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What is HAM Radio ?

Carl Mulisch, OE6MKG-a dedicated ham radio operator from Austria!

    Ham radio operators are a group of people nurturing a special interest in wireless communication technology.  People from all the spheres of life are found among the ham radio operators. They operate their wireless transceivers (a combined unit of radio transmitter and receiver) during their pastime for the sheer joy, thrill and excitement involved in doing  worldwide radio communication. Unlike the broadcast radio stations (to whom we usually tune our radio receivers to listen to), ham radio is a two-way communication system. Ham radio operators can put their voice on-the-air to be listened into and at the same time replied back by their fellow radio operators around the world.
            Despite the existence of other communication facilities, ham radio operators run their own wireless communication network with entirely personal effort out of the love for this medium of communication-a reason to make people believe that these hams are people bitten by the bug of eccentricity!
There are some hams who build their own wireless transceivers (a combined unit of transmitter and receiver) and transmit their voice signals throughout the world to be replied back by their fellow hams. These are the experiment oriented hams who try to achieve some sort of a perfection in developing electronic circuits for radio frequency work, or at a lower level, they may like to assemble a piece of wireless equipment designed by their fellow experts, modify it in their own way to improve its performance till they are satisfied with its performance.

     Hams located in the other parts of the world reply back exchanging information about the quality and strength of their radio signals. They exchange personal as well as technical information which are not related to business or commerce, politics and religion. Though a ham can not use his radio station for any pecuniary gain, a creative mind can still find numerous utility of ham radio. It is a pursuit which attracts people from all the spheres of life. There are hundred and thousands of people who are laymen so far as their knowledge of electronics is concerned, yet, they are expert ham radio operators. It is an exciting way to discover new friends and disseminate knowledge on-the-air. One interesting fact about ham radio communication is that hams don’t have to pay any money to the authority for their on-the-air conversation! In-fact, the world fraternity of ham radio operators evolved in the early part of the twentieth century following the footsteps of great radio scientist  Guglielmo Marconi (who was a school drop out!). In India, the great Indian scientist Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose also encouraged the promotion of ham radio.

            With the availability of low cost easily replicable circuits of radio transmitters and receivers, the number of ham radio operators increased to millions. The growth of electronics communication technology is also considered to be going hand in hand with the progress of ham radio. The advancement in the field of electronics and the flourishing growth of electronics industry in countries like Japan has been very often attributed to the presence of large group of dedicated ham radio operators (to the tune of 13,50,127).
 Though ham radio is a highly specialized technical hobby, it requires no special qualification (except that the person going to be a ham has attained 12 years of age). However, it demands immense interest in radio communication and sufficient enthusiasm to find reason to operate a radio station of your own, because ham radio, also known as "Amateur Radio" does not provide you pecuniary gain. What you gain from being a ham is more than what money can give and for that you got to be imaginative! Many of the foremost radio and electronics engineers and technicians operate as amateurs during times when they are not occupied professionally. Seeing the growth of ham radio population around the world, many professional companies started manufacturing ham radio equipment to meet the needs of  the vast group of ham radio operators who prefer readymade professionally built equipment instead of homemade ones. So, what had once been a hobby for somebody, turned out to be a profitable profession. Hams never accept money for their on-the-air communication.  

            Young students can learn the principles of electronics through practical experimentation by assembling wireless transmitter and receiver kits in the ham radio clubs established in their schools. Without a valid ham licence, it is illegal to operate wireless equipment. In India, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also taken some initiative to include 'ham radio' in their course curriculum under the scheme of Work Experience. The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme has also included 'Ham Radio' as one of its projects and as per the direction of the Ministry of Programme Implementation, a Member of Parliament (MP) can spend money to establish ham radio stations in the schools located in his area. If these schemes are fruitfully utilised, many youngsters would be able to take interest in ham radio which they may also make into career. There are many activities people perform out of their scientific curiosity or to satisfy their inquisitive mind. Many people are attracted towards ham radio for this reason also.