An Introduction to Amateur Radio
The Hobby of Amateur Radio (also known as 'Ham Radio') has been around for well over 100 years. This Hobby basically involves qualified people communicating with each other using their 'Amateur Radios', (transmitters and receivers / transceivers) which operate on specific bands of frequencies. Amateur Radio Operators, also known as 'Hams' come from all walks of Life. From engineers and doctors to bricklayers and teachers, Operators now number around 3 million, worldwide. Both able and disabled people can participate. Ages range from about 8 years to people well into their 90's. There are more Women Amateur Operators nowadays than ever before.
Amateur Radio attracts people for a number of reasons. For most people, I believe, the appeal is the technical aspects of the Hobby. As their involvement in the Hobby deepens, their interests within it can and often do change. For me and I think a lot of people, the mystery and fascination of being able to communicate with someone wirelessly, who is some distance away, is something which excites the imagination and curiosity. The desire to understand how this phenomenon works is a driving force. Hams are able to communicate with each other in a variety of ways and also over very long distances using their Radios and Antennas. Around the World Communication is the priority for a lot of Amateurs, while for others it may be chatting to someone close by or even to an Amateur Radio Operator on board the International Space Station. Outdoor antennas are generally needed to transmit and receive the Radio Signals.
These Radios are able to be used in a wide variety of ways. Of course, using a microphone to chat to someone and hearing their voice coming in from possibly thousands of miles away is always a thrill. Morse Code is still used today by thousands of Hams around the World. With the coming of computers, various forms of digital communications are now wide spread within the Amateur Community. For example, you can have a 'digital conversation' by using your Amateur Radio Station and computer keyboard to type messages to each other. Radio Signals on Earth are basically received and transmitted instantaneously, whereas to reach the planet Mars, they can take about 20 minutes or more. These days, using some modes of Digital Radio Communication, signals can now be detected and decoded which are not even audible. Remotely operating a station is now becoming popular. This means that even though you may be thousands of miles away from your Amateur Radio Station, using a fast Internet connection to it, you can still operate it from many places around the World. You may be in Texas, U.S.A., for example, but your Radio Station may be in England. With an adequate Internet connection between the two, you can control your Station remotely, even though you may be thousands of miles away from it. Such is the power of the Internet. ie. your transmitted signal is from England.
Pictures can be sent via Radio using Slow Scan Television (SSTV). Ham Radio signals are able to be sent to the Moon and reflected back from its surface to Earth so that Operators on the other side of the Earth are able to receive the weak reflected signals. This is known as 'Moon Bounce'. Many Satellites made by Amateurs are in Earth orbit. These 'Birds' receive Amateur Signals transmitted to them and retransmit the Signals back to Earth so that the Signals are able to travel further around the World. An Amateur Radio Station is located on board the International Space Station and contacts from there are often made to classes of School Children on Earth. ARISS.
Ham Radios are also used while operating Mobile, from push bikes, motor bikes, motor cars and boats to aeroplanes. They are also operated by Hams in hard to get to places. From various remote islands and mountains around the World to inhospitable locations like Antarctica, for example. Public Service is at the Forefront of Ham Radio. Amateurs often provide valuable Help to the Public in Times of Need. It may be the relaying of critical information about the advancement of a wild fire in Central Australia or the well being of people who have suffered an Earthquake in Chile, South America. There are many other aspects to Amateur Radio as well. The Hobby often leads People to a career in Electronics and Associated Fields of Employment. Many Amateur Radio Operators have contributed significantly to the Technological Advancement of Our Societies.
Amateur Radio Clubs are wide spread throughout many Countries. Regular meetings are held where Licensed Amateurs and People aspiring to become Hams come together to share their Common Interest. Lessons are given and different grades of License Examinations can be taken here to qualify for your Amateur License. A basic knowledge in Radio Theory and Operating is all that is needed to acquire the Basic License. Young Children are able to pass these tests and become Licensed Amateur Radio Operators.
Each licensed Ham Radio Operator is given a Callsign to identify Him or Her. The Callsign also indicates the Country in which they live. (I must apologize for not having Callsigns on the Operator pictures on this page.) For example, my individual callsign is VK5SW. The prefix of 'VK' indicates that I am in Australia. The 'number 5' indicates that I am located in the state of South Australia and the letters 'SW' are my own individual callsign letters.
Also, 'QSL Cards' shown above are often exchanged between Hams to confirm their contact or conversation. The map below shows the Amateur Radio Callsign Prefixes of various Countries around the World.
Amateur Radio Operators include nobel prize winners, singer/songwriters, musicians, hollywood movie producers/directors, actors, composers, authors, politicians, professors, astronauts and scientists. Well known Ham Radio personalities include country and western singers Patty Loveless KD4WUJ and Chet Atkins W4CGP sk, singer Donnie Osmond WD4SKT, The Eagles band member Joe Walsh WB6ACU, newsreader Walter Cronkite KB2GSD sk, actor Marlon Brando FO5GJ sk, Priscilla Presley NY6YOS, King Hussein of Jordan JY1 sk and Australian, Dick Smith VK2DIK.
Amateur Radio can enable you to forget about yourself and your worries and fill you with feelings of contentment, even excitement.
Amateur Radio has been and always will be a Passion for many People Worldwide from all Walks of Life. Whether you are a Mother, a Construction Worker, a young Person, Boy or Girl, or a Professor, there is the opportunity for you to experience Great Fun via Radio Communication. I encourage you to take the first step towards a rewarding past time and google 'Amateur Radio Association' or similar in your Country or City. (If in Australia, www.wia.org.au) Thereafter, if interested, pursue it, and then, one day, when you are licensed and sitting in front of your Radio, you will have the World at your finger tips which can enable you to make Friends around the World and change Your Life for the Better...
Be in your natural state
'A history of Amateur Radio' can be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_amateur_radio
An online course for Australian Licenses can be seen here http://www.res.net.au/
License courses and CD based courses are also available in Australia from the WIA. www.wia.org.au
These links open in a new window.
I should think that similar courses would be available from Amateur Radio Organizations, Worldwide.
A few Amateur Radio Websites
'The IONOSPERE.' An article from the ARRL's magazine, 'On The Air'. January, 2020.
To view a page of uplifting music slideshows
Click to see a few Amateur Radios manufactured by the Japanese company, 'ICOM'.