Just about everywhere you look on the horizon in any major city, you a tower with an array of antennas installed on them. Perhaps, most people do not even notice them, or had no idea they were there, but we all use them! These are the towers are primarily known for hosting the services that breath life into our cell phones. The closer you to one, the more bars you have. There are some towers that are cleverly repainted to look like fake trees in some of the more affluent neighborhoods.
People have gone so far as to terminate their land line in favor of just paying for a wireless cell device. They put their whole world and trust in this, even in the even of an emergency. Imagine if as a result of a disaster we lost these precious towers and we were to rely on another form of communication?
A lot of people believe radio or the radio hobby is dying or dead. Amateur radio hobby is still shared by over two million people around the world. Unbeknown by most but still willing to license anyone of any age that can pass the standard technical exam. It’s a hobby and service where amateur radio owners can communicate through various radio to other amateur radio owners for recreation and public emergency coordination.
What separates a licensed amateur radio operate from someone who can just pick up a walkie-talkie or CB is that amateur radio has more freedom to work with frequencies and output power to communicate over longer distances. In one night, one man can communicate with 100 different places over seas to other amateur radio hobbyists or communicate with a friend on the other side of the city.
I primarily communicate on a 2 meter band with a local repeater to talk with other amateur radio owners around the city. Normally, when you communicate with someone on a frequency, they also have to be tuned into that frequency to listen. Each frequency acts as a chat room for all parties involved, depending on the frequency you may only be able to go a certain distance or be blocked by hills or mountains as some of the lower bands are more line of sight oriented. In order to accommodate a larger chat room, antennas that are usually mounted centrally in the city are mounted high enough to increase the availability to other operators to talk to others through longer distances. Repeaters receive the transmission and retransmit it out to everyone else who is tuned in. The most popular repeater here in orlando is 147.120 operating on the 2 meter band.
To communicate over seas or at greater distances that require bouncing your signal off of the atmosphere (or ionosphere to be more precise), to follow the curvature of the earth. This would require separate equipment than what you would use to talk locally with.
I officially appeared in the ULS database as a new General HAM on 2/23/10 and go by call sign “KJ4SLR“.
For more information, check out the FCC Amateur Radio home page: http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=amateur
About the photo:
This particular antenna was directly across from the Orlando Amtrak train station. I have a fascination with antennas, and for the most part they do not photograph well for exciting pictures. However, this one had a lot of equipment on it and the sky painted a nice backdrop.
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200 mm vr