Amateur radio networks, also called ham radio networks are electronic communication systems that use radio waves. Ham radio operators interact either using their voice or Morse code. Today, there are around 675,000 ham radio operators in the USA (Source: How Stuff Works).
Ham radio is a communication system that allows easy interaction. The network easily spreads over large areas. This is why they are used when mobile networks fail, like during natural disasters.
To understand ham radio, you should understand how the radio network works. This article gives you an introduction to simplex channel systems.
What is a simplex channel system?
Radio channels consist of two types of communication channels. They are called simplex and duplex channel systems. Duplex systems feature two different frequencies for communication. They require devices like repeaters. They cannot function otherwise.
Simplex channel systems are the most basic communication systems for ham radios. In a simplex channel, two ham radios communicate through a single frequency. When you use a walkie-talkie with your friend, you are using a simplex channel.
In a simplex channel system, a ham radio device can either transmit or receive signals at a time. It cannot do both. This channel also does not use any other equipment for transmission. Hence, the simplex channel is also called a ‘direct’ channel.
Every ham radio band contains frequencies for simplex channels. You can run a quick internet search to find out what frequencies are allocated for two-way simplex connections. Then you can simply tune your radio to a frequency that is unoccupied and start talking!
What are the benefits of a simplex channel?
In a simplex channel, there is direct radio-to-radio communication. Therefore, you don’t need to use repeaters. This frees up the repeaters for other channels. Simplex channels are also useful if you are new to a place and you don’t know the local repeater.
A simplex channel is ‘simple’, as the name suggests. It involves minimal setup. Hence, even novice ham users can utilize this type of channel.
Simplex channels transmit signals over very short distances. Hence, there are low chances of people listening to your conversation. This is not possible over long-distance ham radio interaction.
What are the disadvantages of simplex channels?
The biggest drawback of a simplex channel is the communication radius. Simplex communication can be easily disturbed by a number of factors. Therefore these can only function over short distances.
There are a limited number of bandwidths allocated for simplex channels. Hence, communication networks become densely packed. Often, there are no bandwidths available.
Simplex channel systems function extremely well in specific environments. There are negative aspects to this. However, simplex channels are extremely popular because they are easy to use.
There are multiple benefits to using ham radios. These communication systems require low investments. Ham radio networks also unite people with similar interests. There are ham radio enthusiasts all over the USA who often get together to discuss their favorite topics. All you have to do is set up a ham radio and listen!