Amateur radio - version 2008 by dfgh4bnmu


									          Amateur Radio
           Technology in Action

Amateur radio - version 2008

In this monthly feature Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV, executive chairman of the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust (SAARDT)
looks at various technologies and activities that drive amateur radio. SAARDT is dedicated to the development of amateur radio in South Africa
with a special interest in the youth. The organisation is funded from donations and supports the South African Radio League and SA AMSAT.

I am often asked "Does ham radio still exist with
computers and all that?" Readers may remember
Tony Hancock’s famous skit on amateur radio or
pictures in old magazines of someone sitting in
a dark room surrounded by lots of equipment. In
his March editorial of QST, the monthly journal of
the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Dave
Sumner K1ZZ, the ARRL CEO, addressed the
question of the perception the general public
may have of amateur radio. In his editorial
Sumner tries to change the old perceptions and
puts forward amateur radio version 2008.

"Do you know that the equipment radio
amateurs use is sleek and miniaturised portable
equipment? The huge boxes of the past can
today only been seen in museums or in a
                                                                           Young radio amateur participating in a field day event. Photo: Andries Visagie.
"Do you realise that the digital revolution sweeping
though consumer electronics is bringing equally
exciting changes to amateur radio?                     "Today radio amateurs routinely bounce signals           obtain a licence and become the proud owner
                                                       off the moon using software tools adapted                of a callsign. Recently an introductory level
"Do you know about the many ways radio
                                                       from radio astronomy. While GPS navigation is            licence was introduced aimed at taking amateur
amateurs use computers to enhance their
                                                       just becoming commonplace, radio amateurs                radio into the classroom and youth groups like
                                                       have been using it for years to track each other’s       the scouts, girl guides and voortrekkers. Young
"Do you know that amateur radio interfaces with        whereabouts and are now applying it to track             people are showing a growing interest in getting
– but does not rely on - the internet?                 yachts at sea that may be in trouble.                    hands-on experience in communication and
"Do you know that when power and telephone             "Technology makes all that possible but what             the construction of electronic wizardry. For many
lines are down and cell phones aren’t working,         makes radio amateurs passionate about their              it is a stepping-stone towards a career in the field
radio amateurs can still communicate?                  hobby?                                                   of electronics and communication. Amateur
                                                                                                                radio takes communication far beyond the level
"Do you know that the knowledge of the Morse           "It may be restoring old equipment. It may be            of smsing on a cell phone.
code is no longer a requirement to obtain an           providing a public service in the community.
amateur licence (but that CW - the amateur                                                                      The South African Radio League is the national
                                                       "It may be the people they meet who share the            body for amateur radio with affiliated radio clubs
radio term for Morse code continues to be one
                                                       same interests and broadens their perspectives.          in many parts of S.A. The organisation represents
of the popular modes of operation)?
                                                       Or is the thrill of communication with an astronaut      radio amateurs at regulatory level and
                                                       on the international space station? It could be          internationally at the International Amateur Radio
                                                       being part of an amateur radio satellite project         Union. In addition the SARL provides a number
                                                       or taking part in a competition that test their
                                                                                                                of services such as a weekly news bulletin, a
                                                       communication skills.
                                                                                                                magazine programme called Amateur Radio
                                                       "It may be simply that radio - being able to             Mirror International and a bi-monthly magazine,
                                                       communicate without wires, over virtually any            Radio ZS. To promote new technology the SARL
                                                       distance - is still magic".                              present annually “Radio Technology In Action
                                                                                                                Symposiums” in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth,
                                                       Over the past few years there has been a
                                                                                                                Durban and Johannesburg.
                                                       steady growth in the South African amateur
                                                       radio community. Several hundred enthusiasts             To learn more about amateur radio 2008, visit
           Amateur radio in early 1900s.               annually write the radio amateur examination to

54                                                                                                                                           March 2008 - EngineerIT

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