Monday, 22 March 2010

Radio, Old Skool Style

Since I decided not to spend so much time blogging and sitting at the computer on't'internet I've resurrected an old hobby of mine from my pre-computer days: Amateur (Ham) Radio.

I made my first transatlantic contact in decades this weekend, a distance of over 3000 miles. In these days of mobile phones, thats probably not so special, until you consider the amount of technology it takes to get your phone signal from point A to point B. Your phone radio signal is picked up by a network of base stations, then routed through the telephone network across the Atlantic over fibre optic cable, then routed by yet another telephone network to another mobile phone base station network and then finishes its journey as a radio signal picked up by our American cousin's mobile handset. All staggeringly complex.

In contrast, my transatlantic contact was old skool style: From point A to point B, from a little transmitter and antenna in my car, whooshing out over the Atlantic, skipping off the upper atmosphere's cocktail of ionised particles and back down to a chap somewhere in Virginia. Later on I even got as far as Brazil.

To put it into context, I was using the same amount of power as a couple of car headlights. Try shining them as far as Brazil!

2 comments:

  1. My ex used to be into that Del. Actually it was fascinating and I did learn a wee bit about it. Like the internet it's addictive a little though.

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  2. I was quite suprised that such a small setup could get so far. Certainly this early in the new sunspot cycle.

    I also have a marine radio licence which is much more interesting now I'm down by the sea. Its easier to hear signals now rather than landlocked Oxford.

    Although this site http://www.ais-live.co.uk/ helped me get my radio fix while I was miles away from the sea.

    In these days of instantaneous global communications its easy to forget just how much unseen swan-like paddling has to be done to get things to appear serenely on the screen of our computers or mobile phones.

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