Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is communication in a number of frequency ranges from just above the AM broadcast band (1.6 MHz) to the microwave region, at several hundred gigahertz. These frequencies have been designated for amateur use by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Anyone with a radio receiver or a radio scanner can listen in on ham radio communications, but only an amateur operator licensed by the ACMA can transmit the signals. Typically, ham radio operators, or hams, do not use ham radio to broadcast in the way radio stations broadcast to large audiences at once. Ham transmission is usually two-way or with groups of people using a transceiver (short for transmitter-receiver, a device that both transmits and receives analog or digital signals), meaning that two or more hams talk to each other instead of everyone listening to a single ham’s broadcast.
There are over 16,000 amateur radio operators in Australia, and millions around the world. Ham radio can be useful in spreading information during emergencies when other services such as telephones, television, or the Internet fail.
Licensed Amateur Radio operators enjoy personal two-way communications with friends, family members, and complete strangers, all of whom must also be licensed. They support the larger public community with emergency and disaster communications. Increasing a person’s knowledge of electronics and radio theory as well as radio contesting are also popular aspects of this radio service. A good way to get started in Ham Radio is to find a club in your area to answer your questions and provide information on getting licensed and then getting on the air.
Amateur Radio first started in Australia in 1910, and the Illawarra Amateur Radio Society was first formed in June 1948.
Before you can operate an amateur radio station you have to get a licence. In order to get this licence you have to pass an exam to prove that you know enough to operate an amateur station properly. In order to pass the exam you will probably want to do a course. Fortunately, becoming a licenced radio amateur in Australia is easier than ever before, and there is plenty of help along the way.
The IARS holds many events during the year, bbq’s, dinners, Information and Technical nights but most of all, it is the gathering of people with a common interest in Amateur Radio and the formation of friendships all around the world and in your own backyard that last a lifetime.
For more information, the Wireless Institute of Australia web site has an excellent introduction to amateur radio.