The Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Radio Society (TTARS) is a non-profit, non-commercial, educational organization incorporated by Act of Parliament. Full Members of TTARS are technically competent, trained, and assessed individuals who have been licensed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) through the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to use specific ranges of radio frequencies for experimentation in wireless electronic telecommunications.
Full members have been issued internationally recognized callsigns and are often called HAM Operators, or simply HAMs. These unique individuals have a strong altruistic side. They know that their hobby has the capability of proving emergency communications, thereby assisting others who are in need.
Amateur radio should not be confused with broadcasting or domestic radio, citizens band (CB) and commercial radio. In a calibre all its own, Amateur Radio uses many different frequency bands as well as state of the art technology and techniques for radio communication.
The EMCOMMS GROUP of TTARS is comprised of keen members who have volunteered their services and who are committed to respond in times of need.
The Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Radio Society (TTARS) was founded in the year 1951 and incorporated by Act of Parliament in the year 1981. TTARS is the Member Society for Trinidad and Tobago to the International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 and is affiliated to the Radio Society of Great Britain.
What we do can become quite complex but it is very easy to understand. It has been proven consistently and repeatedly in the past, when communications systems fail due to a wide area or localized national disaster, amateur radio works right away, all the time. As a main communication task force we provide communication when the normal lines such as cell phones, land lines, and other Commercial two way radio systems become overloaded or fail completely.
The principal reasons why amateur radio works when others communications systems fail during natural disasters are that amateur radio is not infrastructure-dependent and it is not centralized.
DEVELOPMENT OF AMATEUR RADIO IN RINIDAD
The Early Years
Amateur Radio had its beginning in Trinidad and Tobago when in 1929 a radio operator copilot with an Airline in Trinidad made the first contact with another radio operator in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
That first Q.S.O. was made between Colin Fraser (who adopted the call VP4CF), and S. R. Connelly,
W3BCR on the 40 meter band in morse code (CW).
VP4CF (operating on the amateur band), utilised his employers station equipment which comprised of a self excited oscillator and a long wire off-center fed by a single wire.
Colin was soon joined locally by VP4RB, Richard Bowe and between them both, expanded the communication link between Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the world.
Radios were constructed in those days with receiver parts and were breadboard mounted – no chassis or cabinets. A neon bulb near the antenna was used for tuning the transmitter for maximum radiation – the maximum effective radiated power in those days was in the region of 10 watts.
With no licensing authority, examinations or examining body, hams adopted (‘home brewed’) their own call signs based on the widely used prefix of VP4 applied to air operations existing in the area at the time.
Development of Ham Radio
In the years that followed, well known ham operators appeared on the local scene – Major Lewis Kerr, Stanley Knowles, Eric Duff, Diego Serrao and Paul Alonzo – building radio receivers and transmitters mainly from drawings and kits. The transmitter was generally of a three stage design comprising an oscillator, and intermediate and final stage mounted on wooden or bakelite breadboards. Components were crude in construction with very high failure rates.
One operator Paul Alonzo, VP4TK, promoted the commercial application of Amateur Radio by broadcasting cricket results on the 40 meter band. This was the first application of speech transmission in Amateur Radio locally. This remarkable achievement was short lived when his equipment (primitive as it was) was seized by the police and the operator charged with operating a radio without a license.
This action sparked off a wave of public outcry as citizens were deprived of information on their favorite sport coupled with the fact that the perpetrator was recognized as one of the pioneers in the field of amateur radio. The need for a controlling authority in the administration of the hobby therefore became clearly evident.
Ham operation moved ahead slowly but forcefully with the informal bond which existed among the ‘group of six’, reinforced with the availability of imported components for receiver transmitter construction and the expansion of activities to the 20 and 10 meter bands.
World War 11 witnessed the confiscation of all communicating equipment but the hobby made a daring comeback at the end of the period with the return of original equipment and the acquisition of military surplus equipment which were designed for operation on the amateur bands.
As other aspirants entered the field of ham operations the governmental authorities stepped in and began exercising administrative control over the operations of ham and established regulations for governing the operation of the hobby.
A test base on the University of London City and Guilds examination together with 8 words per minute morse code proficiency formed the basis of the procedures put in place by the Governmental authorities.
The VP4 prefix was retained by the authorities but was changed to 9Y4 when the country became independent in 1962.