I remember as a kid watching my dad at his base station in his study. This was a shrine to anything and everything holy in the electronics world. There was once a time in history that CB radio required a license. Well before the days of CW McCall and his songs about truckers conversing on the radio, there was a place where citizens could reach across the airwaves and through the static and buzz, you could talk with others across the globe. Monikers such as “Q-Ball”, “Gypsy”, and “”Rock-Bottom” were only the alter egos of established call letters. Those days are gone…
But there is a place where much of this still exist. It survives even though there are much quicker and reliable tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype….
This is Amateur Radio. With a microphone, a transmitter-receiver and like an open highway, there is the seduction radio spectrum. It was once anarchy for geeks. Through the collection of QSL cards (cards that signify a conversation between two stations—ie- bragging rights) comes the reminder that one of the joys in HAM radio…talking and having conversation with people.
I was first introduced into HAM when I was in the military and it was set up as a prerequisite for cross-training into a radio (RTO) position. Through the series of test I acquired my license and was able to legally use the transmitter to talk to the world. During my time as a ground combat instructor in Texas, there were long nights I would have to simply be on the ground to ensure the safety of our students. I would use this time to practice my new-found radio skills and talk (when the atmosphere was right) to distant places, Tucson Arizona, Wala Walla, Washington, Anchorage Alaska…all from a hand-held transmitter.
In the adventure world Amateur radio has played a significant role for me as well. While on a trip our rig broke down and we were well out of cell phone range and the hour was growing late. I was able to contact help through the use of my radio. Some well-mannered HAM operators were able to relay my information around until we got help.
Recently I have pulled out my gear and have started to get familiar with its functionality. I’m looking forward to talking to other radio operators out there soon. I would encourage anyone who goes into the backcountry to (first) get licensed and then buy a good HAM rig.
73’s (Best Regards)