What is Amateur Radio?
Amateur radio is great fun.
It is the most interesting, educational, democratic and
rewarding hobby in the world today. Amateur Radio (also
known as "HAM Radio" due to Amateurs skills), is the
personal use and experimentation with radio equipment
for local, worldwide and space communications. Radio
Amateurs communicate with other Amateurs across town or
around the world on special sets of radio frequencies
allocated for our specific use.
We are legally licensed to talk with any of the other
three million Amateur's in more then 300 countries
around the world, including Amateurs stationed at the
North and South Poles, and even Astronauts as they
circle our planet.
Signals transmitted from Amateur Radio stations may travel a few
metres or can circle the Earth, and even bounce off the
moon to be received on the other side of the planet. You
would be amazed at the different types of communication
available to us, all free to explore. No timed calls or
charges, and no wires, just great fun and friendship
with everyone sharing a common interest.
Well. we are just
ordinary people with an interest in the magic of radio,
and how a voice can travel through space from the other
side of the world and be captured by a piece of wire, to
be received loud and clear at our station. Once
licensed, we wonder why we waited so long, as the
enjoyment of the hobby gets better and better as you
explore the endless possibilities.
Amateur Radio Operators are truly citizens of the world. Our "call
signs" are passports into most countries via the
airwaves. National boundaries, politics, colour, sex,
age or occupation are no barrier to Amateur Radio, with
very few countries not allowing this great hobby.
Amateurs enjoy talking all over the world and beyond,
either on regular schedules or as chance contacts. Many
have formed life long friendships with people they have
never met in person, while others take the opportunity
to travel interstate or overseas to visit their Amateur
What do Radio
operating from their home stations, from their car,
boat, yacht, aircraft or while out walking or hiking and
on outings and Amateur expeditions. We talk about a wide
variety of subjects, some technical, while others also
enjoy taking part in many radio contests held.
Today, our own Amateur Mobile & Satellite Networks allow us to talk
to the world, including Amateurs at the Poles and
Astronauts in space using hand held transceivers the
size of a modern phone.
Amateur Radio Operators communicate mainly by voice, but use video,
and a vast range of digital modes, Morse code, and even
use the Internet to link local repeaters to other
repeaters all around the world.
Local repeater systems located in high areas re-transmit signals
allowing large distances to be covered. The ultimate
repeaters are our own Amateur Satellites, which were
built by Amateurs and lifted into space by the various
space agencies around the world. Truly amazing for a
hobby, don't you think?
Amateurs also transmit live and recorded broadcast quality
television from their own TV stations, or just chat via
"videophone". They also send digital photographs and
other computer data over the radio waves, Packet Radio
is just one example, and is used for Email, screen chat
and many other purposes including tracking vehicles
positions and speed on real time computer maps. There
are just so many facets to Amateur Radio that it is
impossible to mention them all here. The hobby is what
you choose to make it
Amateurs with a Standard or Advanced Licence, are entitled as part
of their licence privileges to build their own equipment
or modify second hand commercial units, then test and
use them in their own station. Most Amateurs build and
erect their own antenna systems and pursue a vast range
of simple to complex electronic projects. As most
Amateur Radio equipment is commercially available,
Amateurs can also choose to buy some or all of their
transmitters and other station equipment.
It's completely up to you. Even with $100 and a Foundation
Licence, you can talk to stations world wide.
The social aspects are great too, and
off the air, You can join the Westlakes Amateur Radio
Club or any of the other local clubs or groups and enjoy
the variety of events they hold. You may also choose to
assist in a major event like the World Rally
Championship, or numerous others, where skilled Amateur
Volunteers supply the communications over their
extensive Amateur Radio Network. Also in times of
disaster, Amateur's skills are often called upon around
the world to supply vital communications where "normal"
communications are disrupted. Just some examples were
when Amateur Radio was responsible in alerting the
outside world of Cyclone Tracey's devastation in Darwin
and the Terrorist attacks and cyclone's in the US.
The possibilities in Amateur Radio are
endless, you could build a simple transmitter, or even a
satellite for launch into space. The only limit is your
imagination, and how involved you become is entirely up
Become A Radio Amateur?
The short answer
is You Can! Radio
Amateurs are men, women and youngsters, the able and the
disabled from all walks of life. As Radio Amateurs they
have tremendous fun, make great friendships and gain a
huge sense of personal satisfaction and achievement. In
Australia there is no minimum age for obtaining an
Amateur Radio Licence. Amateur Radio provides an
excellent introduction into astronomy, the absorbing
world of computers & IT, electronics and radio, so many
young Amateurs go on to choose careers in these fields.
Radio Amateurs also include many retirees and people with
disabilities who find that Amateur Radio opens the world
to them from the comfort of their own homes, keeps them
active and alert and opens new horizons every day. Many
famous people such as King Hussein of Jordan and King
Juan Carlos of Spain have become Radio Amateurs. Dick
Smith is another of the many well know personalities who
enjoy Amateur Radio. Our own Andy Thomas (VK5JAT &
W5MIR) is not only an Astronaut for NASA, but an
Australian Amateur Radio Operator. Andy has talked to
hundreds of Australian Amateurs from space while aboard
MIR the ISS and the Space Shuttle on his many missions.
As most Astronauts hold Amateur Licences, there
continues to be made to and from the International Space
Station (ISS), You might just find yourself talking to a
How Can I
Become an Radio Amateur?
You can begin as
a listener on the amateur bands now, but to transmit you
must have an Amateur Communications Station Licence that
is issued by the Australian Communications & Media
Authority (ACMA). In return for being granted a Licence,
and thousands of "channels" in 23 frequency bands to
operate in, all with their own unique and special
characteristics, Radio Amateurs are required to pass
tests in basic electronic theory, practical
®ulations. The tests are not hard, and the study
enjoyable because you are learning about something you
are or will be interested in. Many 10 - 16 year olds are
Amateurs along with many adults who never completed
school! ANYONE CAN DO IT!
The purpose of the tests is to
ensure that licensees operate their station safely and
without causing interference to others. Also, it teaches
you to become a Professional Communication Station
Operator, and the knowledge gained gives you the
confidence to pursue projects that you may have never
dreamed of. Licensed Amateurs gain great privileges, and
the trust put in by Governments all over the world,
especially in times of disaster, is great, it is a truly
revered and special hobby, with a camaraderie seldom
found elsewhere. Why not contact the Westlakes Amateur
Radio Club? and experience for yourself some High Tech
Licence is an EASY
entry level licence designed to get you
ON AIR FAST! It offers generous
band privileges at lower power levels. Everything you
need to know to gain your Foundation Licence is the
Foundation Licence Manual, available from the
Westlakes Amateur Radio club or from the WIA. With the
help of our Westlakes Foundation Course and the video
tutorials provided here on the website you will be able
to get your licence in an easy way.
For further information and an Amateur
Radio Station Demonstration, please contact the friendly
and helpful people at the Westlakes Amateur Radio Club
or any club near you! We are waiting here to advice and
about the FOUNDATION Licence here
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