Radio is a Scientific Hobby of Self Training,
Technical Investigation in the World Wide Radio
Communication carried out by duly authorised
Persons without any pecuniary interest.
Radio is an International hobby. An Amateur Radio
operator is called a HAM or Radio Amateur. HAM stands for The
first letter of 3 pioneers in the field of Radio
communication viz., Hertz Armstrong and Marconi. This is a hobby that
requires a licence from the concerned authorities
of their respective Government.
use transceivers for communication (Transmitter
and Receiver). Will you not be surprised to know
that, every minute of the day there will be
hundred and hundreds of Amateur Radio operators
operating their equipment around the world. One
can make global friends, exchange views, ideas,
explore the culture, lifestyles with the HAM
can utilise his/her free time creatively by
Amateur Radio. One doesn't feel lonely even if
nobody is at home, if he or she is a HAM, the
world comes into the confines of their room
getting the licence and going 'ON THE AIR'
one will find people from different walks of
life, like people from electronics, computers,
space, medicine, farming, film industry,
students, teachers, VIPs are a few to name.
HAMs playing chess sitting in their rooms across
the continents !!
are about 10,000 HAMs in India, out of which only
a few thousands are active on the air. The scene
is different in other countries like Japan, USA
etc., which has millions of active Radio Amateurs.
After getting the licence from the
Ministry of Communications and going on the
air one has the privilege of making friends
all round the globe. It's a whole special way of
real thrill of Amateur Radio is while making
contacts across the oceans, across the seas from
one's own home made equipment, even though one
can get an imported multi-band all-mode
can make or get assembled transceivers at much
less price than the imported ones, yes but with
less features. One can start the hobby
with an ordinary broadcast receiver ( 2 or 3 band
Transistor Radio) and then after getting the
licence, one can be on the AIR with a low power
SET-UP costing just around Rs. 1,500/= or else one should be a
member of an Amateur Radio Club.
Radio is used for self training and investigation
in the field of electronic communications carried
out by licensed persons. HAM Radio provides an
opportunity to serve the country, the people and
above all the HUMAN MANKIND.
natural calamities like earth quakes, floods etc.,
the service rendered by HAMs are recognised and
appreciated. Being a HAM one can serve the
society in many ways like making available
difficult-to-get life-saving drugs from any part
of the world through HAM Radio in time.
the AMARNATH YATRA '96 disaster, HAMs from
all over the country maintained an emergency
network linked from Srinagar to relay messages to
the relatives of the people trapped on the way.
lives has been saved from high seas, as any one
of the sailors on board where HAMs. A pilot (HAM
) saved the lives of many people on a passenger
airliner which lost Radio contact with the ATC (Air
Traffic Control ) , being an HAM he gave a
distress call ( SOS ) on HAM Radio from the
flight above the Indian Ocean and with the help
of a HAM in south India who picked up the signal
got in touch with the ATC via Telephone, helped
in a perfect landing of the aeroplane.
In India, there are five
grades of Amateur Wireless Telegraph Licence ( AW/T ):-
age for getting / applying for a
Licence is 12 years
of age in India. The Licence fee for Advanced
Grade , Grade I, Grade II / Restricted/SWL
are Rs. 50/= , Rs.40/=, Rs.25/= respectively
for a period of two Years.
obtain a AW/T licence one has to appear for the ASOC
examination (Amateur Station Operators
Certificate) conducted by Wireless Planning
and Co-ordination Wing of the Ministry of
Communications. The exam is conducted monthly in
big cities and once in two months at other places.
ASOC exam has two parts ;
Part - I :
Basic Electronics (Radio Theory and Practice)
Rules and Regulations (Indian and
Radio rules and regulations )
Part - II:
Morse code receiving
Morse code sending
Grade II exam it is 5 words per minute
test and 8 words per minute for Grade I and
Advanced Grade. For Restricted Grade there is no
Morse code test ( but can't enjoy full fruit of
HAM Radio), as it is only a point to point
examination is an easy one, mostly objective....
Morse Code :
Code is an International Language. Since HAMs
come from every nook and corner of the globe
there may be language barriers but Morse Code
Builds bridges of friendship.
Transmission is considered as one of the
efficient means of communication in adverse Band
(radio frequency) conditions. Now other digital
modes have come up which are as efficient or even
more than a Morse transmission. On economical
grounds most of the Indian HAMs cannot afford
such costly means of equipment's to enjoy the
full fruit of Amateur Radio.
one learns Morse and operate, it is just as hearing
music on the air!!. One can convey messages
to the other end much faster than talking. There
are special abbreviations in Amateur Radio that
helps in sending messages quickly over radio
known as "Q"codes.
example if one sends the following in
Morse code :-
This means 'are
you ready to receive my signals ?'
This is the answer that 'I
am ready to receive your signals'
the speed with which one can communicate. It is
only by practice one gains the speed.
related to Amateur Radio are available in leading
book shops Viz., 'ABC of Amateur
Radio in India'. To study
Morse it just takes a matter of two weeks for a
really interested person or it takes the time he
or she wishes.
one gets through the exam he or she has to wait
for the decision of the Ministry for the grant an
AW/T licence, that takes a matter of few months.
different modes used by Amateur Radio operators
Voice, SSTV (SLOW SCAN TV),FSTV (Fast Scan TV),
RTTY(Radio Teletype), Packet Radio, AMTOR (
Amateur Teleprinting Over Radio), PACTOR ( Packet
Teleprinting Over Radio).
are many Amateur Satellites orbiting and it is
very thrilling experience to have a conversation
sitting in one's room with the Robot on board.
All SPACE missions so far has had atleast a HAM
Radio Operator (Astronaut) on board. Sitting in
your SHACK ( Radio Room) one can contact the
Astronaut and talk to SPACE. Some satellites have
( HAM ) Robots which will respond to the call and
reply back !!
THE RADIO SYSTEM
Basic requirement of AW/T station is a
transmitter / receiver . A transmitter is used to
send the Radio Waves. It Picks up the Voice and
converts it to radio frequency and using the
Antenna it radiates the signals. On the other
hand at the receiving end the antenna traps the
signals and reproduces the signal into meaningful
information ( Intelligence ). There are various
modes in which signals are send, Voice, Morse,
Digital Data ( Packets) etc.,
Amateur Radio various frequency bands are
allotted by the International Telecommunications
Union on 3.5 to 3.7 MHz, 7- 7.1 MHz, 14 - 14.350
MHz, 21- 21.450 MHz etc.,
using an ordinary Broadcast receiver in one's
home with a good external antenna, one can hear
the Amateur Radio Operators conversing on the air.
Amateur Radio Station is identified by its Call
Sign as in the case of the telephone is the
telephone number. As the ISD dial code 91
represents India, VU represents India followed by a digit 2,3,4,7
etc., followed again by 2 or 3 characters which
identifies the station. So a typical Indian
station will have a Call Sign like VU2UKR or VU3CYL or VU2AWC etc.,
Call Signs of Sri Lankan stations starts with the
prefix 4S7, Pakistan AP2, Russia RA6, Japan JA3,
Germany DL4, USA W4 etc.,
tune the Transceiver , if one happens to hear
some station and wish to contact, give a "break in" call. Once the
other station replies back to the call and
exchange the signal report, the chat goes on
way is to tune to a clear frequency and give a
general call on the air. When a HAM hears, he/she
replies back. The other way is to give a
directional call (a call to stations in a
particular Continent or Country).
HAMs are all equal,
there is No 'SIR'
or 'Mr'. or 'Mrs' even if a person is 7
years old or 70 years old , a male is
referred as an 'OLD MAN' and similarly
a female as 'YOUNG LADY'.
Amateurs are forbidden to transmit messages
related to Business, Religious, Political, or
other matters which can cause communal
problems, or matters which can deprive the
Government of its revenue etc.,
is conducted around the country, meaning National Emergency
Traffic. NETs are
conducted daily on different bands at fixed
timings and frequencies. Some are during day
and some during night. On a NET, a net
controller (HAM) conducts the NET for the
day, he calls in for 'check-ins' to the NET.
Stations on the NET frequency give their call
signs and wait for there turn and stay on
frequency for the duration of the NET. After
checking in, the station stays back on
frequency listening to the NET for any
emergency or medical traffic.
If a HAM
station requires medical help / emergency he
contacts the NET controller and in turn the
NET controller announces it over the band,
seeks help from any station on frequency to
meet the emergency and it is handled in a
very professional way.
medicines at time of emergency or an alert of
distress, or weather forecast, band
condition, or other needs are handled on the
NET. Usually on the NET when 'traffic or
emergency communication' is less then HAMs
use the NET as a typical telephone exchange
getting HAMs connected by allotting different
frequencies for a group of HAMs for their
round table discussion on the air.
talk more about the technical aspect of radio
communications, some are interested in making
friends around the globe, some look for their
counterparts having the same profession.
contact other HAMs (doctors) when they are
sick and at home, get their diagnostics done
while lying in there bed over radio !
This is yet another Q Code
meaning 'can you acknowledge receipt'.
Once one establish a two way Radio contact
with another station, a special post card is
exchanged Viz. QSL card. This card has the
Call Sign of the Station you worked, date,
time, frequency, signal report, his or her
equipment and other details of the station,
country, place and other information's of
If one happens to collect 100 QSL
Cards of different countries listed by the AMERICAN
RADIO RELAY LEAGUE one get a prestigious
award called "The DXCC". DX
means Distant or Unknown, CC is the Centenary
Club. A station outside India is a DX country
Field Day as the word itself sound,
a day(s) in the field. It is actually an
exercise conducted by a group of HAMs and
SWLs to go to some place of interest, say for
example high up on Mountain terrain's, deep
in the jungle and Set-up a Amateur Radio
Station and maintain the Radio Network as an
awareness program for meeting the emergency
communication requirements during calamities.
During the Field Day the areas of
study are mainly Propagation Conditions,
Sunspot Activity, Radio Astronomy, Sporadic
Propagation, Location of putting up Antenna,
choice of type of Antenna, Direction, Tuning
up the RIG ( HAM equipment) and at
last establishing the contact.
So in a Field Day, SWLs and people
who have interest in Radio Communication
learn a lot from the Radio Amateurs, the ways
to put up a station, the procedures of
establishing contacts on the network etc.,
It also serves as an opportunity to
HAMs and SWLs to meet their HAM friends in
person. Though being great friends over
Radio, it is a crazy occasion when one meets
him/her in person, the configuration in mind
does not resemble with the actual !!
One can study the basic necessities
for setting up an Amateur Radio Station in
case of emergencies, in any adverse
situations or at difficult places
unfavourable for putting up a station and to
get on with new ideas.
known as DX-pedition. So as in a Field Day here a
group of people venture out in the Sea to some
island, some places Viz. Antarctica, Arctic,
Bering islands etc.,
venture out for expedition like the SAMUNDRA
IV Yatch expedition "BALI YATRA" to
Indonesia. Expeditions to Lakshadeep and Andaman
Islands are Popular around the world. Expedition
Team gets the world attention as millions and
millions of HAMs will be looking out for DX-pedition
Stations because usually it will have a different
CALL SIGN (special one) and that, one who
contacts such a station from an island is really
thrilled to have worked that part of the world
which are usually rare.
India VU7 prefix is given to the DX-pedition
Teams to Lakshadeep and Andamans other than the
usual VU2 and VU3 prefix on the main land.
is really a fun, hunting the FOX !!!
FOX is a Radio Transmitter hidden in some place
in the city or town or forest or where ever it
might be, sometimes can't imagine even if it is
in the well. It would transmit Radio Signals from
it at intervals of time. The participants of the
Fox Hunt are to locate the hidden transmitter
which may be within a range of say 15 to 20 Kms.
pair is a team, usually equipped with the
transceiver (hand held), Beam Antenna connected
to it. Some mount it on top of their vehicles and
some hold in their arms while using a two wheeler.
So one can find crazy people carrying Beam
Antenna in their hand while on the road,
referring to the maps, using the direction finder
to locate the hidden fox.
team which finds the fox is rewarded.
There are Amateur Satellites or
simply satellites carrying Amateur Radio on
board. These Satellite Radio Amateur Stations
are Microprocessor controlled. The Signals
are beamed to the orbiting satellite and get
the acknowledgement. Mostly the
communications will be of short duration,
exchange of signal reports, location etc.,
Some satellites are used as repeater
station, one station UPLINKS the signal to
the satellite and the signal is retransmitted
[ DOWNLINKS ] to ground covering a large area
[ Foot Print ] on another frequency. The
communication between two stations can only
be sustained while both the stations are in
the foot print of the satellite.
Amateur Radio Satellites can be
utilised for the thirst of Knowledge of SPACE.
It can create an awareness of SPACE,
Astronomy, Space Technology, Different Modes
of Communications like high speed data
One gets an opportunity to
communicate with an Astronaut on the space
station and check one's system performance
and even carry out radio experiments guided
by them, a rare opportunity for a common man
to even talk to Cosmonaut on a LIVE mission.
Many HAMs in India were able to
contact many satellites , to name a few the
Russian MIR Orbiting Space STATION with a
Call Sign U2MIR, this station has been put up
on board to minimise the boredom of the
Cosmonaut as they can feel at home.
Many curious students from a
Bangalore school which has a Amateur Radio
station in school were able to contact / talk
to the Astronauts on the ' STS-55 SHUTTLE
RADIO AMATEUR EXPERIMENT ' space SHUTTLE
COLUMBIA and get some of their queries
cleared which were not answerable by books
and people in and around !
There are computer program (software)
to exactly predict the movement of satellites
over the horizon, time, angle at which etc.,
all that has to be input is the local time
and place (location). There are other
interesting software programs which can
control the antenna rotator and can
automatically beam towards the satellite and
track till it is having a foot print over the
The India's First Amateur Radio
Satellite HAMSAT - [ VUSAT ] is getting
ready, and it's in it's final test.
this mode of communication the Data/Messages are
sent using a computer, which is connected to a
Radio Modem + Transceiver. In this type of
communication data is send as Packets of
Information to the other end as RADIO WAVES.
There are different Protocols used in this
system, the software used for this
that the data received in error free. At a
particular point of time one station can get
connected to as many as 10 stations and exchange
information There are Bulletin Boards and Mail
Boxes across the continent.
Basic requirement of
this state of the art technology
communication is a COMPUTER, RADIO MODEM,
TRANSCEIVER, ANTENNA and the SOFTWARE.
best way to become a HAM is to get in touch with
a local active HAM or a club. Books on this
subject is available at leading book shops, EFY
Enterprises, BPB publications etc.,
Correspondence courses are also being conducted
by Kerala Amateur Radio League. Morse code which
most people think / say is difficult, but if it
is mastered in the way it should then it is a
matter of few days.
two main things to become a radio amateur is the
" Thirst for Knowledge " and "Service
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