Ham radio has been a staple of the geek world since long before the first semiconductor was semi-conducting, and it’s still around. Local newspaper reporters like me occasionally realize this and do a story, such as this one from the Portsmouth Herald, which notes the robustness of ham radio:
Cellphone towers and internet networks can get overloaded and shut down during major incidents, like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, whereas radio waves and antennas continue to function. It’s why local public safety departments have ham radio equipment, and why emergency management plans call for licensed hams to help disseminate messages during something like a meltdown at Seabrook Station nuclear power plant. It’s also common for officials and groups to tap hams to assist with woodland searches, crowd control at parades and races, and community events.
It doesn’t take very much power to send a reasonable ham signal, and if you’re using Morse Code it takes almost nothing – a real benefit in an emergency. But as the article notes, you don’t have to learn Morse to get your ham license any more.
If you want to know more, check out ARRL, the national ham radio association – it has a New Hampshire chapter.