What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur Radio is a hobby which started with Guglielmo Marconi's discovery that messages could be transmitted through wireless means by radio waves. This event occured at the turn of the 20th century, but it so inspired and fired up the imaginations of many other electronic enthusiasts that by 1917 the United States came up with legal regulations on the use of the air waves. We might say that this was the formal start of amateur radio.

Since then up to the present, the population of radio enthusiasts has grown by leaps and bounds. Millions of "hams" all over the world continue with their experimentations to improve wireless communications. Every contact made between "hams" of different countries builds bridges of friendship across this earth.

The worth of amateurs has been proven many times in war as well as during occurences of disasters and calamities. Governments of different countries have duly recognized and rewarded the amateurs for their assistance during emergencies. Amateurs have often spearheaded rescue assistance immediately after hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and other calamities. It has been primarily because of these voluntary and courageous services that international conferences ultimately allocated certain frequencies for the sole use of the amateurs.

The hobby is non-pecuniary and thus, is not to be used for business purposes. Amateur is coined from the latin word "amatore" which means "for love of " and it is for love of radio that hams all over the world zealously protect their frequencies from "intruders". In spite of their determination to fight for their rights, the "hams" are friendly persons who love to teach and dessiminate the hobby to friends and young people. This is especially manifested in their cooperation with the Boy Scouts the world over.

The hobby is particularly interesting in the sense that many "hams" may talk to each other as extra special friends for years without ever having met. Joy may be defined as the time when two "hams", who have talk to each other for many years, finally see each on "eyeball" for the first time.

The dream of many "hams" is to save a life through the use of his equipment. It has been known that hams have actually initiated the rescue of sinking ships. Some ham doctors have saved the lives by giving medical instructions to people through ham radio. This dream, plus the fact that contatcting exotic places is as exhilirating as ever, insures that continuing popularity and growth of amateur radio.

In the Philippines, ham radio was introduced by the Americans. American and Filipino amateurs formed the "Philippine Amateur Association, Inc., in 1932. From a handful of amateurs 70 years ago, the "ham" population of the Philippines has grown to more than seven thousand today.

How To Be A Radio Amateur Operator?

Each country has its own laws, rules and regulations pertaining to becoming an Amateur Radio Operator. Here in the Philippines, the following are required before anyone can be called a real ham.

The general qualification being considered is being a legal citizen of the Philippines, at least 12 years of age, good moral character and ability to understand and speaks messages either in Pilipino or Tagalog, or any of the Philippine dialects, English, Spanish or any other foreign languages.

Examinations pertaining to International Morse Code, Philippine amateur radio rules and regulations embodied in Republic Act (RA) 3846, fundamentals of electronics and electricity, amateur radio practice, signals, frequencies and emission, circuit components, operating procedures, practical circuits, antenna and transmission lines and radio wave propagation are given by the National Telecommunications Commission to aspiring applicants to enhance their skills and knowledge in the proper operation of their individual radio stations. This examinations serves as a gauge in classifying in which of the existing amateur class an oprating belong.

The International Phonetic Alphabet

One of the fundamental step to study as a good ham oprator is to memorize the special lingo of amateurs, the International Phonetic Alphabet.

For voice ham radio, special procedures for pronouncing letters and numbers are required to avoid confusion and errors. The phonetic alphabet, rather than letters of the alphabet, is used to reduce the change of error. The phonetic alphabet is not a code.
A - Alpha
B - Bravo
C- Charlie
D - Delta
E - Echo
F - Foxtrot
G - Golf
H - Hotel
I - India
J - Juliet
K - Kilo
L - Lima
M - Mike
N - November
O - Oscar
P - Papa
Q - Quebec
R - Romeo
S - Siera
T - Tango
U - Uniform
V - Victor
W - Whiskey
X - X-ray
Y - Yankee
Z - Zulu

Operating A Radio Station:

1. Listen

The first rule states: "If you don't hear them, you won't work them. Therefore, you must listen on the band you propose to transmit on. The strongest reason for listening is so that you don't interfere with someone already using the frequency.

The second reason for listening is that it can tell you a great deal about the state of the bands. Although a band may be "dead" by popular consent at a particular time, frequent openings will occur, which you can take advantage of ir you are around at the right time.

2. Keep it short:

Of course, if we all listened and never called, the bands will be even deader than they are now. So, if after listening, you have not made contact, call "CQ". Rules for calling CQ are:

a. Use your CALLSIGN frequently
b. Keep your call short, listening often

If replying to someone else's CQ, the rules are:

a. Use your CALLSIGN frequently. The chap you're calling knows his own callsign -- he wants to know yours.
b. Keep it short. Either he has heard you or he hasn't. Either way, it's a waste of time giving a long call. If conditions are bad, use phonetics, keep it short. A very bad practice can be observed in "pileups" of the calling stations carrying out what amounts to an endurance exercise - the station who gives the longest call gets the contact, purely because is the only one the DX station can hear clearly. This is definitely alligator behavior, and should not be considered - wait your turn in the pileups.

Whe you have made contact, again keep it short. Conditions can change very rapidly, and long overs become tedious to the listener. When operating via repeater, this rules is very important. (Repeaters have their own problems, and will be considered separately.)

3. Do unto Others.....This rule, if faithfully applied, would make the crowded VHF bands far more bearable.

a. Don't interfere with another station for any reason whatever (except in dire emergency).
b. Don't use full power to tune your aerial to resonance - dont tune the transmitter on the air at all.
c. Keep your power down to the minimum required to make the contact.
d. Don't overmodulate. Don't shout to the microphone and maintain 3 inches distance.

Standard Ham Abbreviations:

AA ............. all after
AB ............. all before
ABT .......... about
AGN ......... again
ANT .......... antenna
BCI ............ broadcast interference
BCNU........ be seeing you
CK ............. check
COPI ......... copy
CQ ............ calling any station
CUD ......... could
CUL ..........see you later
DX ............ distance; foreign countries
ES ............. and
FB ............ fine; excellent
GB ........... goodbye
GE ........... good evening
GM ......... good morning
GN ......... good night
GUD ....... good
HI ........... the CW laugh; high
HR ......... here
HW ....... how is
NR ......... near; number
NW ....... now
OM ....... old man
OP ........ operator
PSE .......please
PWR ..... power
RX ........ receiver
RFI ....... radio frequency interference
RIG ...... equipment
RPT ...... repeater
SRI ....... sorry
TNX ..... thanks
TKS ...... thanks
TVI ....... television interference
UR ........ your
VY ........ very
WKD .... worked
TX ......... transmitter
XTAL .... crystal
XYL ....... wife
YL ......... young lady
73 .......... best regards
88 .......... love and kisses.


Q Codes:

Q, signals were created in the early days of wireless communication to overcome language problems in international transmission and to convey frequently need information with brevity and clarity. The Q signals below are those of greatest use to Ham and CBer's. Q means question:

Q-code Question Information
QRA What is the name of your station? The name of my station is...
QRB How far approximately are you from my station? The approximate distance between our stations is ... nautical miles (or ... kilometers)
QRG Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ... )? Your exact frequency (or that of ...) is ... Khz (or Mhz)
QRH Does my frequency vary? Your frequency varies.
QRI How is the tone of my transmission? The tone of your transmission is 1=good 2=variable 3=bad
QRK What is the readability of my signals? The readability of your signals is 1=bad 2=poor 3=fair 4=good 5=excellent
QRL Are you busy? I am busy
QRM Are you being interfered ? I am being interfered with: 1=nil 2=slightly 3=moderately 4=severely 5=extremely
QRN Are you troubled by static? I am troubled by static: 1=nil 2=slightly 3=moderately 4=severely 5=extremely
QRO Shall I increase transmitter power? Increase transmitter power.
QRP Shall I decrease transmitter power? Decrease transmitter power.
QRQ Shall I send faster? Send faster (or ... words per minute).
QRS Shall I send more slowly? Send more slowly (or ... words per minute).
QRT Shall I stop sending? Stop sending.
QRU Have you anything for me? I have nothing for you.
QRV Are you ready? I am ready.
QRW Shall I inform ... that you are calling him (on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)?. Please inform ... that I am calling him (on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)
QRX When will you call me again? I will call you again at ... hours (on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)
QRY What is my turn? Your turn is number....(or according to any other indication).
QRZ Who is calling me? You are being called by ... (on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)).
QSA What is the strength of my signals? The strength of your signals (or those of ...) is ... 1=scarcely perceptible 2=weak 3=fairly good 4=good 5=very good
QSB Are my signals fading? Your signals are fading
QSD Is my keying defective? Your keying is defective
QSG Shall I send ... messages at a time? Send ... messages at a time
QSK Can you work break in? I can hear you between my signals; break in on my transmission
QSL Can you acknowledge receipt? I acknowledge receipt.
QSO Can you communicate with ... direct? I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ... )
QSP Will you relay to ... ? I will relay to ...
QST Is there any message for hams? Calling all hams
QSU Shall I send or reply on this frequency (or on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)? Send or reply on this frequency ? (on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)
QSV Shall I send a series of V's on this frequency (or on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)? Send a series of V's on this frequency (or on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)
QSW Will you send on this frequency (or on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)? I will send on this frequency (or on ... Khz)(or ... Mhz)
QSX Will you listen to...? I am listening to ... (call sign) on ... Khz (or Mhz).
QSY Shall I send on an other frequency ? Transmit on an other frequency (or on ... Kkhz)(or ... Mhz)
QSZ Shall I send each word/group more than once? Send twice, or send ... times
QTA Shall I cancel message number ... ? Cancel message number ...
QTB Do you agree with my word count? (Answer negative)
QTC How many messages have you to send? I have ... messages for you.
QTH What is your position? My position is ...
QTR What is the correct time (in UTC) ? The correct time is...(in UTC)
QTX Will you keep your station open for further traffic from me? I will keep my station open . . .
QUA Have you had news of ... ? News of ... is ...

Operating Procedures:

Courtesy is synonymous to amateur radio. Amateur operators are expected to strictly adhere to the correct procedures on the use of radios since they operate on common frequencies with all other hams in their locality, their country, and the world. Enumerated below are some guidelines in the use of the frequencies allocated to the amateur bands.

1. Hams all over the world use the "Q" code in transmission. The Q-code are extensively used in CW, but has been, to a limited extent, adopted and accepted in the phone band. Actually, only ordinary language is required in conversation in the phone mode.

2. Do not tune your units on frequencies being used. Always see to it that the frequency is clear before you tune your units. Tuning is recommended to be done on a dummy load so as not to disturb other users. When tuning antennas however, be sure that no one is using the frequency at that time.

3. Always listen in a few seconds, a minute if necessasry, before calling for a "CQ" on frequency. This will avoid your stepping on a weak signal. The short wait will assure you that no one is using the frequency since you do not hear anyone.

4. In breaking in an existing conversation, it is recommended to break in with your call sign during "pauses" of the QSO. Though it is allowable to hoin with the "break" the call sign may be better because it saves time since the other users do not have to call for a QRZ.

5. On the use of "break" ..... it is understood that one "break" is ussed ordinarily to join into an on-going conversation. Two breaks, or "break, break" is used when there is urgency or priority traffic or messages that has to be pushed through because of time constrainst or because of its importance. The tripple, or "break, break, break" is used to extreme emergencies, or a matter of life and death. When anyone breaks, in with a "break, break, break", all stations are requested to stand-by and assist the emergency call.

6. After calling for a certain station, give another three calls to make certain that he is not on stand-by. Do not give more than these number of calls. . . . because for practical reasons, if he was there and heard you, he would have answered already. Wait another five minutes and give him three calls again if you would wish to really raise him up. Do not give continual calls. It would just be useless and the frequency may not be used by other amateurs. Make your call as short as possible.

7. Always make your conversations as short as possible, especially on calling frequencies. In the Philippines, calling frequencies on 40 meter band is 7.045 MHz LSB and on two meter band, 145.000 MHz.

8. On checking in to the nets, always check-in or break in with your call sign. This avoids further waste of time by not having the net control call for a QRZ anymore.

9. The word "contact" is used during net time especially to break in after the station (who you may want to contact) has just check-in.

10. Do not entertain or try to reply or threaten a jammer. A jammer or a heckler finds satisfaction when he is answered or when he is able to get you mad, or gets your goat. You win, if you pretend that he is not there at all. If everybody adheres to this procedure, the "jammer" population should decrease.

11. In using repeater systems, always see to it that QSO are short. Repeater frequencies are usually common to members, and are primarily calling frequencies. Do not use the repeater, if you can go on simplex. It will prolong the life of the equipment, and also afford other stations to use it.

12. A repeater is privately owned. We realize that any license holder has the right to use the frequency, however, since a repeater is privately owned, it would be better to ask permission from the owners prior to using the repeater. This is common courtesy, and should be observed in order to avoid any conflicts. It is common practice however, that in cases of emergencies all owner of repeaters allow their equipment to be used

Classes of Amateur Radio Operators:

Class A - Advanced Class
Class B - General Class
Class C - Technician Class
Class D - Novice Class

Privileges of each class of licenses:

Class A: licensee shall be authorized to operate a HF fixed and/or mobile radio station with an output power not to exceed 1 kilowatt on a continuous wave on a continuous wave (CW) or two kilowatts peak envelope power (PEP) single side band suppressed carrier and state of the art on VHF/UHF fixed, mobile or portable station.

Class B: licensee shall be authorized ot operate on HF fixed radio station with an output power not exceeding five hundred watts on CW or one kilowatts PEP on single side band suppressed carrier and state of the art VHF/UHF fixed, mobile or portable station.

Class C: licensee shall be authorized to operate on HF fixed radio station with an output power not exceeding 100 watts on CW or 200 watts PEP on SSB suppressed carrier and 100 watts on VHF fixed, portable or mobile station.

Class D: licensee shall be authorized to operate on VHF base, mobile or portable with 100 watts maximum output power.

Examination Requiremetns of Each Class of Licensee:

Class A: Element I (International Morse Code) 12 words per minute, Elements VIII, IX & X
Class B: Element I (8 words per minute), Elements V, VI & VII
Class C: Element I (5 words per minute), Elements II, III & IV
Class D: Failure of Element I but passed Elements II, III & IV

Amateur Call Sign

DU - Philippine Assignment / Class A - C
DY - Philippine Assignment / Class D
DX - Philippine Assignment / Club Station
4F - Philippine Assignment / Special Call / Class "A" only

Philippines is divided into 9 districts

District 1 - National Capital Region / Region IV comprising Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Aurora, Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental and Palawan.

District 2 - Region I, comprising Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Mt. Province, Benguet and Pangasinan and Region 2 comprising the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino

District 3 - Region III comprising the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales

District 5 - Region V comprising the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

District 6 - Region VI comprising the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Camiguin, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental

District 7 - Region VII comprising the provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor

District 8 - Region VIII comprising the provinces of Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Western Samar.

District 9 - Region IX comprising the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur; Zamboanga Sibugay, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao comprising the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur & Tawi-Tawi; Region X comprising the provinces of Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental; Region XI comprising the provinces of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental; Region XII comprising the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato & Sarangani.

Suffix - two or three letters (NTC assignment)

Frequency Band

VLF - Very Low Frequency - Below 30 KHz
LF - Low Frequency - 30 - 300 KHz
MF - Medium Frequency - 300 - 3,000 KHz
HF - High Frequency - 3 - 30 MHz
VHF - Very High Frequency - 30 - 3,000 MHz
UHF - Ultra High Frequency - 3 - 30 GHz
SHF - Extra High Frequency - 30 - 300 GHz
EHF - Super High Frequency - 300 - 3,000 GHz

The RST System or Signal Report

Readability or Quality of Audio

1 - Unreadable
2 - Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable
3 - Readable with considerable difficulty
4 - Readable with practically no difficulty
5 - Perfectfly readable

Signal Strength

1 - Fainty signals barely perceptible
2 - Very weak signals
3 - Weak signals
4 - Fair signals
5 - Fairly good signals
6 - Good signals
7 - Moderately strong signals
8 - Strong signals
9 - Extremely strong signals

Meter Reading:

S-1 to S-9 to full scale