Monday, July 29, 2013

Ham Radio Tutorial: How to Call CQ

You can prepare for the day you get your Ham License, but when it comes to actually getting on the air, many hesitate because they feel they don't know what to say. This video shows the right way how to do made a general call for a contact & proper radio etiquette.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Survival Story: Living Through Florida's Hurricanes In 2004

By Don Jones
Originally published in Modern Survival Magazine, 2005

Hurricane Charlie left Punta Gorda FL devastated
"There are two certainties about being in the path of a hurricane: your home will be hit and destroyed or damaged, or it won't."

My friend Steve Blary and I had just gotten back from providing relief for ham radio operators in shelters at Punta Gorda, Florida during Hurricane Charley. What I saw there was enough to convince me to stay at a shelter if my community ever faced a storm. After getting home, I heard the news that another Hurricane named Frances was setting its cross hairs on Florida, but this time it was headed for my community.

Hurricane Frances pounds the Florida coast
My wife and I started to store and freeze water, purchase extra food, and close the storm shutters. Everything that could be blown from the yard was put in the garage. The American Red Cross Emergency Operations Center sent me to a school which served as a special needs shelter for the handicapped. I thought it was going to be easy duty since it was run by the health department. My wife would be about two miles from where I would be at the Red Cross office. My job was to report any messages to the Red Cross from our shelter, number of occupants, the number of meals, people sick and any who were sent to the hospital.

Frances came in like a lion with tropical storm force winds from 35 to 74 miles per hour at about 6 p.m. The winds would roar outside for several minutes, then they would slow down and get quiet. Just as we would think the storm was past, it started all over again. The shelter kept me busy with radio traffic all night. A friend at the shelter brought a mini color TV and we watched the weather all night between messages.
We became the information center for the shelter residents who kept checking on the storm. The storm started with hurricane force winds of 75 to over 110 miles per hour around 10 p.m. The storm was so large that the eye was estimated to be 75 mile across. Sometimes the building would shake and the roof would make popping sounds as it strained from the winds that sounded like a freight train at times About 10:30 p.m. we lost power and went on to generator power, which meant we lost the air-conditioning.

With 350 people in the shelter, the humidity rose rapidly. When Frances reached the coastal waters off Stuart, Florida, it just sat there for five long hours, before it moved on shore.
Stuart FL felt the brunt of the storm
Then she took another 12 hours to pass over us. Everyone thought she would pass quickly and was anxious to go home. It was the largest storm in 47 years. Because it sat in the ocean for five hours, it lost its sea surge, the dome of water that is sucked up by the storm and usually brings in flood water. It was expected to be 18 feet, but ended up being 6 feet. It still did damage, but not to the inland coast. At midnight I laid down on the floor for just a few minutes, for the first time in 48 hours. At that point, someone came running in to tell me to get on the radio because the school down the street, which was also a shelter, had just lost its roof and we would be taking in more victims. They were taking in rain, and wind was roaring. No one could go after them till the eye came over us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving Up to Ham Radio

It's an old video, but still a goodie... What's cool is how most of the gear in the video is still around today, just as functional as ever. The video was made back in the days of the big CB radio craze and was intended to show CB'ers the bigger world of Ham Radio. While licensing requirements have eased up, (Morse Code is no longer a requirement), the capability of Amateur Radio has only grown wider & more sophisticated, yet still offers the capability of world-wide communications from your armchair.
So pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy this Ham Radio Propaganda from 40 years ago...
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