Turning up the radio

Daniel Lim

While the world has advanced with the use of technology, with mobile phones being a commodity for finding one’s location and staying connected with friends and family, it is important to learn where these technologies have evolved from.

Short- and long-range radio communications are precursors to the current technology that everyone relies on and takes for granted today, with the knowledge of these decade-old technologies is slowly on the decline.

The JOTA-JOTI or ‘Jamboree on the Air-Jamboree on the Internet’, the largest digital scout event, held by scouts across the world including the Belait District Scout Association (PPDB) every October, serves as a platform for scout members to learn to use short- and long-range radios.

I had the opportunity to attend the event in the Belait District where young scout members get a taste of operating the radio under a skilled radio operator’s supervision. The skills showcased comprise commonly-used lingo and codes widely associated with radio communication.

This includes Q-code, which is a standardised collection of three-letter codes that serves as a signal to others on the radio frequency; as well as ICAO phonetic alphabet, where letters of the alphabet are assigned respective code words which the scout members were able to make full use to spell out their names in phonetic alphabet.

A scout member tries out communicating with a radio. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

PPDB committee member Siti Rosmahwardey binti Rosli said the activities help young scout members learn how information is passed through the use of codes and lingo while also helping them to build their confidence in communication skills.

Alhamdulillah, I did not expect such a positive response from the young scout members, to be so happy to learn how to use an amateur radio.”

Mohd Ranie bin Abdullah, one of the amateur radio instructors at the PPDB who goes under the Radio Operator code of V85RBA, highlighted the aspects and skills required to communicate using radio transmission.

Alhamdulillah, this year, we were able to raise the (radio) VHF antenna which is connected to Bukit Suboh as a repeater to connect to other stations across the border and beyond.

“In operating an amateur radio, the young generation will get an insight into the inner working of an amateur radio, which can help in times of emergency, especially when there is no Internet or telephone.”

Like any operation of equipment, he noted that while the road to acquiring the licence to operate amateur radio as well as servicing and maintaining of radio equipments can be challenging, he wants to inspire the next generation of radio operators to appreciate and carry on the knowledge of radio operation and communication.

“When it comes to codes, the alphabet code can easily be found online, and for those who are hard-working can delve into Morse Code for use with HF (high frequency) radio.” He hopes that the JOTA-JOTI event sparked an interest among the young scout members to expand their knowledge in radio communication. “From what I saw, some are interested in learning how to operate an amateur radio while following the safety procedures,” he said.

“So the enthusiasm is definitely there. Hopefully, it will help further develop amateur radio interest in Brunei.”