What is HAM radio?
The international telecommunication union (ITU) defines amature radio, or the amature service as:
“amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of selftraining, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.”
This is how the authorities and the international community sees amateur radio. The radio amateur, or HAM operator , may have another more practical view of the hobby. The hobby itself have many different orientations as electronics, antenna construction, social, contesting, experimenting, emergency operations, digital systems and digital traffic modes and much more.
One thing that HAM operators I believe do have in common is the fascination of radio.
The borderless properties of the radio that brings different cultures and people to communicate in a common form or language or the different technologies to do this. For me in person, the fascination lies in the properties of the electromagnetic radio waves, the propagation of the waves and the properties of the inducer of the electromagnetic energy in to free space, also known as the antenna.
When you find your basic fascination for the amateur radio hobby you will always find your own field or special interest. Myself enjoy not only antenna construction and testing but also digital small bandwidth communication enabling me to work faraway stations, also known as DX stations, with low power equipment. Along with the hobby I also can combine my interest of geography discovering new places never heard of, making the world a smaller place.
What do you need to start with the hobby?
As with every hobby, the only thing limiting you is the size of your wallet and your will to learn. First though, you have to get certified or licensed for use of the amature radio service. The licensing or certification is made by proof of knowledge in the feilds of electronics, radio theory, mathematics and knowledge of regulations both of national and international kind.
Typicaly it is the national authority handeling telecommunications and postage issues in your country that also handles amature radio licensing. After the certificate or license has been received you are able to use the frequencies of the amature radio service using your uniqe callsign wich is made upp from a combination of letters and numbers. This is your personal callsign or identification within the amature service.
The certificate or license is not enough to start your hobby. Now you also need hardware like a transceiver and a antenna to start working stations. This is were the size of your wallet comes in. Like cars, you can pay little money for a old model with older technology and sometimes bad specifications. Or you can pay much for a new expensive model with all the latest stuff but sometimes specifications not better than the old one. Depending on what you want to work, a spending of at least 300 euro for a decent transceiver is to be expected. There is also the possibility to build your own equipment. When it comes to antennas, these can be bought of the shelf by suppliers for a price ranging from 50 euro to 3000 euro. As with the transceivers, these can be homebuilt. Even for a cheap price.
As with all other hobbies even HAM-radio operators feel the need to organise themself. This is made in local clubs, national associations and in the IARU (International Amature Radio Union) , an international organisation consisting of all the worlds national HAM-radio
associations. The IARU is also the amature radios voice in the ITU making it a vital part of the the work on keeping the amature radio services frequencies ours to use. This is also a way to find your national association if you want to become a HAM-radio operator.
In Sweden there is two major associations in which one is a member of the IARU. SSA, Sveriges Sändareamatörer, is the biggest national association and is also member of the IARU. ESR, Experimenterande Svenska Radioamatörer, is the second biggest and has a larger focus on radio technology while the SSA has a wider span of the hobbys subjects.
Find out more!
Some links that can help you to find more information about HAM-radio.