26 December 2006


It has been a long time since I blogged. New Job, New responsibilites, new environment, new colleagues. I have now settled into the job and should have some time on a weekly basis to keep my blog active.

News from the Mysore Ham Group is that the repeater (an automated receive and forward equipment facilitating long distance 2 way VHF communication) which was off the air for a long time due to various causes, is now back on the air and doing a good job at that.

New location, new antenna, new height and the usual winter propogation for VHF is giving it some good reports. I am also able to access the repeater from Bangalore with under 1 W with my "Wind powered - Rotatable" 5 element beam facing - somewhere - towards Mysore. That should be interesting.

We have one Ham from Guruvayur in Kearla also accessing the repeater, not forgetting the usual VU2 RCT Chandra from Puttur in Dakshina Kannada.

There are a lot of interesting Yahoo! groups related to HAM Radio. There are specific groups releated to HAM sat, Home Brewing, General Information, etc. Will provide the details on request. (Not that there is any secrecy!!!)

Keep giving me your queries so that I can make the topics more specific. I will also continue the series that has not flowed after Part I.

01 September 2006

Sorry to keep you waiting

I had intended to put in my second part before the month end of August. I am constrained to delay the post as I am in the process of changing my job and residence in Bangalore. I will be able to put in the post by mid-September. Keep watching

08 August 2006

Fascinating World of HAM Radio - Part 1 Introduction

I had promised to start writing on the fascination world of Amateur Radio. I have finally started after a long break.

Amateur Radio - HAM Radio as it is popularly and fondly called – is the hobby of experimenting with wireless communication using radio frequencies. Sitting in the comforts of the shack – place where the radio equipment is installed – a HAM operator is capable of talking to all parts of the globe. The persons who are in this hobby – scientists, housewives, students, professionals, sports personnel, politicians, policemen, journalists, servicemen – the list goes on.

Throughout its history, amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to the technological advancement of wireless communication. They have also contributed to social causes especially during natural and man-made emergencies by providing a second line of communications.

The term “Amateur” is used to this hobby as it is pursued by the enthusiast without any intention of monetary gains.

So also the word “HAM”, although the actual explanation for its usage is not recorded anywhere. Going by the dictionary – a HAM (other than the edible type) relates to an actor who is “non professional”.

There are a few popular stories behind the use of the word “HAM”. The most popular among these is that this term is made from the first letters of Hertz (Heinrich Rudolf Hertz who discovered radio waves), Ampere (André-Marie Ampère who discovered the flow of electric current) and Marconi (Guglielmo Marconi who pioneered wireless communication – called the father of modern radio). Wireless communication uses these three principles as the base.

Another popular story is that the Radio station at Harvard University was run by three friends Hyman, Almy and Murray. They called their station as the HAM station using the first letters of their names. They are credited with objecting to the Federal Government during World War for the retention of wireless equipment by the hobbyists. So the word HAM is reported to have stuck on.

The present day version is that as HAM radio operators have been Helping All Mankind in times of crises, it is appropriate that they be called so.

Whatever be the explanation, HAM operators continue to enjoy their hobby of communication – making new friends, exchanging technical notes, experimenting with the radio equipment, standing by to help mankind during emergencies.

15 July 2006

Back on the Air - Really

At last - after a long break - I am finally back on the air.

July 5th, 2006 - 7.15 AM - I picked up the hand set (a walkie-talkie -see pic.- hooked up to an exernal antenna placed on top of my owner's house) and said "VU2MUD" (my Amateur Radio Identification/Call sign). Back came the reply from an old friend Ismail "Good Morning Madhu, good to hear you after a long time. Good signals. Where are you operating from?" The reply and the continued conversation apart, I was happy that I was still remembered. It is good to meet my old friends on the air and to meet new ones. That is part of the thrills of Amateur (HAM) Radio.

I hope readers will remember that early last year, an Indian Satellite was put into orbit and one of the payloads was a "HAMSAT". It is actually a small satellite with a dedicated transponder (an automatic receive and transmit equipment to relay signals) for the use of HAM operators. I have also been able to listen to the downlink quite regularly. I do not have access to the proper equipment to put my signals out to the satellite yet.

I am now motivated enough to start a mini introductory session on HAM Radio in my future blog posts. I will keep them coming.

01 July 2006


I had promised that I would be blogging at the rate of at least two posts per month. Due to certain changes in the office environment and responsibilities, I am not able to access the internet and also have very little time for blogging.

A couple of things to report.

First, the Ministry of Communications has agreed to continue renewal of licences at the old rate and not at the "exhorbitantly" revised rates. That is some respite for the time being.

Second, propogation conditions for radio waves being rather erratic, the radio activity of operators is not as per regular norms.

I am in the process of taking some decisions on my career front that may change my "blogger profile". In this context I expect to be a little more inactive over the next few weeks.

Hope to be back soon with more on Ham Radio.

18 April 2006

Back on the Air - Almost

After nearly 6 years since I went off the air, I will finally be heard on the air-waves. It was a long self imposed exile from the on - air operations. I continued to keep in touch with the Hams. That kept me informed about the activities and the progress of the hobby.

The reasons were plenty for me to go off the air.

The hobby was going a little out of control with certain grade of operators 'pushing' themselves into the activities. They were getting a little unruly. Operating ethics were thrown to the wind. Language, was at times, not palpable. Having come into the hobby the hard way (an altogether different story- to be narrated later in a separate post), I just could not come terms with the unruly behaviour on the air.

The homeliness and comoradeship was missing. People were getting into too many small groups discussing petty matters which was in contravention to the set ethics of the hobby. It was difficult to make new friends.

My work was getting too hectic. I was travelling almost 5 days a week giving me no free time.

It was also during this period that my life took a spirtual turn. I started certain spritual and religious actvities in the mornings.

There was also the possibility of my getting transferred from Mysore.

To top it all, the final nail on activities was - I got MARRIED!!!

Enough reasons to end all my radio activities. I have now finally come into Bangalore.

This weekend, I happened to come to Mysore. I pulled out the antenna and cables to be carried to Bangalore. I intend to put up the antenna on Sunday and should be making the good old ham radio "galata" - not to be linked to MGP's other acronym.

Will keep the info coming

01 April 2006

Changes in the Amateur Radio Licence Rules

There has been recent announcement in the Amateur Service Rules which has already been gazetted by the Govt. of India. There has been a general outcry by the Hams on the changes. The changes are very vague and no details have been made available.

Two major changes that have been made are : 1. Change in the categories of licences - reduced to only TWO from the previous FOUR grades (General and Restricted). 2. The licence fees have been fixed for periods for either LIFETIME (upto the age of 80 of the licence holder) @ Rs. 2000/- (approx. $40) and TEN YEAR ( from the date of issue or renewal)@ Rs. 1000/- (approx. $20).

While the changes in general are welcome, it is still not clear as to what categories of the previous grades have been merged. It is also not clear as to the operating facilities and frequencies that have been authorised for the new grades.

Regarding the licence fee structures, considering the lifetime licence cutoff age at 80 years, a Ham who is about 65 year of age will have to pay Rs. 2000 for a period of 15 years whereas he would have paid under Rs. 200/- (approx. $4) under the previous licence fee structure.

It is also going to stop newcomers - especially the youngsters who have to shell out such a huge amount just to get started in the hobby.

Such arbitraial changes in the rules, without taking the opinion of the persons who would be affected, and gazetting the changes, will certainly "KILL" the hobby which has been of great help to the country in providing a second line of communication especially during natural calamities, major sporting events, etc.

13 March 2006

Mysore and HAM Radio

Mysore is credited to be one of the first cities to have an amateur radio station. To cite history, India's first short wave public broadcasting station belonged to Dr. Matcalfe, VU2KH, a radio amateur. He was Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University. His group of radio amateurs established an entertainment public broadcasting station VU6AH in 1935. But then the authorities cancelled amateur radio licensing and took away ham radio equipment from enthusiasts when the War broke out in 1939. It was also the radio station in Mysore that gave the present day All India Radio its acronym - AKASHAVANI. Coming from such a historical backround, it was appropriate that the city also had an active present.
Amateur Radio (or HAM radio as it is popularly called) is the hobby of electronics with special emphasis on wireless communication. It is quite similar to pen friends. Only here we talk to our new found friends on the radio waves, instead if writing to them.
As the activity requires use of electricity and electronics, the enthusiast is requied to know the basics of the two fields. The airwaves are not open to the public. It is governed by the Government agencies. It is therefore necessary that necessary permission to use the airwaves is granted by the Dept. of Telecommunications, Wiresless Planning and Co-ordination Wing of the Ministry of Communications. To ensure that the applying person has the required knowledge of Electricity and Electronics, a simple test is required to be passed before grant of Licence to operate the Amateur Wireless Station.
There are different ways and differenct range of channels that the HAM operator can communicate with other similarly licenced operators.
Mysore City is among the top 20 in India by the number of HAMs licenced from the city. But the level of activity is quite low compared to many other cities with lesser number of HAMs. The two main Engineering Colleges - SJCE and NIE have taken active interest in the promotion of the hobby by encouraging their students to take up the hobby. They have imported wireless equipment for the use of their licenced students by setting up Club Stations.
I am one such who benefitted from the SJCE club station and later was involved in the setting up of the NIE club station. HAM radio has still a long way to go in future years.
I will be further writing on specific topics in future - like the History of Amateur Radio, the qualifications required to become a HAM, the acitivites one can participate in, the advantages and thrills of HAM radio operations, etc. I would appreciate comments, ideas and questions so that we can make this blog informative.