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QUESTION...WHAT IS HAM RADIO?
WHAT IS HAM RADIO ALL
Ham radio is people! Ham radio is all
All kinds of people!
People just like you.....the
folks next door, down the block, around your town and around the
Ham radio started long ago with nothing more than a SPARK of
Long before radio as we know it today came about, long
before you and I were born, PEOPLE were experimenting with the latest
technology around the turn of the last century, with something called
ELECTRICITY and....HMMMMM, they wondered if there was any way that it
could be used to send messages THRU THE AIR WITHOUT WIRES!
of experimentation by lots of PEOPLE, they discovered that yes, in fact,
you could send and receive messages with that spark thru the air over an
unseen medium called an electromagnetic wave!
Radio was born!
people, after much trial and error, soon learned how to build
"Home brewed" spark generators and crude receivers that could "hear" the
a few feet away. The next step was to increase the distance
the spark could be heard and after much more experimenting with this new
thing called electricity,
this was accomplished.
Now they knew that
just detecting the spark was not enough to communicate messages, so an
attempt was made to turn the spark on and off in a kind of
called Morse Code.. They accomplished their goal after more trial and
They soon were able to send and receive messages over greater
and greater distances by Morse Code using sparks and eventually learned
how to modify
them to send messages over the Atlantic!
experimenters were just not satisfied with using Morse Code for the
messages. They wondered.....HMMMMM!.....could it be possible to use the
human voice instead of Morse Code to get their messages heard!
PEOPLE said, "IMPOSSIBLE!" THEY WERE MAD!
followed, again with lots of trial and error but, you guessed it...they
did it! After many more years, broadcast radio came about...the same
that you can hear on the AM band on your radio.
During all this
time when all this experimenting was going on in the early years,
PEOPLE GOT INTERESTED.
Enter the first "Ham
Radio operators", were so amazed and interested in this new PHENOMENON,
that they started tinkering around with it as a "hobby" with their own
designs, trials and errors and continued experimenting with new ideas for
this latest technology called radio.
Eventually, due to their experimentation,
they sometimes would cause strange sounds and noises on their neighbor's
radios and when anything out of the ordinary was heard on them, someone
would ask "What is causing that?", and the response sometimes would be,
"Oh, that's just that HAM, down the street!" Some believe this is why we
are called HAMS today. Not because of the noise, but due to the phrase
that stuck....the word HAM. Others say that the word ham is a slang term
shortened from the word amateur with an "h" added on the front! Although
no one knows for sure why we are called hams, we are HAPPY AND PROUD TO BE
CALLED HAMS or AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS!
All of the hams back then
did not have much information or knowledge about how radio worked, but
when a ham would learn a new technique or tried something
better, he would share his new found knowledge with other hams and they
too would verify that the new idea would, in fact, be better, and they in
turn would share their knowledge with other hams who would take the
knowledge and improve on it and of course, share it again with their Ham
Radio Friends. That's part of the pure JOY OF BEING A HAM.......THE
SHARING OF KNOWLEDGE AND FRIENDSHIP WITH YOUR HAM RADIO FRIENDS
Hams back then, and even hams in our day and time are still
experimenting with "radio" on a daily basis and are experimenting with,
and discovering new modes of communication.
Many of your latest
"toys" such as cell phones, shortwave radio, antennas, satellite radio and
tv broadcast technology, computer, digital electronics, audio and video
devices, deep space communications and other devices came directly from
the results of experiments made by hams burning the midnight oil in their
basements, garages and their kitchen tables with questions going around in
You can thank them..... the hams, for major improvements to
technology that you know enjoy!
Now don't get me
Not all hams have that same desire to experiment
in our day and age and it is not a requirement of Ham Radio. Lots of us
are in it just for the FUN, knowing we can communicate over radio
using lots of ways
including our voice to our friends around the world!
We even use the computer without
the internet, repeat, without the internet, to
communicate OVER THE AIR
to other hams worldwide! You will learn how we do
Experimenting is a matter of choice and
FUN among some of us but you can bet your boots....there are still a lot
of us PEOPLE who are hams out their in the world that are quietly
"tinkering" with their own little questions!
Radio...Our Nations' Backup Communication
Ham Radio is there to provide primary
communications when all else
During most major disasters, local police, fire,
rescue, public, and other local radio and telephone systems usually are
overloaded, down, or do
not have the capabilities to provide the
emergency communications needed to save lives and
property. Cell phones become un-usable due to severe congestion or
electricity and emergency generators for
local authorities can be out
of service for days or their systems are not designed to communicate over
wide areas or with different departments, phone lines are destroyed and in
short, most emergency communications
can come to a halt!
operators are called in to re-establish vital communication
using their own equipment, knowledge, skills and training to provide these
most valuable services to the public and our government!
put together a complete radio station out in the middle of no where far
from the nearest power pole. They are capable of transmitting around
the world with very modest equipment!
Behind the scenes during STS -107! The Shuttle down over
During the shuttle
disaster in Texas, only ham radio operators
to get communications too and from the remote debris search
areas and they gave their time and skills in this massive
During most situations, hams are always some of the,
if not the first PEOPLE to respond in emergencies!
closely with the National Weather Service as trained"Spotters" for severe
storms from their vehicles transmitting vital weather information
back to hams at the Weather Service offices.
There's nothing in weather technology like many
pairs of trained eyes that can determine and report all types of dangerous
When those of us who experiment and
"tinker" with new ideas for communication are not "tinkering", or
providing public service, we
usually can be found on the air talking
to our ham radio friends around
the world or around the block about
most any subject you can imagine and just plain having fun using radio to
talk to other PEOPLE just like you and me!
As a licensed ham radio
operator, we have many "modes" of communicating to other hams both locally
and world wide. Some of the modes we use include voice (there are
many voice modes like AM, FM, SSB, digital), Morse code, (that's
that dit dit dit dit dit
dit stuff) That was Hi, in Morse code to a ham who
We are also authorized to use computers interfaced
with radio to send many digital modes and other fun stuff such as
video signals, (That's real pictures both live and still). We can sit at
our keyboard and "talk" using radio, to a station around the world from us
in live real time. He watches his computer monitor and sees us typing out
our message in real time to him...all over the radio...no internet or chat
rooms to go down in the middle of a
And if we really want to "reach out much further"
there are many Amateur radio satellites in orbit we are authorized to use
(FREE) and we are also authorized to talk to the hams aboard the
International Space Station!
Most of the astronauts are licensed
hams. Ham radio can be used as a backup communication
system aboard the Space
Many "earth bound" hams have set up simple ham stations in
schools for the purpose of letting the students ask the astronauts aboard
the space station questions about space and space travel. The students
love talking to the space station live over the radio as it passes
hundreds of mile overhead! The crew aboard the Space Station get a big
"kick" out of it also when they are answering questions from students on
the earth passing below them!
But just talking to the Space Station is not the limit....there
is the moon and beyond!
Yes...hams actually use the moon to reflect their radio signals
back to distant places on the earth! "Moon bounce" as it is called, is
just one fascinating aspect of ham radio and you don't have to be a genius
to do it.
So you can see, with a ham radio license issued by the Federal
Government, you can be on your way to this fascinating "hobby" and enjoy
the fun and excitement that ham radio offers....It is not a government
sanctioned hobby for everyone, but you just may be one of many that will
do fine and really get into one of the many avenues that Amateur Radio
It won't come easy...you will have to "work" for it with a
bit of study and pass a written exam to prove you are worthy to be
issued your Call Sign and your license! But...when you do get your
license, you will join the ranks of many thousands of "hams" just waiting
for you to join in with the fun!
If you have read this
far, you already know that you have an interest in radio communications
and you have taken the FIRST STEP in getting a ham radio license....the
next step is up to you....DO IT!
Don't worry, you will not learn how to
do ALL of this at one time, that's way too much for any person to
learn...but..as you progress in the license process and go up the ladder,
you WILL learn how it's done by people just like
People from all walks of life are doing it every day......so
wonder?..... if there is a way to send this article
THRU THE AIR.....AROUND THE WORLD, USING RADIO
WAVES and not over the internet.....WITH PICTURES.......... and
HAM'S ARE DOING IT ALL THE
And they are PEOPLE, just
like you....... AND
Interested? You can do it with us!
What's that...got a question?
here to ask it!
US. Get the study material
WONDER!........ WHAT IF?.........
Written and copyrighted by
N4UJW (A Ham)
TAKE A LOOK AT A HAM RADIO WEBSITE............
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