What is Ham Radio?

Ham radio is an exciting hobby that is as old as radio itself. Ham radio is not CB radio. Hams must pass exams on electronics theory and (for most licenses) a Morse code test. Is it hard? No way! There are hams as young as six years old (and some as old as the hills).

What do hams do? You name it. You can talk to people all over the world using voice, television, teletype, computer-based communications, and more. You can talk to people via satellites, meteor scatter, or moon bounce. Many hams like to build and experiment. Hams pass messages for the public in preparation for emergency service. Some hams compete in contests or try to win award certificates. Of course, not all hams do all those things. That's the great thing about the hobby, if you get bored with something, there is always something else you can get involved in.

Public service is a big part of ham radio. We handle messages after emergencies like hurricanes and earthquakes. Hams help military personnel call home. We even handled personal messages to the Mir after their unfortunate power crisis. Hams volunteer to provide communications for local events, and help report weather.

There are (or have been) many famous hams. Many astronauts and cosmonauts are hams. In fact, Uri Gagaran (the first man in space) was a ham. King Hussien of Jordan, Barry Goldwater, and Marlon Brando are all hams, too.

There's a lot more I could tell you. I've been a ham for 20 years and I love it. If you'd like to learn more, you can check out this page from the biggest national ham radio club, the ARRL.

As hams say, 73! (Best Wishes!)

Al Williams WD5GNR