By MLBaron Correspondent / KA1WBH
Rick Griffiths, a retired engineer had an interesting career working on advanced wind tunnel experimentation. The focus was on the winds impact and influence of buildings in the big city. Large complex models of cities such as Manhattan and Cleveland were some of the models created in large scale for the research.
Today he spends a lot of time with one of his favorite hobbies, amateur radio also known as HAM*. There are thousands of amateur radio operators world wide some of which can communicate around the world with their specialized radio and antenna arrays. One of the primary missions of amateur radio is to provide emergency communications, promoting international goodwill, and the continued experimentation with radios built from scratch to the sophisticated levels of satellite use. Famous amateur radio operators - some of who have passed on - which are called "a silent key" include Walter Cronkite, Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor. Bill Clinton, Henry Winkler and Jimmy Carter continue to be licensed HAM operators.
Mr Griffiths takes pride in many of his gadgets that he has built from scratch. Most of the components in the photos were obtained piece meal from HAM Radio Flea Markets. His eyes lit up went he received a signal from a fellow operator transmitting a frequency from New Hampshire a few hundred miles away. "This is what it's all about", Rich stated. After building all this from the ground up with many hand tooled components and fittings W2RG's gear was humming with activity.
Amateur operators such as Rich set up at strategic locations for a clear "line of sight" to receive and/or transmit signals. They can range from places like Hoppy's to a mountain top in New Hampshire as was the case with this project.
They also have amateur radio competition contests such as this on a regular basis.
To my surprise, Griffiths had a vintage Morse Code Key and was sending the dots and dashes like a second language. He said when all else fails , Morse Code is still the most reliable communications to get the message out. A technology invented before the Civil War, the first transmission was sent from Baltimore to Washington in 1844 with the message "What hath God wrought?".
There are many local amateur radio clubs in the area. Those that wish to become a licensed HAM can take classes and earn their call sign, there is no lower or upper age limit. One simply has to pass the license exam.
*The term HAM is said to be derived from a monthly science publication in the 1920's. It was called "Home Amateur Mechanic"
For a complete list of famous amateur radio operators and their call signs visit this link: http://users.tellurian.com/gjurrens/WA6FAH.html
My Call Sign is KA1WBH.