AMATEUR RADIO is the personal use of radio equipment for self-training and technical investigation in worldwide radio communication carried on by Radio Amateurs i.e. by duly authorized persons interested in Amateur Radio techniques, with a personal aim and without any pecuniary interest. In other words we can say that amateur radio is a community of people that use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with other Amateur radio operators. The things that amateur radio operators do with their radios are diverse as the people themselves.
Amateur radio operators are often called ham radio operators or simply “hams”. Everyday, Radio Amateurs, talk across the ocean or town, using their equipment in different ways. Amateur Radio has something for everyone – the Electronic experimenter can build and modify his own gear (Transmitter and Receiver). They can travel throughout the world, forming lasting friendships without ever leaving the house; and others can talk to literally hundreds of hams in different countries, taking part in Rag chewing, DX and Awards hunting, Net Operation, etc.
Amateur Radio is no more expensive than any other hobby. While many hams have put in a substantial amount into this hobby, it is possible to get started in Ham Radio for less than the cost of a good radio, which is so common these days.
1. Talk around the world – With HF radios hams can talk to other hams in literally any part of the globe.
2. Talk around town – With small portable VHF and UHF transceivers hams enjoy extremely reliable communications within their local community.
3. RP – Communicating with “very low power” is a challenge that many hams enjoy. QRP is usually practiced on the HF bands.
4. Packet radio – The Internet over ham radio? Not really … but ham radio operators enjoy a digital network of their own, all without wires!
5. International Morse code – Forget it … You can get a license without knowing one beep or boop of Morse code. If you want to, though, it’s still allowed.
6. Amateur television – It’s just like real television because it is real television. Slow Scan TV – Send pictures around the world for little or no cost.
7. Contests – You can put your radio operating skills up against other hams and teams of hams.
8. Order pizzas – It used to be a long standing joke around ham radio operators about what you can not do over ham radio … Now it’s perfectly legal! You can call you favourite pizzeria on your ham radio and order take-out dinner on the way home from work. Hopefully you’ll use your radio less for calling your doctor, the police, emergency roadside assistance, 911 and other telephone-linked services.
9. Emergency and other volunteer services – Floods, hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, ice storms … whenever `normal’ communications go out, hams are ready to use their radios to provide emergency communication services to their communities.
10. Satellite communications – Hams have their own satellites … really! (Amateur’s satellites are easy to use too.
11. Traffic handling – “Ham telegrams” are used to send messages to people around the world at no cost to the sender or the recipient; all done by ham radio operators volunteering their time and resources.
1. Hams are not allowed to do anything with their radios that makes them money in way. Bummer. Ham radio is a hobby, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely frivolous. (Read on!)
2. Ham radio operator cannot `broadcast’ to the public. This means that ham radio transmissions are meant to be received by other ham radio operations. While a short wave radios or scanners will allow you to listen to the ham radio bands, what you will hear is hams talking to other hams and not music or other radio programs of ‘general’ interest.
Government regulations require a license to operate any radio transmitter in India. It is illegal and punishable to possess a radio transmitter without proper license. At present there are four operating licenses and one receiving license available. They are Advanced, Grade I, Grade II and Restricted Amateur Wireless telegraph Station License and Short Wave Listeners (SWL) License. With the SWL license, you can possess only a Communication receiver. But with the other four, you can possess and operate transmitting and receiving set-up. The minimum are is 12 years for Restricted and Grade II, 14 years for Grade I and 18 years for Advanced License.
To obtain any of the operating licenses, you have to take the respective Amateur Station Operator’s Certificate (ASOC) Examination conducted by the Wireless planning and Co-ordination (WPC) Wing of the Ministry of Communications, at any one of the monitoring Stations around the country. For the SWI License, there is no examination – just send the application form and License fee to WPC.
The best way to begin is to join an amateur club / society in your area. If you do not have one in your area, form one. Not having the license is the best reason to join the club.