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Amateur 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.

Amateur 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.

HAMs 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 friends.

One 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 anywhere anytime.

After 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.

Imagine HAMs playing chess sitting in their rooms across the continents !!

There 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 making friends.

The 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 transceiver.

One 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.

HAM 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.

During 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.

During 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.

Many 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.


Types of licences

In India, there are five grades of Amateur Wireless Telegraph Licence ( AW/T ):-

1. Short Wave listeners Licence.

2. Restricted Grade.

3. Grade II.

4. Grade I.

5. Advanced Grade.

The minimum 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.

Exams :-

To 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 :

a) Basic Electronics (Radio Theory and Practice)

b) Rules and Regulations (Indian and

International Radio rules and regulations )

Part - II:

a) Morse code receiving

b) Morse code sending


For 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 communication Licence.

The examination is an easy one, mostly objective....


Morse Code : -

The International Language


Morse 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.

Morse 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.

Once 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.

For 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'

Notice the speed with which one can communicate. It is only by practice one gains the speed.

Books 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.

After 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.

The different modes used by Amateur Radio operators are :-

Morse, Voice, SSTV (SLOW SCAN TV),FSTV (Fast Scan TV), RTTY(Radio Teletype), Packet Radio, AMTOR ( Amateur Teleprinting Over Radio), PACTOR ( Packet Teleprinting Over Radio).

There 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 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.,

For 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.,

Even 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.



An 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.,

The Call Signs of Sri Lankan stations starts with the prefix 4S7, Pakistan AP2, Russia RA6, Japan JA3, Germany DL4, USA W4 etc.,



First 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 ...... .

One 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'.

The 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.,



"NET" 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.

Life saving 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.

Usually HAMs 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.

Some HAMs 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 interest.

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 for Indians.

Field Day


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.




Popularly 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.,

Some 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.

In 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.




It is really a fun, hunting the FOX !!!

A 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.

A 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.

The 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 transfer etc.,

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 area .

The India's First Amateur Radio Satellite HAMSAT - [ VUSAT ] is getting ready, and it's in it's final test.



In 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

ensures 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.


The 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.


The two main things to become a radio amateur is the

" Thirst for Knowledge " and "Service Mindedness



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