(What it is and how to get involved)

Ham radio is a blast! For those of you that like tech stuff you should look into it. Ham radio is on the cutting edge of technology.

Ham radio is many areas of the radio (and TV) spectrum that have been set aside by the governments of the world for amateur experimenters. To get involved in Ham radio you must take a test (or tests) administered by a local ham club. Once you pass the test the FCC (in the USA) will send you a license and a unique call sign. My call sign is N5PNX, it is the only one like it in the world. If I make contact with someone in some remote place in the world they can actually send me mail if they only get my call sign. Once you have a call sign you can get special license plates for your car, you can have cool radio gear in your car that might be illegal if you dont have the license (polices scanners). You can make free phone calls from many ham radios via a phone patch or repeater.

Radio waves in different parts of the spectrum have different characteristics. The low long radio waves (called short-wave for some dumb reason) can easily travel around the world making contact with other countries quite easy. The shorter waves (VHF, UHF) wont travel as far and therefore are better for local in town communications. HAMS HAVE IT ALL! Hams can even talk directly to the Space Shuttle or the Russian MIR space station legally! Hams also experiment with Moon bounce, meteor scatter, computer packet, many digital forms of communications. Including TV, yes amateur TV is quite popular in many parts of the country, you can actually send TV pictures to other HAMS just like the TV stations do. Also many hams are into sending radio gear into SPACE in real rockets, or near space in amateur rockets or weather balloons! Many Hams are also playing with the integration of Ham radio and GPS.

There is ALWAYS something exciting to learn or exciting to do in the amateur radio community.

To get involved do a web search for your local amateur radio club. Or goto http://www.arrl.org

To study the test questions Radio Shack has a fine study guide, it has ALL the questions and ALL the answers! The test isn't all that hard. What could be easier? Plus being a licensed amateur radio operator makes a fine addition to a job resume.

Good luck!

Eddie Runner

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by Eddie Runner (a real ham)