|The international symbol for amateur radio, included in the logos of many IARU member societies. The diamond holds a circuit diagram featuring components common to every radio: an antenna, inductor and ground.|
Amateur radio (also called ham radio) is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication. The term "amateur" is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without direct pecuniary interest, 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 International Telecommunication 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 at 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).
The origins of amateur radio can be traced to the late 19th century though amateur radio, as practiced today, did not begin until the early 20th century. The first listing of amateur radio stations is contained in the First Annual Official Wireless Blue Book of the Wireless Association of America in 1909. This first radio callbook lists wireless telegraph stations in Canada and the United States, including 89 amateur radio stations. As with radio in general, the birth of amateur radio was strongly associated with various amateur experimenters and hobbyists. Throughout its history, amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science, engineering, industry, and social services. Research by amateur radio operators has founded new industries, built economies, empowered nations, and saved lives in times of emergency.
In all countries that license citizens to use amateur radio, operators are required to display knowledge and understanding of key concepts. This is usually done by passing an exam; however some authorities also recognize certain educational or professional qualifications (such as a degree in electrical engineering) in lieu. In response, hams are granted operating privileges in larger segments of the radio frequency spectrum using a wide variety of communication techniques with higher power levels permitted compared to unlicensed personal radio services such as CB radio, Family Radio Service or PMR446 that require type-approved equipment restricted in frequency range and power.
In many countries, amateur licensing is a routine civil administrative matter. Amateurs are required to pass an examination to demonstrate technical knowledge, operating competence and awareness of legal and regulatory requirements in order to avoid interference with other amateurs and other radio services. There are often a series of exams available, each progressively more challenging and granting more privileges in terms of frequency availability, power output, permitted experimentation, and in some countries, distinctive call signs. Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia have begun requiring a practical training course in addition to the written exams in order to obtain a beginner's license, called a Foundation License.
Many people start their involvement in amateur radio by finding a local club. Clubs often provide information about licensing, local operating practices, and technical advice. Newcomers also often study independently by purchasing books or other materials, sometimes with the help of a mentor, teacher, or friend. Established amateurs who help newcomers are often referred to as "Elmers" within the ham community. In addition, many countries have national amateur radio societies which encourage newcomers and work with government communications regulation authorities for the benefit of all radio amateurs. The oldest of these societies is the Wireless Institute of Australia, formed in 1910; other notable societies are the Radio Society of Great Britain, the American Radio Relay League, Radio Amateurs of Canada, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication, the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters and South African Radio League.
An amateur radio operator uses a call sign on the air to legally identify the operator or station. In some countries, the call sign assigned to the station must always be used, whereas in other countries, the call sign of either the operator or the station may be used. In certain jurisdictions, an operator may also select a "vanity" call sign although these must also conform to the issuing government's allocation and structure used for Amateur Radio call signs. Some jurisdictions, such as the U.S., require that a fee be paid to obtain such a vanity call sign; in others, such as the UK, a fee is not required and the vanity call sign may be selected when the license is applied for.
Call sign structure as prescribed by the ITU, consists of three parts which break down as follows, using the call sign ZS1NAT as an example:
- ZS – Shows the country from which the call sign originates and may also indicate the license class. (This call sign is licensed in South Africa, and is CEPT Class 1. Where specific classes of amateur radio license exist, the call signs may be assigned by class, but the specifics vary by issuing country.)
- 1 – Gives the subdivision of the country or territory indicated in the first part (this one refers to the Western Cape).
- NAT – The final part is unique to the holder of the license, identifying that station specifically.
To Find Your QTH Locator (See the location on a map)
Formation of an amateur radio call sign
An amateur operator's call sign is composed of a prefix, a separating numeral and a suffix.
The prefix can be composed of letters or numbers, the separating numeral is one from 0 to 9, and a suffix is from one to four characters where the last one has to be a letter.
Examples of call signs and their constituent parts are as follows:
|Call Sign||Prefix (within ITU assigned range)||Separating numeral||Suffix||format type|
|K4X||K||4||X||1x1 call sign, usually time limited special event (USA)|
|B2AA||B||2||AA||1x2 call sign (China)|
|A22A||A2||2||A||2x1 call sign (Botswana)|
|I20000X||I||2||0000X||1x5 call sign, special event (Italy)|
|4X4AAA||4X||4||AAA||2x3 call sign (Israel)|
|3DA0RS||3DA||0||RS||3x2 call sign (Swaziland)|
Call signs begin with a one- two- or three-character prefix chosen from a range assigned by the ITU to the amateur's country of operation or other internationally recognized jurisdiction. This is not necessary always the amateur's country of citizenship. An individual operator is assigned a unique call sign beginning with this prefix and then completed with a separating numeral and suffix.
The beginning of the list of call sign ranges is:
Amateur radio international operation
Amateur radio international reciprocal operating agreements permit Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) from one country to operate a station whilst traveling in another without the need to obtain additional licenses or permits.
When no agreement exists between countries, amateur radio operators are often required to apply for a reciprocal operating permit or a full amateur radio license and call sign from the host country. Some countries may accept a foreign amateur radio licenses as proof of qualification in lieu of examination requirements whereas other host countries may provide unilateral reciprocal operating privileges without the need for additional licensing.
* this text is available on Wikipedia®. a non-profit organization.
WOSM's voice on the air
The amateur radio station of the World Scout Bureau will be on the air from Geneva on all short-wave and VHF bands during the full JOTA weekend with the Bureau’s call sign HB9S. In addition, HB9S uses the Echolink network to connect to distant radio stations.
The station will be run by an international team of Scout radio operators as well as Yves, HB9AOF, station manager and Richard, PA3BAR, World JOTA Organizer.
With a bit of luck, you may be able to make a contact using your local repeater station and just a portable radio. At HB9S, you can speak directly with the camp participants and the World Scout Bureau staff.
You may send requests for pre-arranged contacts (skeds) in advance to the station manager by email: email@example.com. Please note the propagation predictions when selecting sked times.
Making a contact with HB9S may sometimes take some patience. Usually many stations are calling at the same time. The operators will do their very best to make contact with Scout stations worldwide and speak to Scouts in as many languages as possible.
You can see here on our electronic plot map the actual contacts that HB9S is making during the JOTA weekend. Also, when one or more of our transmitters is active, you will see the "On Air" indication on this web page together with our actual transmit frequency.