The Yaesu VX-8R: Ham Radio Is Not Dead Yet
So I'm looking through my latest QST that I saved from the jaws of one of Mrs. Axinar's cleaning endeavors and on the inside back cover what did I discover to my surprise but a full page ad for the first new Yaesu HT I've seen in years - the VX-8R.
Now of late I've found myself wondering if Amateur Radio is just about dead. There is a little activity on 2m that I can pick up from Camp Axinar from time to time - enough that I got a couple of new batteries and a new antenna for my last remaining transmitter - my old Yaesu VX-7R.
However, the buildings are so dense here that I can't pick up much of anything on the HF bands with a portable radio. I can hear a few shortwave broadcasters from time to time, but even that is dicey.
Of course so much of what we used to do on the ham radio bands we do now with other technologies. Cell phone calls were $0.50/minute back in 1985 so we had something called the "autopatch" where we could make phone calls from the local repeaters.
In 1993 the commercial Internet had not really started and "online services" charged $6/hr and up, so there were elaborate RF networks using a technology called "packet" where, in a day or so, you could get a message forwarded from Cincinnati through SE Indiana, and then via HF to Phoenix, then New England, then Ireland, then Israel, then Russia (much like the Internet now, sometimes packet email took STRANGE routing paths).
Of course now broadband is reasonably affordable as well as cell phones - up to and including "push-to-talk" systems that work very much like Amateur Radio HT's, so what's left on the ham bands are stuff that still doesn't have commercial equivalents ... easy-to-set-up places to "rag chew" as well as a really awesome emergency communication capability.
Anyone who has ever been in a significant emergency (locally, the Blue Ash tornado of April, 1999 comes to mind) knows that, in such situations the cell phone networks are overwhelmed almost IMMEDIATELY. When I got blown up in 1999, the old Ameritech analog network worked for a grand total of perhaps 15 minutes before being hopelessly overloaded ...
That's where I stopped when the cable went out Sunday afternoon.
Needless to say this ought to be a lesson to everyone - GET YOUR AMATEUR RADIO LICENSE.
Get at least a 2m HT, have your batteries charged at all times and be familiar with what repeaters you can hit and how to pass traffic.
You NEVER know when something terrible is going to hit your area and the only means of communication might be ham radio.
Although - it's somewhat surprising - despite this event being MUCH more widespread than the Blue Ash Tornado of 1999, Verizon never overloaded.
On the other hand, maybe it was BECAUSE it was so widespread. I also imagine Cincinnati Bell POTS landline phones worked in many areas even where there wasn't any power. Back at the Blue Ash Tornado of 1999 there were thousands and thousands of people hitting the analog networks of Ameritech and Airtouch HARD in a relatively concentrated area. This time the cell phone traffic was more spread out - plus more people could communicate through text messages and other digital means that are easier for the networks to regulate.
Okay ... now back to the Yaesu VX-8R ... neatest thing I saw about it is that it has an internal bar antenna for better AM reception but ... oh that's right ... even WLW didn't cover the storm live ...
Yaesu Rep explains VX-8R at 2008 Dayton Hamvention
Universal Radio taking Yaesu VX-8R pre-orders
Labels: Amateur Radio