Saturday, August 16, 2014
Radiosport as a term is sometimes used as two separate words, or as a single word. It refers to the use of amateur radio equipment or the “ham”, in short, as a part of playing some sort of game. It might be group event or a single person event. It can involve other competitors in real time like a race or like a performance or achievement over a given time frame.
The contests are usually sponsored events, and can last anywhere between a few hours and 2 days, the world wide contests being two days usually. It can be local in a specific region, or may involve traveling a long distance. It can be a cumulative contest taking place over many weekends, or a sprint contest which lasts only a few hours. The rules are specific for the event and they include which stations (which regions) may participate and the like.
This is usually called radiosports. This can be any of the following.
This is when stations are to make two way contact with as many stations as possible over the longest distance possible. This is called the International DX-Contest today. Awards may be given for the following accomplishments. The “Worked All States Award” if the entrants make contact with someone from every state in the USA. The “Worked All continents Award” is given for making contact with someone from every continent. “Worked All Zones Award” is the same concept with time zones. Other awards include the DX Century Club award, and the UHF/VHF Century Club award.
Another event is an Amateur Radio Direction finding using radios. A specific number of transmitters needs to be found from a specific region in a map before reaching the end line. This relies on the athletic ability of the ham operator as well as some direction finding skill with radios.
Fox Oaring or Bunny hunting: This is similar to the previous contest but involves more short range equipment of the hams, and so it relies more on the direction finding skills of the contestant rather than the athletic ability. It’s more technical in nature than the previous contest, and the radio can detect signals only 100 meters or so away, so the contestant must locate the transmitter hidden in an area of 200 meter radius.
A more severely restricted game than the Fox Oaring is the Radio orienting contest in compact areas. This requires very high technical skills.
There is another form of the amateur radio direction finding, or bunny hunting, that utilizes transportation with vehicles over long distances. The hams have to travel in their vehicles to the specific region and find the transmitter. Whoever finds the transmitter first and reaches the finish line is the winner. A variation is that the one to find a specific number of transmitters hidden in different places first is the winner. This relies on the traveling skill, orientation skill and the equipment efficiency too.
These events are called ARDF contests, which is short for Amateur Radio Direction Finding Contests. Contests or radiosports are just a part of the hobby activity. Entering contests is not a requirement, but there are many who pursue this almost obsessively, and collect winning certificates by the dozen in fact. On the other extreme are those that are equally passionate about being a ham, but do so purely for communication and satisfaction.
The significant thing about hams that needs to be mentioned here is that the hams can and do make regular contact with space stations. Many astronauts are licensed amateur radio operators and use their radios for educational purpose as well as an emergency backup.
So what was once spanning a small region locally in the beginning now has penetrated into space! What was once only Morse code based has now evolved into greater variations involving voice, digital transmission and so on. It is exciting to see how much radio transmission has changed in recent years.
Radio controlled (RC) toys can be toy grade or hobby grade.
The toy-grade Radio Controlled devices can be available at a cheap rate in almost every retail store. They are made of non-serviceable parts and are produced in bulk. The toys are not very robust in their speed or abilities. A radio controlled device of one toy cannot be used in another toy. They are not durable and are of “soft” material; these toys are mostly not able to take on the rugged terrain outdoors. They are available in “ready to use”, “buy and play” models and need no assembly. The only thing that will be required is to open the battery case and put in the batteries, and then the toy is ready for use.
On the other hand, hobby grade radio controlled toys are made of durable material, and are custom made. They are mostly simple in their design. The design is simple and can be re-used / remodeled, and can be serviced. The radio controller and the parts can easily be used in another hobby grade toy. They are durable and more robust. They are not always available in ready-to-use state, though there are many hobby-grade RC stores that will deliver the toy in assembled state. Many hobbyists like to buy the toy in parts, and prefer to do the assembly themselves. The design, assembly, and driving of the radio controlled toy is in itself a hobby. The serious hobbyists also indulge in the RC sports that have their rules and specifications, not to mention the winnings which usually will be an enhancement to their current RC toy or another RC toy.
Every RC toy is available as a toy grade or a hobby grade toy nowadays. They can be airplanes, helicopters, boats, cars and robots.
Airplanes come in various sizes and shapes ranging from small flyers to gas turbine driven aerobatic models. The models can be tethered to a fixed pole via rope, or can be free flying models. They can be electrically propelled, or fuel driven models. The latest radio controlled models can reach up to 250mph. RC airborne toys require a high level of knowledge and control, and will need supervision of adults. They are not suitable for younger kids. They are relatively more expensive than the rest of the RC models. This is another reason that younger kids cannot use it safely, since a crash can result in damage that can be too costly.
The RC car is the one most common toy among radio controlled model hobbyists. The cars come in various sizes and shapes and can also be fuel driven or electrically powered. Just like the cars come in various sizes and shapes, so do the enthusiasts! RC cars are relatively safe compared to the airborne toys, and can be controlled even by a child. They can be “off-road” or “on-road” models, referring to the terrain on which they can drive on. The RC car races are common for the radio controlled model hobbyists.
Helicopters: Another airborne radio controlled model. It is different from the airplane in design and flight, and some say that it is much more interesting to fly. However, the same considerations that apply to helicopters apply here too.
A radio controlled boat was the first “toy” to be remote controlled. Tesla demonstrated the remote control boat model which he showed to the public as a device that “obeyed people’s commands”, where in reality it was him controlling the boat according to the people’s commands.
Robotics: These are most popular in Japan, but the popularity is quickly catching up in other nations in the west too. Robotic hobbyists who design, control and model the robotics for various activities are common, and there are various competitions held regularly for them to create the best robot. Robotics however, are actually moving from radio controlled models to the latest artificial intelligence models and voice controlled models. But, radio controlled models of robots are still very popular as toys, as hobbies as well as a safety tool for remote handling of bombs and such.