Ham Radio is a fascinating hobby. Since licensing was first issued, many millions of radio licenses have been issued. With the rapid development in radio and electronics in recent years, equipment has become cheaper, smaller and technically better. The hobby of amateur radio is still going strong with many new recruits joining the ranks every year.
Becoming a radio ham is one of the most exciting, high-tec, educational and useful hobbies you could find. It includes many different groups of people around the world ie. pilots, sailors, doctors, scientists, students, astronauts, even celebrities. First Lady Betty Ford was a CB enthusiast with the handle ‘First Mama.’ You just never know who you could be speaking to next.
Ham Radio is a licensed radio service. Operators take an exam to get their operating license and most importantly their call signs. The most wonderful thing about it is that no matter your age, color, creed, gender, or physical ability, all are welcomed into the fold with open arms.
Once you have your license you can use your radio station to make to make contact with the world without worrying about additional charges. You can make contact via satellites, use your computer for wireless connectivity, bounce signals off the moon for contacts, use small handheld radios for local communications, even contact the space shuttle astronauts and provide communications for public services.
Radio amateurs have a lot of fun, but there is a serious side to this hobby too. Amateur Radio Associations was founded to provide ordinary people with the means to intensify their operating skills, especially in times of real emergency. In disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, accidents and search and rescue ham radio is often the only means of communication when telephone lines are down, cellphone masts lack power, and local radio and TV stations are off the air. It is the stalwarts of ham radio that everyone has come to rely on and they NEVER disappoint.
Take Paul Mason, an Australian who in 1942 made a key contribution the defeat of the Japanese army at the battle of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific. He was the manager of a plantation on the Solomon Islands and being a radio ham was recruited to be a civilian ‘coast-watch’ by Australian intelligence. He set up his radio – which was very bulky in those days – on a high ridge in the south of the island. The Japanese planes had to pass overhead, in fact it is said he sent the most important message ever sent by a radio ham. The US had landed on Guadalcanal and were disembarking when 24 heavily laden bombers passed overhead Paul who sent
‘From STO – Twenty Four bombers headed yours’,
this gave the US 2 hours grace to get their planes in the air and they destroyed all but one of the enemy bombers. but the enemy knew he was somewhere on the island and even though he was hounded he continued to send messages, moving heavy fragile equipment on a constant basis and eventually was told to go to the north of the island where he would be picked up by submarine. He was awarded the DFC by General MacArthur for ‘his contribution to the war effort’.
Acquiring your license is not difficult and there are study manuals for the 30 question test which you can buy from Radio Shack. It need not be expensive to set up your ham radio or does it have to take up a lot of room. If you are interested and would like advice on anything, the authority on Ham Radio is American Radio Relay League.
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