What is Amateur Radio?
It s a cold night, my partner's at a meeting, the kids are asleep and there's nothing on TV (is there ever?) so I decide to head into the shack to check out the radio bands. I turn the gear on
and start tuning across the 20 metre (14mhz) band. I immediately trip across a very strong signal. Wait he's turning the conversation back to the person he's talking to, ok its VK2ZAD
in Sydney talking to VE7XAS in Canada, no wonder his signal is so strong! I listen for the VE7 and yep there he is a good signal as well, not a strong as the VK2 but easily readable.
Hmmm maybe the band conditions are good tonight.
I move on and hear another station calling CQ, (the manner in which a person indicates they want to talk to someone) listening carefully
I find it's G0SVC. I haven't spoken to anyone in England before so I wait until she finishes her call and respond. Hey she's coming back to me wow!
After exchanging callsigns I ask her
what she does. She says her name is Sarah and she lives in Kent, just outside London. She's a teacher in a local school got her interest in amateur radio through the radio club the
school has. She describes her main enjoyment from amateur radio as chatting to people from all walks of life around the world and the friends she has made through that. She asks about
my background and, as a keen rugby fan, how the English team are doing in New Zealand at present. I laugh and say they have their work cut out for them and she agrees. After 20 minutes
or so we agree to swap QSL cards (written confirmation of the contact) thank each other for the chat and go our separate ways. After the contact I sit back in wonderment at how my $350
radio and single wire antenna perform so well, especially considering its only running the power of the 100 watt light bulb in my shack. Gosh if I can talk to someone in England tonight
I wonder who else is on the bands! I tune on...
The ability to talk to people in another country is the reason many start in amateur radio. The above story represents a typical contact amateur radio operators (or hams) make all the
time. Of course that is not the only reason people become hams. Some like to construct antennas, or radios to use on the air, (imagine if you had made the contact with Sarah using gear
you had made yourself)! Others use different methods of communication such as amateur satellites orbiting the earth, or Morse, slow scan television, or even computer generated signals.
The possibilities are endless.
Amateur radio operators also often provide communications for community events such as car rallies and multisport competitions like "the coast to coast".
Communications are also provided for search and rescue operations. Information on how to become an amateur radio operator in New Zealand is available from the NZART, website through the
external links above. NZART is the national association of amateur radio enthusiasts.