What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur Radio is a great way to learn about communications technology and make friends all over the world. Getting involved in this fascinating hobby is very easy and won’t cost and arm and a leg.

Radio Amateurs, or “Hams” use two-way radio communication to make contact with other radio amateurs all over the world. They are even able to use satellites and on occasion speak with astronauts. Radio Hams can do this from home or while mobile in cars, boats or on foot.

Radio Hams have a full range or communication modes at their disposal. These include plain voice, Morse code, numerous digital computer modes and even graphical modes like television. As a licensed amateur radio operator you will be able to join in experiments using all these modes.

Amateur radio can be enjoyed by young and old, male and female, even the most severely disabled can make friends around the world from their own home. This hobby knows no boundaries.

Using even the simplest of radio setups and antennas, amateurs communicate with each other for fun, during emergencies, and in contests. Through HAMNET they may be called upon to handle messages for police and other public service organisations during all kinds of emergencies.

How do I get my licence?

Because radio amateurs are permitted to use a wide range of frequencies and types of transmission, they must be qualified operators. In South Africa, like most countries around the world, Amateur Radio is regulated by the Government Department of Communication. Licensing is dealt with by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ( ICASA ).

South African regulations require you to write an exam, which is set to test your understanding of the basic principles of radio and the regulations governing amateur radio operators.

This exam known as the Radio Amateurs Exam (RAE) is simple enough for anyone with high school education and an interest in the hobby to pass. You will find details of the RAE under the title of “How do I get a Licence”.

In most cities and towns around the country there are clubs that provide classes for the RAE and facilitate the writing of the test. You will find a list of Clubs under the title of “Finding a Club”.