Experiment, Learn, Communicate
Amateur Radio is an activity shared by three million people around the world and is recognised by the International Telecommunications Union as a Service. It has many facets that involve radio transmission and communication between radio amateurs by voice, digital techniques, video and Morse Code.
Amateur Radio has kept up with the times to remain a stimulating and enjoyable leisure time activity. Marconi the father of radio, is often considered to be the first radio amateur. Radio amateurs have for more than a century been at the forefront of technological development in all aspects of radio communication. At the same time, it has always and still is accessible for the individual, male and female of all abilities, young or not so young, family members or workmates. There is something for everyone offering endless rewards for being part of an inexpensive hobby that has no age barriers.
It is the only hobby which allows you to communicate and experiment and learn new skills in the process. It allows you to communicate across town or across the world using relatively simple equipment that you can build yourself. Some radio amateurs experiment with digital communication using computers and radio free of reliance on the Internet or commercial communications networks.
One aspect involves so called “home brew” or DIY projects where you construct your own equipment, write software or build and experiment with antennas. Kits are available for building for those who are less technically minded or for those amateurs who want to experiment without having to build their equipment from scratch.
Amateur radio is the only hobby which allows you to communicate and experiment, and learn new skills in the process, while learning the ‘art’ of radio communications. You can choose any level of sophistication which suits you. Some radio amateurs are engineers or technicians and experiment with advanced circuit design and construction which may complement their profession. Many patents, inventions and products used in day-to-day life have been developed by radio amateurs in their home workshops. If your interest lies with computers and digital communications, there is plenty of scope for experimentation and software development. And, if you interest lies in communicating then you can learn about radio propagation, solar activity and how it affects the earth.
Amateur Radio allows you to communicate directly with other radio amateurs without using the public networks or Internet which are prone to breaking down in times of natural disaster.
You can simply talk to other like-minded people or join interest groups or discussion ‘nets’ on the air. Or you can get involved in emergency communication practice and exercises. Hamnet is an emergency communications division of the South African Radio League (SARL) which coordinates radio amateurs who provide backup communications, or at times the only communications, when there is a natural disaster.
Contesting is a competitive fun activity where the aim is to communicate and exchange signal reports with other radio amateurs using various techniques and modes of communication.
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