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Licence to yak

Ham Radio opens exciting vistas for connectivity sans any moolah

Photo: K. Ganesan

. Talk with a difference Connectivity among Hams is a trend catching up fast

Want to indulge in a yak with the King of Jordan or a resident of Honolulu without having to pay a single penny? It is now possible from places like Guntur, Vijayawada or Hyderabad provided you are a Ham Radio enthusiast.

Advent of cellular phone has made mobile phone-to-mobile phone talk possible anywhere across the world but at an exorbitant cost. A revolutionary technology – Echo-link – with an interface between a hand-held walkie-talkie set of Amateur Radio network and Internet, has paved the way for a person in Vijayawada to talk to any mobile Ham operator in the United States. This unique mix of fun, public service and convenience is the distinguishing characteristic of Amateur Radio. The most exciting part of being a Ham is being able to transcend all man-made ‘status’ boundaries and chat with the Ham on the other side on an equal wave length. Sitting in your home, you could strike a conversation with a Senator, a sailor, an astronaut or a farmer.

Setting up of an echo-link hub in the first floor of the VGTM Urban Development Authority office complex at Lenin Centre will be a rare New Year gift for denizens of this city. The coordinator of Ham Radio Training Centre Arza Ramesh Babu is elated over the increasing number of college and high-school students and professionals from Guntur and Vijayawada showing interest in the training in Ham Radio operation for a license.

Farhan is a Hyderabad-based student who could talk to the King of Jordan, addressing him like any other Ham Radio friend while R. Sarat Babu had the opportunity to converse with the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi more number of times than many Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh. This was possible because they all were licensed Ham operators. A team at Guntur led by T. R. Jayachandar, is also planning an echo-link hub in the city for benefit of the locals.

Growing breed

The breed is growing by the day in this region thanks to active support of the Government and the latest technological advancements. The grand fashion in which the All India Ham Radio Operators’ Annual Conference, Hamfest India 2007 was held at Sri Venkateswara Vignana Mandiram in Guntur goes only to prove the eagerness of the veteran Hams to publicise their hobby.

The two-day event reverberated with experiences from young and old coming from all corners of the country just to establish an ‘eye-ball contact’ with their buddies, with whom they were in touch for over a decade but had only exchanged the colourful ‘QSL Cards’. A few enthusiastic engineering students from electronics and communication wings utilised the occasion to learn how to assemble a radio set and a transmitter using local components, indigenously at a cost of mere Rs. 3,000.

Ham operators in State plan to conduct a 10-day training session on Echo-Link Technology either by the end of this month or in January to train the 100-odd people in Vijayawada and Guntur cities, who have licenses but are inactive. The operators can even send e-mail through High Frequency Radio while on sail, to anywhere in the world.

Hour of crisis

A team of Ham Radio operators were at Port Blair on Andaman Island on a ‘Dx-Expedition’ when the Tsunami struck in December 2005. Mr. Sarat Babu recounts how he was able to contact 12,000 people on the mainland and all over the world and help the Government understand the ground situation when all other communication links were cut. The exemplary services he rendered during the crucial 10-day period brought him recognition in the form of the International Humanitarian Award.

Former third metropolitan magistrate of Vijayawada Nancharaiah and retired R&B Superintending Engineer Suryanarayana are among those who talked to Hams like Rajiv Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan and Charu Hassan. A couple of bankers from Vijayawada are also active Hams.

The operators vividly remember how Rajiv Gandhi was talking to Hams across the country even from the flight by which he went to Visakhapatnam just before he was killed. It was his enthusiasm to introduce innovative things that put the country on the path of revolutionary changes. Those interested to appear for examination could do the same either at Hyderabad or at Visakhapatnam by paying a fee of Rs.10 after training. More details could be had from A. Ramesh Babu on phone No. 9246411775.

RAMESH SUSARLA

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