Posted 21 January 2008 - 12:20 PM
Not just Katrina, there are some articles on line about the storms in the pacific northwest. No land lines, no cell phones for weeks. The only communication was being done by Hams. One man was seriously hurt and help form emergency services was able to be summoned via Ham radio in an article I read. I read another article that during the ice storms recently back east the only communication working was radio. The cell towers don't have backup power to function even if they live through the catastrophy. During 9-11 nothing worked in NY except the Hams. What happens in an emergency is that the remaining cell towers that do function are almost always overwhelmed so very few communications get through if at all. I've seen this at the World Ag Expo in Tulare for many years. I often cannot make a call out of there because of all the guys trying to make calls on the limited tower availability. I was recently listening to some recordings of Ham radio operators that came with my General Class license book. The recordings were of Hams during the Katrina fiasco. Hams knew hours before the government and media that the levees had broken and the flooding what was going on.Hams are always keen on incorporating new technology with radio technology. The current hot thing is to set up a repeater with your computer so you can be out and about and talk with someone all over the world. Yea, you could sit at your computer and do that already but now you can be out in the woods walking and talking to someone driving down the highway in another country. I listened to one guy driving here in California who was talking to a guy hiking in the country in the U.K. Now in a dissaster the internet will most likely not work but the regular radio parts function fine. Most VHF and UHF repeaters have solar backup which means they work off the grid. The repeater I use mostly for talking is entirely batteries and solar. It's up on a hill away from the grid. The entire U.S. could go without power and I'm still able to communicate. I live in a rural area and it is a nice feeling knowing that I have this backup. They got programs where you can talk with astronauts even on the shuttles and space station.Cell phones are great, I use them all the time but it's nice knowing I don't have to rely on someone else to communicate and that location isn't as big an issue. I leave the cell phone in the truck when I go hunting because it doesn't get signal where I go. That's not entirely true, I will take it if I forgot the camera to use the camera function on. As soon as I get my General Class passed next month I'll be able to go High Frequency which means world wide communcation without repeaters or internet which will be cool.I think in 15-20 years there will still be Hams out there although the technology they have added onto their radios may be different. Hams were making telephone calls via their radios back in the 70s long before folks could do that on cell phones. They were sending text messages and images to eachother when most people had never heard of email. Hams are quick to adopt the technology and use it. On some bands you can run 1500 Watts of PEP which you cannot do on CB or with your cell phone. You can cover a lot of area with that much power and an antenna. Heck, we might be talking to people on the moon someday or further. The advantage with Ham radio is the number of bands and frequencies, the power output, antenna options, and ways to communicate. The old days of grand dad sitting behind a huge box of vacuum tubes are an image of Ham Radio's past. The dropping of the Morse Code testing requirement is changing things. I know a lot of guys that never went past technician who are working on getting there high frequency privileges now.