More Media Play

2600—The Hacker Quarterly—has an article in the Autumn issue titled, “Post-Apocalyptic Communications.” It reads,

You’ve watched the movies and now you must prepare for the worst. You’re going to need a bunker deep inside a mountain, preferably at high elevation….You will need some form of communication. That pwned [sic] iPhone just won’t do. Sure, it’s unlocked for use on any provider, but on doomsday, it’s more than likely that you won’t be getting any reception. That’s why it’s good to have an amateur radio!

Now, I’m not so sure about the doomsday scenario, but I think it would be a cool thing if more hackers got into ham radio. After all, hams are the hackers of the radio world!

J.P. Armstrong, the author of the piece, has a page devoted to ham radio on his website. I kinda like it because he features my study guides. Thanks, JP!

Computer Magazine Touts Ham Radio

Computerworld, a computer trade magazine, is currently running the article, “Want to bone up on wireless tech? Try ham radio,” on its website. It’s saying what I’ve been saying all along that getting a ham radio license is a good thing for computer professionals, especially those involved with networking.

Here’s what the article has to say about innovation in ham radio:

Reviving innovation
Decades ago, amateur radio operators were on the forefront of scores of technological innovations, including television, digital communications, solid-state design and cellular networks. The hobby’s roots trace back to radio pioneers such as Guglielmo Marconi and FM-inventor Edwin Armstrong.

But in recent years, as many potential new hams were attracted to computers, the Internet and other technologies that they could explore without passing a licensing exam, some veteran hams worried that ham radio was at risk of gradually sliding into stagnation and was perhaps even on the road toward technological irrelevance. Over time, many old-timers worried, experimenters would gradually be replaced by hams more focused on the hobby’s operational aspects, such as restoring antique radios and providing communications services for community parades and other charity events.

Other hams, however, believed that the hobby was actually entering a new era of innovation, one driven by the same type of people lured away from ham radio by advancing digital technologies. They reasoned that a streamlined licensing system, capped by the FCC’s elimination of Morse code testing two years ago, would, over time, revitalize the hobby. This would happen by attracting technically skilled innovators who were interested in more than merely tapping a telegraph key.

It goes on to talk about how hams are working on interesting projects, such as new digital communications techniques, and how hams have parlayed their ham radio hobby into lifelong careers. One example they give is Joe Taylor, K1JT, who is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

The Fun Theory

A frequent contributor, Ralph, AA8RK, forwarded to me a link to the Fun Theory website. According to the website, “…something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.”

The website shows a couple of videos, like the one above, that are examples of how to make good things fun. The Hands-On Museum has a piano staircase, and it is fun!

That got me to thinking about how we can make amateur radio demos more fun. I haven’t come up with any great ideas yet, but if you have one, please comment here. Ham radio has to be fun, or else it’s going to fade into the woodwork.

HP Hypes Ham Radio…

…and their computers, of course.

HP in Real Life – Ham Radio Story is an article on their website that describes how two hams—only know as Andy and Irwin—purportedly use HP computer in their ham radio operations. It’s not very detailed, but at least it doesn’t depict ham radio operators as doddering old folks using antiquated technologies. They point to the following applications:

  • Database logging of radio contacts and calculation of scores when on radio contest expeditions
  • Controlling radios with automatic data exchange between the radio and the Internet to other stations in a worldwide “spotting” network to share contact opportunities and information.
  • Digital signal processing and spectrum analysis using software-defined radios, special software and additional hardware.

Library Patrons to Experience Shortwave Radio

This is an interesting idea. This might be something we could do at the Hands-On Museum when we’re not operating the rig there….Dan

From, Sep 29, 2009

Experience the adventure of shortwave radio at the Norwalk Public Library

NORWALK, CT – SEPTEMBER 29, 2009 – In the midst of today’s electronic gadgetry and communications innovation little is either known or remembered about shortwave radio – sending and receiving. But the Norwalk Public Library, in partnership with the Greater Norwalk Amateur Radio Club (GNARC) is offering an opportunity to experience the thrill and adventure of “ham” radio.

With a 66 foot-long inverted “Vee” antenna mounted on the Main Library’s roof, radio signals from all over the world can be heard on the shortwave receiver in place on the Main Level. The receiver is available for public use. The headset attachment is located at the Information Desk.

The receiver and antenna was installed by Jay Kolinsky, Gus Hedlund and Curt Seaton of the GNARC and Collin Pratt of the Library staff.

Kolinsky explains “Very few people under 40 have ever seen a shortwave receiver much less heard what the actual signals sound like.”

Interestingly, amateur radio operators, also known as “Hams”, are credited with the discovery of long-distance communication. Radio ‘Hams’ conducted the first successful shortwave transatlantic tests in December 1921. For years, shortwave radio was the only, and a popular method of hearing broadcasts from Europe and most all other parts of the world. It has always played an important part in communicating news, information and helping coordinate emergency efforts – it being a “wireless” way to send and receive spoken words, Morse code, and teletype. “The shortwave signals go through the air,” Kolinsky continues, “and are not dependent on telephone lines, internet and other physical connections.”

If the public begins to show interest, the GNARC will conduct shortwave orientations to explain and demonstrate shortwave radio, foreign broadcasts, and talking to people – other amateur operators – across the globe right from the Library without connecting to any wire communications grid.

The GNARC, founded in the 1930s, has about 100 members from all walks of life and meets monthly.

“Hams” in the United States are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. They are authorized to use thousands of radio frequencies for transmitting. Besides making friends worldwide, “Hams” continue to handle emergency radio traffic during times of severe disasters when electricity, phone, commercial and government communications systems fail.

For more information about Ham Radio, visit the GNARC website – or contact Jay Kolinsky at

For use of the shortwave receiver installed at the Main library inquire at the Information Desk, Norwalk Public Library, 1 Belden Avenue. Corner of Mott Avenue and Belden Avenue.