It has often been asked of me, why should I become an Amateur Radio Operator? Those asking, be they CB operators, Four Wheel drivers with VKS737 or Outpost Station Licence holders, Short wave listeners, computer
buffs etc. are normally quite happy with what they are doing and with what they already have. The problem is that they don't know what they are missing out on!
For a start, your frequencies of operation are not 'channelised' and you have heaps of bands to operate on. 1 x medium wave, 8 x high frequency, 2 x very high frequency, 2 x ultra high frequency and then many
more in the super high frequency and microwave area.
On HF you have multiple frequencies to use on the specific band that provides the best propagation path. Unlike VKS737 or an Outpost Station Licence, you can operate from a fixed station using big antennas and up to
400 watts PEP output. You can use digital modes that work in even the noisiest of conditions and send pictures using Slow Scan TV. You can communicate with others all over the world. Unlike 27MHz, there is usually
propagation to somewhere on one or more Amateur band at any time, regardless of the propagation conditions.
On VHF and UHF you can use up to 120 watts FM and 400 watts PEP on SSB. Even more digital modes are available. You can communicate with or via satellites, with the space shuttle and the international space station.
Operation far in excess of the local area may be achieved with special forms of propagation such as Sporadic E, Auroral Scatter, Meteor Scatter, Aircraft Enhancement, F2, Tropospheric Scatter. There is also a vast
network of repeater systems, some of which can be linked to others all over VK and overseas!
You will learn much more about how radios and radio waves work. This will greatly help you in choosing the correct band for propagation to a specific area at a specific time. It will also teach you how to make your
station (fixed or mobile) more efficient. What you get up to will only be limited by your imagination!
If you already have an 'RFDS' type radio and antenna, then you probably can alter the EPROM program to include the amateur bands at little or no cost. My 9350 antenna will tune all frequencies (including Amateur
ones) between 2 and 30 MHz. Amateur gear can be picked up cheaply on the second hand market. Check out the VK HAM site and also Australian EBAY. The local Amateur Radio Club will also have gear for disposal as well as car boot sales of a 'Hamfest'. For VHF and UHF FM equipment, the local clubs or the Wireless institute (WIA) can be a good source for ex-commercial gear. Recent examples are the old Philips CFA radios that are easily re-tuned for 144 MHz and the old Nursing Radios that tune up well on 440 MHz. (Two radios for $100.00 at time of purchase.)
It is not difficult to get a licence, my 14 year old son Lachlan managed with little prior knowledge in electronics and the like. To obtain your licence try these steps.
1. Browse through the rest of this site. Have a look at the Links page and MDRC page for further information.
2. Join up with the local division of the WIA and a local radio Club. This will put you in the pipeline to a wealth of priceless information and contacts.
3. Check out the Radio and Electronics School for their Novice and Unrestricted Licence courses or those run by the local Club.
4. Participate in some club activities to put some hands on experience to your studies. Get involved and you will get much more out of it.
5. Book in for your licence examinations with your local club and await the results.
Note that all exams are the multiple question type, There are 3 different exams. Regulations, Novice Theory and Unrestricted Theory. Morse code (CW) is not now required for access to the HF bands although 5 and 10
words per minute examination qualifications will give you a combined or unrestrited grade call sign. You never know, you may even enjoy CW if you decide to learn it. 5 wpm is not hard!
Not all radio clubs may be affiliated with the WIA exam service. Contact your local WIA if this is the case.