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Ham Radio in the 21st Century

Many people think of Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) as hunched over a large bench full of receivers, transmitters, amplifiers, and meters. They picture a forest of antennas outside of the station.

Some of the time, they’re right. Just take a look at the station and antennas IZ4FVW has set up. Before I go any further, I have to say that yes, I’m jealous :)

The fact of the matter is that these days, it’s not all necessary. It sounds like fun to use a big antenna and some power to talk halfway around the world. But you don’t need it.

With my little VX-6R only puts out 5 watts on frequencies that don’t go too far, but I can still talk to Hawaii 8) How can this be? Repeaters and the Internet :D

Repeaters are great things. You don’t see them in CB, Family Radio Service (FRS) or very often in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Repeaters do just what their name says – they repeat signals. The advantage of using repeaters is that you can use a relatively low power transmitter to talk to a repeater which will then rebroadcast that transmission with higher power and usually from a better position – like the top of a building. Repeaters are often linked together into systems which can reach for hundreds of miles.

This was a great system but it got better when someone decided that it might be interesting if one were to link repeaters via the internet and Voice Over Internet Protocol – VOIP. By linking repeaters over the internet, it’s possible for someone like me with a small, hand held radio to talk to someone else almost anywhere in the world.

All this can be had for around $100 total investment along with a little studying and a test.

As LawDog says, it’s great to live in the future 8)

Here are a few links for more information:

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