Amateur Radio and Me
This page has received hits since September 22 1999
What is Amateur Radio?
The usual answer to this question is along the lines of explaining Amateur Radio as a hobby of self training and experimentation. I'm going to take a different angle and look at Amateur Radio from a more personal perspective.
To me, Amateur Radio has always meant two things. Firstly, communications. Reliable medium distance communications with minimal outside assistance (i.e. telecommunications companies) has always been a goal of mine My emphasis on medium distance and reliability has drawn me to the VHF and UHF bands. Secondly, experimentation. I like to make things work and try new techniques to see what they do. For me, Morse Code is only of interest in that it's "something different" to the run of the mill FM voice that I usually communicate with, but I'm not a devotee of Morse myself. Having a background in computers, high speed digital modes and the microwave bands (which have the capacity to support these modes) are very much of interest, and I am in the initial stages of designing a 10 GHz link for data backbones, with the help of several local amateurs.
Finally, there is the "novelty factor" of Amateur Radio. These days, being a 'ham' is (sadly) almost a novelty in itself, but by this, I mean doing something unusual on the air. The most notable "novelty operation" has been train and tram mobile, a mode which I've worked from the day after I picked up my licence to the present day, with the South African SUNSAT satellite providing the opportunity to work satellites from public transport vehicles (Yes, those satellite phones _are_ feasible!). I've also worked from many different forms of transport, from trains and trams, to buses, bicycles, boats and even a home made tricycle. Guess it's a diversion from the daily grind. :-)
Finally, Amateur Radio, and its distant cousin, CB radio, have led to many friendships and significantly altered the course of my life on many occasions. There has been many a friendly cuppa, shack visit and lunch meeting over the years with on air friends. I have little doubt that without Amateur Radio's influence, life would have turned out vastly different and less enriched.