What it takes to be a HAM.
Any person who is above the age of 12 years can aspire to be a HAM. In addition there are certain technical requirements before one can go on the air. The aspirant needs to undergo a written test conducted by the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, New Delhi. On successful completion of the test, an appropriate Licence is issued to own, maintain and operate a wireless radio station. The Licence is known as the Amateur Station Operator Licence (popularly called the “Ticket”)
The basic requirement to become a Radio Operator is that the individual needs to know the fundamentals of Electricity and Electronics. The level of the knowledge required as kept very simple and any one with a little effort can easily pickup the required subjects. Remember – the entry level age is just 12 years!!! Add a few topics related to the rules governing the use of the radio frequencies, operating procedures and record maintenance and you have yourself the Restricted Grade of operating Licence. Restricted in terms of the frequency range and the distance you can allow your signals to travel. It is plenty of fun and gives you a taste of the radio operation.
The next level allows you a greater are of coverage for your radio signals and more channels of the radio spectrum to use. It therefore means that the knowledge required and the proficiency needed will also be higher. For this level, a little more detail of the electrical and electronics theory is required. The topics related to the rules and regulations are basically the same. In addition, a degree of knowledge of the popular MORSE CODE is also essential. Taken as a new language, Morse code can be esily picked up within a couple of weeks. You prepare yourself for these and you are the proud possessor of a GRADE – 2 operating Licence. This level of licence allows you the luxury of operating on the Short wave frequencies with possibilities of communicating with the fellow operators on the other side of the globe!
Are you more proficient in Electronics and Electrical Theory? Can you cope with the higher levels of Morse Code? You still have to know about the rules and regulation. You can then opt for the next higher level of the Operating Licence – the GRADE – 1. This level of Licence allows you the benefits of having high-powered equipment with higher possibilities of voice communication with almost any part of globe. You can even have equipment capable of communicating with other operators using – SATELLITES. (Yes – there are satellites orbiting the globe dedicated to the use of HAM Radio Operators – More about Amateur Satellites in a later part).
Other than these three levels, there is one more level – ADVANCED GRADE - for the individuals with even higher levels of competency in the area of Electricity, Electronics and COMMUNICATION. Other criteria remains the same as in the case of GRADE – 1 operators.
In the next part I will be giving details of the operating frequencies and what exactly HAM operators do.
Keep those questions coming so that I can clarify your doubts.