Amateur radio is a community of people that use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with other fellow amateur radio operators. Amateur radio operators are often called ham radio operators or simply “hams”.
Amateur (HAM) Radio is truly a hobby but often one that makes a difference, especially in emergency or disaster situations. It is an activity of Self Learning, Inter-Communication & Technical Investigation carried on by Amateur Radio Operators. Amateurs talk to local friends over the radio waves using a hand-held transceiver, communicate digitally with packet radio to exchange personal messages or vital information in an emergency, talk to other hams anywhere in the world, or engage in contests with other Radio Amateurs over the airwaves.
It’s a popular hobby and community service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need.
There are thousands of people worldwide who pursue this activity in their free time.
What Hams do with Amateur Radio
- QRP – Communicating with “very low power” is a challenge that many hams enjoy. QRP is usually practised on the HF bands.
- HF radio – Hams can talk to other hams in literally any part of the globe using HF radios
- VHF (2 meters) or UHF (70 cm.) transceiver hams enjoy extremely reliable communications within their local community. You can extend your VHF range up to 50 miles or more by transmitting through a local repeater.
- DXing. DX means distance communication and with the right equipment, worldwide communication on the HF bands (10 through 160 meters) is a regular possibility.
- Emergency and other volunteer services – Floods, landslides, earthquakes, Cyclones, Accidents (Rail / Road / Air). Whenever “normal” communications go out, hams are ready to use their radios to provide emergency communication services to their communities
- Technical experimenting – Hams come from all walks of life ranging from technicians to engineers, teachers to scientists, and students to retirees. For many of them the attraction to the hobby is to build their own equipment whether it is just a simple antenna, something as complex as a transmitter, or an interface between their radio and a computer.
- Contesting: Contesting is often called the “sport” of ham radio. Almost every time there is some form of an amateur radio contest. Hams get on the air and compete to see who can make the most contacts in a limited period of time.
- Talk to an astronaut – Yes, it is really possible. Space stations do have ham radio equipment and licenced ham astronauts take the time to make contact with amateurs on earth. Hams also have satellites where you can bounce a signal to communicate with other hams on earth.
- Use digital communication – Connect a computer to your radio and install some software and you can be communicating digitally over the air. Some of these digital modes can be more effective in marginal transmission conditions and some even sport error-free transmission.
- Earth-Moon-Earth – EME or Moonbounce propagation is a really challenging, but interesting form of radio propagation for radio amateurs to use.
- Internet communication – Using some of the latest technologies hams can supplement a modest station with Internet connections. Using features such as URL or IRLP on a local repeater a ham in Toronto can talk to one in Vancouver or even Australia using a simple hand-held transceiver
- Amateur television – It’s just like real television because it is real television.
- Slow Scan TV – Send pictures around the world for little or no cost.
- Contests – You can put your radio operating skills up against other hams and teams of hams.
- Satellite communications – Hams operate using their own satellites for worldwide communication using Walkie-Talkies.
How to Become a Radio Amateur
Amateur Radio Operators have to qualify in an examination conducted by the Ministry of Communications, Government of India and obtain a licence for operating/possessing a Radio Station. Any individual above the age of 12 is permitted to appear for Amateur Station Operator Licence Examination and No Educational qualification is prescribed. It takes just two months (say two hours a day of training) to become eligible for the examination. One should qualify a simple test conducted in three subjects namely I) Morse Code (Transmission & Reception) ii) Communication Procedure iii) Basic Electronics.
The Officer-In-Charge, Wireless Monitoring Station, Dept. of Telecommunication under Ministry of Communication, Govt. of India is the authority for conducting these tests in their own town provided there are a sufficient number of applicants. The licences are issued by Wireless Planning & Co-ordination Wing of DOT, Govt. of India after passing the test in any of the following grades:
- Restricted Grade (Formerly Grade II)
- General Grade (Formerly Grade I and Advanced)
The Morse Code of 8 words per minute sending-receiving will make eligible to get a General grade licence and no Morse code test for a Restricted grade licence, see the differences between these licences in detail. Basic knowledge can be obtained by purchasing/downloading study manuals, books, and Morse Code training software or CDs from any of the amateur radio clubs.
- Local clubs – For those that like a structured approach, many clubs organize meetings and classes to teach the basic skills of radio operation and prepare people for their ham radio licence test. At the end of the classes, a test is given. If you pass, you’re a ham!
- You can do it by yourself. Youtube Video Lectures, Books from veteran radio amateurs.
- Online Study Groups run by various Indian Ham clubs on Telegram & WhatsApp
Once you are prepared, you can write the examination, see Where to take Ham Radio Licence Examinations
You would have to start by registering on https://saralsanchar.gov.in
Who Issues Amateur Radio Licence in India?
Every licenced Radio Amateur is given a call sign that is used to identify you and your location of the licence. Each country that has Amateur Radio status is allocated a range of call signs by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Amateur Radio Licence in India is licenced by the Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing of the Ministry of Communications, Govt. of India and enjoys far more privileges of radio operation than “CB” radio operators do.
In many countries, special call sign allocations may be made to commemorate a special event. These special event call signs usually have an unusual prefix so that the station using the call will be easily recognized. For example, the calls M2000A and 7S2000M were heard quite often commemorating the year 2000. CI3O was used in 1996 for the Charles Island DXpedition. Many of these special events also have unique QSL cards that are well worth the effort to make the contact and to send for the card.
With these privileges come responsibilities and rules for the operation of an amateur radio station. Specifically, there are a few things that hams are not allowed to do:
- Hams are not allowed to do anything with their radios that make them money in way. Ham radio is a hobby.
- Ham radio operators cannot `broadcast’ to the public. This means that ham radio transmissions are meant to be received by other ham radio operators. While a short-wave radio will allow you to listen to the ham radio bands, what you will hear is hams talking to other hams and not music or other radio programs of ‘general’ interest.
Within these (and other) guidelines, however, hams are empowered to do just about everything that government and private radio stations are allowed to do.
What are the Benefits for Students of Joining Amateur Hobby
- Develop scientific temperament from a very young age and create awareness of the importance of Information Technology and Communications in their life.
- Get a licence from the Ministry of Communications, Government of India and are encouraged to construct their own Transceiver or Purchase or Operate an Amateur Radio Station including Information Technology through Computers.
- Join a global fraternity and interacts with other students, Teachers, Scientists, Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Kings and Prime Ministers from all over the World. Amateurs who were also Head of State
- Take part or share information on the latest developments in various technologies.
- Win a lot of Awards and Certificates by participating in various events all over the world sitting in their own room.
Subjects of Exam and Detailed Syllabus
The examination is conducted on the topics mentioned below:
- Elementary knowledge of Electronics
- Communication Procedure and
- Morse Code (No Morse code test for Restricted Grade)
What are the Study Materials Required
- Study Manual
- Morse code practice book
- Morse Key
- Exam application form
Where to Take Ham Radio (Amateur Radio) Licence Examinations
Once you are successfully applied to appear for the ASOC examination on https://saralsanchar.gov.in/
Your nearest wireless monitoring station will send you an SMS announcing the date & venue for the license examination.
Popular Amateur Radio Frequencies/Bands
|HF||160||1.820 – 1.860|
|80||3.5 – 3.7|
|40||7.0 – 7.2|
|20||14.000 – 14.350|
|17||18.068 – 18.168|
|15||21.000 – 21.450|
|12||24.890 – 24.990|
|10||28.0 – 29.7|
|VHF||2||144 – 146|
|UHF||0.7||434 – 438|
|0.25||1260 – 1300|
The frequencies may vary from country to country, for a complete list of frequency allocation in India visit Nation Frequency Allocation Plan at WPC website