October | The Survival Mom
What is Ham radio?
Ham radio is another name for amateur radio. Hams are required to take training and become licensed before they are full-fledged ham operators.
Like many things, it can be difficult to pin an exact start date on when amateur (ham) radio started but it was in the general vicinity of 1910. By 1912, it was a popular enough that Congress approved the Radio Act of 1912 to regulate it. Ham radios were limited to the bandwidth around 200 megahertz.
At the time, amateur radio was believed to be worthless because it only transmitted short distances. The restriction to 200 megahertz was expected to be the death knell for amateur enthusiasts. Instead, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) was formed in 1914. This and other technological advances (notably the vacuum tube) allowed messages to be sent much longer distances – even to the moon!
How can it be useful?
Amateur radio is an alternative form of communication for entertainment, information, and assistance in disasters. I highly recommend it for preppers, especially for those who work long distances from home. The husband of one friend always has his handheld radio with him whenever he goes on business trips. His wife carries one in her purse, and they are ready to communicate, anywhere, any time.
It’s also a fun family activity, especially as you begin reaching out and meeting people from all over the country, the world, and even outer space! Yes, you can pick up on conversations from the guys and gals on the International Space Station! Some hams take great pride in collecting Q cards, or QSL cards, that confirm conversations and contacts with other hams. Our instructor showed off his collection of Q cards with a big grin on his face, and no wonder. They came from all over the world, including a few obscure islands in the Pacific.
Kids, especially, would get a huge kick out of collecting Q cards, and what a great way for them to learn geography!
During disasters, hams are often the first to be up and running, transmitting vital messages to emergency personnel.
When disaster strikes, ham networks spring into action. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service.
“Ham radio operators to the rescue after Katrina” NBC News
Salvation Army has its own ham radio division to assist in disasters. If you want to do volunteer work, this is a great way to combine service work with a hobby you enjoy.