Meet the SW-4U: A four-position ham radio antenna switch with PC control via a USB connection. The switch is controlled by an application program running on the PC that allows you to select any of four antennas, ground all for safety, and to power the switch on and off.
It isn’t easy being a ham operator inside city limits. Restrictions in where you can place antennas, power requirements which can disrupt communications and entertainment systems, and just the sheer amount of electrical noise to contend with can take the fun out of the hobby.
There are dozens of wireless or radio standards with different combinations of spectrum, modulation, and service. Some have survived and others have faded away. Some new standards have been added like 5G and 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6, but what standards or services have disappeared? Here’s my list of “forgotten” wireless technologies.
Proficiency in sending and receiving Morse code — while no longer required for licensure — is the best way to experience traditional ham radio. Today, there are dozens of freely accessible websites and free or inexpensive apps for Android and iOS tablets and phones that provide sophisticated and efficient Morse code training. However, one of my favorites is the Morserino-32: a feature-packed microcontroller-based send and receive trainer, available from Willi Kraml OE1WKL for $99.
Before I discovered ham radio, I was a shortwave listener. On the AM bands, there was Voice of America, Radio Moscow, and the daily time check on WWV. There was also the local clear channel AM broadcast station, WWL in New Orleans. Today, my daily routine includes downloading the latest podcasts before my run, asking Alexa for the forecast, and catching up on the latest news throughout the day through streaming audio.
After creating an Internet connected digital clock using the Adafruit RA8875 driving an seven inch LCD display, I decided to step it up a notch and add several additional features including: the ability to set an alarm; a countdown timer for uses like monitoring an exercise program; a weather display to provide brief conditions at 10 different cities; a real time stock market report that gives the changing prices for a selection of stocks; and lastly (just for fun), a Mandelbrot fractal generator to produce those wonderful images.
By now, you’ve certainly heard of the forthcoming fifth generation (5G) wireless technology. There’s a tremendous amount of hype about 5G as the various cellular operators try to pre-sell you on the new benefits and services. Commercial 5G services won’t go online until later this year, but we should see plenty of 5G action in 2020. For that reason, you’ll need to know more about 5G to understand what impact it will make on you and the world in general. Here’s a status report to bring you up to speed.