Why choose amateur radio as a hobby?

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With the mushrooming popularity of the Internet, you may ask yourself "Why would I want to become an amateur when I have the whole world at my finger tips already?" This is a question that is asked by many people looking for a challenging hobby.

Amateur radio is not only a great way to make new friends and enhance international relations, but allows you to take part in hands-on experiments using groundbreaking technology. There have been on air friendships formed while experimenting with various modes of communications that have lasted well over 30 years. Most people who meet on air eventually meet in real life, usually while travelling or holidaying abroad.

Amateur radio is an excellent way of introducing the young (and those not so young) to the fascinating world of electronics. Further, amateur radio hobbyists are at the forefront of communication technology. Many forms of communications that we take for granted today were pioneered by amateurs. Also, amateur radio can lead to a career in the electronics industry. Many technicians at commercial radio stations hold amateur radio licences for example.

Today amateurs take part in a wide variety of specialised fields, these include;

  • DX (Distance) communications. There are many contests and awards that are popular with amateurs such as worked all states, worked 100 countries and many others.
  • Mobile and portable communications. Mobile or portable stations are often the first to arrive at the scene of an accident or disaster, and provide supplementary, or, as often is the case in remote regions, the "only" emergency communications. amateurs also provide communications during community or athletic events such as triathlons and cross country events.
  • AMSAT (Amateur Satellite Corporation) and OSCAR (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) satellites, provide radio communications at VHF and UHF frequencies where radio transmissions are generally only possible for line-of-sight communications. Using satellites, transmissions are beamed up to (up-link) a satellite and then reflected or retransmitted back down (down-link) to earth many thousands of kilometres away, thus increasing the transmitted distance. This mode requires low powder rather than hight power to succeed thus the attreaction.
  • Another form of space communications is EME or Earth-moon-Earth. This involves bouncing a signal off the moon. This produces a similar effect to that when using satellites.
  • Many amateurs have spoken to astonaughts as they fly over head. The most recent occurrence of this was with the MIR space station in late 1998 as it flew over Australia. A South Australian amateur was on board and was signing with the call VK5MIR. *QSL cards are being issued to commemorate this event.
  • Amateurs "home brew" or build their own equipment either from kits or from their own designs. This allows them to gain a better understanding of how their equipment works and provides them with the vital knowledge they need to perform running repairs in emergency situations. Many commercial ventures have succeeded from home brew experiments for example Television.
These are but a few examples of the many facets of amateur radio; others include digital modes, SSTV (Slow Scan Television), ATV (Amateur full motion Television) and others

Amateur radio is recognised and supported by nearly all the worlds governments and international conventions, although this does not qualify as a reason to become an amateur, there may be a facet of the hobby that is listed above that interests you... or perhaps you would like to invent a new one.

Note: - A QSL card is the amateur radio equivalent of a post card that is used to confirm a contact with another amateur radio station.

What does "HAM" mean anyway? | Is amateur radio and expensive hobby?
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