Monday, April 16, 2012

Connections for the Common Good

Thought for the day:  Know how the Vikings communicated? Norse code.

[THEME: Amateur radio]

Fish and butterflies are rarely happy to find themselves in a NET, but amateur radio operators enter them quite willingly.

In amateur radio parlance, a net is an organized group of operators working together on one or more specific frequencies so they can serve a common purpose.

It's people working together. Strength in numbers!

There are many different reasons to hold a net. Some of them are:
  • To provide emergency communications following a disaster. Many amateurs worldwide consider this to be our most important role, and routinely volunteer their services to aid their communities, states, and nations following such things as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, etc.
  • To provide communications as a public service for activities from parades and sporting events to helping locate a downed airplane or lost child.
  • As a support system for travelers. The assistance provided to travelers during emergencies has rescued many people and saved countless lives.
  • Medical nets provide an outlet for sharing medical information, which is particularly valuable for doctors working in remote parts of the world.
  • Missionary nets- Talking about remote areas, for some missionaries around the world, amateur radio provides the only means of communication.
  • Practice nets- In order to be better prepared to serve in times of emergencies, amateurs practice, practice, practice.
  • Traffic nets are specifically designed to hone skills in sending, receiving, and delivering messages.
  • Others- There are countless other reasons for amateurs to meet in a net: to enable them to make contact with other countries, states, or counties; to discuss and share a common interest, rig, or mode of operation; and to socialize and chase the clouds of loneliness. 

                                                       So, to us ... nets are a good thing.

                                                      It's friends connecting with friends. 

Talking about friends connecting with friends, the lovely Skippy had some questions after the last post on mobile operations. She wanted to know what the set-up looks like inside my car. So, here are some pictures, just for her. (Y'all can look, too ...)

This is my dual-band VHF/UHF radio, and it's mounted under the dashboard just below the commercial radio. This radio is for local communications, and we have many frequencies programmed into both bands. As a special bonus, you can also see some of Georgia's infamous pollen.

Moving upward from the UHF/VHF rig, you'll see the HF radio right in front of the air vents, and between the two microphones. This radio is for long-distance communications.

This is a shot of the HF radio from the topside. See how thin it is? That's because it isn't the entire radio. It's just the faceplate, containing all of the controls.

The REST of the HF radio is underneath the seat.

This control box sits atop the console between the seats. It controls the HF antenna. By using the up-down switch, we can raise or lower the screwdriver antenna to reach the optimum resonance for the frequency we want to work.

And finally, this is the speaker, mounted between the seats.

All in all, it's a fairly compact, efficient set-up. Not as fancy as some, but it serves us well.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. Especially you, Skippy.


  1. I super appreciate this Susan. Sometimes I forget to pop back and read your great responses in comments, so this was so nice to see.

    I think I always knew about house units and the fancy jobbers that were in storm chasers vans [or something similar] But I never realized that not only could any ham operator make a mobile radio, but is serves such great purposes - like a CB radio, but cooler and much more versatile and far reaching.

    It really IS a fascinating subject and the more I learn, the more I want to try it too, with Pooldad. I know he would love this kind of thing. He loves to tinker and build, he loves to help people and to learn new things. I think I could start by looking into a local club here, when/if I feel up to it. But I am sure I can find a lot of stuff close to us by searching the net. [The internet is SGF. Sick Girl Friendly, dontcha' know. :wink:] We do like to do almost everything as a couple or together with the family, so this is right in our wheel house. It just seems like fun and stimulating.

    I am glad these are auto posts. Whew! And I love magic time. 12:34. If you don't look at with military precision [and I don't] know I will be smiling at least two times a day. Thinking of you. :)

    Thanks again. Hugs my friend. :)

  2. It might not be a fancy set up but it looks pretty impressive to me :-)

  3. Whoa, I've never seen one of those before

  4. These are great photos and a great post.


  5. Cool radio setup!

    Adn yes, nets are a good thing!

  6. Ooh, interesting set-up. I'm learning a lot on this blog. :)

  7. Skippy- I am super-psyched that you're interested in the possibility of you and Pooldad getting into the hobby. The website can provide you with a lot of info, and you can even order books from there, like study manuals for the licensing tests. From that same webpage, if you click on the tab for clubs, then scroll down to your state under "section", and hit "search," it'll give you a list of ham clubs in your state, and all you need to know about where and when they meet, and who to contact, etc. Some clubs may have loaner study manuals, or may even teach licensing classes. A number of websites offer sample tests, too, so you can practice with them until you're ready to kick butt when you take the real thing. There are a LOT of terrific clubs in your state. And I gotta say, ham radio is one of the best family hobbies I know. It's isn't uncommon to run into whole families... multiple generations... to be licensed, and for some parents to make having a ham license a prerequisite for getting a driver's license. (Now I'll be thinking about you... and sending you positive thoughts... on magic time, too. And I'll smile.)

    Sarah- The most impressive thing about the set-up to me is the screwdriver antenna. (The big red one on the back of the car.) It works amazingly well.

    Lady- You're be surprised how many mobile ham stations are all around you, once you start looking for them.

    Jennifer- Thanks. Yes, ma'am, they sure are. Take care.

  8. Teresa- Oops, missed you the first time around. Sorry 'bout that. Glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll be returning the favor asap.

    Shelley- Great! I'm really glad you've been learning a few new things here. Thanks for visiting so often during the A-Z. I really appreciate it.

  9. That's a lot of stuff to have crammed in to your don't use it while driving though do you?

  10. I remember watching a news report about a family who were saved by a ham radio operator after they made a wrong turn on a mountain road in the middle of a snowstorm. Bless all those good folks out there who are there for us in times of need.

  11. Delores- To tell the truth, I only use the HF radio when my husband is driving, and use the VHF/UHF rig on a very limited basis when I'm behind the wheel. It's always on, in case someone calls me, (like my hubby) but mostly I listen while I'm driving.

    Arleen- It's good to hear that story made the mainstream news. We read similar stories all the time, but in publications specifically targeting the amateur radio community.

  12. I love the definition of NET. It applies to so many aspects of our lives!

  13. I have learned so much from you and it is eye opening. The whole net thing is awesome. I forget how important all this is especially in remote places or in case of a disaster. Nice set up in the car too! Hope you are having a great start to your week!

  14. Susan, reading this, the post on the Kuwaiti broadcaster and the comment you posted on my blog, last night, I am suddenly extremely curious as to what your manuscript is about.

  15. This is one great radio set up girl!!! This Ozark Farm Chick and Farm Boy owned a truckin' company for awhile and let me tell ya...these radios saved out bacon more than once.

    From the happy hills and hollers of the beautiful Missouri Ponderosa, ya'll have a blessed and beautiful week...10~4!!! Heeeheheheh!!! :o)

  16. Margo- I never thought about it like that, but you're right. The definition does apply to many parts of our lives. Thank you so much for stopping by, dear lady. I'll be returning the favor asap.

    Tracy- Cool. I know not everyone wants to be an amateur radio operator, but it tickles me to make more people aware of us and what we do. I hope your weekend is off to a super start, too. Everything's coming up roses here.

    Suze- My novel doesn't have anything to do with amateur radio or anything technical at all, if that's what you're wondering. It's titled "Hot Flashes and Warm Lemonade" and is about a woman who has to learn how to shed her illusions, accept reality, and turn her wishbone into backbone. Some humor, some tragedy. (And I've taken entirely too much time diddling with it.) Thanks for asking.

    Nezzy- Truckers and CBs go together like grits and cheese, don't they? A lot of the truckers we know have also gotten their amateur radio licenses, too, to "extend their reach", so to speak. Thank you so much for stopping by. Will be popping in over at your blog asap, good buddy.

  17. I love the kiddie drawing (was that one of your kiddie-winkles?). As for your car, you sure that's not a time machine?

  18. Carrie- Nope, none of our kiddies or grandkiddies drew the picture. I found it on morguefiles and really liked it. Gee, I don't THINK my car's a time machine, although I HAVE noticed time has been moving awfully darned fast!

  19. This post makes me realize how aptly named the Internet is!

  20. I would love to hear more about your adventures in amateur radio. Sounds intriguing.

  21. Norse Code! hahahahahahaha
    That's adorable.


  22. Karen- Good point! Thanks for stopping by. Bet you've been busier than the proverbial one-armed paper hanger this month.

    Tina- Glad you find it intriguing. More to come...

    Janie- Thanks. I crack me up, too.

  23. The nets seem to be much like blogs. It does indeed sound like a great family activity.
    Your manuscript sounds intriguing.

  24. FIRST! I finally figured out how to find you! I saw your beautiful face in my followers list but when I clicked on it, it didn't link to your blog! SO! I clicked on your name after you commented and here I am!!! AND I'm now following you as well!! Thank you!

    Second, I love this post! I'm going to share it with "Rainman" as soon as he comes home, he will totally dig this!

    Thanks for posting something so totally cool and interesting!

    I'll be back!
    You've been warned! ; )

  25. I must say, you are really into radio communications, good on 'ya.

  26. Very cool to see the pics. I'm glad Skippy asked! I love what a community you radio operators have, I feel like it's a whole world going on that I knew absolutely nothing about.

  27. All of the nets sound great, but the traffic net sounds particularly helpful! Do you have a radar detector in there too, or do you friends just signal you when you're coming up to a Bear Trap? Julie

  28. Rubye- In a way, you're right. I never would have believed it was possible to care so much about people I'd met only through the blogosphere, and had no idea how helpful and welcoming the writers here would be. That's how it is in amateur radio, too. People are caring, helpful, and welcoming.

    MiMi- FIRST, sorry you had difficulty finding me, but glad you were successful. Thanks for signing on as a follower, and welcome aboard! SECOND, I'm thrilled you find this interesting and look forward to seeing your comments here in the future.

    Anthony- Yes, sir. Seemed like a good theme for me, but I promise, when the A-Z ends, I'll write about other stuff, too.

    Julie- You're exactly right. The amateur radio fraternity is like a whole 'nother world.

  29. Julie- A traffic net isn't what you think it is. It's for sending, receiving, and delivering messages. The messages themselves are what we refer to as "traffic." And no, I don't have radar, and we don't give each other reports on the location of "Smokies". That's more along the lines of what CB operators do. Matter of fact, a number of those "smokies" are actually amateur radio operators, too.

  30. You, and all "amateur" radio folks, are simply awesome. I'm learning so much from these posts!

    I suspect many lives have been saved through such initiatives
    reminds me of my CB days!
    "one nice for a copy?"

  32. that last line should read
    "one NINE for a copy"

  33. What a fascinating thing to learn ... about nets. Cool. I liked the Norse joke, too. :)

  34. Austan- Thanks. Good to hear.

    John- Yes, a lot of lives have been saved by virtue of emergency communications.

    M- Glad you think so. Thanks.

  35. I've really appreciated learning all about the radios, etc.

    And I had to smile at the pollen--our car been coated in yellow many times this spring.

  36. Connie- The pollen's been pretty bad this year, but the heavy yellow stuff from the pine trees is finally starting to ease off, thank goodness.

  37. Do you have a cool license plate? In CA you can get one for radio operators.

    Happy A-Z April!

  38. Wow! I have to admit that I'm totally lost when it comes to radio operation. Also have to admit that I'm impressed with your setup. That looks like a lot of gear. Pretty cool. :)

  39. M- In recognition of the extensive public service provided by amateur radio operators, we used to be able to get a special license plate with our call sign on it for no charge. Last year, our state legislators decided to start charging for the plate, (as well as for a few others that had also been gratis) thinking they'd plump up their coffer a bit, but they grossly underestimated the (ahem) thriftiness of amateur radio operators. Most of us have turned in our special plates rather than pay extra money for it as though it were a "vanity plate." So, yes, the special plates are still available, but you don't see nearly as many of them on our streets here as there used to be. Thank you so much for stopping by. I'll be returning the favor later today.

    Tracy- Thanks for stopping by and for signing on as a follower. Welcome aboard!