KE9NA is my ham radio call sign. "OK, so what is ham radio?", you ask. Well, simply put, ham radio, also called "Amateur Radio", is a hobby involving radio communications. With ham radio equipment, one can talk around the world or just across town. It is a fascinating way to get to know a friend next door or to learn about a culture in a distant part of the world.
Ham radio is different than "CB" or "Citizens Band" radio. To operate a CB one does not have to hold a license. Anyone can purchase a CB and talk on the CB frequencies. However, you are legally limited in both your output power, the frequencies you can talk on, and the form of your communication. Ham radio operators, on the other hand are licensed by the Federal Government; we have an incredibly wide range of frequencies that we can use; we can use relatively large amounts of output power; and we can communicate using many forms of communication from Morse Code to Radio Teletype to Television.
Each ham radio operator is issued a unique call sign. This call sign is similar to those issued to broadcast radio or TV stations. This call sign identifies who the station is. The number in a ham call sign varies depending on your region in the country and the number of letters in the call sign can depend on your particular class of license. Each class of license requires different proficiency in various technical and/or operating skills.
Ham radio operators also play a vital role in emergency communications. Many times during natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes, amateur radio operators assist local emergency agencies with communications, disaster relief, etc. Many times the assistance of hams proves invaluable to both the local community and the nation.
Ham radio is a very rewarding hobby as well. There are many awards one can earn for acheiving different levels of operating skill, contacting a certain number of countries, contacting all the states in the US, etc. There are also contests where one can pit their wits against others to see who can talk to the most people in a given time period.
If you would like to find out more about ham radio, please visit the web site of the American Radio Relay League at www.arrl.org.
View Pictures of my shack and antennas
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