    Have you ever been too far from a base-station to get a signal to your phone? Have you ever been in a cell that is overloaded?

    What happens after a big earthquake (you have them over there in the US)? The power goes off, there are suddenly hundreds of thousands of people worried about getting out of buildings alive, gas mains break, fires start and everything falls apart. Suddenly, everyone dives for their cell phone (the landlines are down) and what basestations still have power are buried in traffic.

    Tarrantaraaa! In come the radio hams, with their generators and portable antenna masts, who can set up a comms system in next to no time, with no external help. It's like the Open Source of the communications industry. These guys do it because they enjoy it. They are good at it because they enjoy it. They know what radios do, how they behave, how radio signals move, what affects them, and are well used to communicating with very weak stations (where your cell-phone connection would be cut off due to lack of signal).

    If all else fails, there's morse code, where an intelligible conversation can be had with signals hundreds of times weaker than required for a voice contact.

    Don't give us that rubbish about radio hams being obsolete.

    Oh, as well as earthquakes, there are tornados, hurricanes, plane crashes, mudslides, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, alien invasions and Keanu Reeves.

    Just for the record, I am neither fat, nor bald.

    Paul Robertson G0RQN.
  • I loved field days in the Cayman Islands. Because everyone is trying to contact as many countries as possible in a short time, everyone tries to add the Cayman Islands to the list. ZF1DJ & ZF1JJ would ocasionaly start to rag chew. When asked about it, they said they loved to hear people hovering on the edge waiting for him to finish. We would take the gear to the public beach on Seven Mile Beach and work with the Boy Scouts and Red Cross. It was great to introduce the scouts to ham radio.
  • It's true!
    Now with your W2k server I have discovered that Microsoft now can figure out to boot the machine when BSOD comes your way.
    Gone are the old days where you had to remember to boot your NT box, now it does it all by it self. YES!!
    They really know how to make my life easier!
    --------
  • Who cares about psycho rabbits or web servers with a crank. Give us the scoop on the downtime!
  • by jmulvey ( 233344 ) on Sunday June 24, 2001 @08:45PM (#131230)
    I'd like to tell you all the story of my grandfather (yeah, I know, images of the old vacation slides coming out). My grandfather was a successful businessman into his 40s. He was an executive with a firearms company (business was good at that time) and always into doing something productive.. not much different than most of us, I think. But when he turned 40 he lost his sight. As a computer professional, I can only imagine what this is like.. but anyway.. to make a long story short he retired and became a ham radio operator. Now you might ask yourself.. why in the world would a former executive who lost his sight become a ham radio operator? To join the ranks of the fat and bald?? Well, he did it first, because nobody would know he was blind. And second, because he found out he could help people! Every day in his retirement, like a job, he would check into the international radio networks. On these networks, you find serious people doing serious business with Ham Radio. Every so often he would come across someone in the world in dire medical need. In one case, it was a missionary station in Venezula who explained that they had a little boy who urgently needed medicine. In another, it was a fisherman in Honduras who had the benz and the local doctor needed medical advice. Yet another case -- one that touched my grandfathers heart -- was one where a little girl became blind after drinking antifreeze and no doctor was in the village. In each of these cases, my grandfather would patch in American doctors.. and in some cases arrange for the necessary medicine flown in by plane (often the local Miami doctors would supply the medicine free of charge). These are all real cases of how Amateur radio actually helped people. Yes, it's a hobby of lots of fat bald men, but it's also a key means of communication to areas of the world that don't yet have cell phones and wireless Internet. P.S. If you think everyone in Ham Radio is fat and Bald... here's a picture of my grandfather... god I miss him.. (he passed away about 10 years ago, god bless him). http://pw1.netcom.com/~jmulvey/wb4elx.jpg
  • you can certainly be proud of your grandfather.

    ham radio is just another way to communicate, people who think that only fat bald guys use it should really get a clue btw.
  • just now i loaded it up and there were 4 comments - then reloaded and it was 17.. had /. just come online about 4 mins ago? (11:44 gmt)
  • I was with the Nashua Area Radio Club [n1fd.org], which is well-known for putting on a huge performance. We were "24 Alpha" (24 stations, in a "portable" configuration); most stations have a few stations, five at most. We, however, consider Field Day to be the major "social event" of the year for the club. But when I'm frantically tweaking the notch filters, trying to tune someone in properly, and trying to figure out why my noise floor suddenly shoots up to S7; it's a real pain to try to get the other guy to understand that it's 24A. Not 2A, not 4A, but 24A.

    Really, though, everyone should visit Field Day sometime, it's an indescribable experience. I'm currently kinda out of it, though... Don't try talking to me unless you want me to get frustrated and tell you to just give me your exchange. :)
    ________________________________________________

  • Yes, the man who invented cordless phones was a ham (his name/call escapes me); and I believe "autopatches" predated cell phones by many, many years.
    ________________________________________________
  • The public seems to perceive hams as being a bunch of old fat guys who use 50-year old radios.

    While there are certainly some people who fit this criteria, many are not. There are people of all different ages, and weight categories, who are hams. The public should really try to visit something like Field Day sometime; people seemed to find it quite interesting that the back parking lot of a high school suddenly had four 70 foot towers and dozens of tents scattered around.

    Also, as far as the equipment, the equipment is surprisingly modern, and we don't all make it out of scrap metal... Yaesu [yaesu.com], Icom [icomamerica.com], Kenwood [kenwood.net], and Alinco [alinco.com] are all popular amateur radio manufacturers.

    Also, hams have launched a ton of satellites; the newly-launched AO-40 satellite has a footprint that covers practically half the Earth at a time. Now I know, with your super-duper cell phone, you can contact anyone with a phone, even if you're in the middle of nowhere.

    But suppose you're somewhere like California, with the power crisis. The cell towers suddenly lose power. Or worse yet, there's a major disaster. Experience has shown that cell towers quickly become extremely jammed; transmissions on trunking radio systems get queued; and the hams help out.

    Also, even in normal conditions, there's a big difference between a cell phone and a ham radio. To paraphrase someone else (dont' remember who) - would you call complete strangers on complete cell phones? Would you ask them what type of cell phone they had? No, they'd think you're a nut and would hang up.

    Of course, there's more to ham radio than contacting random people and asking what type of radio they have... There are actually a lot of neat things to do with ham radio, check out something like ARRL [arrl.org], which has a bunch of info about ham radio.
    ________________________________________________

  • Good reply, but you forgot one thing that was mentioned above (and obviously overlooked by this mis-informed person).

    The lack of need for a commercial land/air network for use. You're not relying on an ISP to bring up your communications. HAM (and CB's for that matter) can communicate without any type of back-end support. You don't need the internet to communicate. And, in the case of emergency situations, a repeater is much more reliable than anyone's server rack.

  • I'm slightly overweight, not balding, and i'm 26 years old. I guess I can't get a ham license, eh?

    Maybe I should get one, so I can turn into a stereotype. Hmph. Last hamfest I was at had some nice, XYL's at it.

    In the meantime, I think my 525W linear on my leetle CB would suffice.


  • Man, what's the problem with Hams?

    Chill brethren...

    Hams are cool, I'm a ham, my partner of six years is a ham ( She got her "ticket, without telling me she was doing it! What a cool surprise for an OM! ).

    My brother is a ham, and my dad used to be one.

    I'm old (46), but not that old, and I ain't fat, my truck doesn't look like an angry porkupine, and I can carry on intellectually stimulating conversation with just about anybody, on just about any subject. Dare you... but not tonight since I just got off the air doing a four hour Reggae show on a commercial radio station here, and I'm beat (had a great time on the air though!).

    There is something for everybody in ham radio, I'm not joking, check it out for yourself, there are many web sites dedicated to ham, radio, and many towns have clubs. (Watch out for all the old fat guys though. You might learn something...) (*SMIRK*)

    But seriously... the club we used to belong to had old fat guys in it, and they were usually a wellspring of valuable information, as well as being interesting people to boot!

    We lived in a remote area, and were able to help with emergency communications several times over the years. We performed a valuable service when "normal" means of communications broke down during a weather crisis.

    Sorry boys... but the net is one of the first casualities (at least locally) during big emergencies. I know of hams who developed an internet/ham radio node using packet radio that was waaaaaay faster than any dial up connection at the time (about seven years ago.).

    It goes on, and on... many hams really are on the bleeding edge. But if you aren't a "do'er" than you will be just like all those hams (the fat old one's remember?) you are making fun of...

    I'm not competitive at all, but I've always had alot of FUN during every Field Day I've ever attended (and stayed up all night operating). My wife and I were on a road trip once, and lamented that we were missing Field Day, when we saw a few cars in a parking lot of a remote park we were driving by, and when we saw the antennas, we knew it was other hams participating in Field Day.

    We pulled into the gravel lot, and introduced ourselves as fellow hams. We recieved a warm welcome, and a chance to operate any number of the several frequencies, and mode's they had there.

    Complete strangers, and instant friends, great conversation, the offer of cold beverages on an extremely hot day, all because of a shared love for radio. It don't get much cooler than that man.

    By the way... while there are hams who fit the stereotype, I've noticed that there are waaaaaaaaaaaay more young, and skinny people who are lazy than old, fat people, you might want to examine your prejudgement of hams, and of old, and/or fat people, it seems to be faulty.

    73 - Kilo Echo Six Echo Bravo Zulu

    -------------------
    Hey, Ho, Let's Go!
    R.I.P. Joey Ramone
  • If you are going to be a proud Linux ham at least recommend a site that runs Linux. Eham.net [eham.net] Qrz.com uses Sun systems and while they now use slashcode they have removed such nice features as anonymous posting.
  • Somehow I could connect to slashdot after they started celebrating HAM radio day...

    I guess /. got /./.ed :)

  • Ham radio explained [howstuffworks.com] (with pictures) in every-day language. Or, if you would rather listen-only: the scoop on radio scanning [howstuffworks.com].
  • I hate to say it, but field day is long over now. I had a lot of fun, going out into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a generator, a radio, and 4 other fat, balding men to stay up all night and prove that emergency communications are not an issue in america. After the 260th contact we really started to fatigue, so even though we had good intentions, the "staying up all night" bit didnt pan out. Anyway, congrats to all the big-scoring stations. 73s
  • w1bmw, and you also haven't been playing with Ham radio if you have been playing with the 2.4ghz SS stuff.... that is Part 15 stuff and has nothing to do with ham radio, other then sharing some common frequencies (and if you are operating it under part 97, be careful as the part 15 frequencies extend further). Hams have done little to nothing on spread spectrum, it has been all the computer hackers. TAPR's SS radio, after 5 years, has yet to make it out the gate, and their is a unconfirmed rumor that ARRL officials are stalking the Wireless ISP lists, in search of sacrificial cows to hold up to their membership.
  • OK, so your saying Bell 202 modems (1200 baud half duplex) is not antiquated technology?

    This is what you used to work the ISS on packet, or standard FM 1950's voice technology if by voice. Meanwhile, the pimply faced 15 year old is talking to his buddy using a handheld transciver, using automatic power control and DSSS as well as data compression technology.
  • No, they are not big dorks. The are overweight, old, balding dorks who have the illusion they are on the bleeding edge of technology. Get it right!
  • TimeTray told us:

    I had a lot of fun, going out into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a generator, a radio, and 4 other fat, balding men to stay up all night...
    After the 260th contact we really started to fatigue, so even though we had good intentions, the "staying up all night" bit didnt pan out.
    73s --Down with pants!--

    Hmmmm...... are you sure you are not describing a Homophobic experince at a rural highway rest stop?
  • Phork told us:
    not all hams are old or fat. Some are, and the ones who people notice frequently are, they are the ones who are at club meets all the time
    So you do agree the most visble and active ones do in fact meet my description?
    Ask your friends, i'll bet at least one of them is a ham.
    Well, they won't admit to it, but yes, I'll agree there are hams that are not old. I was talking about the majority of the active ones. Even the best of us make mistakes and went to a ham club meeting once or twice.
    it might not all be bleeding edge, but i'll bet you didnt build your own pc
    Your on the wrong board for that, go to ARRL [arrl.org] if you want appliance ops. My guess is the majority of Slashdot readers have built their own PC. I know I certainly have.
    ANd some stuff is pretty bleeding edge, try telling the guys running data over 30ghz links with hardware that they built themselves that what they are doing is not bleeding edge
    Would never think of telling them that, although you might want to mention to them that 30Ghz is not a legal [arrl.org] U.S. ham band.
  • Not that I totally disagree with you, but some prespective here would be helpful.

    Anonymous Coward told us:
    Amateur radio requires:
    Whoa, now hold on here. Your changing the thread. "Amateur radio" describes a license assignment by the FCC, "ham radio" is the name of particular culture of human beings. While it may be true you could call every "ham radio operator" a "amateur radio operator", the opposite is not true. Don't try and change the topic here.
    .verry expensive, dedicated equipment
    If you are looking at the ham radio rags, then that is true. Those radios are designed to attract chicks at Startrek conventions, hence the extra cost associated with the startrek communicator sound built in. If your looking for good inexpensive radio equipment, then there is the commercial market.
    a verry quiet area to prevent illegal 3rd person noise and reception
    Nope, hams are not protected here at all. Anyone can receive the frequencies. Your thinking of cell phones.
    registration with the FCC which removes your right of free-speech.
    Since when did we ever have that right anyways? Seriously however, that is what the ARRL wants you to believe. I don't think, in recent history, their has been a proscution based solely on free speech issues. The ARRL doesn't want you to talk about politics, your hemoroids, or cordinating pirate downloads, but on one weekend I heard all of the above on a local 2 meter repeater.
    you to identify yourself in every transmission
    Nope, every 10 minutes on voice or never on a digital transmission (your MAC address is your callsign).
    a wife with a full-time job
    Well, I saw some guy talking about how they had their Field Day at a Highway Rest Stop, so I suspect some hams have their needs meet by someone other then a wife. Lets just call that a significant to feed them potatoe chips, OK?
    TCP/IP makes HAM RADIO obsolete. VOICE over IP is more reliable and logical than HAM RADIO. You can't use HAM RADIO in telecoms or company other communication systems namely because of regulation. TCP/IP is free, everywhere, and dominating all your elderly ASS-HAMS. goodbye codetalkers.
    Seriously, I think you are confusing the "ham radio culture" with a amateur radio license. Sure, most of them are jackasses, but that doesn't mean you have to talk with them. Mobile TCP/IP works fine over amateur radio. You no longer have to know morse code. This is a case where you do want to throw the baby out, but keep the bathwater.
  • IronChef told us all:
    BTW, when a ham talks about building their own radio, they mean they are soldering transistors together
    I remember sitting down at the Kitchen table, oh this must have been 25 years ago, with my dad building a HeathKit radio. It was some transistors and some DIP integrated circuits.

    So, what your saying is, 25 years later, hams are still using transistors? Hey, I use them too (front end, switching), but the majority of radios I design are based on fine pitch surface mount parts, and even those are a few years behind the curve.

    Hey, I guess you could have said you where still using tubes, so there is some progress being made here.
  • Capnkid said:

    realize your trolling here friend... Less then you might think. Fact of the matter is, I got my ham license when I was 14, and have held it for 26 years (not balding either!). So I'm speaking from observation, and just because I won't accept the wild eye'd fantasies you and others spout, doesn't mean I am trolling. What I find most interesting is how you and others quote things others have done.... what have you done? Face it, it is just glorified CB radio for the majority, and I'm sure some CB'ers might take issue with that statement.

    just be sure to thank your local "overweight, old, balding dork" the next time you hoist your cell phone to your ear
    Why? I've yet to see a single frequency agile cellular based ham radio system, let alone one based on spread spectrum (PCS). I'd love to, where is it at?

    Or dial long distance...
    OK, I'll bite on this one.... what ham gave us relay hunting? (and more to the point, how was this developed in the context of ham radio)

    or watch satellite tv
    If I recall my history, Telstar 1 was the first active sat transponder, about 1965. What active role did ham radio play in this?

    All your doing here is digging it deeper. Nothing wrong with being a glorified CB'er, problem is, with the other BS, your not fooling anyone but yourself.
  • Suwain_2 enlighted us in saying:

    I believe "autopatches" predated cell phones by many, many years
    Do you even KNOW the technology you are talking about? Gezz.... is part of the "ham radio" hobby deluding yourself?

    Yes, indeed, single frequecy fixed mobile telephones did indeed preceed cellular based, frequency agile, spread spectrum wireless phones by some years. Maybe about 30 or 40. Problem is, it also preceeded ham autopatches, where are in fact 1950's technology all the telco's where actively selling. (Look at your Perry Mason re-runs.... he had a mobile phone in his car).

    Is there a big problem with people smoking crack in ham radio these days?
  • Randy Rathbun told us:

    There is no comparisson between building a PC and building a radio. You don't have to have any knowledge or talent to put a PC together.
    How much knowledge or talent do you need to sit at the kitchen table, look at a manual, stuff parts in the properly marked holes, and solder it? Me and my dad used to do that when I was 10 years old with Heathkits. Cetainly, more then most, but this is not rocket science.
  • doppleganger871 told us:

    Good reply, but you forgot one thing that was mentioned above (and obviously overlooked by this mis-informed person).
    "Good reply...mis-informed"?! How can it be both? Or is this part of the ham radio culture to delude oneselve. So, tell me how I was mis-informed? I wasn't talking about the 0.01% of legitimate emergency use of ham radio, I was talking about the majority of use

  • And I was trying to make the point of how far hams are behind the technolgy curve and how the continue to delude themselves they are not. It is a high power CB radio hobby.
  • I agree with you to an extent. However, Field Day is used for a couple of reasons. First off, the guys in my club really love Field Day. We compete against other clubs, not just each other, to see which club can end up with the most contacts per person. It ends up generating this whole "bonding" experience as a group. I love seeing my dad's face after he contacts someone in Australia or makes that one last contact that pushes him over his total from the last Field Day.

    Aside from bonding, it's also a chance to see how well we'd do in keeping communications up if disaster struck somewhere. That's our main purpose, after all. When ice hit Atlanta last year and no one had phone service, it was the Ham operators who jumped on the lines and made contact with the police to alert them of downed power lines, trees, and other problems.

    Now that I've said that, I'll get into something that's slightly related. How is it that Ham operators knew where the downed trees were on the highways? Well, Hams are also kinda stupid in some ways. We drive our cars when no one else should, just to check out the roads and find out if people need assistance. Helicopters from news stations could probably do about as well.

    Anyway, that's all from me. Hope to hear you all on the air!

    --Jen, KE4PPF

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