Seeking reliable backup communication in a crisis, emergency managers are finding new solutions in an old technology: ham radio.
“It’s just another avenue, another opportunity for us to be able to communicate,” said Herb Schraufnagel, public safety captain with Emory University Hospital Midtown.
Emory HealthCare is among a growing number of hospital systems to adopt ham radio. Hospital administrators and government officials took a lesson from Hurricane Katrina, which left some Gulf Coast medical centers isolated from the outside world, as landlines and cell towers failed.
When power, phone and Internet services go down, a battery-powered amateur radio and portable antenna can provide that crucial link to the outside world. Continue reading on FoxNew.com
LOS ANGELES— The Queen Mary, an ocean liner that once sailed the North Atlantic, is now permanently berthed in Long Beach, California, where it’s a tourist attraction and hotel. In one of the rooms aboard the ship, the tradition of ship-to-shore wireless operations is continued and visitors are introduced to the hobby of ham radio.
A young visitor recently got an introduction to Morse code, the system of dots and dashes once used for wireless communication. Amateur radio operators, called “hams,” still use it today.
The Queen Mary was the pride of the Cunard Line after its 1936 launch, and is now a popular tourist attraction.
The wireless room preserves the ocean liner’s communications hub. Queen Mary Commodore Everette Hoard said it was a lifeline in emergencies, providing two-way messages — ship to shore.
“And not only did they carry several transmitters for transmitting the ship’s business, they also, even in 1936, had radio-telephone service,” said Hoard. Continue reading →
A while back, some ingenious radio amateurs figured out that they could pair a $20 USB dongle meant for watching television in other parts of the world with some SDR software and listen to the ham bands (and more).
The “and more” part is what first caught my attention. Much of the area uses digital trunked systems for their emergency communications and something like a TrunkTracker IV, despite being one of the more affordable pieces of equipment in this category, is still a bit out of my reach. As someone who lives close to the site of a HAZMAT train derailment as well as a massive tire fire, and having had police chases that end in stand-offs go racing past my house, the ability to be “in the know” sounds like a good idea. I haven’t got up and running with digital trunking systems yet (watch for a future post?), but I have definitely already got more than my $20 worth of use out of this gadget.
The first thing I did was order a Nooelec RTL2832U & R820TSB dongle. Once it arrived, the package contained the USB dongle (which looks like a fat jump drive), a stubby little antenna with a few feet of coax and a small, mostly useless remote control. I was ready to get started! Continue reading →
SKYWARN Recognition Day was jointly created in 1999 by the NWS and the ARRL to celebrate the contributions by volunteer SKYWARN radio operators to the National Weather Service. The 2013 Event will be held December 7. For more details, visit the official SKYWARN Recognition Day page.
In the Louisville, the event station (callsign WX4NWS) will be operating on the 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, 10m, 6m and 2m bands in SSB, CW, FM modes during the following UCT hours: 00:00-06:00Z and 12:00-22:00Z. The Eastern Time Zone is Coordinated Universal Time -4 hours.
Louisville SKYWARN Recognition Day QSL information and requests may be sent to:
6201 Theiler Ln
Louisville, KY 40229
Operating Procedures are as follows:
Object For all amateur stations to exchange QSO information with as many National Weather Service Stations as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meter bands plus the 70 centimeter band. Contacts via repeaters are permitted. SKYWARNTM Recognition Day serves to celebrate the contributions to public safety made by amateur radio operators during threatening weather.
Date NWS stations will operate December 7, 2013, from 0000 – 2400 UTC.
Exchange: Call sign, signal report, QTH, and a one or two word description of the weather occurring at your site (“sunny”, “partly cloudy”, “windy”, etc.).
Modes: NWS stations will work various modes including SSB, FM, AM, RTTY, CW, and PSK31. While working digital modes, special event stations will append “NWS” to their call sign (e.g., N0A/NWS).
Station Control Operator: It is suggested that during SRD operations a non-NWS volunteer should serve as a control operator for your station.
Event and QSL Information: The National Weather Service will provide event information via the internet. Event certificates will likely be electronic and printable this year. Stay Tuned!
Many amateur radio transceivers allow users to set up memory channels to store their favorite simplex frequencies or repeater information including frequency (such as repeater name, frequncy, offset, tones and more).
Programming memory channels using the radio’s keypad can often be incredibly cumbersome and time consuming.
Using factory or homebrew programming cables can speed up the process but often introduces other issues (on top of the cost of having to purchase a programming cable for each radio). Topping the list of those issues are usually driver problems that prevent the computer from being able to use the cable. This method also means either having to take your radios to a computer or bringing the computer to your radios.
The project outlined in the document below will describe how to make a portable “universal” ham radio transceiver programmer. The total cost of the project is around $40-50 (much less if you use parts you already have) and will yield a programmer that is approximately the size of a deck of cards, weighs only a few ounces and includes the computer and the cables you need to program your radio. This programmer (perfect for travelers, emergencies and more) will connect to any display with HDMI or RCA video inputs and is powered by a standard USB power outlet, computer port or cell phone charger.
Build one today and keep it with your ham radio gear so you can program your radios on the go!
This one is pretty simple and the idea has been around for a while (see the “St. Louis Switcher”). The idea is to take an ATX form factor power supply (available for free from dead computers everywhere), hack off some wires, add about $5 worth of parts from the electronics store (like MCM Electronics) or the junk bin and end up with a bench power supply that has enough power to run many mobile transceivers as base stations.
What You’ll Need
To build the power supply, you’ll need:
An ATX power supply with enough power for your job
An SPST (on/off) switch
A power resistor
Your favorite power connectors (Power Pole, binding posts, etc.)
At a recent hamfest, Chris KK4RZH gave us some info on a handy gadget to make an ATX PSU conversion even easier: A breakout board that plugs directly to the motherboard header pigtail to eliminate the need to all of the cutting, soldering, etc. It should be noted that these breakout boards likely will not supply the current needed to operate a mobile ham radio transceiver. However, they should work fine to charge batteries, operate QRP or other applications which use lower current. Check out the breakout board here.