Commuters on the Long Island Railroad are familiar with this sight near Jamaica Station: a vintage car atop a shipping container with the sign WB2AHK@AOL.COM in front of it. Turns out the WB2AHK refers to an amateur radio station which plays a role in assisting during emergencies. The operator of the station, Chester Brown, owns a car shop and set up a Ham radio station there.
According to John LeVasseur of amateur radio station W2WDX on this message board, amateur radio is a FCC licensed service, but “like a very sophisticated version of CB….During the 9-11 disaster, most of the communication for the police and fire department went down with the buildings, and it was volunteer Ham radio operators who provided the equipment and know-how to provide communications for the [Police Department] & [Fire Department] during the crisis, for about a month. This is part of why the Amateur Radio Service exists.”
Unlike normal radio, no frequencies are assigned and all frequencies are shared. Says LeVassuer, “Station control operators cooperate in selecting transmitting channels to make the most effective use of the frequencies…Amateur radio operators also are allowed to experiment. The short list of the advances developed by amateur radio operators include FM, Television, Cellular Communications, Modems, satellite communication, and many other advances most people use everyday.
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