I renewed my ham radio license online. (I'm KF6FSJ, which is surprisingly easy to remember as "Kentucky-Fried-6 from San Jose".)
In anticipation of receiving my new license, I found my old handset. I put in new batteries, started scanning and I found a really long "net" checkin on 442.900 MHz.
Google found it for me, of course. They're a bunch of people who check in each night at 11 PM and give answers to trivia questions. There are a TON of them, and how can one be hailing from Juneau, Alaska? And another from Australia?!
I did not know that there's a worldwide VoIP network of ham repeaters! Yes, there are computers that act as audio bridges between the Internet and the 2m and 70cm bands all over the world. It's called The Internet Radio Linking Project and the Wikipedia page has more info.
There's actually a set of these bridging nodes that are semi-permanently linked together, forming the Western Intertie Network. Anyone can listen to the WIN stream online, too.
It's actually kind of boring material, but it's amazing to me to hear ham repeater checkins from all over the world as if it was a repeater up in the Santa Cruz mountains...
I like the idea that in an emergency in San Jose during which normal communications are down, I might be able to hit the internet with VoIP through one of these nodes. (Emergency services during "the big earthquake" is actually why I renewed my license.)
The Internet can even breathe life into the fading field of ham radio.
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