Saturday, April 14, 2012

Have License, Will Travel

Thought for the day: According to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, the probability of in-laws coming to visit is directly proportional to how much you feel like being left alone.

[THEME: Amateur radio]

One of the cool things about amateur radio is its versatility, not only in the many facets of the hobby, but in the many places you can enjoy it.

Like MOBILE operations. As in, from our moving vehicles. Could be from our cars and trucks, from a boat, from an airplane, or even from a bicycle. (My husband once cracked everybody up by checking into a net maritime mobile ... from our hot tub.)

This is my station at the house.

And this little red car is my mobile station. (The truck is my hubby's.) Amateur radio operators have a lot of reasons for wanting mobile communications. For one thing, hams support the National Weather Service, and during bad weather, some actually drive around, both during and in the aftermath of the storms, to provide NWS with accurate reports of on-the-ground conditions.

I'm not inclined to chase a tornado, but I do like the security of having radios in the car. It means I am NEVER alone, even if I'm the only person in the car. As a somewhat directionally impaired person, it's comforting to know there's always a ham out there willing to help me find my way if I happen to make a wrong turn. (Or maybe I should say when I make a wrong turn?) When we had car trouble in an unfamiliar area, one call on the radio connected us with local hams who were only too happy to assist. And there are whole networks of operators who assist travelers. One morning, I checked into a net from Maryland and told the net control we were heading back home to Georgia. That evening, another net control called me on the radio to check on us. It was kinda nice to know, from the time we left Maryland until we rolled into our driveway, a whole network of operators had our backs.

                                              Who could ask for anything more?


  1. That is very sweet. Even though the community is vast it is very tight knit, isn't it? That is so very cool.

    I hope this was auto post and you were up in the wee morning hours posting it. :) Weekends are for sleep girlie!

    I really like your set up. Is the one in your car in the trunk or does it sit up front with you? Also [and I pretty sure the answer is batteries, but....] how do you power it in the car? Can it be run through the car's power or does it have it's own power source. Can we see a picture? Can I be more needy? giggle

    Thanks Susan. Can't wait for the next installment.

  2. Great post and impressive home and mobile setups. But then you snagged me with that pulp cover. It preceeds my birth by 2 years but is the sort of thing that got me drawing and painting and puzzling enigmas: 3 figures on radically different schedules and the guy outside the window looking covetously at the stogie. Plunged this kid into subtler human motivations --still studying!

  3. I am also quite "directionally impaired," and it's nice to know you always have people looking out for you. This was probably the inspiration for services like Onstar. Julie

  4. What a neat theme! My grandfather loved ham radio. You have a great blog and a new follower as well. :-)

  5. People were "networking" long before the internet.

  6. It takes a village to get us directionally challenged home.

  7. Skippy- You're absolutely right about the ham community being both vast and tight-knit. There are more than 700,000 of us in the U.S. alone, but no matter where any ham from any part of the world visits, he'll be welcomed into that local ham community. For example, a couple of hams from Lithuania were vacationing here in Atlanta, and we arranged a big get-together dinner so they could meet a bunch of us locals. It was a blast, and that sort of thing happens all the time all over the world. And yeah, this was auto-post. I set all my posts for this challenge to publish at 12:34 (magic time!) just because I'm a nerd and thought it was cool. (magic time!) The radios are mounted in the front seat, and are powered by the car battery. However, the HF radio has a removable face, so only the face is mounted and the rest of the radio is under the seat. Just for you, I'll take some pictures of the radios inside the car and include them with Monday's post. (Who loves ya, kid?) I'm really thrilled you're finding this stuff interesting.

    Geo- Glad you liked the cover shot. It didn't really "go with" the post, but I loved it so much, I decided to include it anyway.

    Julie- It really is great to have that back-up help available via radio. Our daughter is even more directionally challenged than I am, which is hard to believe, but one time she called and asked me to come pick her up in downtown Atlanta. (I was already in trouble from the get-go ... I do NOT drive in downtown Atlanta!) I ask her for the address, and she tells me where she is. Gives me the street address. "Are you sure?" I ask, and in response she, of course, went into one of those "How stupid do you think I am?" routines. Assured multiple times that she does, indeed, know where she is, I set off. Drive to said location. She's not there. I get on the radio to ask for help. (No cell phones.)Long story short, I eventually found her, (and it was NOT on the street she said she was located) but the other hams were about in hysterics trying to navigate me through town. But they did it. And I did it. My daughter, of course, was like, "What TOOK you so long?"

    Sarah- Glad to hear your grandfather was into ham radio. Thanks for visiting, and for signing on as a follower. Welcome aboard!

    Delores- Yep, we sure were.

    Arleen- You've got that right!

  8. That would be comforting to know you've got someone to check in with while mobile. I often wonder what we did before cell phones...did we really just jump in the car and start driving without the ability to contact anyone? Crazy times. :P

    Love the quote at the top too!

  9. L.G.- I KNOW!!! And no seat belts, either. (It's a wonder we baby boomers even survived...)

  10. So interesting! I'm directionally impaired, too. I'm surprised I haven't gotten permanently lost somewhere, really.

  11. I can't keep up! I can't keep up! Between you and MoStoneskin and your 30-day binges I'm losing ground. But I will say this, if ham radio comes with a girl like in the poster, sign me up.

  12. Ham radio is something I know nothing about. But it has always fascinated me. I'm directionally impaired. Thank goodness for cell phones. Ha!

  13. Interesting how you weave unexpected guests and tornadoes into the same post.


    Visiting as an A to Z blogger – participating with six very different blogs. (Not listing the links here, but you are welcome to click through my profile picture to find them, if you wish.) Happy A-to-Z!

  14. How cool is that? I can imagine it's a great feeling to have a whole network of operators like that. As someone who can get lost in my own neighborhood, I know I would find it comforting!

    Love the thought for the day, that's sad but true. :D

  15. Your network sounds a lot more reliable than a GPS. It's so cool they can go out and report on the weather.

  16. How lovely that you have such a tightly knit and friendly community. I got lost the last time I went to the dentist because my GPS insisted he was in a Hardee's. I assure you he's not. A ham operator would not be as foolish as Ms. ATT.


  17. Shelley- I know what you mean. My sense of direction is majorly lousy.

    Mr. C- Alas, the gal in the picture would be about a hundred by now.

    Robyn- With so many of us directionally impaired folks around, no wonder GPS has become so popular.

    Linda- Thank you for stopping by. OY! If you're doing the A-Z on SIX different blogs, I don't reckon you're getting a heckuva lot of sleep this month! Good luck with the rest of the challenge,

    Julie- It IS a great comfort, for sure.

    Tamara- Yeah, the NWS depends on those on-the-ground reports. Radar is great, but personal verification allows them to issue warnings.

    Janie- GPS and the maps you can get off the internet aren't always spot on. We don't have GPS in our vehicles; I think that snotty voice telling me I screwed up would really get on my nerves.

  18. Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z challenge...lovely blog...good luck with the challenge!

    Donna L Martin

  19. This is really cool. I didn't know about the NWS connection, but it makes sense. What a great way to network and trade information.

  20. This is so exciting to my little mind. It would be like email/blogging except you could hear the person on the other side. I don't do well around people for the most part - too much energy but love talking with them via the computer. I should think the radio would be quite similar. I'd give it a try except that I know all that equipment must cost a ton of money. Anyway, I loved reading about this.

  21. Sus, I'm intrigued by the image of the station at your house!

    And your husband is hilarious.

  22. Hi Susan .. love the poster - surprised any hamming gets done ..'cept the um um xoxoxxoox

    However it must be very reassuring to always know you're not alone, if you need some help, advice etc

    Great info - thanks .. cheers Hilary

  23. Yeah, lady in a negligee and he's talking in the radio.

    Right. lol

  24. This is so intriguing! I know next to nothing about radios. But I'd love to learn!

  25. Greetings Susan,
    Is it true that Mobile operations headquarters are in Mobile, Alabama?
    I can understand what a vitally important, reassuring function having an amateur radio set up can be. Quite the community and your articles are fascinating and informative.
    Do you reckon those who chase tornadoes are having a 'whirlwind romance'?
    All the best and happy writing.
    Your adoring fan, Gary :)

  26. what guy wouldn't want to play around with a ham radio if that girl was hanging around in that outfit?

    That first pic reminds me a little of the movie Contact with Jody Foster.

  27. Donna- Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the rest of the challenge. I'll be stopping by your blog asap.

    thespotts- Most NWS offices (if not all) have an amateur radio station, and a team of hams who man it for them during severe weather. They accept the reports from the other hams out in the community and on the road. Works out quite well. Thanks for dropping by.

    Rubye- Some of the equipment can be pricey, but used gear is also available, and in some areas, radio clubs even have loaner equipment to help new hams get on the air.

    Anthony- Glad you enjoyed it.

    Suze- Yeah, my hubby definitely has his moments. He was a bit of a class clown when we met in eighth grade, and he still manages to keep me laughing.

    Hilary- Glad you liked the picture. And a very big cheers to you, too.

    Donna- Think Sheldon Cooper.

    Stephanie- Cool! Because I'd love to tell ya! Thanks so much for stopping by and for signing on as a follower. Welcome aboard!

    Gary- Yeah, I think tornado chasers MUST have whirlwind romances. (Probably like to dance to "Twist and Shout", too.)

    Marcy- Well, I'm kinda thinking that a guy who'd be drawn to ham radio because of that gal in the negligee might be more interested in playing with her than the radio... "Contact" is a totally cool movie.

    Y'all take care.