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Alternate methods



There are a lot of "gee whiz" means to communicate in today's world.  Cell
phones, Wi-fi, trunking, etc., they're all great.  Unfortunately, when there
is some type of natural (or unnatural) disaster, most of that stuff becomes
of no use...if any stay on the air, they'll be jammed with personal users
(remember 9/11 and cellphones?).  More than likely, they'll be dead....no
power, antennas down, who knows?

History bears out the fact that when all else fails, Amateur Radio is there
and working.  No fancy doo-dads, just plain and simple communications,
HF/VHF/UHF.  Sure, satellite would be great...but, would ham satellite
antennas have fared any better than the commercial systems?  Additional
power for rotators?

HTs with rubber ducks...HF with the antenna on your car/truck/rv...or toss a
wire up in a tree, drop it out a window....

We can debate the benefits of LEO, HEO and Geosync...but, none will give you
total coverage of the globe....and Murphy's Law will pretty much take care
of whether the satellite footprint is where you need it or not.  Yes, store
and forward can help a lot, but sometimes you need "real time"
communications.

I would think more people have "go kits" with capability for simple
operations.  I work with a guy that regularly does CW with 200 mw, on his
mobile antenna, during his lunch hour halfway around the world.  Think how
long your gel-cell will power a rig like that.  And even though I am not a
fan of CW, the human brain/ear combination can get a lot of traffic through.
Stephen Hawking does 15 wpm through his voice synthesizer, somebody doing
20+ wpm can get a lot of traffic through to the outside world.

2 meter/70cm/FRS/GMRS can handle a bunch of local traffic.....

When a natural disaster happens in my area...and living in North Carolina,
it's not a question of if, only a question of when...be it ice storm,
hurricane or tornado or something else, I plan on having something on the
air if I'm still alive....and I'm not going to lament that fact that there
doesn't happen to be a satellite available.  If there is and it suits my
needs, that's what my Arrow and HT can do...but if not, it won't keep me
from communicating.

In times like these, instead of complaining of how "(pick your favorite
organization to bash here)" wasn't prepared, WE should all take a look at
how we can personally become better at what we do....and offer our prayers
to those that have been affected and those that have and are stepping in to
aid those affected by the tsunami.

73 de Tim, K4SHF
Amsat-NA #35580

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