Victor Amateur Radio Association (W2VTM)

Amateur Radio Activities

What do Hams do?

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Activity "Buzzwords"

Web Sites

Brief Description Special Equipment or Requirements
Alternative Energy Operation solar, wind, water power ARRL Operating amateur radio stations on non-commercial (alternative) and emergency power sources Alternative energy source (solar, wind, water, etc.)
Amateur Television (ATV) ATV, television ATNA, BRATS, BATC ATV can transmit full-motion video over the air compatible with standard television. ATV Transmitter, receiver, television
Antenna Design & Building Antennas, Numerical Electromagnetic Code (NEC), Quads, Beams, Verticals, etc. NEC Archives,
Autek Research,
The design, construction and testing of homebrew antennas. Antenna Modeling Software, Antenna analyzer
Antique Radio Collecting & Repair Boat Anchors, antiques NJ Antique Radio
Collecting, repairing, and maybe selling old broadcast receivers and other radios. Manuals, patient spouse
Amateur Radio on International Space Station (ARISS) ARISS, SAREX, NA1SS see Space Students talk with astronauts aboard the Space Station using amateur radio;  Also regular ham contacts with astronauts see Space
Astronomy, Radio Radio Astronomy, SETI SARA,
Amateur radio astronomy, and the use of radio to "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (SETI) Large-dish antenna, or home computer for SETI
Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) APRS, GPS, digital APRS, findU Use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to provide one's location over the air, which can then be plotted on a map on a computer screen. GPS receiver, laptop helpful
Awards ("Certificate Chasers") Awards, Paper Chaser, Certificates, Wallpaper, SLY, DXCC, WAC, WAZ, WAS, County Hunters, 10-X / 10-10 ARRL
Collecting awards and certificates for various achievements, such as Worked All Continents (WAC), Zones (WAZ), States (WAS), Counties, club members, etc. Scrapbook or plenty of wall space;  A good logging program which handles awards is helpful
Backpacking Operations Backpacking, QRP   Backpacking radio/antenna to remote locations to operate, usually low power, usually on mountain peaks, but also to active "grid squares" Backpacking equipment, light-weight radio and antenna;  Good physical condition
Ballooning, High Altitude Edge of Space, Balloon, Amateur Television (ATV) EOSS Use of high altitude balloons, reaching to the edges of space, for experiments and use of Amateur TV, long-distance contacts, tracking, etc. 2-meter, Amateur TV, and/or Slow Scan TV equipment;  Ballooning software
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) CAP, aircraft, flying CAP
CAP links
Assistance in locating downed aircraft and other support functions. Radio which can be modified for CAP frequencies
Classic Amateur Radio Equipment Boat Anchors, antiques, classic rigs, vacuum tubes antique wireless Collecting, repairing, and use of old two-way radio equipment. Manuals, patient wife
Clubs ARC (Amateur Radio Club), ARA (Amateur Radio Association) ARRL
Membership and participation in radio clubs. Social skills :)
Coast Guard Auxiliary USCG, Auxiliary CG Aux Assisting the United States Coast Guard in various functions, including communications Love of water helpful;  Coast Guard provides training
Community Service
(see also Emergency Management, Public Service)
Community Service, walkathon, bikeathon, parades ARES
Use of amateur radio in support of community activities, such as charity events, civil celebrations, etc. Mobile or handheld amateur radio equipment (typically VHF/UHF)
Contesting Contest ARRL
Trying to communicate with as many other stations as possible. Log book or computer, Contest Calendar, rules of contest
County Hunting MARAC, County Hunters MARAC Attempt to work hams in each county of each state HF Radio, County List
Digital Modes Packet, PACTOR, AMTOR, PSK, Clover, RTTY, Olivia AC6V List
PSK31, Olivia
Digital operating modes that do not use voice TNC/Modem, Computer, Software
Direction Finding (DF) & Tracking Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF), DF, Fox Hunt, Homing, Radio Direction Finding (RDF), T-Hunt, Tracking, Triangulation, SAR BMG 
Homing In 
IARU Reg 1
Locating a transmitter using direction-finding techniques.  Useful for Search & Rescue (SAR), Balloon tracking, and "Fox Hunting" or "Transmitter Hunting" (a competitive game where participants compete to be the first to find a hidden transmitter). DF Antenna (can be homebrewed), radio
Distant Stations (DX) DX, DXCC, DXCluster qrz dx
DX Cluster
Trying to work as many stations in distant and remote locations as possible. "DXCC" refers to working 100 countries or more.  An on-air packet network called DXCluster provides "spots" of rare stations. Amateur or Shortwave Radio
DXpeditions DX, DX Expedition  NODXA 
Daily DX
An expedition to a remote location where few or no amateurs already live in order to permit other hams to "work" a new country. Lots of money & time off, Financial Sponsor, Permission from foreign country
Education Elmer ARRL EAD
K8ZT's Teachers Resources
Teaching others, especially school children, about amateur radio, and science/electronics in general, often leading to the earning of a license Teaching skills, text books
Emergency Communications ARES, RACES, Field Day
Using amateur radio to provide backup communications during emergencies and disasters, such as floods, storms, etc. Handheld radio, battery operation
Emergency Management

(see also Community Service, Public Service)

OEM, Emergency Management, Civil Defense, ARES, RACES links
Planning for and assisting in emergency preparedness for state, county and local governments. Handheld radio, battery operation
Extraterrestrial Intelligence Search SETI, ET SETI
Searching for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life through detection of radio signals Extremely sensitive antenna, or your desktop PC (see SETI@home)
Famous Hams Famous hams N2GJ Collecting QSL cards from famous hams HF radio, or VHF radio and a lot of traveling
Foxhunt (see Direction Finding (DF) & Tracking)        
Hamfest (Flea Market) Hamfest, flea market, auction, swapfest ARRL
Flea markets where you can buy or sell used or new equipment, supplies, books, etc. Pocket money, free Sunday mornings (early!)
HF Fax (Facsimile) HF Fax HF-Fax Sending/Receiving faxes via HF radio HF radio, modem or PC with sound card
Homebrewing & Kits Kits, home built, homebrewing NJQRP Building one's own amateur radio equipment from scratch or from kits. Often involves original designs. Electronic Test Equipment, Junk Box
Hurricane Tracking Hurricanes, weather watch net
Tracking hurricanes & storms, providing health & welfare services HF Radio, Phone Patch useful
Interference EMI, EMC, RFI, TVI ARRL  Tracking down, isolating and suppressing interference from/to amateur radio equipment (and others) Good Interference handbook, direction finding equipment, test equipment
Internet Linking Internet Relay Linking Project (IRLP), EchoLink, eQSO, WIRES-II, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) EchoLink 
Use of the Internet to relay amateur radio calls around the world, creating networks linked by VoIP Internet access, Radio (typically 2-meter)
Islands On The Air (IOTA) Islands, IOTA RSGB Contacting as many different islands as possible HF radio
Light, Modulated Light DX Optical, Laser VK7MJ Using optical light to communicate at distances over 100miles Light source & sensitive receiver; Mountain peaks helpful
Lighthouses Lighthouses ARLS Operating from, and making contact with other lighthouses and lightships around the world. HF radio
Low Power Operating (QRP) QRP NJQRP, NORCAL, QRPARCI Transmitting using very low power (typically less than 5 watts). Usually uses Morse code. Patience
Maritime Maritime mobile, /MM maritime Monitoring and communicating with ships at sea using amateur radio, including distress calls. HF radio
Meteor Scatter Meteor Scatter 6m world
Bouncing radio signals off ionized trails left behind by meteors High gain steerable antennas
Microwave Communications Microwave, Line of Sight RSGB,
San Bernardino
Communicating with or experimentation with microwave band equipment Microwave test equipment, components
Military Affiliate Radio (MARS) MARS, Army, Navy, Air Force MARS links Health and welfare communications support to the military. Radio which can be modified for MARS frequencies
Military Radio operating/restoration Military, AN/SRR, AN/URC, AN/ARC, RT-xxxx, etc. one-electron Collecting, restoring and operating old military radios, especially WW-II vintage. Vacuum tubes, space, test equipment, hamfests
Missionary Support Missionary ARMS, MARA, NARF,
Provide HF communications with overseas missionaries HF radio
Mobile Operations Mobile   Communicating via amateur radio while mobile (in car/truck/RV, aircraft, ships, etc.).  Also, installation and testing of mobile stations. Portable amateur radio, mobile platform (car, truck, RV, plane, motorcycle, etc.)
Moonbounce EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) W6/PA0ZN Communicating between amateur radio stations by bouncing one's signal off the moon. Very large high-gain antennas
Morse Code, Telegraph CW, Code, key, keyer, bug, straight key FISTS,
W1TP Telegraph
Using telegraph keys to send "dits" and "dahs" to communicate.  Also includes collecting old wireless and telegraph keys. Morse code key
Museums Museum, collections, antique radios TPN's list Collecting and displaying antique amateur radio equipment;  Operating amateur radio stations from museums for the public. Museum, radios
Museum Ship Radio Clubs Museum Ships, Museum Ship Special Event BNJARS
Museum Ships, USS Salem
Operating radio stations aboard museum ships;  Restoration of museum ship radio rooms Museum Ship, interest in Navy/Marine radios and equipment
Narrow Bandwidth Modes QRSS (very slow speed CW), Coherent CW (CCW) QRSS, ON7YD
Communications using very narrow bandwidths (sub-1 Hz) at extremely low data rates PC with sound card, special software
Official Observer OO, enforcement, "frequency police" ARRL Field Org. Individuals appointed by the ARRL section managers to voluntarily observe amateur on-air operations and notify offenders of operating/technical irregularities before they come to the attention of the FCC (Self Regulation) Amateur Radio station
Packet Radio TNC, AX-25, Clover, PSK, DX Cluster TAPR
DX Cluster
Using digital communications, where information is transmitted in short packets of data. DX Clusters tell others when unusual stations are on the air. TNC, computer
Personal Conversations Rag Chewing   Just passing the time talking with others, either friends or strangers, often in distant or exotic locations. Lots of time or long commute
Propagation HF Propagation, MUF, Ionosphere, Gray Line KA0JPM Calculating the optimal times, frequencies, and paths for long distance communications Access to solar data
Public Service

(see also Community Service, Emergency Management)

Using amateur radio to assist the general public, such as providing communications to civic organizations, emergency management/police/fire, etc. Portable radio, jump kit of essential equipment, some training preferred
Radio Teletype (RTTY) RTTY, teletype, digital, TNC DXZone links Communicating using teletypewriters (or modern computer-based equivalent) instead of voice. Teletype and modem, or computer and TNC (Terminal Node Controller)
Recreational Vehicle (RV) Operations RV, RV Caravan, Mobile Operation, International RV Service Net Wally Byam Caravan Club
RV Web Network
Pacific RV Service Net
RV Radio Network
Use of Amateur Radio to communicate while RV camping, touring in an RV, or participating in an RV Caravan RV with mobile radio setup
Remote Control RC, remote controlled planes, remote control vehicles   Similar to regular remote controlled devices, but using amateur radio frequencies with greater power/range Model plane/boat/etc., Remote Controller
Repeaters Repeater, Controller, Frequency Coordinators ArtSci directory
ARRL directory
Repeaters permit communication over increased distances by retransmitting received signals on another frequency at higher power using high-gain antennas elevated high above the ground. Repeater, Controller
Satellite Communications Satellite, OSCAR AMSAT Communicating with other hams using amateur radio satellites as an overhead repeater. High gain, steerable antenna
Scouting JOTA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, radio merit badge ARRL
Merit Badge
Contacting scouts across the country and around the world (Jamboree On The Air).  Boy Scout Radio merit badge. Registered with BSA to be a Radio Merit Badge Counselor or Girl Scout equivalent
Search and Rescue (SAR) SAR, CAP, Mountain Rescue
Civil Air Patrol
Searching for lost hikers, children, boaters, downed pilots, etc.  Amateur radio can play critical communications roles Radio equipment, SAR training, Emergency Communications training, EMT/Medical training
Slow Scan Television (SSTV) SSTV, TV, image, scotty KB4YZ
J Langners
Transmission of still photos or images. Video source (camera or scanner), PC, special hardware or software
Solar Activity Solar flare, solar flare, A index, K index, CME, sunspots spacew, Quick Guide Use of solar activity reports to calculate propagation Internet access
Space Communications Space Shuttle, Mir, ISS, ARISS, SAREX, ISSpedition AMSAT, ARRL, MAREX, NASA, launch info Use of amateur radio to communicate with astronauts and cosmonauts aboard manned spacecraft. High gain antenna
Special Events Special event station, commemorative station ARRL, CQ (Sp Evnt Menu) Radio station set up to celebrate a unique event, activity, anniversary, etc., usually in a public place Radio station that can be set up at event site
Sporadic E-Layer Sporadic-E Defined
VHF/UHF communications using refractions from the E-layer of the ionosphere (which occurs infrequently and sporadically) High gain VHF/UHF antenna;  radio
Spread Spectrum SS, spread spectrum, Hedy Lamarr TAPR,
Using "spread spectrum" techniques to optimize bandwidth utilization and greater immunity to interference Special SS equipment and wide bandwidth radio
Teaching Elmer, school clubs, volunteer instructor ARRL, W5YI Teaching others about amateur radio so that they may obtain their own license, or introducing kids to the hobby.  An "Elmer" is an amateur radio mentor. Teaching skills
T-Hunt (see Direction Finding (DF) & Tracking) Transmitter Hunt      
Traffic Handling (message traffic) Traffic, Nets, National Traffic System (NTS), Official Relay Station (ORS), RadioGram K2UL's website
NTS Canada
Amateur radio stations that relay voice or data messages, between amateur stations or between hams and non-hams (public service) HF radio station
Very Low Frequency (VLF) Operation VLF, Loafer ARRL VLF Communications using frequencies below the AM broadcast band. Very long antenna
Volunteer Examiners (VE) VE, VEC, Exam NCVEC, ARRL, Laurel, W5YI
List of all VECs
Delaware Valley
VE's conduct amateur license exams to others on a volunteer basis. This is the only way to get a license today. VE certificate
Weak Signal Digital JT65, WSJT (Weak Signals by K1JT), EME, Meteor Scatter, Tropo Scatter WSJT, Olivia Using digital signal processing techniques to communicate at signal levels less than that required for CW or voice.  Used for meteor scatter, EME, VHF/UHF, etc., including HF communications where the signal is below the noise floor. VHF/UHF SSB radio, high gain antenna, PC with sound card, special signal processing software
Weather (WX) Weather, SKYWARN, EMWIN, Hurricane Watch Net, Maritime Mobile Net, Seafarer's Net Coast Guard
Weather watching & reporting on land (SKYWARN), maritime/boating, and Emergency Management (EMWIN) HF Radio, Weather Training
Weather Satellites WEFAX HF-Fax Receiving weather satellite images HF Radio, modem or PC with sound card


Who was the first "amateur" radio operator?  Einar Dessau of Denmark is regarded as the first ham radio operator with his transmission using a shortwave radio set to communicate with a government radio post six miles away on 18 March 1909.  However, very little information is available on Einar Dessau or this event, and web searches result almost exclusively in a short blurb noting this event as a "day in history."

Web Sites Providing Introductory Information on Amateur Radio


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Last Updated 09 Jan 2012

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