An introduction to Ham radio (Amateur radio)

Ham radio, also known as Amateur radio, is a way of communication that people use as a hobbyist, as a helper, and as a well-wisher. With his radio, an Amateur radio operator (called Ham) talks to people in a group, across town, and across the world. They can even send signals to the Moon. The best thing to know about Ham radio is, it does not need cell phones or the Internet set up to communicate with people. It can be used for several purposes like establishing a connection with people across the town, spreading a social message, educating people about an important topic, etc.

Why an Amateur Radio Operator is called Ham?

The exact reason to call Amateur Radio Operators a Ham is not pretty clear. Different people connect it to different stories. Some people say that the name Ham was given to young radio operators by professional radio operators, because their Morse code transmission was too poor. On the other hand, some people say that the name Ham was given to amateur radio operators because the Government has limited amateur radios to certain, short-wave frequencies. Also, some people say that the word HAM stands for “Help All Mankind,” which means it helps people in time of need and in problems like emergency, natural calamities, etc.

Who can use Ham Radio (in other words, can become Amateur radio operator)?

Anyone who wants to share his/her thoughts on a specific topic, help people in the time of need, spread important message, and keep him/her engaged to kill the loneliness, can use Ham radio. And that anyone can be a Doctor, a Student, a Single Mother, a Kid, a Star, or anyone who even has the hobby to communicate with others. This service has no limitation per gender, age, work profile, and nationality. Although, anyone can be a Ham radio operator, you will need to get a license from the FCC to use this service. You should have basic knowledge of operating a radio equipment, radio technology, and radio frequencies. (Keep reading to know why you need a license to operate Amateur radio).

What Makes People to use Ham Radio?

There are several reasons due to which people use Amateur radio. Listed below are some of the reasons:

  • You are not bound to the Internet connection or telephone network.
  • You are not bound to a particular location.
  • You can carry the setup wherever you go.
  • You can operate it from anywhere, such as home, field, office, clubhouse, and many other places.
  • You can use it in case of natural calamities like flood, earthquake, etc. during which other modes of communications do not work.
  • You can sync radio to computer and share Morse code, images etc. with the people. In fact, it increases the popularity of Ham radio.
  • You can communicate with other hams; there are about 2000 Amateur radio clubs in the USA alone.

These are some of the well-known reasons that make people to use Ham radio. In addition to these reasons, amateur radio operators also use this service to establish friendship with people around them, to communicate with astronauts, and so on. It is an amazing medium to stay connected with the people around you, across the city, or across the world.

Where Ham Radio can be Setup?

There is no specific location requirement to set up this radio. You can set it anywhere you want including a home, a club, an open field, or any other location.

What is the investment required to set up Ham Radio?

Setting up Amateur radio is not free, it costs. Listed below is a list of requirements that need to be fulfilled, which will also give you an estimate of the cost:

  • You will need to purchase study material to pass the FCC test.
  • You will need to get a license to operate the radio. Getting a license to become a ham costs about 40 USD.
  • You will need to buy equipment. Being a new Ham, you can start with simple equipment that generally costs about 200 to 250 USD.
  • You may want to take classes to become an expert. It will be an additional cost, which depends upon the fee of the tutor.

Do you need a license to use Ham Radio? If yes, then why?

The answer to this question is, yes. You need to get a license to operate a Ham radio because you will be communicating over a specific frequency while using 26 bands. And, you will have to follow the rules to ensure everything is under the legal boundary. This license is provided by the FCC when you pass an exam. Depending upon the license that you want, a different exam needs to be passed. The FCC provides three licenses, including the Technician License, the General License, and the Amateur Extra License.
The Technician license is an entry-level license. To get this license, you will need to pass an exam having 35 questions.
The General license provides you the possibility to operate on all Ham radio bands. To get this license, you first need to get the technician license. And, after that you will need to crack an exam having 35 questions.
The Amateur Extra License gives you the possibility to use all available US Amateur radio on all frequencies and bands. To get this license, you must have the Technician license and the General license. After that, you will need to pass an exam having 50 questions.

What are the bands of Ham Radio?

The Government has set up some rules following which the radio frequencies are allocated to different departments / agencies including Government agencies, military, amateur radio, and commercial radio. The numbers of bands are many, and out of those, 26 bands are allocated to ham radio. These bands span the frequencies from 1.8 MHz to 275 GHz. An operator sets the frequency depending upon the area to be covered. Lower frequencies will cover the less area while the higher frequencies may be selected to spread the message across the world.

Is there an association for amateur radio?

A very quick answer to this question is, yes. The name of the association is ARRL (American Radio Relay League), and it was founded in 1914 in the United States. This association has more than 161.000 members who use Ham radio. The ARRL provides an array of resources to help people collect the relevant information. Some of the resources are educational classes, books, and news.

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