The Hobby of Amateur Wireless (HAM Radio) and How It Could Be Of Help to Society
Time and again during disasters, one comes to know from press and electronic media about the selfless help rendered by Amateur Radio (HAM) operators to the government and the common man.
The extensive coverage by the media has resulted in a lot of curiosity and interest about HAM Radio.
Very often people have asked what it is all about. On occasions there have been some misconceptions about this hobby too.
Well Amateur Radio operators or HAM Radio Operators as they are called are thoroughly trained and licenced wireless operators.
To obtain a licence one has to appear for an examination conducted by the Ministry of Communication New Delhi. On being found successful in this examination the papers giving personal details of the candidate are handed over to the Intelligence Bureau for a background check.
The IB checks the background of the person by contacting the Commissioner of Police and the Local Police Station. After this a security clearance is issued and the Licence is subsequently issued. He is now a full fledged HAM.
Anybody who is an Indian, is fourteen years of age and can read write and speak English is eligible to be a HAM.
The license allows the HAM to own posses and operate a wireless set with help of which he can talk to many other hams in India as well as all over the world.
One very notable use of ham radio has been during disasters when invariably the traditional methods of communication like telephones have fallen victims to nature’s fury.
Some of the extremely important occasions in the recent past have been during the Tsunami, 7/11 Bomb blast in the trains of Mumbai, Latur and Kutch Earthquakes, Cyclones on the eastern cost of India and flooding of Bombay.
To be able to appear and pass the examination JNA Wireless Association has been training would be HAMs by conducting classes. The training period lasts for six months with classes being held twice a week.
The curriculum consists of basic electrical theory, introduction to electronics, theory of amplifiers, oscillators, transmitters, receivers, theory of antennae, communication by Morse code, rules and regulations, frequency charts, handling of distress and urgency signals and disaster traffic.
It is obvious that a proper classroom facility will be required for conducting these classes. Also Morse code oscillators, keys and CDs, beside the books and course material will be required.
To help students grasp the operation, “Hands On” a field trip for four days is organised to a location outside Mumbai, where the students are taught the nitigrities of operating a wireless set, and the detailed theory of antennae.
A live station is in operation at this field location almost round the clock and several international contacts are made in the presence of the students so that they can observe the correct operating procedure.
Periodic monthly test would be conducted to familiarize the students with examination methods and procedures while providing the students a feedback on their performance.
Finally at the end of the course which would be approximately six months the students will be sent up for their examination which is conducted by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
The examination consists of one written paper and a practical test in Morse transmission and reception at the rate of 12 wpm (words per minute). The written paper has two sections, section A is for testing your knowledge on electronics and radio theory and the section B tests you for rules and regulations, handling of Distress Traffic, frequency distribution etc.
On being issued a license one can buy, own, posses and operate a wireless set and talk to the world and all at a nominal fee of Rs. 125 for five years.
This Article has been written by Sudhir Shah, Hon. Secretary of the JNA Wireless Association, the oldest HAM Association in Mumbai.