One of my dearest friends and followers asked me to explain what we do as Ham/Amateur Radio Operators. So this post is devoted to the subject of Ham Radio and what we do.
First let me define Amateur Radio per the ARRL: “Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need. Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators.”
There are three license classes. The entry level license is the Technician Class, the mid-level license is the General Class (I’m a General Class holder) and the final class is the Extra Class.
We are inventors, innovators, scientists, and community service volunteers.
Part of being a Ham Radio operator is building antennas, transceivers (a device that can both transmit and receive communications, in particular a combined radio transmitter and receiver), test equipment, CW (Morse Code) Keys, and many other things. Ham Radio has many facets, many hobbies with in the hobby.
Hams are huge supporters of our Military, in fact we as Hams volunteer with MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System). “Army MARS is a Department of Defense sponsored program which utilizes Amateur Radio operators to contribute to the mission of the Department of the Army. Army MARS members must have access to HF radio equipment, file a monthly report, and participate a minimum of 12 hours total, including a minimum 6 hours on HF radio each quarter. DoD Directives 4650.2 (26 Jan 98), 3025.1 (15 Jan 93) MSCA, 3025.15, 18 Feb 97 and AR 25-6, 21 Apr 86, defines the primary mission for MARS is to provide DOD–sponsored emergency communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to existing DA communications. What does this really mean? Army MARS members will be assigned, trained and prepared to provide essential emergency communications support via HF radio to the United States Army, and other Federal Agencies in response to natural and man-made disasters. Army MARS members support America’s “First Responders.”
We participate in contests. The biggest reasons we contest or DX is to keep our emergency skills sharp. Contents can be in the local county or the world. The biggest contest day for Ham Radio is Field Day! Click here to read about my experience last year.
“You can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car, all without relying on the Internet or a cell phone network You can take radio wherever you go! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies. For instance, the Amateur Radio Service kept New York City agencies in touch with each other after their command center was destroyed during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham radio also came to the rescue during Hurricane Katrina, where all other communications failed, and the devastating flooding in Colorado in 2013.
You can communicate with other hams using your voice and a microphone, interface a radio with your computer or tablet to send data, text or images, or Morse code, which remains incredibly popular. You can even talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station, talk to other hams through one of several satellites in space, or bounce signals off the moon and back to Earth!”
I participate in SkyWarn. This past Hurricane season, during Hurricane Matthew I manned a shelter, I was the link between the shelter and the Emergency Operations Center for my county. I am also a QSL Card collector; a QSL card is a written confirmation of a two-way radio communication between two amateur radio stations.
Are you familiar with the Great Balloon Festival in Albuquerque New Mexico, the Boston Marathon? You will find Ham Radio Operators there providing communications for the events. While I lived in Maine and was a member of the Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club I was on the team that provided communications for two big events. The Piscataquis River Race and the Sebec River Race.
We even have some celebrities that are hams…some unfortunately are now Silent Keys. Here is a list of them: Patty Loveless KD4WUJ, Walter Cronkite KB2GSD (SK), Worth Gruelle W4ZG (SK), Burl Ives KA6HVA (SK), Joe Walsh WB6ACU, Chet Atkins W4CGP (SK), Stu Cook N6FUP, Stewart Granger (Actor James Stewart) N6KGB (SK), Garry Shandling KD6OY (SK), Cardinal Roger M Mahony W6QYI, Prince Yousuf Al-Sabah 9K2CS, King Bhumibol Adulyadej HS1A (SK), Queen Noor of Jordan JY1NH, Bob Heil K9EID, Larnell Harris WD4LZC, Marlon Brando KE6PZH/FO5GJ held a US and French Polynesia License (SK) and last but certainly not least James E Damron N8TMW.
I’m a Rag Chewer (talker), now that I have my General I’m also going to try my luck at contesting and digital modes. Yes, we can even do Ham Radio on the computer as well as on the internet. You can send pictures, television, and even email over Ham Radio. We can talk via satellites and even bounce a signal off the Northern or Southern Lights and even a comet! I told you we are innovators! Did you know that a requirement of being a U.S. Astronaut is being at least a General Class Ham? Now you do!
Well that’s it in a nut shell. Now how about you join me in this adventure. It’s not to difficult and is a great hobby! Click here or simply ask me and I will get you started!
This is KC1FLG/AG bidding you 73! Hope to hear you one day soon on the radio waves!