What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur radio cannot easily be described in a short paragraph, since it is often regarded as a composite of many disciplines/hobbies.  At its core it enables two or more licensed amateurs to have a conversation (QSO) over the ‘air’.  However, that is where the “general” description ends and the wider hobby takes over.  Needless to say, there is something for everyone, from highly technical electronics, through to honing operating skills.

Many Amateurs start off as short wave listeners (SWL) or citizen band radio users (CB).  Then they progress, wishing to perhaps build their own radio or complete a kit.

High frequency (HF) communications often rely on ‘reflecting’ radio waves off the ionosphere but signals also can be reflected off the Moon, Aurora, meteor trails, aircraft (not stealth)! and more recently rain drops and Venus!

Amateur radio satellites now exist, acting as transponders.  These are in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and are getting smaller and cheaper using cubesat construction and launched with spare payload capacity.  This year the first Geostationary  amateur radio satellite (piggybacked onto a commercial satellite) is scheduled was successfully launched – look out for news of Es’hail 2.  It also includes an amateur television transponder.

Radio direction finding (DF) hunts are popular as are operating contests.  Sometimes operators travel to special locations, for example an island or perhaps a remote country.

Another aspect of the hobby is aid to the civil powers in times of local or national emergency or at major events (RAYNET).

Many assume that the hobby is expensive.  Like most activities, much enjoyment can be had from making working transceivers from old or cheap parts or buying used equipment.  At the other end of the scale some amateurs have stations to rival professional broadcasters.

Whether you are new to the hobby or an old hand, belonging to a club can give access to a valuable source of expertise from more experienced, often professional electronics and/or communications enthusiasts.  We also have an extensive inventory of test equipment.  It can also help with sourcing of parts from the club “Junk Box”.