Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Radio Stuff

When I was a kid (back in the dark ages) it was pretty much a given that Morse Code would become somewhat of a hobby.  There were merit badges to be earned which required Morse Code knowledge, there were hobbyists who had elaborate HAM radio set ups, then eventually CB radios become all the rage.  Every kid had a transistor radio, listening in on emergency radio transmissions via scanner was a thing, and every home and car had a radio (AM then AM/FM) which were used on a daily basis.  Now that digital radio a la Spotify and Pandora are a thing, the radio that I grew up with seems to be going extinct.  Of course you can still listen to AM and FM radio in your car (if you don't have satellite radio) and in some places it is de rigueur to have a weather radio in your home, but aside from hobbyists, most radio activity has gone online.

If you are looking for an interesting hobby, there are still small communities keeping radio activity alive.  Here are some suggestions for radio activities:

  • RTL-SDR is a software defined radio activity that is growing a following in recent years.  Find out more about this activity here, here, and here.
  • You can listen to scanner activity online/in app with Broadcastify or Scanner Radio (or other available apps) or you can purchase a scanner.  Unfortunately some radio traffic is now encrypted so you won't be able to hear it on a scanner (I'm assuming hackers are working on this as I type, however.)
  • HAM/Amateur radio is still alive!  There are HAM clubs all over the US, there are HAM Fests, HAM Nets, and it is pretty simple to test for and receive a HAM radio license.  Check out a bunch of HAM activities here.
  • HAM/Amateur radio operators who want to use their radio skills to help others can join up with ARES/RACES which uses HAM radio operators for communications during a disaster or other public emergency.
  • Anyone who lives in an area where weather emergencies are common should own a weather radio to alert them when disaster is heading their way.
  • And if you have a boat, a Marine VHF radio is pretty important to have.
  • Short Wave radios are fascinating to listen to.  Read all about SW radio here.
  • You can also listen in on air traffic via app here.
So while digital radio has taken over analog radio with a vengeance and many services have gone online, there is still room for both (and in a SHTF situation such as the Puerto Rico hurricane, the default will be back to HAM radio).  It is a good idea to be knowledgeable in all of the facets of radio as this knowledge can be both informative (a nice hobby) to critical (in a disaster for communication).

No comments:

Post a Comment