In case you haven’t noticed, there is something really cool happening with downloaded audio files. No, I don’t mean the open sharing (some say “pirating”) of music files. I am talking about podcasting. The basic idea is anyone with a soundcard-enabled PC can create a “broadcast” (i.e., radio program), capture it in the form of an mp3 audio file and distribute it via the Internet. One convenient way to listen to these audio files is via an Apple iPod or other mp3 player, hence the name podcasting. Apple’s iPod and the companion software iTunes, is a whole ‘nuther topic all by itself as it is changing how people listen to music and other audio programs.
There are podcasts popping up everywhere, since the barriers to entry are low and it seems that everyone has something to say. The topics covered are all over the map, including music oriented programming and “talk radio” type programming. Many of these are targeted at specific interest groups. Not surprisingly, there are many technology-oriented podcasts, including This Week in Amateur Radio, a very impressive ham radio program.
You can play these podcasts on any modern PC, so you don’t have to have an iPod or other mp3 players. Microsoft Windows comes standard with Windows Media Player and winamp is very popular mp3 player for Windows.
Chris K0CAO and I wrote an article about the Colorado 14er Event that was published in the October issue of QST magazine. During the event, ham radio operators operate from the summits of Colorado 14,000 foot mountains.
You can see the article on-line at the Colorado 14er Event web site.
The ARRL issued this press release on the ham radio response to Katrina:
What IS Working? Ham Radio!
Newington, CT Sept 2, 2005 — Over 500 ham radio operators are providing emergency communications in the hurricane devastated areas while other systems are still being repaired. Hundreds more are aiding right from their home by relaying messages to families around the country. The Amateur Radio operators, often called “hams,” are working in shelters, offices of emergency preparedness and many temporary locations being used in the disaster response. Because of their communications work, hundreds of lives have been saved already. Hundreds more ham volunteers are in neighboring states and ready to come in once emergency organizations are able to enter the affected areas.
< complete text at the ARRL web site>
Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast quite hard. As often happens, the normal communication links such as landline telephones and mobile/cell phones are not functioning in the disaster area. This is where amateur (ham) radio plays a key role in emergency situations. Ham radio operators are prepared to operate under adverse conditions and can get on the air even when the power is out.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) is a group of ham radio volunteers that support the work of the Salvation Army. Check out and support the good work that these folks do.
If you are a ham radio operator and want to help, don’t just rush into the situation. Here’s the latest from the ARRL on how ham operators can assist:
Amateur Radio emergency communication volunteers needed! (Sep 2, 2005) — UPDATE — The ARRL now is seeking experienced Amateur Radio emergency volunteers to help supplement communication for American Red Cross feeding and sheltering operations in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle–as many as 200 locations in all. Special consideration will be given to operators who have successfully completed the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications course training (Level I minimum) to serve as team leaders. These volunteer operators will help to provide communication and equipment for relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers may face hardship conditions without the usual amenities and will need to provide their own transportation to the marshaling area.
Working in cooperation with the ARRL, http://katrina.ab2m.net/ will now be handling all volunteer sign ups for the Katrina Relief effort. If you have already entered your information to Katrina@arrl.org, your information will be forwarded to AB2M to avoid duplication.
Katrina@arrl.org should be used for all other inquiries to the ARRL regarding Hurricane Katrina.
Keep an eye on the ARRL web site for further updates.