RaDAR – Why RaDAR?

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A very impressive image I found on the web but, do a Google search on “amateur radio” and select “images” and you may get the general idea of what amateur radio is all about or what it’s been all about since the beginning of radio. Hams holding microphones proudly in front of a few or many radios stacked on a desk. Even worse, walking around with a handheld “walkie talkie”!

You may see pictures of a young child calling “CQ, CQ … ” which reminds me of movies with glimpses of “amateur radio” inaccurately or maybe accurately portraying amateur radio giving the “impression” of what amateur radio is.

Many may be frightened away from the shear feeling of a very expensive hobby and it can be! A great expense to sit and hold a microphone in hand to waffle for hours on end. You may be lucky to see a morse code key and “paddles” or “bugs” which would never be recognisable to the newcomer.

The most exciting images may be those shown of astronauts communicating from the space station, also simply holding a microphone and chatting.¬†Often we hear, amateur radio will still be here after everything else fails. Maybe so, but will the amateur radio operator still be able communicate without the comforts he or she is used to? Radio amateurs need to get out of their comfort zones and put themselves into real life situations if we are going to be of any value “when everything else fails”.

It’s not until one gets out of the “shack” and feels the discomfort that one realises this needs to be practised on a regular basis to get used to this situation with the hope of being able to communicate almost as effectively as we do running high power into high gain antennas and the shack being powered from the “grid”. Take that all away and you’re left with a “bare bones” system!

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Introducing amateur radio to young children is a must but it needs to be introduced in the correct way if the child is to find it interesting and to continue using amateur radio for the rest if his / her life. It needs to have a purpose and in learning it needs to be fun.

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Young people need to be shown what the values of radio are. They need to be introduced to all the technologies available to radio amateurs. It is the digital world with an analogue history. With every opportunity the original digital mode, namely CW, should be made known for that is the radio amateurs most basic method of communication!

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Smart devices can be used for many things other than text messaging and occasional voice calling. It’s a tool that can be used for digital communications used in combination with a shortwave radio, in navigation and Internet access when available, all things the RaDAR operator would find useful in his / her quest!

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RaDAR promotes survival and fitness. This needs to be practised on a regular basis too. Too many shack dwellers may find it difficult to walk around the block or go further than the fridge to find something to eat or drink. We need to get out into nature a lot more often, it does wonders for stress and has overall health benefits too. When “all else fails” it’s not only technology but overall household supplies may be impacted! You may need to get to a place quickly to communicate for some reason. You will need to know what to carry with you to survive and to return safely.

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Motorised transport may not be easily available and in order to travel faster than on foot you may need to ride a bicycle. This needs to be practised too, carrying a mast for example is not as easy as it looks. It may be easier to carry more water this way. Any physical activity will get you sweating quickly and these fluids need to be replaced to prevent dehydration.

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You may find yourself crossing mountain passes and not all mountains have mountain streams or at least those you can drink from. Crossing mountains requires extra energy and makes heavy demands on general fitness even when walking.

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You don’t want to get stuck up there in the dark if you’re not prepared for it. Injury or lack of energy due to insufficient food or dehydration can delay your movements to get back home. Helicopters are expensive, preparation is less expensive and beneficial! Also note, there are usually no trees to hang an antenna at higher altitudes!

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Hiking sticks, or RaDAR “painters poles” have proven very valuable under such circumstances.

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Travel as light as you can without cutting back on the absolute essentials. It is a great idea to have a trained animal accompany you on your RaDAR escapades, even a goat if you wish. They can be good early warning systems in the event of danger like snakes or wild animals and can be a good companion too.

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Enjoy RaDAR and practise it regularly.

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