Wb2ahk Aol.com? Wtf?

I see this odd thing on my way to work every day from the window of my LIRR train. I’ve been commuting for years on the LIRR, and it’s always been there. Only recently has it really started bugging me that I don’t know what it is.

Right next to what looks like a cell tower is a platform on top of which rests an antique car (or at least a model of one). A white sign with black letters reads “WB2AHK” on one line and “AOL.COM” on the next.

Anybody have a clue what’s going on here? Google reveals that WB2AHK is some sort of personality based in Floral Park, NY. But what the heck does this have to do with the antique car?

My guess is that it’s an amateur radio call sign. In fact, if I do a web search on WB2AHK, I get, among the results, the following:

Callsign: WB2AHK (Amateur Extra)
Name: Chester Brown
Address1: 186 Beech St
Address2: Floral Park, NY 11001

Are you going past Floral Park at the time?

US Amateur Radio Callsign Database Detail: WB2AHK

Amateur Radio Callsign?

It’s tough to tell which town I’m going through at the time. It could easily be Floral Park, though.

I’m wondering what the heck this has to do with the antique car…

Ham Radio operator.

I’ve seen that thing for years, too. I imagine if you took the ‘WB2AHK’ part and added ‘@’ to it and ‘aol.com’ you’d get the guy’s email address.

As for the car, maybe he just likes old cars.


Here’s the dope.

What you see everyday just past Jamaica station on the LIRR is an Amateur Radio Station. The station is operated by Chester Brown. Apparently he has an auto shop and he has decided to setup a Ham radio station at his workplace. His FCC issued callsign is WB2AHK.

Amateur Radio is not like “Pirate Radio” stations illegally broadcasting music. It is an FCC licensed service comprised of people into the hobby of operating two-way communication & electronics. It’s like a very sophisticated version of CB. Communication can be carried out worldwide or locally. For instance, during the 9-11 disaster, most of the communication for the police and Fire Department went down with the buildings, and it was volunteer Ham radio operators who provided the equipment and know-how to provide communications for the PD & FD during the crisis, for about a month. This is part of why the Amateur Radio Service exists.

As the FCC describes it, *"The amateur and amateur-satellite services are for qualified persons of any age who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. These services present an opportunity for self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations. Twenty-seven small frequency bands throughout the spectrum are allocated to this service internationally. Some 1,300 digital, analog, pulse, and spread-spectrum emission types may be transmitted.

Millions of amateur operators in all areas of the world communicate with each other directly or through ad hoc relay systems and amateur-satellites. They exchange messages by voice, teleprinting, telegraphy, facsimile, and television. In areas where the FCC regulates the services, an amateur operator must have an FCC or Canadian license.

All frequencies are shared. No frequency is assigned for the exclusive use of any amateur station. Station control operators cooperate in selecting transmitting channels to make the most effective use of the frequencies. They design, construct, modify, and repair their stations. The FCC equipment authorization program does not generally apply to amateur station transmitters."*

The regulations set forth by the FCC about Amateur Radio start with these fundamental purposes:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service
to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service,
particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to
contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
© Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through
rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and
technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio
service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to
enhance international goodwill

During most natural disasters it is amateur radio operators who can set-up communications quickly when the phone system, cellular or otherwise, are knocked out. Most people do not appreciate the guy in their nieborhood who has the wires hanging in his trees and antennas on his roof until they have disaster like a hurricane come in and wipe out all communication with the outside world. They discover this “electronics nut” is the only guy around who help them contact friends and family (globally) and let them know “everything is OK”. Even with the power being out!!!

So the next time that “nut” hangs another ugly wire in his yard you can thank him for going through the trouble of setting up a complete emergency communication station you can use when you really need it right next store.

Amateur radio operators also are allowed to experiment. The short list of the advances developed by amateur radio operators include FM, Television, Cellular Communications, Modems, Satellite communication (there are dozens of privately funded, built and operated amateur satellites in orbit), and many other advances most people use everyday.

John LeVasseur