Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Is Ham Radio All About?

Ham radio is many different things to many different people. But even if you already have some idea already of what it's about, you may not have the "big picture." That's because ham radio is actually several different hobbies folded into one.
There's the "talking with people in faraway places" hobby; the "keep me company while I'm commuting" hobby; the "put your computer on the air" hobby; the "public service and emergency communications" hobby; the television hobby, the satellite hobby and so on. What all of these hobbies-within-a-hobby share is that, for all of its technical trappings, ham radio is basically about people -- people using technology to make contact with other people. One other basic: it's a LOT of fun!

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Why Do They Call Themselves "Hams?"

You'll hear lots of stories about why amateur radio operators are called "hams," but there is no proof for any of the competing claims, and the simple truth is that no one knows for sure. What we do know is this: regardless of its source, the "ham" label is worn with pride by radio amateurs around the world.Although the origin of the word "ham" is obscure, every ham has his or her own pet theory. One holds that early amateurs were called hams because they liked to perform, or "ham it up" on the air. Another proposes that the name came from the "ham-fisted" way some early amateurs handled their code keys. One of the most exotic holds that "ham" is an acronym from the initials of three college students who were among the first radio amateurs. Perhaps the easiest to accept is that "ham" is derived from "Am," a contraction of "Amateur."
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What Are the Amateur Radio Bands?

Amateurs are allocated nine basic "bands" (i.e. groups of frequencies) in the High Frequency (HF) range between 1800 and 29,700 kilohertz, and another seven bands in the Very High Frequency (VHF) bands and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) ranges, as well as Super High Frequency (SHF) bands. Even though many Amateur Radio conversations may be heard around the world, given the right frequency and propagation conditions, Amateur Radio is basically two-way communication.


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