Introduction to Amateur Radio
The Amateur Radio Service, generally known as "Ham" Radio (nobody quite knows why!) is intended for people who are interested in the principles, operating techniques and applications of radio communications. It is called "Amateur" to distinguish it from commercial radio, as it is a non-commercial service.
Over 400,000 radio amateurs are licensed in the USA, 21,000 in Canada, and another 1,000,000 around the world. In the USA and Canada, Amateur Radio is federally administered. Citizens Band (CB) radio, also regulated by the government, requires no technical skill or license examinations. Accordingly, CB operators are restricted to local communications and can use only 5 watts of power. Because ham radio operators have to pass exams to earn the federal license, they can use up to 1,500 watts of power and can communicate world-wide using telegraphy, voice, teleprinting, television, amateur satellites and facsimile on any of 21 different bands currently allocated to the amateur radio service.
Hams are unique -- they can travel to the far reaches of the earth and talk with other amateurs simply by turning on their equipment. H. G. Wells had his time machine -- Hams have their space machines! In this day and age when international peace and coexistence are so important, it is a means of making friends everywhere.
Probably the best known aspect of amateur radio in the public eye is its ability to provide life-saving emergency communications when normal means of contact are down. In accidents and disasters affecting the civil population, amateur radio is often the first contact with the outside world available to an affected area. Did you know that local amateur radio operators are used by the National Weather Service to report local weather conditions and any unusual weather activity?