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Beginners Guide to Amateur Radio (page 2)

  • There are so many facets to the hobby it's difficult to list them all here, but we'll take a look at some of them:

  • Amateur Television Yes that's right you can send and receive your own television pictures over amateur radio frequencies. There are two types Slow Scan TV and Fast Scan TV. Slow Scan TV (SSTV) is a bit like sending a fax down the telephone, you send or receive a still image. This could be almost anything, a holiday photo for instance. SSTV is normally used on the shortwave bands (below 30Mhz) where images can be sent or received world-wide. Fast Scan TV (FSTV) is exactly the same as what you would see on your domestic TV. In FSTV therefore you send and receive real time moving pictures. FSTV is normally limited to higher frequencies (above 430Mhz) where the range is much more limited, although under the right atmospheric conditions this can be over 1000 miles.The possibilities for SSTV and FSTV are endless. How do you fancy seeing what it's like inside the MIR space station or on board a space shuttle? Yes, such pictures have been sent using both FSTV and SSTV over Amateur Radio frequencies.

  • More info see BATC site

  • CW (morse code) Morse code you say? Didn't that go out with the dinosaurs?

  • Well, CW is alive and well on the amateur bands and can often get through when other types of communication (modes) will not. It takes a lot of skill to learn and master the code and it's use can provide a great deal of pleasure. True, it is not the most efficient of communication modes in that a two minute voice conversation can last about half an hour on CW! Perhaps one of the great assets of CW is that transmitting and receiving equipment is much easier to build than for other modes which means it can be cheap and easy to get on the air with this mode. Remember also morse is an international language that even those who speak no English can understand.

  • Data Modes If computers are your thing you can have a great time with Amateur Radio! There are various forms of data for which a computer is used as a terminal. In short your VDU and keyboard are used for communicating, the actual transmission/reception is done by radio equipment interfaced to your computer. Some of these modes such as Radio Teletype were available long before computers and needed large dedicated terminals. Other modes such as packet radio (covered below) are purely computer based. As with voice communication distances can be worlwide or local depending on the frequency used.

  • More info see BARTG site

  • Homebrew - building your own equipment Because Amateur Radio is a technical hobby based on electronics, the possibility arises to build your own station and accessories. By doing this you can increase your understanding not only of radio but of electronics itself. Indeed many people have gone on to develop successful careers in electronics and radio based on this hobby.

  • More info see SM0VPO site

  • Linking to the internet Various amateurs around the world have now implemented voice links to the internet. This is generally in the form of a voice repeater. With this system it is possible to link into a internet conference room by radio. Ok big deal you might say! Well consider this, someone carrying walkie talkie (which normally have limited range) can link into his local voice repeater (for free!) and talk to someone on the other side of the world! The other benefit is that you don't need a computer to talk to someone on the net! (see also packet radio below).

  • More info see G7WFM site

  • Packet Radio As already mentioned, this is a form of data transmission and reception carried out over Amateur Radio frequencies, but exclusively using computers. Long before the internet became popular a packet radio network was in existence for sending text messages and programs all over the world. In this respect it is very similar to the internet, and in fact one of the packet protocols uses TCP/IP, the same as the internet. At the moment most of the packet network runs at 1200 baud and sometimes 9600 baud which is quite slow when compared with the standard 56K connections speed of the telephone. However, some amateurs have built and are operating stations running data rates in excess of 2Mbits per second! In the not too distant future it should be possible to log onto and browse the internet using radio links ie. no dreaded telephone bills!

  • More info see Packet info basics site

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