Some thoughts on Ham Radio public service in the 2000s

This started out being a comment in a post on Facebook, but I decided it was both too long and it was taking a different direction than the original post, so here it is…
Background: A post in the Parks on the Air (POTA) Facebook group started out with the usual POTA is the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread theme.
But some comments turned to how it was good that POTA was training people for quick deployment of radios in case of an Emergency. This turned into a debate over whether Ham Radio was really still relevant as an EMCOMM service.
This was my response:

We are given use of a public resource, the airwaves, and the possibility of providing emergency communications was one of (but not the only) reasons for it’s justification. Using that resource as a hobby – recreation – is also a valid reason and we should not feel any shame in using it that way, or feel pressure to earn the right to use that resource by providing some nebulous outdated public service.

Continue Reading…

OTA TV Upgrade

I’ve had a OTA (Over The Air) TV antenna installation for many years. I haven’t had cable in eons and satellite for almost as long. They simply cost too much for what they give – 100 channels and nothing to watch.

OTA is free for the taking and a small investment in equipment gives as good a signal as you can get wherever you are. I live between two major markets, so I put up two antennas and combine the signals onto one line to the TVs.

I’m in the Buffalo area, so that’s my main market. The TV stations are mostly in two directions. A big ridge south of Buffalo provide a hill that has several stations located. The rest are on Grand Island with big 1000+ foot towers. Signals from the south at moderately strong and the ones from Grand Island are so strong you barely need an antenna. Continue Reading…

Site Update

I checked this web site today and found there were a few WordPress updates to perform. So I did. All went well and seems to be working fine.

POTA Update

Well, it’s been more than a year since I mentioned Parks On The Air. It’s still a major source of Ham Radio activity for me.
I’ve been doing activations when I can. I have activated 86 times from 21 different parks. Sometimes, they are two-fers, where you find a spot that is within two parks so that it counts for both, so that inflates the count a bit. But, it’s been great fun and a good way to get outside and play with radios in the great outdoors.

I also hunt from home quite a bit. When you find and call activators in the field from your home station, it’s called hunting. I have accumulated quite a lot of awards that way. I’ve gotten Worked All States with POTA. I’ve had 4200+ contacts while hunting over 1700 unique parks. Compare that to 5700+ QSOs while in a park. Other than dabbling in Field Day or what not, it’s been the main source of fun on the radio.

I managed to get what’s called a Kilo Award at two parks. That’s making over 1000 contacts while activating. It can be over many sessions. I reached that goal at my two closest parks – K6532 Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and K8098 Empire State Trail. They overlap for hundreds of miles across New York State, including just a few blocks from my home. I usually activate from a trailhead (parking lot) a couple miles away. But I’ve used several locations from Buffalo to Medina as well. Continue Reading…

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