More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Taking Amateur Radio to the next level.

It occurs to me that opportunities are being missed to bring amateur radio into the 21st century. Amateur radio has up until recently been at the forefront of technical innovation and in some areas still is, but the mobile telephone market has left us eating dust to some extent.

We have seen some top end black boxes with all sorts of built in digit-modes functionality and with D-Star we have the potential for a repeater system with the usefulness that almost matches that of the mobile telephone network, but have a look at that mobile telephone in you pocket and what it can do.

Mobile telephone technology has got to be cheap due to the shear numbers of them produced, so where are the cameras in our hand held vhf/uhf transceivers? If the ability to film and send both stills and movies can be built into a phone, then why not a hand held radio? Do we need the expense of D-Star when cheap digital encoding chips exist in every mobile phone? Surely if we can buy an Internet capable mobile phone we should be able to link every new amateur radio via IRLP in a similar way using every other station as a digipeater with base stations connected to the Internet. There would be no need for expensive to run and maintain repeaters when every user is a potential cell in a network that would allow every amateur to talk every other amateur almost wherever they are on a simple mobile phone sized handheld. Maybe it is time for an amateur radio version of the Internet too; a natural progression from the now old hat packet network. A private network exclusively for amateur radio and run be radio amateurs it would host amateur radio communication systems, such as IRLP, Echolink, the DX Cluster and other information free of adverts and wires for the most part but also interconnected to the web. It would provide near bulletproof communications in a crisis because if the power failed or an optic fibre link went down amateurs would be up and running using batteries and generators, hand held and mobile transceivers.

I would actually like to see mobile phones built into my radios, which would make possible and simple phone/Internet/amateur radio linking. Allowing the remote control of powerful home HF stations from tiny portable handsets or vehicle-mounted rigs. These ideas would require possibly a few changes in the regulations but seem perfectly reasonable to me. My only reservation is that although I want the ability to do these thing I might be disinclined to use some of them because as someone said, “it’s not real radio”.

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