By Ronald F. Fields (W5WWW)

What exactly is Ham radio?? The origin of the term "Ham" radio is very sketchy and people continue to speculate how this term came about. For one popular theory on how this term originated, please CLICK HERE! Ham radio is also known as "Amateur" radio. Amateur radio is basically a community of diverse people who use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with each other throughout the globe. Ham operators include Doctors, Lawyers, Police Officers, Engineers, Military personnel, Celebrities, Musicians, Blue-collar workers, White-collar workers, etc. etc. In other words, anyone can become a ham. For a list of famous hams and ex-hams, please CLICK HERE!

Ham Radio started with Guglielmo Marconi in September of 1895. Marconi was a self-taught 21-year-old from Bologna, Italy. Marconi did not want to accept popular science's thinking that radio waves were limited to line-of-sight and limited in range. Debate raged over the common theories. Marconi decided to test all of this out by creating his first radio transmitter and putting the receiver in the far end of his garden. By 1901, Marconi had successfully sent a wireless signal across the Atlantic ocean. Ham radio has come a long ways since those days. Today, ham radio operators of all ages regularly make radio contacts with other hams from all corners of the globe. The cost of equipment needed to make such contacts varies, but beginners can get started rather inexpensively by purchasing used equipment or by building their own equipment. For a more detailed look at the history of ham radio, please CLICK HERE!

Ham radio operators use two-way radios from their homes, cars, boats, motor-homes, campsites, etc. to contact other ham operators from anywhere across the globe. They communicate with each other using voice mode, computer modes, and Morse code. Some ham operators even exchange pictures of each other using television. Other hams like to work on electronic circuits and enjoy building and constructing their own radios and antennas.

What do most ham operators talk about while transmitting on the air? The answer to this question is "almost anything under the sun". A typical two-way contact between ham operators usually includes ham equipment and antennas being used to make the contact, an exchange of signal strength reports, location of each others stations (city, state, country, etc.), local weather, etc, etc. Needless to say, the topic of conversation between ham operators varies greatly and can include almost any topic imaginable.

The hobby can be as simple as talking on local-area repeaters with other hams in the same town, to building a satellite or experimenting with new forms of telecommunications. The ham enthusiast can talk to other hams on the other side of the earth with nothing more than a simple High Frequency transceiver and a simple wire antenna strung out in a tree.

One of the more popular aspects of ham radio is the collecting of QSL cards. A QSL card is simply a card (similar to a postcard) that confirms a two-way contact between fellow ham radio operators. Most hams enjoy attempting to collect QSL cards from as many countries or states as possible. Awards are given out to hams that can prove (via QSL cards) radio contacts with a certain number of countries or states from around the globe. An example of a QSL card can be seen by CLICKING HERE!

Ham radio is often used in search-and-rescue missions, ham contests, disaster aid (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, accidents, fires, etc.), and much much more. Ham radio operators talk with other "hams" using various types of communication modes. These modes include Morse Code, voice, Slow Scan Television (SSTV), and computer networking via radio waves. Ham radio astronauts often take their radios with them on space missions and talk to earth-bound hams.

Despite recent advances regarding the internet and communications via the Word Wide Web, ham radio continues to test ideas and forge new ground in practical communications. The popularity of ham radio continues to increase and remains one of the best ways available to make and develop friendships throughout the globe.

Want to become a ham?? Please visit the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) website at http://www.arrl.org/FandES/ead/hamfaq.html for all the details!

Very 73 and I hope to meet you on the air soon!

Ron (W5WWW)

E-mail Me At: [email protected]