What is Amateur Radio?
If you were to ask a dozen different amateurs what ham radio
meant to them chances are you would get 12 different answers.
Radio amateurs have discovered a richly rewarding high-tech
hobby that has many different appeals to different people.
Whether it is the ability to talk to local friends over the
radio waves using a hand-held transceiver (HT), communicating
digitally with packet radio to exchange personal messages or
vital information in an emergency, talking to other hams
anywhere in the world, or engaging in contests with other Radio
Amateurs over the airwaves there is something for everyone. The
section What Hams Do gets into more
detail about these activities.
Amateurs or Hams?
Amateurs are often affectionately called hams or ham radio
operators and frequently the public is more familiar with this
term than with the legal term Radio Amateur. The source of the
name ham is not known but it has been around almost from the
beginning of amateur radio radio in the early 1900s. The name
amateur has nothing to do with skill or knowledge but rather
implies that ham radio cannot be used for commercial or revenue
generating purposes. It is truly a hobby but often one that
makes a difference especially in emergency or disaster
Modes of Communication
Amateur radio operators generally use radio transmitters and
receivers to communicate with each other. As you will discover
in these pages there are many forms of communication although
voice (also known as phone) is still the most widely used. Some
of the other forms of transmission are Radioteletype (Rtty),
Morse code (CW), television, and digital modes such as Packet,
Pactor and PSK-31. A recent survey shows that phone is the most
widely used with CW standing second.
To become a radio amateur you will need to get a license.
Licensing requirements are different in every country with
different rules, privileges, and classes of license. The section
How to Become a Radio Amateur gives
some direction on this from the Canadian and U.S. perspective.
Basically different levels of license gives different privileges
on the ham bands. The more challenging the license requirements
the more privileges that are granted and the more interesting
and enjoyable ham radio becomes.
© 2001 - 2007 Don Cassel VE3XD
Table of Contents
What is Amateur Radio?
What Hams Do
How to Become a Radio Amateur
Amateur Radio Bands
IRLP in Depth
Guide to Choosing Your First Radio
Glossary of Terms
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