What is HAM Radio or Amateur Radio?
Amateur Radio, popularly known as HAM Radio, is a scientific hobby of wireless communication. It is a hobby of self-training, intercommunication, and investigation in worldwide radio communications by means of private two-way radio conducted by duly authorized persons without any pecuniary interest. It simply means that amateur radio operators tinker around or play with radios (wireless equipment) and in the process develop skills and knowledge of electronics and telecommunications.
This hobby has been in existence right from the days when Marconi and Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose demonstrated to the unbelieving world that it was possible to instantaneously send a message from one place to another without the use of wires and thus was born “wireless” communication that we take for granted today. It is hard to explain the thrills of a wireless exchange with another amateur in an age when one can simply pick up a cellular phone and call anywhere in the world. Yet for those of us who are hooked on the hobby, we still marvel at the magic of radio waves travel-ling to another side of the world with no inter-mediate organization or medium other than waves generated in a wire antenna and sent with just the power equivalent to turning on a 50-100 watt bulb.
What do HAMs Do?
HAMs are interested in radio communication. It may be by talking (voice mode), through Morse Code (CW) or by telex (RTTY) or even using their computer to talk to another HAMs computer (Packet Radio), etc. While some HAMs may be satisfied with just talking to other nearby or far away HAMs, many others may conduct experiments in radio communication by bouncing their signals off the moon or find out if they can contact very far-off stations using extremely low transmitter power.
Even though HAM Radio is essentially a hobby, HAMs also perform public services in many ways. For example during emergencies and disasters like the Bhopal Gas tragedy, Orissa Super Cyclone, flood & earthquakes in Latur and Gujrat, Tsunamis, and the recent cloudburst at Uttarkhand, HAMs are usually the first on the scene to set up their radio stations to help the administration by providing highly reliable radio networks. HAMs also help the administration during big events like the annual Ganga Sagar Mela and the Durga Pujas, the Kumbh Mela, etc. At times like these, HAMs may ask for blood for transfusion or may urgently want life-saving medicines or specialist medical advice or seek some other help. But please note, all this is done on a purely voluntary basis, without expecting any recognition or compensation.
How can I become an Amateur Radio Operator?
Almost anybody, boy or girl, man or woman can become an Amateur Radio Operator (HAM). We have HAMs from all sections of the society and ages ranging from school students to the senior citizen, retired people, housewives, astronauts, businessmen, politicians, policemen, army personnel, lawyers, doctors, film stars et al. There are no minimum qualifications required, the only condition is that you must be at least 12 years of age and have to qualify A. S. 0. C. (Amateur Service Operator’s Certificate) Examination. Amateur Radio Licensing Examinations are conducted and licenses are awarded by W. P. C. Wing (Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing) of the Ministry of Communications & IT, Govt. of India.
Training sessions are conducted by ARCCS at various schools, colleges, and HAM radio clubs in your city or town and are also now also fully online. You just need to become a Student Member and ARCCS will take care of the rest. The examination is not difficult, even school students pass it with flying colors by attending a specially designed Training and Examination Program. Once you pass the A. S. 0. C. Examination you will get a Licence, a special identity, and a unique Call Sign.
Welcome to the hobby where even the sky is not the limit!
[Featured Picture is of the Sundarbans National Park DXPedition undertaken in December 2013, the very first event of ARCCS. In the picture are (L to R) VU2ZRF, Haris, VU2HRF, VU3RTY, VU2GMT and VU2MDG.]