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Surfin': The Cooling of Ham Radio

02/12/2010

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
ARRLĀ Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin' considers the coolness of iPhone ham radio applications ("apps").

The weather outside is rightful for mid-February -- white precipitation with temperatures dipping below zero Centigrade. So what better time than now to consider some cool new ham radio applications for the coolest gadget that fits in your palm of your hand.

According to the kids, nothing is cooler than the iPhone, so it is nice to discover some brand new ham radio iPhone apps. Which reminds me of my most embarrassing moment as a kid. I was about 11 years old when my family visited App's restaurant in West Haven. My parents and sister ordered lobsters for dinner. Not being a shellfish kid, I ordered pizza. When dinner arrived, the pizza was so big that they moved me and my pizza to my own booth. I was so embarrassed that I lost my appetite and did not eat one slice.

By the way, App's is still in business; I wonder if there's an iPhone app for App's?

Getting back to ham radio apps, visiting the iTunes store, I was surprised how many ham radio apps there are -- and about a quarter of them are free! Among the free apps are a satellite tracker, an EchoLink app, ham utilities, an APRS app, a Maidenhead converter, a direction finder, a HF beacon app, a VHF/UHF/SHF contest rover logger and a bunch of ham radio exam preparation apps, including some in partnership with the ARRL. If you are willing to part with a buck or two, there are a slew of "unfree" ham radio apps, too.

If you visit the iTunes store to search for ham radio apps, be sure to search on both "ham radio" and "Amateur Radio," since the search results are slightly different -- some apps only show up in one or the other search results. There are also some pertinent apps that turn up when you search on "radio," but that search also turns up a lot of apps not related to ham radio that you will have to wade through.

By the way, I offer no URL for the iTunes Store. If you have iTunes installed on your computer, you click on the "iTunes Store" button in iTunes and iTunes proceeds to access the store via the Internet. In other words, iTunes acts as your Web browser, but its browsing is limited to the iTunes Store. If you don't have iTunes installed on your computer, you can download it for free.

Man --- I got to get cool and get an iPhone real soon now to help me forget my bad pizza app.

Thank you, Gerry Jurrens, N2GJ, for alerting me to the EchoLink app.

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has owned Macs since they first arrived on the computer scene, so one wonders why he is slow going to the iPhone. To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.



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