01 February 2011

Radio communication still kicking

In a growing age of cell phones, radio seems like an outdated mode of communication, but Tauranga Emergency Communications Group president Brian Heywood says amateur radio is still very much alive and kicking.

Gordon Cooper explains the radios to Timi and Hamiria Tawa at Gate Pa shopping centre.

“It’s not outdated. We are used by the Police for search and rescue and civil defence when they need radio communication.”

Celebrating Amateur Radio Day on Saturday, shoppers at Gate Pa shopping centre can experience how to use amateur radio communication. Brian says they have been communicating with other amateur radio users across the country.

“We have set up a van here with various different types of radios, and have been talking to Hamilton and Napier this morning. Just before, we overheard a conversation between a chap in Arizona and a man in Hamilton.”

Using the frequency of 3.6MHz, Brian says “you would normally expect to be able to get all the way down New Zealand on that frequency. Using radio repeaters through the internet, you can talk to overseas as well”.

Amateur radio, or ham radio, is what Brian describes as a “multipurpose hobby”, where people use radio communication equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for public services, recreation and self-training.

“We aren’t here to make money out of it. It is a great way to make international friendship. One of the men here went for a trip through the United States 10 years ago, and he stayed with hams all the way through. It just opens up a sphere of friendship”

The Tauranga Emergency Communications Group, or Branch 88, currently has 15 members. There is also a Tauranga District Amateur Radio Club and a branch in Te Puke. For more information call Brian on 543 3677.

Posted at 11:21am Saturday 15th Jan, 2011 | By Laura Weaser laura@thesun.co.nz