According to ARISS such contacts provide young people with the opportunity to understand how amateur radio operates, and to enlarge their awareness in communications technology (International Space Station Reference).
In addition, using amateur radio in the classroom is also appealing because the FCC has altered some of the licensing guidelines to make it easier for teachers to get the license needed to supervise various amateur radio activities in the classroom (Amateur radio education and technology program). Amateur radio also serves the purpose of teaching students skills associated with wireless communications that will be valuable to them in the workforce. The association also asserts that amateur radio can be used in the classroom to promote lifelong learning (Amateur radio education and technology program).
A report entitled "Amateur Radio -- a Powerful Voice in Education" explains the education and technology program. According to this report the program began in 2000 with two primary objectives. The first objective of the program is to enhance education with the promotion of subjects such as math, science, social studies and language arts ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002). The second objective of the program is to assist in the development of a workforce that possesses technological skills ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002). In addition the program is designed to expose amateur radio to a new generation of people ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002).
The report explains further that there are six components associated with Educational Applications of Amateur Radio: outreach to the educational community, the classroom bookshelf, the online sourcebook, progressive grants, the radio lab handbook, and stations in schools. Teachers are not expected to pay for any of these components.
The report also points out that at the current time these programs have been implemented in schools across the country. There are currently three delivery systems that are utilized to implement the program: full curriculum, in-school enrichment program or the after-school enrichment program ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002). The report asserts that the schools that utilize the program are extremely diverse and reflective of various areas of the country. The program is utilized in both public and private schools in large metropolitan cities and in small rural towns ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002). The programs also exist in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. Additionally, there are many schools that used amateur radio prior to the inception of the aforementioned program. These schools have been given progress grants that allow them to purchase new equipment ("Amateur Radio -- a powerful..., 2002). In addition to the aforesaid uses as an educational application, amateur radio is also used in colleges and universities throughout the world. Let us now discuss the telecommunications systems used in Amateur Radio.
If one is interested in Ham Radio there are several systems that are utilized by ham operators to communicate with others. Of course voice can be used to communicate and Morse code was the initial means by which ham operators communicated and it is still utilized today throughout the world (What is Ham Radio?). Additionally, Packet Radio, Radio teletype (RTTY) and Phase Shift Keying (PSK) are also used by amateur radio operators (What is Ham Radio?). There are also telecommunications systems to transmit digital information and television is also utilized.
Morse code is an old technology that has been utilized in many different scenarios. Morse code was developed by Samuel Morse. The code was created by assigning different combinations of dots and dashes to the variousletters of the alphabet and the numbers. The author explains that over time
Experienced operators learned to "read" the code by listening to the sounds of the clicking electromagnet, without having to see the dots and dashes on the paper tape, thus giving rise to the simplest of all telegraph systems using a key, battery, line, and sounder... It is difficult to overestimate the value and importance of the Morse code. Not only did it provide the basis for a simple, robust, and easily operated overland line telegraph system, it also served for point-to-point and mobile (e.g., ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore) radio communication. For such applications the ability of the Morse code to be heard and interpreted by a skilled operator under conditions of high levels of radio interference and noise is of paramount importance, especially for distress calls. These are, no doubt, reasons why the Morse code continues in widespread use today (Bray, 1995, pg 39,40)."
The author also points out that the very idea of Morse code which encompasses transmitting information via coded groups of on/off signals has been the catalyst for the technological advances made since the inception of the code (Bray, 1995.
As it relates to Packet Radio, it appears to be a type of digital form of amateur radio that allows computers to link to one another (Jones 1995). When a packet is utilized a terminal node controller replaces the modem and an amateur radio transceiver replaces the telephone. In addition, the amateur radio waves serve as a replacement for the phone system (Jones 1995).
With this being understood, packet radio operates by allowing any data flow that a computer sends to be sent through the radio to another amateur radio station that is set up in a similar manner. According to the author, this type of telecommunication system is referred to as Packet because it transmits the data in small bursts, or packets (Jones 1995). This is the underlying concept behind Packet Radio Communications. Currently the new generation of Packet Radio is known as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and it supplies constant, higher-bandwidth data transmissions/Internet service (Emerging Technologies: Wireless Networks). It is often used in various types of mobile devices. Packet Radio is an example of a telecommunications system that can be utilized in different ways (Emerging Technologies: Wireless Networks).
In addition to Morse code and Packet Radio, Radio Teletype is also used by Amateur Radio enthusiasts. RTTY is a telecommunications system that links teletype machines through the radio as opposed to telegraph lines (Some Common Amateur Radio Terminology, 2002). RTTY is used because if makes possible flexible long distance communications at a low cost. The article points out that in addition to amateur radio operators -- governments, the military and news organizations also utilize RTTY (Some Common Amateur Radio Terminology, 2002).
As it relates to Amateur Radio operators, RTTY is an older technology that has been used in a myriad of ways. For instance, it has allowed operators to rapidly handle traffic because the machine could print and present a copy of the transmitted information. In some cases operators would have a "typing-reperf," machine operating simultaneously which placed incoming signal on tape so that they could be replied to at another time (Hoff, n.d.).
RTTY was also beneficial to traffic handling because it was feasible to "retransmit" the incoming data to a different frequency, and as such the signal was relayed instantly to the other station (Hoff, n.d.).
Another Telecommunications system is known as Phase Shift Keying or PSK. This telecommunications system involves digital communication in which the arrangement of a phase of a transmitted signal changes to express information (Phase Shift Keying). There are different types of PSK that can be utilized. The article asserts that binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) is the easiest type of PSK. BPSK involves the use of two conflicting signal phases. The article explains that the digital signal is divided into binary digits or bits. The condition of each bit is established by the condition of the previous bi t (Phase Shift Keying). The article explains that "If the phase of the wave does not change, then the signal state stays the same (0 or 1). If the phase of the wave changes by 180 degrees -- that is, if the phase reverses -- then the signal state changes (from 0 to 1, or from 1 to 0) (Phase Shift Keying)."
The article further states that Hams are most likely to utilize a particular form of BPSK or quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) referred to as PSK31. When PSK 31 is utilized, the rate at which data is transmitted is 31.25 baud, also the signal bandwidth is in the region of 31 hertz (Phase Shift Keying). The article asserts that the primary benefit associated with the use of PSK31 is that it has a superior signal-to-noise ratio. This is important because it permits clear communication in emergency situations (Phase Shift Keying).
Televisions have also been utilized by amateur radio enthusiasts. This form of telecommunications is often utilized to send pictures and now video (What is Ham Radio?). This mode has been utilized since the 1990's. In recent years Amateur Television has also developed as a result of Amateur Radio. Amateur television also known as Ham TV, allows anyone that is a license amateur radio operator to transmit images through a television to other operators. For many Amateur Radio operators this is a new and entertaining way to communicate.