What Is Ham Radio?

Those were the days before Internet, when amateurs were fascinated talking to another individual across the globe who they have never met. Long before Twitter & Facebook, it was one of the earliest “social networks”.

How does amateur radio stay relevant in the age of widespread Internet connectivity?

A common dialogue between hams and non-hams.
Stranger: So, what does amateur radio do? Talk to aliens?
Hamu: Nooo.. hams speak to other hams around the world!
Stranger: Umm okay, how is that interesting?
Hamu: It’s fun when someone answers your CQ call!
Stranger: Can your grandfather in heaven answers the call??
Hamu: Nooooo…..!!

It was never easy explaining what amateur radio is in a nutshell. Simply because, amateur radio itself is such a diversified topic. For starters, amateur radio is not just about talking to others over the air or collecting postcards from distant stations. There’s more than meets the eye! Read on.

Wireless Communication, It’s Everywhere
RF technology is here and there in our daily life. Wi-Fi range extenders, mobile phones, satellite TVs, just to name a few. Aircraft pilots use it for radio navigation while huge ships use it for sea-to-sea communications where cellular coverage is limited.

A Platform to Learn, Practice and to HAVE FUN!
Earning yourself a ham radio license brings you to a whole new world of RF experimentation possibilities. You have proven your competency and are entrusted by the authorities to operate transmitters with great power. With great power comes great responsibility, you are expected of to ensure that your transmissions do not interfere with other wireless communication users. Wireless spectrum is an expensive commodity and you’ve earned yourself a wide range of amateur radio frequency allocations. Going back to the basics of ham radio, you’re now allowed to use radio communication devices otherwise known as walkie-talkies or handheld radios.

Not all about RADIO, The branches of amateur radio is limitless.
DXing – Challenging oneself to reach out to far far away hams. Making sure to make contacts with each and every country on the face of the Earth! Say, Antarctica?
Field Day – Setting up a battery powered amateur radio station, ensuring electrical power supply are sustainable for extended hours of outdoor operation while shedding of every pound of load for portability.
RF Propagation Experiments – Does VHF signal bounces off buildings? Why is my antenna pointed North but I could still hear a station from the South? How can my signal goes further? Can I bounce my transmission off the surface of the moon? Does the 40m HF band works better in the day or night?
Handling Radio Traffic – How does an air traffic controller handles so much traffic? How do hams relay messages in a disaster area? What can and cannot be discussed over the air? You may practice radio traffic handling when participating in over the air group conversations or perhaps taking part as a net controller in a radio net.

Electronic Experiments – How about building your own radio equipment? When it’s built, does it work? (Note: you need a license to legally transmit) Why not built a GPS tracker that uploads your position on the Internet via RF? Perhaps building an interface between computer and radio for digital communications? Maybe a Raspberry Pi SDR receiver?

Antenna Studies – Does a dipole or beam antenna work better? How does soil conductivity affect the performance of my vertical antenna? What affects the take off angle of an antenna? Can you go further with a different antenna design?

Emergency Communications – What is the role of ham radio in the event of a disaster, how can you help? With the skills mentioned above, you should be able to set up a self-sustaining battery powered radio station in a short time. Knowing which radio band to use at that time of the day. Knowing what type of antenna to use. On top of that, you are capable of handling busy incoming traffics in a calm and orderly manner. You record down the details and only relay important messages across the air truncating unnecessary information.

Want to join in the fun? Hop on over to the Getting Licensed page for information on how to get an amateur radio license and open the door to a world of different possibilities!