In a few weeks time, I’ll be sitting my amateur radio (Ham) exam. I’ll be issued a callsign and legally entitled to transmit at low power and on a wide variety of frequencies. One day I’ll graduate through my intermediate and full licenses, unlocking a 400w maximum transmitting power and across a broader spectrum of wavelengths, but just being legally active is enough for me.
Outside of professional and commercial groups, vehicle-based radio communications is far less commonplace today than once it was, but it strikes me that – out of all the automotive websites, forums and blogs out there – the Hooniverse faithful is most likely to have kept old-school mobile comms alive. So, what ya got?
My father has been a Radio Ham for most of my life, and I’m a little ashamed that it has taken me over 30 years to join him. Every car he’s owned has ended up with a mobile transmitting capability, previously on VHF and UHF, but more recently on HF frequencies. This means you’ll never buy a car from him that hasn’t received a cookie-cutter to the roof. I’ll never forget family holidays where Dad would end up speaking to the local group. On a trip to Florida in ’98, he fell in with a guy called Robert, who actually invited us round to his house. We took a ride out in his Dodge Spirit to his local Ham equipment dealer. A retired navy guy, he was astonishingly welcoming. He’s passed on, now. RIP KB4 USW.
It’s partly because of people like Robert, and my Dad, that I want to get into the hobby. But it’s also because of the tradition. Aside from Ham, CB is still very much alive, too, but rather more so in the USA than over here. Indeed, a CB set up was a factory option in many cars at the turn of the 80s, such as the Ford setup shown above. So, who here runs any mobile communications setup today that doesn’t involve a telephone?
(Image courtesy of The Carchive)