With sophisticated tablet computers and smartphones and diverse social networking sites floating around the internet, getting in touch with friends and dear ones seems rather simple and convenient. But imagine a day when all terrestrial communications are snapped in the blink of an eye by a powerful earthquake. That is when an amateur, or ham, radio comes in handy.
What is ham radio?
HAM radio is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use it mainly to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need.
Ham radio involves the use of a combined unit of transmitter and receiver -called transceiver -that facilitates a two-way communication between broadcasters across the world
The definition of Amateur (HAM) radio – A radio communications service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
It’s a community of people who use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with other Amateur radio operators. It is an activity of Self Learning, Inter-Communication & Technical Investigation carried on between Amateur Radio Operators.
There are over lakh people globally who pursue this activity in their free time. When mobiles, land phones, the internet and other systems are down or overloaded, Amateur Radio still gets the message through. Ham Radio operators are of all ages, sexes and income levels linked by their interest in wireless communications technologies
Many amateurs begin with a fascination of radio communication and then combine other personal interests to make pursuit of the hobby rewarding. Some of the focal areas amateurs pursue include radio contesting, radio propagation study, public service communication, technical experimentation, and computer networking.
Many ham radio operators also exchange QSL cards (Acknowledgement cards) with each other after a QSO (two way contact), especially with a distant station or one in a different country.
With these privileges come responsibilities and rules for the operation of an amateur radio station. Specifically, there are a few things that hams are not allowed to do:
- Hams are not allowed to do anything with their radios that makes them money in way. Ham radio is a hobby.
- Ham radio operator cannot `broadcast’ to the public. This means that ham radio transmissions are meant to be received by other ham radio operators. While a short-wave radios 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.
Within these (and other) guidelines, however, hams are empowered to do just about everything that government and private radio stations are allowed to do.
To operate a ham radio station in India, you must hold a license issued by the WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing of Ministry Of Communications). Obtaining a license requires you to pass an examination; higher license classes require passing more difficult exams.
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