If you have ever wanted to learn a bit about amateur radio, I know a few MOSI volunteers who would be happy to talk to you.
Gene and Gail King can be found manning the KM0SI radio truck in the MOSI Disasterville exhibit on Wednesday mornings. Gene is a retired Tampa police officer who came to amateur radio for the services it can provide during disasters where regular forms of communication tend to break down. Gail is an avid birder who started working on her amateur radio license because it was something about which her husband was very passionate. From their backyard radio setup, the Kings have made contact with radio operators as far away as Slovenia, Australia and several location in South America. With just 60-70 watts of power and a "wire in a tree" antenna, this couple has been able to talk with people half way around the world!
In the KM0SI Truck, the Kings can show you current positions of the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station or even show you how they contact other radio operators around the world.
What is Amateur Radio?
From Wikipedia: "Amateur radio, often called ham radio, is both a hobby and a service in which participants, called "hams," use various types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for public service, recreation and self-training.
Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. An estimated six million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio.
The term "amateur" reflects the principle that Amateur Radio and its skilled operators are committed to helping communities without financial compensation; whereas Commercial Radio operates purely for profit."
The image to the right is the international symbol for amateur radio. The circuit diagram inside the diamond symbolizes components common to every radio: an antenna, inductor and ground.
Want to get involved in ham radio?
The National Association for Amateur Radio or ARRL website offers lots of great information for those who are interested in learning more about becoming a licensed radio operator. Also, the WeDoThatRadio website offers visitors the ability to search for local ham radio clubs in their area. If you are in Tampa, check out the Tampa Amateur Radio Club (TARC) website for local contacts and meeting times.
Drop by MOSI on a Wednesday morning and chat with the Kings or come by on a Thursday morning and talk to long time MOSI ham radio volunteer Fred. The volunteers of KM0SI are all friendly folks who are always happy to talk to someone interested in amateur radio. You can also email the friendly KM0SI volunteers at firstname.lastname@example.org.