Monday, 13 September 2010
Rebooting a lapsed hobby
Ever since I was old enough to handle a screwdriver and a soldering iron I have had an interest in radio communications and electronics. I spent many a hour in my childhood scanning the Medium and Short Wave bands with various receivers (usually scavenged from family, neighbours or saved from the dump!) I constructed numerous long-wire and other bizarre antennas. I even did a presentation on my hobby for my English Language O-Level exam - I really did confirm my status as a weirdo!
I played with borrowed CB radios and would have loved to progressed into owning one or becoming a proper radio amateur but unfortunately I simply didn't have the money.
Then the home computer revolution started and my Dragon32 and Tatung Einstein took up most of my time. I left school and went off to University and when I came back home and got a job I spent some of my money on a new fangled radio scanner, a Realistic PRO2022 from Tandy.
A scanner is a radio that covers a wide frequency range, they are controlled my microprocessors and allowing you to listen in to a huge range of different communications including air traffic control, hobbyists (Citizens Band, Amateur radio), security guards, taxi's and a lot more. Back in the late 80s, and early 90s they also allowed access to the emergency services and the old analogue cellular phones! Connecting it up a computer and using some software you even decode pager messages!
Gradually all the 'fun' stuff disappeared, the mobile phones became digital, so did the emergency services. This along with other commitments, such as moving across the country to a new job, getting married and other demands on my time meant the scanner ended up collecting dust in the attic.
Several years ago I briefly dusted it off and brought a couple of other second hand scanners including a Realistic PRO2006 and a brand new Alinco-DJ3X. I also played around with some PMR446 systems, but sadly again they all ended up collecting dust.
Well once again they are out of the boxes and I am having a fun time scanning around for interesting signals, well if you can count listening to the radio microphone at a local church interesting!
I am thinking of buying a CB as it seems to have evolved from the bad old days into something more grown up. Even becoming a DX amateur type system using something called freebanding not legal mind, but then technically using a scanner isn't!
I am even contemplating taking the Radio Amateur exams and actually achieving a childhood dream, well I do now have access to money and did do an electronics degree!
This time I hope it doesn't all fizzle out and it is looking more promising as plans are a foot for me to have my own shack and I won't be spending as much time on my other hobbies next year.