Simple & Easy – Emergency Preparedness
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LDS Emergency Resources – Communications pt3

LDS - Emergency Preparedness

As radio started to emerge – and this is back in the 1890’s, 1894-1899 – Marconi did some interesting experiments over in Europe and found that he could create a big spark and it would send a signal that was receivable and they were all excited cause first it went a couple of miles, then it went 25 miles. Anyway, they created a radio out of this and it took a huge amount of spectrum.

Now, the electromagnetic frequencies are limited. They’re not going forever, so they’re limited. The idea nowadays is to use the least amount of bandwidth that you can to communicate with. Interesting developments in radio – and I won’t bore you with this – but I think it was fascinating. And if you ever want to know what happened to channel 1 for your TV, it’s an interesting story.

Radios were huge to begin with. With the advent of vacuum tubes, this was a huge development and this made a tremendous difference in the way radios could be made – much smaller and far more powerful. Interesting thing: there was lots of advancements in the vacuum tube and this just really made a difference as to how radio signals could be communicated.

As this became commercialized in the early 1900’s, interesting sad thing that I learned was, part of the devastation of Titanic – there were two competing factions in radio dominance in the commercial world. This was during the merry time of the marines and it’s so, so sad. And it came down to a matter of pride that a certain communication was heard to be from company A as opposed to company B – they wouldn’t respond to it. And because they used different codes in their Morse code, they could tell who was sending it. So search ships never responded to the disaster signal only because it was by a different company that they were working for. And it delayed dramatically the opportunity for other ships to go there. So, politics entered the radio system.

1961, amateur radio now was getting into space with the launch of the Oscar Satellite – you can actually relay signals through the satellite of the amateur radio. The 70’s was a big, big time for radio, but it was becoming stagnant – dropping amateur radio licenses, kind of held about 250,000 in the US and just kind of stayed there. And one of the things that they did, that made it jump up – do you think of what it might have been? They eliminated Morse code as a requisite for licensing. And that occurred in 1991. Well it soared to 500,000 then up to 710,000 – today it sits about 850,000-900,000 amateur radio licenses.

Interestingly enough, the world is divided up, given the number. For example, my call sign is KR6PA. Anytime you hear a 6 in a call sign, it’s California. They gave California their own number – there are so many amateur radio operators in California. Arizona, Utah, Oregon – all of those are sevens and it moves across the US. And when you hear a call sign, you can tell about where it’s coming from.

So, in contests and so forth, when these guys have these contests and they’re trying to get contacts from all over the world, a 6 hardly will be able to respond into because they all want all the exotic numbers. Let me tell you a little about radios and things and we’ll show you, talk a little bit about the differences between some communication things that we talked about – why has the church selected, and not only the church, but why many emergency response organizations have selected amateur radio as their mode of communication? And there are good reasons for that.

First of all, does anyone know how fast radio signals travels? It’s actually just about the same speed as light – just a touch under, but it’s so little that they don’t even make a difference on it. So it’s about the speed of light. On a HF band, when you key off your band to transmit, when you say a word, in one second it’s gone around the world 7 and a half times – that’s how fast it travels.

Okay – where did the word HAM radio come from? YouTube’s – there’s a zillion of them here and some are so silly that I won’t go on with that. But they talk about guys at Harvard named Hyman, Almy and Murray and they created the first little amateur radio station and they were wiped out by the federal government and taken away – they pleaded their case and talked about these college students that happened to be HAM initials – called the little HAM station. Then they tried out in congress and it allowed them that frequency spectrum.

ARRL, who’s the government body of amateur radio in the United States, has researched that they cannot find any Hyman, Almy and Murray at Harvard and that it’s highly unlikely that that was the case. It might sound pretty plausible, but anyway. If you hear the word “amateur” – you can hear the word “hamateur”, you know, HAM come right out of it. They talk about the accent, it might have come out of it from England, like how would they say it over there.

The transition from telegraph to wireless included many of the telegraph guys. Now, these guys were professionals, they could really go on that key when they were sending Morse code. So many of these guys, when the wires were cut and it went wireless, they moved over, professionally speaking into wireless. But the wireless communication was still a lot on the Morse code. Morse code is a very efficient way to send a message, really, if you know it because it takes very little bandwidth and it cuts right through interference where a voice can get wiped out by interference, atmospheric or other stations.

So they still send a lot of messages using Morse code. The pros that came in and hurt the amateurs with Morse code, cause a lot of the amateurs now consider themselves as Morse code senders – they referred to them, because they were so bad at it, as ham fisted. I like that one. I’m sticking with the ham fisted. Because it’s truly hard to offend an amateur person, except for these guys here, cause you’re a little goofy to be one. You can’t, so they probably took it as a compliment and said that they were ham fisted.

Interestingly enough also, and I hear the way that I ought to be hearing, to enhance the signal on the little receiver in Morse code, they used to take a tobacco tin lid and set on top of the speaker and it enhanced the signal. Well, that was just no good as far as pros were concerned, you could hear that it didn’t belong there – but it enhanced the sound from these guys and that was where the term “he has a tin ear” came from.

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