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.