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Ham Radio


Ham Radio means:

  • Both the persons should have Hams
  • Both should be licensed to operate
  • You should be interested in radio techniques
  • You cannot use it to make money
  • You cannot handle third party traffic
  • You cannot arouse political, or communal animosity.
Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by an international body i.e.International Telecommunications Union.

The excitement in cultivating this hobby

You might catch yourself excitedly calling (along with 50 other hams) a NASA astronaut, or a ham operating abroad an ocean liner, a soldier, a king, a Tamil film actor, an Arab emir, a US legislator or a Hindi film producer or some one who is building the same power supply as you are. You could be having a friendly chat with someone from Salem, Tamil Nadu or Salem, USA. Amateur Radio knows no political boundaries and brings the world together as good friends.

History of Amateur Radio

It is as old as radio itself. It was in 1896 that Marconi demonstrated the system of radio waves. In fact 1996 was the centenary year of the hobby. In 1897 Marconi sent signals over 14 Kms. In 1906 first voice message was sent over the Atlantic. In 1909 the first Amateur Radio club was established in USA. In 1925 the International Amateur Radio Union a federation of all national societies was formed in Paris. In 1931 the first Ham license was issued in India.

Amateur Radio Operators called Hams as it stands for the initials of the scientists who developed Radio communications viz. Hertz, Armstrong and Marconi. Another version is that amateur actors are called Ham actors hence all amateurs are Hams. Yet another version is that Amateurs used the Morse Key extensively and hence were `ham' handed. HAM could also stand for Help All Mankind.

Equipment Used by Amateurs

A wireless Transceiver (combination of a Transmitter and a Receiver).
Antenna for receiving and transmitting the signals.
SWR meters to tune antenna for specific frequencies.
Computers attached to transceivers for digital communications.

More information...

Along with the license every ham gets a unique call sign with which he identifies himself on the air. The call sign is not duplicated anywhere else in the world. All hams in India have their call sign beginning with VU. A directory of all hams and their call signs are listed in a book called a Call Book.
Ham Radio operators constitute a pool of technically trained persons capable of setting up wireless communications in natural disasters and calamities when normal means of communications are disrupted. When the telephone lines are down and the cables are broken only a wireless signal will get you out of there. There has been brilliant tributes to Hams for their hard work done in public service.  

A few examples

1911   Distress  signals  of `Titanic' was first intercepted  by  a ham.
1979   Morvi floods in Gujarat
1984   Bhopal gas tragedy
1991   Indian  ham in Kuwait maintained communications during  Gulf war.

To become a Ham you have to get the License by appearing  for the Amateur Radio Operator's certificate  examination conducted by the Wireless Planning and Co-ordination wing of  the Ministry of Communications.

Eligibility Criteria

You should be 12 years of age and an Indian national. No specific educational background is necessary. What's however needed is you desire and determination.
There are two Grades of the  license itself.
Grade 1 is the best grade to aim for since it entitles you to all modes  of communications on international frequencies.  You  need to pass Morse at 12 words per minute.  
Grade  2  requires you to pass Morse at 5 words  per  minute  and allows  you Morse on international frequencies and voice only  on local frequencies.

What are the license fees?

The license fees payable to the Government are

For                      2 Years           5 Years

Grade I                    40               100

Grade II                   25                60

Summary:

For entry into HAM radio you have to be duly licensed by appearing in an exam. A HAM radio can only be used for personal friendship. You become a Ham because you are interested in advancing your level of scientific knowledge. It cannot be used for trade and commerce. HAM radio is purely a hobby. In HAM radio the content is controlled by the terms of license. Most HAMs are gentlemen and interacting with them is a very pleasurable experience. Four letter words are strictly taboo. The total cost of becoming a HAM is around Rs.50,000/- assuming you get the latest 'state of the art' Japanese Tran receivers.

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