What radio amateurs do

Radio amateurs have their own radio stations at home. These are not “broadcasting stations” in the normal sense of the word. The equipment is not used for transmitting entertainment or news programmes. It’s used for communicating with other radio amateurs around the world.

Radio amateurs are allocated, by international agreement, a range of frequencies (or “bands”) which they may use to communicate with each other. Some of these bands are more suitable for relatively short range communication (say across town) whereas others are suited to world-wide communication. It all depends what you want to do.

Some radio amateurs are happy to talk to other amateurs around the world (generally about personal and technical matters) whereas others like the competitive aspects of the hobby – entering world-wide “contests” to pit their operating skills against the best in the world. Some explore new transmission or radio propagation techniques, whereas others enjoy experimenting with new antenna designs. And still others speak to astronauts in the International Space Station, or to other amateurs via a number of amateur communications satellites circling the world.

Computers play an important part in amateur radio today, used for technical modelling, station logging, propagation prediction, and to support advanced transmission techniques such as slow-scan television.

An amateur radio station can transmit speech, Morse code, data or images. Amateur radio equipment need not be excessively expensive – a few dollars will buy the components for a basic transmitter/receiver capable of world-wide communication under the right conditions. But of course, once you are drawn into to amateur radio, you may want more advanced equipment. Some radio amateurs spend lots of money on their equipment, but this does not always mean better results! The skill of the operator makes a big difference.

Every day, thousands of radio amateurs can be heard communicating on the airwaves. Why not listen in, and enjoy the magic amateur radio?