Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

LHS Episode #150: The Sesquicentennial

150th-birthdayWell, folks, it's hard to put a description on this episode. We talk about our usual range of topics, but there is so much more thrown in that we can't even begin to enumerate it all. One thing that can be said, however, is that this episode was FUN. We hope you enjoy it all the way to the end. Apologies for the first 20 minutes or so of Pete's microphone audio. We promise, it does get better. THANK YOU for being a listener. We do this all for you.

73 de The LHS Guys

New Ideas for Hollywood Blockbusters

Following up on my previous post about how amateur radio is typically portrayed in movies, I thought I’d float a couple suggestions for the silver screen that include ham radio, without the need for an apocalypse…

I’ll bet not even a single director in Hollywood is aware that radio amateurs have built and launched our very own communication satellites. And not just a few — we have an entire fleet — with more heading to low earth orbit almost every month. These are frequently designed, financed, and constructed by radio amateurs with a keen interest in space communication.

And many of those who harbor that specific interest are radio hams by night and NASA employees by day. And some of those who aren’t direct employees of NASA are employed in other areas of the space industry. This insider link provides amateur radio with an unparalleled, intimate knowledge of the “business” and is responsible for much of the success we’ve obtained in this highly technical and specialized endeavor.

Well right there’s a dozen waiting story lines. Hams at NASA collude to hijack high-value satellites for amateur radio communication by hacking the system from the ground. It doesn’t take a fertile imagination to see many possible angles here, none of which would strain credulity.

But let’s dig deeper and find higher adventure.

Let’s say that a group of radio amateurs in New Zealand (better scenery to work with) built an amateur radio payload for launch. One that included onboard propulsion. That would be somewhat rare these days as we’ve taken to hand tossing payloads out of the ISS or ejecting them using powerful springs from a disposable ring that may carry dozens of small satellites with one launch. But in the halcyon days of ham radio in space, we built much larger satellites, equipped them with fuel and engines, and launched them to much higher, transfer orbits.

Say this group does the same thing.

After launch they maneuver it very near the path of some super expensive, military spy satellite and then we discover that the payload includes explosives. This group then extorts millions of dollars from governments or large corporations in exchange for not blowing up those satellites.

(If the notion of sneaking explosives onto a launch vehicle seems too far-fetched, the “amateur radio” payload could simply be maneuvered directly into the orbital path of another vehicle and kinetic energy could do the dirty work).

I’d pay to see that movie, wouldn’t you?

But there’s one other premise that seems more interesting, and one that just might tickle the fancy of a filmmaker.

Say a group of radio hams work for a company like Space-X. Intent on building and launching resupply ships to the International Space Station. And let’s suppose that a couple of them decide to ride in that supply vessel. Upon arrival, they board the station where they proceed to whip out handguns and order the current crew to evacuate back to Earth. Once they are alone on the station, they weld the other hatches permanently closed. They just “stole” the International Space Station. The biggest heist in history. Mostly for kicks but maybe to use as the premier low-earth platform for ham radio communications.

Or maybe it’s about money. Hollywood loves a good extortion plot. They could offer to abandon the stolen station for a billion dollars. Or de-orbit it over a populated region if they don’t get the money. It’s fiction, anything could happen!

And it would be nice if the leading actors had names like Clooney, Reynolds, Bullock, and Cooper…

Filed under: Ham Radio Tagged: hollywood, hr, ideas, movies

When All Else Failed

Tonight is the fourth and final night of this week’s road trip and I’ll be back home tomorrow evening. The weather has been outstanding these last few days with below average temperatures and low humidity. I’ve taken advantage of it by spending a lot of time on long walks in the neighborhoods around the hotel. Tonight, I wanted to do something a little different so I decided to take in a movie.

It’s at this point that I should back up a little, and tell you that a few days ago a friend and co-worker who knows I’m a radio amateur, told me about seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and he made a point of telling me that ham radio plays a small role in the movie.

That was a good enough for me, so after work I headed directly to the Regal 16, a mammoth “cave” of sixteen theaters with enough entertainment and air conditioning under one roof to qualify as one of the many wonders of the world. Tickets for the non-3D early show at 5pm were $10.50 a pop although flashing my AARP card got me in the door for eight bucks.

It pays to get old and I’ve started taking advantage every chance I get.

The movie was a little better than just “okay” and I enjoyed it though, this isn’t a review or a spoiler. What I found most interesting was watching, and waiting, for that part that included ham radio. As the movie portrayed civilization descending into a dystopian nightmare, it wasn’t hard to see what was probably coming – ham radio as the only communications link with the “outside” world. And sure enough, that’s precisely how it played out.

In case you’re wondering, we briefly saw what appeared to be an older Kenwood transceiver, maybe a TS-820, setting on a shelf with a lot of other gear, all somehow magically connected to a computer with a display that looked like it might be running some sort of digital communication – though every call for help in the movie was done via phone.

Ham radio finds itself wrapped up in mainstream productions and attractions more often than you might think. But almost every time it’s in this same vein. Total breakdown of society that creates a world that suddenly needs ham radio. And often, though not in this particular movie, the radio operator is portrayed as some oddball nerd who couldn’t get laid with a fistful of pardons in a women’s prison.

Hollywood’s view of us is rarely, if ever, accurate. But let’s face it, we’ve spent the last several decades vociferously proclaiming ourselves to be the last link in a breaking chain when things come unglued. “When all else fails” is our mantra but I’m convinced that every time we say that, the rest of the world hears “hams are pathetic nerds who only have value in the event of Armageddon”.

If we want to be portrayed in a better light, perhaps it’s time we modify our message?

Filed under: Ham Radio Tagged: aarp, hr, movies

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: