Do you think amateur radio is boring and old fashioned? Do you think all radio ‘hams’ are old men? Wrong! There’s more to amateur radio than you might think! Amateur radio is a hobby for all, offering something for everyone from school age to retired. It’s fun, sociable and educational. Amateur radio is the original high technology ‘social network’!
Did you know that without the aid of the internet or a mobile phone network it is possible to communicate with other amateurs, be they across town or across the world; or that it’s possible talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station; or talk to other hams through one of several satellites in space; or bounce signals off the moon and back to Earth!
The hobby can be enjoyed in a number of ways:
- Simply having fun contacting people by radio all over the world
- Technical experimentation — many of the advances in radio technology have been initiated by radio amateurs
- Taking part in national and international on-air competitions
- Providing support communications in times of emergencies or at local events such as marathons, sponsored walks and bike rides.
Amateur radio is a hobby for those curious about ‘how things work’— it’s about exploring the technology that makes radio communication work — the electronics, the antennas, and you can link radio equipment to computers for all sorts of purposes.
Some radio amateurs build their own equipment using kits or from their own designs but, quite often, you can find inexpensive, ready-made equipment on selling sites or at local rallies. Most new licencees start with a dual band handheld radio which can be bought for around £25.00 to £40.00.
To get started in amateur radio and be able to talk on the amateur bands you need to be licenced. A local radio club, such as Worksop Amateur Radio Society (WARS) can help you learn the basics after which you take a short Foundation level exam of 26, multiple choice questions. If you pass, you then receive a free licence and a unique identifier known as a call sign. After that the world is your oyster! When you feel ready you can progress to the next licence level (Intermediate) and then on to Advanced level if you wish, which leads to a Full licence.
WARS often run special events where family members can get involved and the group support local charities — currently Bassetlaw Hospice — with fundraising events. The society also have a long association with Bassetlaw Scouts who visit the club to take part in jamboree on the air each year.
Although they are called Worksop Amateur Radio Society they do, in fact, have members from a wide area — including South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. Their clubhouse is open two nights a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they welcome visitors, so do get in touch if you would like to know more.
Visit www.g3rcw.org.uk or have a look at the club’s Facebook page ‘g3rcw’, or email email@example.com.