Amateur Radio: an Old Toy Becomes a New Tool

Subject to licensing, amateur radio or ham radio was an affordable long distance communication option for back-to-the-landers in the mid-1970s.

| September/October 1973

  • 023-018-01-Copthorne-MacDonald-Freak.jpg
    Copthorne Macdonald-amateur radio freak, inventor of the Slow- Scan Television (SSTV) concept and all-around good guy-gets it on with some of his communications equipment.
  • 023-018-01-SSTV-pictures-of-Cops-daughter'
    TOP: Cop sends SSTV pictures of his daughter. BOTTOM LEFT: Cop himself on SSTV. BOTTOM RIGHT: The SSTV picture of Peruvian stone houses that Cop wanted to send George Cummings.

  • 023-018-01-Copthorne-MacDonald-Freak.jpg
  • 023-018-01-SSTV-pictures-of-Cops-daughter'

It's happening. People leaving the urban/suburban sprawl. People moving to the country. Decentralization. Going back to the land. Whatever we call it, it's starting to make life richer and fuller for a lot of us.

But this step to a more isolated way of living generates its own array of problems, too. With it comes a reduction in the number of stimulating personal contacts. Isolation from sources of information. Isolation from cultures other than the one we're trying to create. Isolation from some of the people we love. Isolation from dialogue.

Travel and the telephone are two ways of relieving these problems, but the airlines and phone company may not be among your favorite charities ... or you may just not have the bread.

Friend, be of good cheer. There is a low-cost, down-home, do-it-yourself way to COMMUNICATE!

For example, I talked with my friend George Cummings the other night for an hour. We rapped about the land he had bought in Washington State, where he's going to dig for water, and the materials with which he plans to build a house. (Fieldstone walls, but tin roof or sod?) Then we got into a discussion of wind power, and the conversation ended with George planning to investigate motorcycle generators.

Nothing magic about the conversation ... except that George was in Colorado and I was in Minnesota and we weren't spending a dollar for every three minutes of phone time. Why not? Because George has a ham radio license and so do I. That was the magic.

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