What is Amateur (Ham) Radio?

Amateur or “Ham” radio is whatever you want it to be.

An FCC amateur radio license gives it’s holder the ability to use the allocated airwaves in a respectful and responsible way for person-to-person communication.

Here are some common ways that a license is used and how people interact with the “ham” community:

  • Making voice contacts around the world or just locally in your community
    • Regular old analog voice
      • Analog voice repeaters in your area
      • Long distance contacts that bounce your signal all over the world
    • Digital voice
      • A digital connection to a local voice repeater
      • A digital connection over the Internet
    • A combination of the two
      • Like connecting to an analog voice repeater over the Internet

  • Making digital contacts
  • Making Morse code contacts
  • IP data communications
  • Emergency communications
    • If an event occurs and the telephone network is down, ham radio doesn’t utilize common telecommunications infrastructure.
      • ARES/RACES volunteers help communicate and coordinate with local authorities
      • SkyWARN relays important weather information
      • Traffic nets relay messages between different parts of the world

  • Experimentation
    • Design and build
      • Radios
      • Antennas and their support structures
      • Coaxial and other transmission systems
      • Impedance matching systems
      • Amplifiers
      • Metering systems

  • Competition
  • Community