It seems very easy these in today’s world to contact anyone, anyplace in the world, at any time. The internet and voice over IP has basically taken over the world of communications, and this is not a bad thing, just something that has happened. But, think about what would happen if the internet ceased to exist? I am not talking about “doomsday” and I am not a “prepper” but I do remember a time before the internet, and I do not take it for granted.
In it’s early days the internet used to be funded and operated by the US Government and various large research universities around the world. The goal of the internet back then was to give the major universities a way for scientists and other researchers to communicate and quickly exchange information. Everything was text based, and the reality was, it was fast. It was not the internet that we know today.
Over the years the internet has changed and become one that is almost soley dedicated to corporate sales and profit. From the provider that charges you money to provide the service to your home, to the advertisers that support the site (and yes, I do run ads on my site as well), to the hosting companies that use your personal information to grow their businesses (there is no such thing as privacy on the internet). Everyone is making money someplace along the way. But, at the same token, someone with the proverbial ax to grind, could shut it all down. Then what do you do?
On another scale, a hurricane or tornado swoops through your community and takes out cell towers, internet feeds, and phone lines. How are you supposed to communicate? Well…. do not forget about Amateur Radio otherwise known as “ham radio”. It’s been around almost since radio was invented, but it has evolved. No longer is it a bunch of old geezers sitting around a room filled with radios and turning dials (well, those shacks still exist), but ham radio is using more and more digital and modernized communications to go along with the old methods of phone (voice), cw (Morse code), and RTTY (radio teletype).
My setup uses a transceiver (I bought it used and it still has a ton of life left in it), an antenna tuner, a Signalink audio module (interface between computer and radio), and a Linux desktop that also runs my web site, email, etc. And of course the software. In this case I am going to talk about JS8Call. JS8 expands the FT8 protocol and instead of just allowing 15 second communication (basically exchange of contact information) it allows true conversation and an exchange of information. This exchange of information is the whole purpose of the community part of ham radio.
In future articles I am going to go more into depth of JS8Call, including the setup, the operation, and things you can do with it. In the meantime, let me show you a contact map. The blue flags on the attached map are contacts made from my station in Babson Park, FL with 100W of output power, a inverted V dipole center fed antenna 30 feet off the ground, and the equipment described above.
I have literally reached around the world without spending once minute on the internet, without getting one advertisement, and without being annoyed by a single advertisement. Advertising is not allowed on amateur radio.