VIDEO might have killed the radio star, but radio amateurs are alive and well in Bendigo.
Yesterday was a national amateur radio field day. Across Australia clubs promoted the hobby under the banner ‘tune into the world’.
Down at the Bendigo Showgrounds, the Midland Amateur Radio Club set up shop, showing people the internet still had an old-school competitor when it came to worldwide communication.
Club member Graeme Knight said radio was still the most efficient form of communication despite some of its old-style technology.
“Radio is a direct form of communication, you don’t have to go through complex networks,” he said.
“So all you need is a radio, a battery and an antenna. That lends itself well to emergency communications. If the internet is down or phone towers are down, we can still use radio.
“In times of disaster amateur radio clubs come along and provide communication while infrastructure is rebuilt.”
But living in typically disaster-free Bendigo, Mr Knight and his friends have to think of other things to discuss when they pick up the mike.
“We might talk about the weather or just what we have been up to,” he said.
“One of the fun things about radio is you can put out a call and you might not know who you are going to get,
“One day we were having breakfast in McDonalds with our handheld and we were talking to someone in Canada.”
It’s even possible to talk to astronauts thanks to radio equipment placed in the international space station.
“With amateur radio, it’s all about experimenting with radio and talking to like-minded people about our hobby,” Mr Knight said.
The group also competes in regular field days where clubs battle it out to make the most ‘contacts’.
Radio buffs who manage to chat to people from far flung places score the most points.
If this was an Olympic sport, Luke Steele would be a gold medallist.
In four years Mr Steele has managed to make radio contact with people from 295 places listed in the DX Century Club, an amateur radio honours list. There are 340 geographical entities – mostly countries – on the list, so Mr Steele’s achievement is no mean feat.
“Of the 45 left most of them are small islands or communist dictatorships,” he said.
“We’re hoping to get some communication from Burma in the next few years as it opens up.
“It will probably take me the rest of my life to work the last 45.”
Radio is his passion and soon Mr Steele will be travelling to Vanuatu to meet with other enthusiasts.
“We’ll be setting up our radio equipment on the beach,” he laughed.
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