Monday, September 24, 2012

Do the Internet without the Internet...

What would we do without the Internet? Everyday our lives are completely wired into the Internet in ways we now take for granted.  The majority of people in all developed countries now get their mail, news, television, music, photography, telephone...the majority of things that make up modern life, directly from the Internet. It's the information superhighway, and while you doubt you depend on it, just try to go a day or an hour, without access.

But what if you do have to go without it? What if some calamity happens where you live, which wipes out cellular & Internet access...totally. No set-top boxes streaming netflix, no desktops or laptops with wifi working, no digital cellular service for your smartphone? No cellphones! No Internet! What's left but to play shadow puppets on the wall cast by the glow of your blank PC screen? More importantly, now that you no longer have wired telephone access at your house since you switched over to a VOIP dataplan, how do you contact the outside world.
 

CAPTAIN! I HAVE A LOCK ON THE SIGNAL!
How about Digital Modes in Ham Radio? Huh? What? Digital what?
We Ham operators can take a loss of cellular, cable & internet access in stride. Beyond the "original digital" of Morse Code", ham radio has a army of digital modes, and some freely available computer software, which allow us to send text, photo, video, and sound via RADIO! 
Here's a short sample of digital radio techniques available to Ham Radio Operators:



Winlink 2000 (WL2K) is a worldwide system of volunteer resources supporting e-mail by radio, with non-commercial links to internet e-mail. These resources come from Amateur Radio, the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), and other volunteer organizations. The system provides valuable service to emergency communicators, and to licensed radio operators without access to the internet. The all-volunteer Winlink Development Team (WDT) is committed to continuous improvement using modern computer and networking technology with the most efficient and effective radio modes and digital protocols for local, regional and long-distance applications.
You must hold an Amateur Radio license or be a member of a supported organization or agency to use the Winlink 2000 system. Usage and software is free for all who qualify. LEARN MORE HERE.

Slow Scan TV (SSTV) While it's not NETFLIX, it is images sent via the magic of radio. And since it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, sending an image showing your situation may convey much needed information to those who may offer assistance. There is a slew of free & low-cost software available which can take an image from your computer and send it around the world & into space.
One of the most popular is the always free MM SSTV.


Many conversations on one frequency

Phase Shift Keying (PSK) When you hear psk on the radio, you liken it to a crowded cocktail party with several conversations all talking at once. (Give a Listen) In a way that's exactly what it is. On one frequency, several operators can send text to each other, back and fourth at the same time. Think of it as a big chatroom on steroids, only that it's done with radio, and you can chat directly to someone around the world. PSK is a very popular digital mode, with several multi-mode software packages offering it, along with a slew of other digital modes... a very popular software package is the free combo of Ham Radio Deluxe/DM780.

These are but three examples of how you can still do some of what you take for granted doing on the Internet, which you can also do with a PC and a Ham Radio. There's hardware & software that makes this happen, and with some tinkering, any ham can "work"digital. To get started & learn more, check out the info the Amateur Radio Relay League offers, and to hear some samples of the different digital modes don't forget to visit WB8NUT's webpage, which offers descriptions of the different modes along with a sound sample.

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