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Beginners Guide to Amateur Radio

  • Are there any other aspects of Amateur Radio I might find interesting?

  • We'll take a quick look at some at some more specialised elements of the hobby:

  • Contesting this is for those who have a competitive inclination. Here the aim is to achieve as many contacts in a given period of time as possible. There are numerous contests on different bands throughout the year.

  • Emergency Communications there are groups around the world dedicated to providing emergency communications during times of disaster. Particular examples have been during earthquakes, hurricanes etc. A bit like a St. Johns Ambulance organisation for radio!

  • Moonbounce this is a very specialised form of communication which involves literally bouncing signals off the moon to speak to other amateurs around the world.

  • Space Communications Some of the orbiting satellites around the earth are capable of receiving and retransmitting amateur radio signals. So you can communicate to other stations through these satellites. Often astronauts visiting the MIR space station and others aboard the shuttle are Radio Amateurs and on occasions (when time permits) have had conversations or sent pictures to amateur radio stations located on the earth.

  • All this sounds very geeky to me I don't want a hobby where I'm stuck indoors all the time!

  • Well you don't have to be! Amateur Radio gear can be taken outdoors you know!, either portable or in a car or a boat or even a bicycle! The possibilities are endless! Do remember that for those who are housebound because of their health, Amateur radio can provide a vital link with the outside world.

  • You've talked about various frequencies Amateurs can use; what are they?

  • Frequency allocations or bands as they are known, vary from country to country but follow a similar pattern. First of all there are short wave allocations at 1.8Mhz, 3.5Mhz, 7Mhz, 10.1Mhz, 14.0Mhz, 18Mhz, 21Mhz, 24Mhz, 28Mhz. These start just above medium wave (1.8Mhz) and end just below where VHF (very high frequency) officially starts (30Mhz). There are also VHF allocations at 50Mhz, 70Mhz, and 144Mhz. Next there is an allocation in the UHF (ultra high frequency) band just below where most TV signals are broadcast at 430Mhz. Finally there are allocations in the microwave bands the most popular being 1.3Ghz and 10Ghz (mobile phones often operate just below and above 1.3Ghz.

  • Why are there so many frequencies?

  • Basically the various frequencies behave in different ways and have differing ranges. Generally speaking the short wave bands can be used for world-wide communications, whilst the higher bands are used for more local communication.


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