Showing posts with label Radio Hobbyists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Radio Hobbyists. Show all posts

Monday, April 1, 2019

Activities For Radio Hobbyists

Amateur radio or ham is largely a hobby activity. The majority of the hobby time is spent on making contact and having conversations with people in distant regions and from different cultures. Two-way communications, identifying their location and station, zone, region and place is the usual custom. This is always followed by other casual communications. If the contact is made for a contest to make two-way communication with as many stations or ham radio operators as possible, this all the information that is shared.

DX-ing and DX-peditions:
An amateur radio operator’s main hobby is to make contact with as many stations as possible from as many parts of the world as possible. DX stands for Distant Stations. The DX-ing usually is followed with the QSO. (a Q code., see below) which means “a conversation”. 

DX-peditions are different in the sense that they are expeditions organized/planned solely for the purpose of making contacts with some special or rare stations and regions. Some people travel a long distance just to make contact with some unrepresented region or place.

Radio Frequency scanners available nowadays form the tool of great use in these attempts. The radio scanner scans for signals until a strong signal is found and so on.

QSL cards:
The Q code is a standardized collection of three-letter message encodings, all starting with the letter "Q", initially developed for commercial radiotelegraph communication, and later adopted by other radio services, especially amateur radio. In today’s audio signal transmission age, the Q codes are not essential. but still in use and are viewed as a sort of tradition.

As a part of DX-ing and DX-peditions, the QSL card or the proof of contact card is shared. QSL is one such Q-code that means “I acknowledge receipt”. The common practice was that the ones who made contact at a particular frequency exchange a QSL card in the mail to confirm their contact and conversations. These QSL cards can be used as a proof of their making contact and amateur operators who make contact with a certain number of other amateur radio operators in a specified time is awarded. Moreover, they are distinguished and honored since they are deemed to be efficient amateur radio operators.

Remote region contacting:
Some countries have less amateur radio operators, and making contact with these are considered special. So, when a radio amateur from these regions makes contact, other ham operators flock to make communication with this / these hams. Making contact with these less represented places has its awards and special considerations in the award programs.

Social events for ham families and friends. It’s something akin to the family-oriented social fests where there are sales, exchanges, meetings and fun. Similarly, the fest is filled with selling and exchanging hams, meeting real-life ham friends and fun events for a day or sometimes over a few days.

Discussion groups and Nets:
Ham operators form a discussion group based on common interests other than ham or it can also be a ham related discussion group and they can form nets or networks.

If a radio hobbyist gets involved with all of these different activities, he or she is sure to never be bored. Look into some of them, and see if you would like to get involved.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Roots Of Radio Hobbyists

A commercial 1-kilowatt spark gap radio transmitter manufactured by William J. Murdock
Photo: Wikimedia
Radio hobbyists can play with their equipment all day without giving a thought to the origins of their hobby. Early radio hobbyists were part of something that was, at the time, new and fairly crazy.

After radio technology was stabilized, there was a steady growth of radio signaling in the fields of navigation of ships and for rescue operations. On the other hand, the amateur radio operators also started to dominate the air. The first documented and famous amateur wireless enthusiast was a then young man named Irving Vermilya born in 1890 when the wireless transmission was being born. The young man since age 12 heard Marconi and built his own wireless transmission equipment and was often “heard” telegraphing with ships during that time. In 1911 he became a member of the Radio Club that had been formed. He got himself certified in 1912 when law mandated all wireless operators to be certified. In his own words, 

This was the pre-audio era, and communication was purely in Morse code. Irving then organized his own amateur group who had regular meetings monthly and would communicate daily wishing “GM” (good morning) and “GN” (good night), some of the first amateur jargon to be used. He also proceeds to describe in his series of articles published in QST magazine in 1917 as to how they managed to lay the telegraph lines and such and how they “drew juice” for the wireless operation from the electric lines instead of relying on batteries.

Meanwhile, apart from the “professionals” and “amateurs”, with the audio wireless signal transmission, there was a new revolution setting in. A Dutch engineer in Hague was the first to make regular wireless transmission via radio. This could be considered the first regular radio broadcast. After this, there was slow development until the commercial radio stations came into being.

The requirement to be certified killed the enthusiasm in many amateurs, and the number of amateurs dwindled. But then after WWI, there was a boom. The first radio clubs were formed in 1909 and this was the beginning of the radio hobbies which included radio as a part of the hobby activity.

During the WWI the amateur radio operators were asked to stop their activity and dismantle the equipment. Radio operators in uniform helped in military communications. They got back on the air again by November 1919 again. A similar lull in amateur radio happened during Second World War and got back on air by 1946. After lots of battles over the frequency range that the amateurs can tune into, the amateur radio is here to stay!

At present (2007), there are more than 170,000 ham operators which are possibly not the complete picture. It is still increasing. So, with Irving Vermilya was born the amateur radio operation, since he was the first radio hobbyist. After lots of developments, including the discovery of the transistor which greatly decreased the size of the radio equipment, the old ways still remains which included “waiting for someone to signal”. 

The rules to get oneself certified and licensed included a Morse code proficiency until the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva in 2003 that eliminated the need for Morse code proficiency from the licensure tests. Taking effect from February 23, 2007, the Morse code has been eliminated from the tests for amateur radio license tests.