Good question! Well, if you were to ask 10 licensed amateur radio operators this question, your likely to get 10 different answers suggesting what the hobby means to them, as it’s covers so many areas. It really is a hobby that offers something for anyone interested in radio technology. But what is Amateur Radio? What does it offer?
Well, in the words of the RSGB, “Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for the non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. It’s also the only hobby governed by an international treaty. As a radio amateur you are able to transmit radio signals on a number of frequency bands allocated specifically to radio amateurs.
Radio amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways. These could include:
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 — much of the common technology we take for granted today was developed within the in radio amateur community.
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.
A 1910 announcement by the then HM Postmaster General licensed “experimental wireless”, which still uniquely gives radio amateurs the ability to innovate without commercial or statutory controls even in the closely regulated environment of the 21st century.
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 and many others. Basically, anyone can become an Amateur Radio operator.
Whatever your interest in radio communications, you will find others sharing that interest — from “geeky” experimenters to those who are 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 within the hobby. Also 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 and IOTA can be “family friendly”, allowing your family to enjoy your amateur radio activities as well!
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 both developed and 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 specialised modes of communication, station logging, propagation prediction, etc.
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 their 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 ?
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, licensed to transmit, you will need a brief period of study, and to pass a simple practical and theory examination.
In conjunction with radio clubs around the UK, the RSGB (the U.K. Amateur Radio governing body) provides the examinations to enable you to become a radio amateur and then to progress through the various levels of licence — three in all. Study for the first level is straightforward and can often be accomplished in a weekend”
Amateur Radio really is a diverse hobby. Below you’ll find links to the RSGB and to a video highlighting some of the points covered above.
Also, the RSGB slide in the banner of our club website will take you to the RSGB website. For other amateur radio related information, take a look through our club website, our link page, or feel free to contact us or pay us a visit on a club night at AADARS in Hirwaun.