A CANADIAN LOOK AT THE AMATEUR RADIO HOBBY

December 29th, 2017 by AJ4MQ

This video is an introduction to an international public-service and technology hobbyknown as ‘amateur radio’ (or 'ham radio’).

Wikipedia eloquently describes the amateur radio hobby as follows:
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio)

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) describes the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify “a duly-authorized person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;” (either direct monetary or other similar rewards) and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

The amateur radio service (amateur service and amateur-satellite service) is established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) through the Radio Regulations. National governments regulate technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual stations licenses with an identifying call sign. Prospective amateur operators are tested for their understanding of key concepts in electronics and the host government’s radio regulations. Radio amateurs use a variety of voice, text, image, and data communications modes and have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum to enable communication across a city, region, country, continent, the world, or even into space.

Amateur radio is officially represented and coordinated by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which is organized in three regions and has as its members the national amateur radio societies which exist in most countries. According to an estimate made in 2011 by the American Radio Relay League, two million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio. About 830,000 amateur radio stations are located in IARU Region 2 (the Americas) followed by IARU Region 3 (South and East Asia and the Pacific Ocean) with about 750,000 stations. A significantly smaller number, about 400,000, are located in IARU Region 1 (Europe, Middle East, CIS, Africa).

ACTIVITIES AND PRACTICES

The expansive diversity found in the amateur radio hobby attracts practitioners who have a wide range of interests. Many hams begin with a fascination of radio communication and then combine other personal interests to make the pursuit of the hobby rewarding. Some of the focal areas amateurs pursue include radio contesting, radio propagation study, public service communication, technical experimentation, and computer networking.  But, that is just a sampling of interest areas found in the hobby.

Amateur radio operators use various modes of transmission to communicate. The two most common modes for voice transmissions are frequency modulation (FM) and single sideband (SSB). The FM mode offers high-quality audio signals, while SSB is better at long distance communication when bandwidth is restricted.  Another mode that has passionate aficionados is AM (Amplitude Modulation) which hails back to the golden age of radio when AM reigned on the airways.

Radiotelegraphy using Morse code, also known as “CW” from “continuous wave”, is the wireless extension of land-line (wired) telegraphy developed by Samuel Morse and dates to the earliest days of radio. Although computer-based (digital) modes and methods have largely replaced CW for commercial and military applications, many amateur radio operators still enjoy using the CW mode–particularly on the shortwave bands and for experimental work, such as earth-moon-earth communication, because of its inherent signal-to-noise ratio advantages. Morse, using internationally agreed message encodings such as the Q code, enables communication between amateurs who speak different languages. It is also popular with homebrewers and in particular with “QRP” or very-low-power enthusiasts, as CW-only transmitters are simpler to construct, and the human ear-brain signal processing system can pull weak CW signals out of the noise where voice signals would be totally inaudible. A similar legacy mode popular with home constructors is amplitude modulation (AM), pursued by many vintage amateur radio enthusiasts and aficionados of vacuum tube technology.

Demonstrating a proficiency in Morse code was for many years a requirement to obtain an amateur license to transmit on frequencies below 30 MHz. Following changes in international regulations in 2003, countries are no longer required to demand proficiency. The United States Federal Communications Commission, for example, phased out this requirement for all license classes on 23 February 2007.

Modern personal computers have encouraged the use of digital modes such as radioteletype (RTTY) which previously required cumbersome mechanical equipment. Hams led the development of packet radio in the 1970s, which has employed protocols such as AX.25 and TCP/IP. Specialized digital modes such as PSK31 allow real-time, low-power communications on the shortwave bands.  More robust digital modes have been invented and improved, including such modes as Olivia, JT65, and WSPR.

NASA astronaut Col. Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, Expedition 24 flight engineer, operates the NA1SS ham radio station in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Equipment is a Kenwood TM-D700E transceiver.

Amateur radio satellites can be accessed, some using a hand-held transceiver (HT), even, at times, using the factory “rubber duck” antenna. Hams also use the moon, the aurora borealis, and the ionized trails of meteors as reflectors of radio waves. Hams can also contact the International Space Station (ISS) because many astronauts and cosmonauts are licensed as amateur radio operators.

Amateur radio operators use their amateur radio station to make contacts with individual hams as well as participating in roundtable discussion groups or “rag chew sessions” on the air. Some join in regularly scheduled on-air meetings with other amateur radio operators, called “nets” (as in “networks”), which are moderated by a station referred to as “Net Control”] Nets can allow operators to learn procedures for emergencies, be an informal roundtable, or cover specific interests shared by a group.

Amateur radio operators, using battery- or generator-powered equipment, often provide essential communications services when regular channels are unavailable due to natural disasters or other disruptive events.

Many amateur radio operators participate in radio contests, during which an individual or team of operators typically seek to contact and exchange information with as many other amateur radio stations as possible in a given period of time. In addition to contests, a number of Amateur radio operating award schemes exist, sometimes suffixed with “on the Air”, such as Summits on the Air, Islands on the Air, Worked All States and Jamboree on the Air.

ABOUT THIS VIDEO

This video comes to us via Canada, and is used by permission from Bernard Bouchard - https://www.youtube.com/user/ve2sms - The original video was published on Feb 28, 2013.- Website is http://www.ve2cwq.info

Voici maintenant, la version complète du documentaire «La radioamateur» d'une durée de 11 minutes. On y aborde toutes les activités sur le monde de la radioamateur.  Ce vidéo a été produit par le Club Radioamateur VE2CWQ / Canwarn-Québec. Pour information: http://www.ve2cwq.info

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USA Amateur Radio information: http://ARRL.org