What is Amateur Radio (HAM)

Amateur radio operation is fun. Amateur radio operators acquire good technical knowledge in executing their hobby and build new skills ranging from antenna building to building radios and linear amplifiers. Wireless amateur communication allows making contacts around the world on frequencies ranging from 1.8 MHz to several hundred for learning and entertainment purposes. But ham radio also has a serious side as it can provide communication during states of emergency. Ham radio works when all other services fail.

Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty. As a radio amateur you are able to transmit radio signals on a number of frequency bands allocated specifically to the radio amateurs. Radio amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways:

  • Contacting people all over the world by radio which often leads to developing international friendships
  • Competing in international competitions to test how effective your equipment is, and how good you are as an operator
  • Technical experimentation — many of the leaps forward in radio technology have been initiated by radio amateurs
  • Communication through amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station (which carries an amateur radio station)
  • Providing communications at times of emergencies and undertaking exercises to ensure you keep the capability to do so.

There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a radio amateur.

What Sort of People Become Radio Amateurs?

Amateur Radio is the original high technology “social network”. Today it is regarded as a “broad church” and numbers in its ranks Kings, pop stars, public figures, the retired, schoolchildren and those at work or unemployed.

Whatever your interest in radio communications, you will find others sharing that interest — from “geeky” experimenters to those just interested in communicating by radio. So as a radio amateur, you simply do not know who you might talk to “over the air”. Using call signs as identifiers, there is no status on the air, and you talk, equal to equal, to everyone you contact.

Local radio clubs can help you grow and develop. And remember, Amateur Radio offers enjoyment for you and your family as well. Amateur activities like Direction Finding (similar to orienteering but with a high-tech “spin”), field days, Summits on the Air, IOTA can be “family friendly”, allowing your family to enjoy your amateur radio activities as well!

Youngsters are activly involved in amateur radio, more info, check out the Hammies Radio Club.

What can I do with Amateur Radio?

Whilst the Internet has brought us instant world-wide email, VOIP and video communication, it is tied to an infrastructure of enormous proportions. With Amateur Radio, you are communicating directly, “point-to-point” with no intermediate infrastructure. You are also communicating with people in their cars, on ships, on remote islands, and in under-developed parts of the world. But perhaps more importantly, Amateur Radio is not just about communicating — it’s about exploring the technology that makes radio communication work — the electronics, the antennas, the propagation characteristics of the ionosphere, and even computers that are linked to radio equipment for all sorts of purposes including specialized modes of communication, station logging, propagation prediction, etc.

What can Amateur Radio do for me?

Employers in the high technology industries often seek people who combine the theoretical understanding of electronics with the practical ability to “make it happen”. By becoming a radio amateur, and with the right interest, a lifetime of personal growth lies ahead in the field of electronics and radio communication. Many people today owe career development to their first steps in amateur radio. Why don’t YOU consider joining the many thousands who are developing their skills every day through this fascinating hobby?

Getting Started in Amateur Radio

Anyone can listen in to amateur radio transmissions. If you’re new to amateur radio, then listening-in for a while is a good way to get a feel for what is going on. To become a radio amateur, licenced to transmit, you will need a brief period of study, and to pass a simple practical and theory examination.

The Sandton Amateur Radio Club provides the training for the Radio Amateur Exam (RAE) organized twice a year by the South African Amateur Radio League (SARL) to enable you to become a radio amateur.

Watch this Video to get an idea of what is fun about getting into Ham Radio. The Sandton Amateur Radio Club will help you do so if you are interested.