HAM radio or amateur radio is a hobby, where a community of amateur radio operators keeps in touch with each other. The amateur radio operators, known as hams, not only use their radio sets to communicate with each other, but this hobby becomes useful in handling emergencies.
How to become a ham
Different countries have different licensing authorities, who conduct tests, which you should clear in order to get your license. In USA, hams must get the approval of the FCC to get their license. In other countries, the respective telecommunication departments deal with the licensing issues. Several local clubs teach the details of Amateur Radio operations and conducts ham radio licensing classes to prepare for the radio license test. At first, you should locate your nearest ham radio club, which would help you develop this hobby easily.
Amateur radio uses
The biggest challenge of hams is to communicate with each other at very low power or QRP. Amateur radio operators could talk to anyone located anywhere on the globe through HF radios. HF radios with VHF or UHF transceivers allow reliable communication with your local community. By transmitting signals through a local repeater, you can extend your VHF range by 50 miles. By equipping your radio with the right tools, you can have worldwide communication on HF bands.
Many hams use their own ingenuity in building their own radio set, which might contain a simple antenna or a complex combination of a radio and a computer. If you cannot build your own radio, you can buy an Amateur Radio set. Alinco, Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu are some of the popular brands of ham radio.
When natural disasters or emergencies cause disruption of normal communications, ham radio operators step in to help the local communities. During floods, cyclones, landslides or accidents, ham radios are often the only means of communications.
Hams could also communicate with astronauts in the space stations. Licensed ham astronauts carry their ham radio to the spacecraft, from where they keep in touch with other hams on earth. Nowadays, hams also use satellites communication for interacting with each other.