A summary or overview of the fascinating hobby of amateur radio or ham radio
Amateur radio is one of the most exciting hobbies today. There are over a million radio amateurs or "radio hams" around the world and this is an indication of its popularity. Since the first amateur radio experimenters at the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of people interested in the hobby have grown Even with the arrival of mobile phones, international telecommunications and the Internet, amateur radio is still very popular and it attracts many new members each year.
One of the great advantages of ham radio is that there is plenty that is plenty to do within the hobby. Some radio hams are interested in one aspect, whereas other will have other interests within the hobby. In fact it is possible to take an interest in these different elements of the hobby so that it is able to become a life long interest that never looses its appeal.
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HF operating and DXing: Many radio amateurs enjoy talking to "DX" stations at all corners of the globe. It is possible to talk to other radio hams on the other side of the globe, or possibly on a small island in the middle of an ocean, or just a radio amateur from the other side of town. All this can be done from your armchair. Even in today's high technology world there is a great fascination about being able to communicate with other radio hams over the air using no other equipment between the two stations.
VHF / UHF and microwaves: While the short wave bands are the most well know bands for radio amateurs, there is plenty of activity and interest on higher frequencies. There are amateur radio frequency allocations right into the microwave region and all of these allocations give a huge amount of scope for the hobby. Many of the VHF and UHF bands provide an excellent medium for local communications, many radio hams operating "mobile" from their cars. There is also a network of repeaters in many countries enabling contacts to be made over greater distances and by stations in poor locations.
Ham radio friends: One of the great aspects of amateur radio is the number of good friends it is possible to make. Not only can one talk to them over the air, but there are many occasions for meeting each other. Local clubs and ham radio rallies and "hamfests" are great places to meet and talk. Even if amateur radio friends are in another country, it is not unknown for them to meet. Sometimes friendships have been built up over the air, and the radio hams have stayed with each other or met at an international ham radio meeting.
The Q-Code's and what does it all mean?History
The Q-code was originally instituted at the Radiotelegraph Convention held in London, 1912. The Q-codes then grew over the years and decades.
The following list of current Q-codes is compiled from various sources.
The QAA...QNZ series are reserved for the aeronautical service.
The QOA...QQZ series are reserved for the maritime services.
The QRA...QUZ series are for use by all services.
The QZA...QZZ series for other usage.
Click here for the full list
Computers and data communications: Other radio amateurs enjoy linking their computers to their amateur radio gear. There are many ways in which computers can be linked to amateur radio gear. They can be used to perform many tasks such as predicting the propagation conditions, or logging the stations that have been contacted. However they can form an integral part of the ham radio station for use with the many data modes that are available nowadays. Using the computer as the controller and interface it is possible to send messages via a network of "mailboxes" to be picked up by the recipient when he next logs in.
Construction: Some radio amateurs enjoy the challenge of constructing their own equipment. Although much of today's amateur radio equipment can be very technically advanced there is still a major place in the hobby for home construction. There is a variety of ham radio kits on the market that can be built, or a circuit might be put together from a circuit in one of the many magazines that cater for the hobby. There is an enormous feeling of achievement when the first contact is made on equipment you have built yourself.
Antennas: There are other areas where the radio amateur can experiment. Often radio hams enjoy trying out new forms of antenna. As the performance of the antenna governs the performance of the whole station, even small improvements in the performance of the antenna can pay great dividends, and again the topic of antennas is of interest to many.
Scientific studies: There have been many instances where radio amateurs have made valuable contributions to scientific studies. One area where this has been particularly true is in the field of radio propagation. The large numbers of radio amateurs on the air have meant that large amounts of data can be collected for the various phenomena associated with propagation. This has been invaluable in many areas of scientific studies. In addition to this, knowledge and experience in areas such as data transmission has been used in developing commercial systems that have incorporated many of the lessons learnt from the experience of radio hams.
Emergency communications: Amateur radio is often used for the benefit of society. Radio hams often provide emergency communications support to the rescue and other essential services after a disaster. On several occasions amateur radio has provided the only form of communications to and from a storm hit island. Even where such major disasters are not quite so catastrophic, radio mateurs train and offer their equipment and unique expertise for when it might be needed.
More….: While it is possible to give details of many fascinating areas of amateur radio, it is not possible to itemise every interest. As one finds out more about amateur radio, new areas of the hobby may open up, providing many new interests.
Amateur radio can also lead into an interesting and rewarding career. Many people who have started in amateur radio when they are young have gone on to successful careers in radio or electronics. The blend of experimentation and challenges the hobby offers mean that many employers look for radio amateurs in preference to other candidates. This is particularly true with the booming growth in the cellular telephone industry where radio frequency skills are at a premium.