On the ninth day of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ I am grateful for the discovery of radio waves by James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz way back in the mid 19th century, which I benefit from abundantly via multiple wireless communications arrays and devices.  I personally use on a daily basis a cell phone, a Nook Color and a laptop, all of which connect me to the Internet and ultimately my family and friends all without wires.  I subscribe to satellite television and I listen to local radio stations via my car stereo system.  I setup my own wireless router with appropriate security and even added a guest wireless network for visiting family and friends.  I am a licensed amateur radio operator who can communicate with other operators with the right radio equipment, antennas and atmospheric conditions (for some frequencies).   Who you gonna call to get the word out during the next zombie apocalypse?  Me and my amateur radio buddies, that’s who!

Amateur Radio

The international symbol for amateur radio.

I followed my dad around as much as I could when I was little.  Truth be told, there wasn’t much else to do way out in the country with no neighbors close enough to have any kids to play with.  Poor Dad!  Stuck with a daughter in tow while he visited friends, or did electrical wiring, or help raise an antenna tower, or change the light bulbs for the local baseball field, or … you get the picture.  I earned the nickname ‘go-fer’ fairly early on.  It came naturally that I would end up studying to take the test to become a licensed amateur radio operator.  If I remember correctly, I earned that license before I got my permanent driver’s license.  Back then, you still had to learn Morse code.

Emergency Communications

In the U.S., during an emergency, amateur radio operators can provide essential communication to help preserve the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available and may use any frequency including those of other radio services such as police and fire communications.  Similarly, amateurs in the United States may apply to be registered with the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS). Once approved and trained, these amateurs also operate on US government military frequencies to provide contingency communications and morale message traffic support to the military services.

Which brings me to the top news story for today.  For the first time ever in the United States the Emergency Alert System will conduct a nation-wide test.  The test will occur at two o’clock Eastern time (that’s one o’clock for me and all my neighbors here in the Heart of America).  EAS provides a national warning system, as well as local weather emergencies, and allows the President of the United States to speak to citizens within ten minutes in the event of a national emergency.

And in case you’re wondering what the title of this article means, CQD was one of the first adopted distress calls.  CQ is familiar to most ham radio operators because it means ‘calling all hams’ but CQD expands on that and means ‘calling all distress.’

No, I’m not sending out a general SOS or mayday.

This was only a test.