What is ham radio or Amateur radio?

A two way wireless communication pursued by licensed ham radio operators,  with similar interests,  all over the world, without any pecuniary interest.  An electronics hobby, rather called the king of  hobbies!   Above all, it is a public service.  Ham radio operators are from all walks of life - students, teachers, doctors, engineers, business people, politicians,  people from cine world and employees.  



How do hams communicate?

Hams use radio waves for communication.  Internationally, Amateur Radio Operators have exclusive frequencies on HF  (high frequency),  VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency). HF is used for world wide communication.  Sitting right in my house in a room at Alleppey in India, I can speak to, at the same time, hams from other parts of India, USA, UK, GULF countries, Australia, a friend only a few kilometers away from here and a ham in the deep sea cruising in yacht or ship.  VHF & UHF frequencies are generally used for mobile communication. 

What do hams communicate?

Amateurs Radio operators are basically interested in the development of electronics.  but any subject is permitted excepting politics and sex.

By what means hams communicate?

Amateur Radio Operators communicate with each other using CW (Continuous Wave), AM (Amplitude Modulation), SSB (Single Side Band) and besides we have ATV (Amateur Television), SSTV (Slow Scan Television), Amtor, Pactor, Packet Radio and Satellite communication.  Hams have got their own satellite, in orbit,  OSCAR (Oscar Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio).

How hams identify themselves?

When one gets a valid Amateur Radio Operators' license, he gets a CALL SIGN.  In India, for example, my call sign is VU2 HSM VU is the geographic prefix for India, and the number 2, for some people the number would be 3, stands for Amateur Radio Station, and the suffix, which consists of 2 or 3 alphabets,  HSM,  in my case,  is my personal identification.  For USA the geographic prefix is K, W, A & N followed by a number and 2 or 3 alphabets.  For UK and Australia, the prefix are G & VK respectively.  Besides, each and every ham has a nick name or the like.

Who issues Amateur Radio Operators' license?

In India the licensing authority is WPC - Wireless Planning & Co-ordination wing in the capital of India. In India WPC issues wireless operators' license to police, too. There in the USA it is the FCC - Federal Communications Commission. 

How to get a valid license to establish, maintain and operate a ham radio station?

In India one must pass an examination called ASOC (Amateur Station Operators Certificate Examination).  The syllabus consists of  radio theory and practice, National and International Radio Regulations and Morse Code.  Here in India, we have 5 grades of license - Short wave listener, Restricted, Grade II, Grade I & Advanced.  If one has a valid Short Wave listener license he can  only monitor  ham radio frequencies using a home-brew (made by oneself) or commercial  communications receiver.  He shall not transmit.  Restricted grade restricts the licensee to transmit and receive only in VHF & UHF with low transmitting power.  Grade II category can communicate with other hams in Morse Code only with low power in HF.  Morse Code or CW (CONTINUOUS WAVE) comprises of short,  long sounds and space.  The short sound is like di or dit, and the long sound is similar to dah.  Alphabets, numerals and punctuations are different combinations of these sounds and space.  For example didah together means the alphabet 'A',  After completing 100 contacts with other hams, the grade II licensee can apply for voice endorsement.  Grade I license holder can use more power output in hf, VHF & UHF.  Advanced Grade licensees  can use more power output in hf, VHF.  Short wave listener license can be obtained without undergoing any examinations.  one must submit the application form with the appropriate fee, For restricted grade the written examination is for 1 hour.  For Grade II the duration is 2 hours, and then Morse Code receiving and sending test at 5 words per minute, and the test contains only alphabets.  For Grade I and Advanced the written exam is for 3 hours, and Morse Code must be received and sent at 13 words per minute.  Test is a combination of alphabets, numerals and punctuation marks.  Advanced Grade candidates must answer more questions during that stipulated time.

Who conducts ASOC  examinations?

In every State in India there are Monitoring Stations, and exams are usually held there.  There are many ham radio organizations all over the country.  And if a ham club can arrange at least 20 candidates to undergo exams,  authorities from the near by monitoring station will come to the club station or venue to conduct the exams.  



Other Links to Amateur Radio: