History UsefulNotes / TwoWayRadio

6th Jul '15 5:47:45 AM demonfiren
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This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[note]]No doubt in honor of Marconi[[/note]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while [=CBers=] traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[note]]Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.[[/note]]
to:
This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[note]]No doubt in honor of Marconi[[/note]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while [=CBers=] traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[note]]Wifi SSIDs [=SSIDs=] qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.[[/note]]
6th Jul '15 5:44:14 AM demonfiren
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A thing noted in the HollywoodCB article is that in many situations, a fictional character will pick up a mic and always be on the right frequency. This is not entirely false, but it only works if the party you're trying to contact is within range and listening to a calling frequency; these are specific channels that users of the band will tend to listen to as a sort of home frequency. (Some examples include Channel 19 for U.S. CB, 2182 [=KHz=] for maritime distress signals, and 14.285 [=MHz=] for upper sideband voice on the 20m amateur radio band.) However, when John [=McClane=] tries to contact law enforcement on CB in the ''Franchise/DieHard'' movies, that usually won't work; unless a local law enforcement agency is monitoring the citizens bands (probably emergency channel 9, and likely only for highway patrol purposes if that), the only other people to hear would be CB users. Most regulatory agencies assign specific frequency bands for public, broadcast, business, and public safety use, alongside things like ISM (industrial/scientific/medical) bands, that tend to get cluttered mainly with computer and cordless phone signals, among other utility signals, and although you can usually listen in with a scanner, you won't be able to transmit without modifying amateur gear or building your own, and that can get you in a lot of trouble. These allocations will frequently vary from country to country as well; for example, because of extensive use of unlicensed GMRS walkie-talkies by US civilians in border areas (where it was technically illegal by international treaty), Canada was forced to reassign a number of frequencies used there mainly for fire and other public safety use to the public because there was no way to control the flood of radio traffic. In addition, tourists from Europe coming to North America with PMR446 walkie-talkies frequently wind up stomping on US amateur radio bands that use the same allocation, and the US military got enough mileage out of FRS gear (often sent in care packages from home) that the Pentagon actually started ordering walkie-talkies keyed specifically to military channels.
to:
A thing noted in the HollywoodCB article is that in many situations, a fictional character will pick up a mic and always be on the right frequency. This is not entirely false, but it only works if the party you're trying to contact is within range and listening to a calling frequency; these are specific channels that users of the band will tend to listen to as a sort of home frequency. (Some examples include Channel 19 for U.S. CB, 2182 [=KHz=] for maritime distress signals, and 14.285 [=MHz=] for upper sideband voice on the 20m amateur radio band.) However, when John [=McClane=] tries to contact law enforcement on CB in the ''Franchise/DieHard'' movies, that usually won't work; unless a local law enforcement agency is monitoring the citizens bands (probably emergency channel 9, and likely only for highway patrol purposes if that), the only other people to hear would be CB users. Most regulatory agencies assign specific frequency bands for public, broadcast, business, and public safety use, alongside things like ISM (industrial/scientific/medical) bands, that tend to get cluttered mainly with computer and cordless phone signals, among other utility signals, and although you can usually listen in with a scanner, you won't be able to transmit without modifying amateur gear or building your own, and that can get you in a lot of trouble. These allocations will frequently vary from country to country as well; for example, because of extensive use of unlicensed GMRS walkie-talkies by US civilians in border areas (where it was technically illegal by international treaty), Canada was forced to reassign a number of frequencies used there mainly for fire and other public safety use to the public because there was no way to control the flood of radio traffic. In addition, tourists from Europe coming to North America with PMR446 [=PMR446=] walkie-talkies frequently wind up stomping on US amateur radio bands that use the same allocation, and the US military got enough mileage out of FRS gear (often sent in care packages from home) that the Pentagon actually started ordering walkie-talkies keyed specifically to military channels.

This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[note]]No doubt in honor of Marconi[[/note]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[note]]Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.[[/note]]
to:
This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[note]]No doubt in honor of Marconi[[/note]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers [=CBers=] traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[note]]Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.[[/note]]
25th Jun '15 7:14:06 AM Morgenthaler
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Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, created by touching a pin or thin wire to a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler to construct (not to mention wonkier -- tubes burn out just like light bulbs), but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
to:
Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, created by touching a pin or thin wire to a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler to construct (not to mention wonkier -- tubes burn out just like light bulbs), but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, ''Film/TheDayAfter'', using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
26th Sep '13 8:27:50 PM Doryna
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Updated hottip to note markup.
This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[hottip:*:no doubt in honor of Marconi]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[hottip:*:Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.]]
to:
This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation, or even back to the earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[hottip:*:no M,[[note]]No doubt in honor of Marconi]], Marconi[[/note]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[hottip:*:Wifi [[note]]Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.]] [[/note]]
24th Apr '13 9:23:24 AM jmaynard
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ham radio notes
Then there's amateur radio, aka ham radio. Once upon a time, before computers, it was one of the major geek preoccupations along with pulp fiction and the like; these days, it's seen as being largely the preserve of grouchy old men who are too far behind the times to use internet chat like everyone else. However, if you want to do anything experimental with radio, being a ham (and frequently finding an "elmer", or experienced mentor) is all but a necessity. Ham radio still has the advantage of being usable in parts of the world that are extremely isolated and sometimes even uninhabited; some of the stranger extreme adventure trips people take are for the sole purpose of going to some remote island like Bouvet or Clipperton and work as many landside hams as they can reach, just so they can say they've been there. This also has the side effect that in years past, hams have provided critical communication services in disaster areas; although the need for this has dropped somewhat with the wide availability of satellite and cellular communications, the amateur community still comes in handy at times, and many national radio associations organize a yearly holiday of sorts called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Day_(amateur_radio) Field Day]], which is largely devoted to practicing emergency communications in a contest format. (Of course, there's no shortage of people who take the hobby [[SeriousBusiness waaaaay too seriously]], especially oldtimers who resent newbies who don't have to learn Morse Code, as well as people who put enough antennas on their cars to make them look like giant porcupines, but that's just like any other geek culture.) As for shooting skip, CB-style... not only do amateur radio operators have their own satellites to work from, but there's a few ambitious hams who regularly use the moon as a reflector for transmitting signals to people on Earth.
to:
Then there's amateur radio, aka ham radio. ('''Not''' "HAM" radio. It's not an acronym.) Once upon a time, before computers, it was one of the major geek preoccupations along with pulp fiction and the like; these days, it's seen as being largely the preserve of grouchy old men who are too far behind the times to use internet chat like everyone else. However, if you want to do anything experimental with radio, being a ham (and frequently finding an "elmer", or experienced mentor) is all but a necessity. Ham radio still has the advantage of being usable in parts of the world that are extremely isolated and sometimes even uninhabited; some of the stranger extreme adventure trips people take are for the sole purpose of going to some remote island like Bouvet or Clipperton and work (make contacts with) as many landside hams as they can reach, just so they can say they've been there. This also has the side effect that in years past, hams have provided critical communication services in disaster areas; although the need for this has dropped somewhat with the wide availability of satellite and cellular communications, the amateur community still comes in handy at times, and many national radio associations organize a yearly holiday of sorts called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Day_(amateur_radio) Field Day]], which is largely devoted to practicing emergency communications in a contest format. (Of course, there's no shortage of people who take the hobby [[SeriousBusiness waaaaay too seriously]], especially oldtimers who resent newbies who don't have to learn Morse Code, as well as people who put enough antennas on their cars to make them look like giant porcupines, but that's just like any other geek culture.) As for shooting skip, CB-style... not only do amateur radio operators have their own satellites to work from, but there's a few ambitious hams who regularly use the moon as a reflector for transmitting signals to people on Earth.
2nd Mar '13 11:18:39 AM nombretomado
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A thing noted in the HollywoodCB article is that in many situations, a fictional character will pick up a mic and always be on the right frequency. This is not entirely false, but it only works if the party you're trying to contact is within range and listening to a calling frequency; these are specific channels that users of the band will tend to listen to as a sort of home frequency. (Some examples include Channel 19 for U.S. CB, 2182 [=KHz=] for maritime distress signals, and 14.285 [=MHz=] for upper sideband voice on the 20m amateur radio band.) However, when John [=McClane=] tries to contact law enforcement on CB in the ''DieHard'' movies, that usually won't work; unless a local law enforcement agency is monitoring the citizens bands (probably emergency channel 9, and likely only for highway patrol purposes if that), the only other people to hear would be CB users. Most regulatory agencies assign specific frequency bands for public, broadcast, business, and public safety use, alongside things like ISM (industrial/scientific/medical) bands, that tend to get cluttered mainly with computer and cordless phone signals, among other utility signals, and although you can usually listen in with a scanner, you won't be able to transmit without modifying amateur gear or building your own, and that can get you in a lot of trouble. These allocations will frequently vary from country to country as well; for example, because of extensive use of unlicensed GMRS walkie-talkies by US civilians in border areas (where it was technically illegal by international treaty), Canada was forced to reassign a number of frequencies used there mainly for fire and other public safety use to the public because there was no way to control the flood of radio traffic. In addition, tourists from Europe coming to North America with PMR446 walkie-talkies frequently wind up stomping on US amateur radio bands that use the same allocation, and the US military got enough mileage out of FRS gear (often sent in care packages from home) that the Pentagon actually started ordering walkie-talkies keyed specifically to military channels.
to:
A thing noted in the HollywoodCB article is that in many situations, a fictional character will pick up a mic and always be on the right frequency. This is not entirely false, but it only works if the party you're trying to contact is within range and listening to a calling frequency; these are specific channels that users of the band will tend to listen to as a sort of home frequency. (Some examples include Channel 19 for U.S. CB, 2182 [=KHz=] for maritime distress signals, and 14.285 [=MHz=] for upper sideband voice on the 20m amateur radio band.) However, when John [=McClane=] tries to contact law enforcement on CB in the ''DieHard'' ''Franchise/DieHard'' movies, that usually won't work; unless a local law enforcement agency is monitoring the citizens bands (probably emergency channel 9, and likely only for highway patrol purposes if that), the only other people to hear would be CB users. Most regulatory agencies assign specific frequency bands for public, broadcast, business, and public safety use, alongside things like ISM (industrial/scientific/medical) bands, that tend to get cluttered mainly with computer and cordless phone signals, among other utility signals, and although you can usually listen in with a scanner, you won't be able to transmit without modifying amateur gear or building your own, and that can get you in a lot of trouble. These allocations will frequently vary from country to country as well; for example, because of extensive use of unlicensed GMRS walkie-talkies by US civilians in border areas (where it was technically illegal by international treaty), Canada was forced to reassign a number of frequencies used there mainly for fire and other public safety use to the public because there was no way to control the flood of radio traffic. In addition, tourists from Europe coming to North America with PMR446 walkie-talkies frequently wind up stomping on US amateur radio bands that use the same allocation, and the US military got enough mileage out of FRS gear (often sent in care packages from home) that the Pentagon actually started ordering walkie-talkies keyed specifically to military channels.
24th Sep '12 4:18:23 PM evdebs
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Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, usually using a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler to construct (not to mention wonkier -- tubes burn out just like light bulbs), but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
to:
Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, usually using created by touching a pin or thin wire to a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler to construct (not to mention wonkier -- tubes burn out just like light bulbs), but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
24th Sep '12 1:13:07 AM evdebs
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Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, usually using a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler, but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
to:
Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built; the original cat's-whisker diode, usually using a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler, simpler to construct (not to mention wonkier -- tubes burn out just like light bulbs), but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
24th Sep '12 12:34:10 AM evdebs
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This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation and the use of Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[hottip:*:no doubt in honor of Marconi]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[hottip:*:Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.]]
to:
This leads into how using a two-way radio is different from a face-to-face conversation, or even a telephone call. Most uses of two-way radio place a high priority on unambiguous communication, leading to the creation of special vocabulary and codes, of which the most famous are probably the 10-codes that originated in police work in the United States and are widely used by [=CBers=]. (Ironically, the 10-codes are dying out among police, at least in part because only a few of the codes (like 10-4 (received) and 10-20 (location) are universally understood between departments.) Amateur radio operators use a vocabulary of initialisms, many of which date from the early days of the Marconi Corporation and Corporation, or even back to the use earliest uses of landline Morse code; these include CQ (roughly, "Anyone out there?"), OM/YL (Old Man/Young Lady; "wife" is often translated as XYL), SK ("silent key" -- usually means "I have stopped transmitting", but it's also used as a term of respect for the dead), and the Q codes, a series of three-letter codes originated in pre-WWI Britain and used primarily for operational and frequency issues. Since letters can be confused over a bad connection, it's very common to use a MilitaryAlphabet, usually the NATO spelling alphabet, to spell things out over voice links. For identification, nearly everyone uses some kind of call sign; various countries have official callsign prefixes assigned by the International Telecommunications Union (the US uses A, N, W, K; the UK uses M,[[hottip:*:no doubt in honor of Marconi]], G, 2, V, and Z; Canada uses C and also some V signs inherited from the UK; Russia uses R and U; and so on), while CBers traditionally use pseudonyms or "handles". [[hottip:*:Wifi SSIDs qualify as callsigns, although Wifi doesn't distinguish between voice and data traffic and doesn't have specific licensing requirements in most countries. It does have rather specific ''operating'' requirements, but unless you're using a computer from outside the country you're in, or going through the tedium of setting up a wifi connection manually, the computer and access point will hide this from you.]]
23rd Sep '12 11:58:40 AM evdebs
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Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler, but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
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Finally, a word about gear. Radio was the first major application for semiconductor technology, way back when computers were analog devices and/or plans for complicated mechanical devices that never quite got built.built; the original cat's-whisker diode, usually using a chunk of galena (lead sulfide) or occasionally even the rust on an old razor blade, has long since given way to a silicon or germanium signal diode; in both cases, the diode forces the electricity from the signal to go through in only one direction, in the process removing the carrier wave (the signal itself) and leaving only the sound wave behind. The vast majority of radio gear over the last fifty years has been transistor-based, often with more or less computerized front ends. However, there's still a strong contingent of fans of vacuum tube radios, and they do still have their uses. In story terms, tube devices are usually simpler, but can be more robust in certain circumstances, such as stories AfterTheEnd. (For example, John Lithgow's character at the end of TheDayAfter, using an ancient tube-based ham radio to try to reach anyone who hasn't been blown up; in this case, the nuclear attack would have cooked any unhardened transistor-based devices, so the tube radio was pretty much it.) Also, as mentioned above, all radio has distance limitations based on power, frequency, and location of the transmitter, and just because you can hear them does not necessarily mean they can hear you, and vice versa.
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