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Introduction to Amateur Radio


What you can do with Amateur Radio?

Using Ham Radio, one can communicate with the other HAM (duly licenced person) any where in the world. This scientific hobby is a very good means of gaining personal skill in the art of Electronics & Radio communications.

HAM RADIO is defined as "A service of self training,inter-communications & technical investigations by duly authorized person soley with a personal aim & without any pecuniary interest" .

HAM RADIO is the only hobby recognized by the United Nations & International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva which looks after its grivences & Problems. Amateur Radio operator are also called as HAMs.

Requirements to become a Radio Amateur in India

To become a HAM one should have attained the age of 12 years and pass the examination conducted by W.P.C ( Wireless Planning and Co-ordination ) wing of Department Of Telecommunications, Government of India. The exams are conducted by the regional monitoring authority through local Amateur Radio clubs. To pass the examination one has to learn basic electronics, rules & regulations of Amateur Radio and Morse Code. After all the procedures are over, Department Of Telecommunication issues a code word called as Call Sign eg- VU2HNN, VU2JCE, VU2CUO, VU3NVS etc.

Different Grades of Lincenses Issued in India

Advanced Grade Morse Speed 12* WPM - Transmission and Reception, all 8 Questions each in Electronics and rules and regulations parts need to be answered which includes satellite communication. Maximum power that can be used in transmission is 150 Watts and 400 Watts in selected bands and Amateur Satellite service is permitted.
Grade I Morse Speed 12* WPM - Transmission and Reception, 5 Questions each in Electronics and rules and regulations parts need to be answered. Maximum power that can be used in transmission is 150 Watts and Amateur Satellite service is permitted.
Grade II Morse Speed 5 WPM - Transmission and Reception, 3 Questions each in Electronics and rules and regulations parts need to be answered. Maximum power that can be used in transmission is 50 Watts and Amateur Satellite service is not permitted.
Restriced Grade No Morse Code, 3 Questions each in Electronics and rules and regulations parts need to be answered. Can operate only in VHF (144 - 146 MHz) Band.

* New amendment (not yet confirmed)

Call Signs

Call Signs are a combinaion of alphabets and numerals to identify an individual ham or an amateur radio club. The callsign consists of a Prefix and Suffix. A prefix indicates the operating stations country which could be a combination of numerals and alphabets. Eg., VU represent India, 9V represent Singapore, K, N represents USA etc.,. The suffix identifies the operator. The combination of prefix and suffix forms the callsign with which one can indentify the operating stations Country and the operator. Eg., VU2HNN - Navin operating from India, ZS6BXN - Dave operating from South Africa. An International Call Book is available which lists all the amateur radio operators name and address around the world.

Equipments Required

The basic equipment for AMATEUR RADIO consists of -

  • Radio Transmitter
  • Radio Receiver
  • Antenna
  • Power Supply

To start with the hobby a simple Short Wave radio is required and a QRP transmitter which can even be built with less than thousand rupees. Depending on your pocket you can import commercial equipments. Hams communicate in many modes such as AM, SSB, FM, FAX, SSTV, PSK etc. In India there are around ten thousand Hams but only few hundreds of them are active on air.

Services Rendered by HAM's

Hams are rendering help to public at the time of emergencies.

  • In December 2005, the Tsunami hit south and south-east asia causing unpresidented levels of devastation. Whole of Andaman and nicobar islands were effected including the mainland India. The first information of Tsunami hitting Andaman was sent by a group of Hams who were operating a special station in Andaman. They assisted the government officials in relief activities. Hams were instrumental in linking the mainland India with Andaman islands when all other means of communications were out of order. Later teams of Hams from across India joined in the relief activities. The services rendered by Hams during the Tsunami were appreciated by the government and people around the world.
  • A couple of years ago a non stop flight from Sydney to Madras suddenly developed some trouble after take off, even the aircraft's communication equipment failed. Fortunately the pilot happened to be a Ham and sent distress signal. One of the Ham at Madras picked up the signal and immediatly informed the airport authorities, and the aircraft carrying passengers was rescued.
  • Once in 1979, Gujarath floods damaged villages, towns and even all communication lines were distroyed , as Machu dam collapsed. At that time Hams rose to the occation and helped the people by having communication with security people and rescue agencies.
  • In an other instance in April 1979, a 13 year old Ham of southern California came to the rescue of a sinking fishing ship. Three men in the sinking vessel were in desperate condition. The young Ham contacted the closest coast guard station and with in few minutes the fisher men were saved.
  • Radio Amateurs typically maintain close relations with Governament and relief agencies to assure prompt availability of their emergency communication resources in the event of need.
  • In January 26, 2001 on the morning of indian republic day a powerful earthquake shook the state of gujarath and brought down whole cities tumbling, all the communications failed. Within few hours hams from mumbai reached the scene and started rescue operation along with the police, rescue teams by providing local co-ordinations between the rescue teams. Soon hundreds of hams from all over the country joined the group.
  • In Andhra Pradesh there are permanent radio stations setup along the coast so as to use it in the time of cyclones and natural calamities and provide communications for the easy flow of food and other primary requirement.

To conclude although during the age of internet and e-mails one may argue the requirement of amateur radio and radio amateurs, but as we see the activities on air the enthusiasm of HAMs have not come down but they are using internet and e-mails for supporting amateur radio by sending their QSL cards through e-mail attachments!! which used to take weeks to reach other ham.

Hence AMATEUR RADIO should be seen and used as a way of building personality & technical investigations

  • More information is available from the following web sites

  • ARSI : Amateur Radio Society of India
    BARC: Bangalore Amateur Radio Club
    NIAR : National Institute of Amateur Radio
    ARRL : Amateur Radio Relay League.
    JARL : Japan Amateur Radio Club
    RSGB : Radio Society of Great Britain

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