What is Amateur Radio?
Amateur Radio (or Ham radio) is a hobby that has seen a resurgence in recent years. This may be down to the availability of budget radios, an interest in worldwide communication or the wish to understand more about electronics.
Whatever the reason, it is great to see a renewed interest!
Do you have an interest in
- Talking to new people
- Listening to people from around the world
- Using shortwave radio to listen to radio from across the globe
- Building your own radio equipment
- Radio contests: UK, Europe and Worldwide
- Low power communication from Mountaintops
If the answer to any of these is yes, then a hobby in amateur radio could be for you.
What does it cost?
You can get started in amateur radio with a handset for less than £30.
The popular Baofeng UV-5R is a budget radio that can be used to listen to both 2m and 70cm bands. Once you get your Foundation licence, you will be able to use your radio to communicate with other radio operators and can use the club’s repeater located on Otley Chevin.
2 metres and 70cm bands are for relatively local communication. With an upgraded antenna you may get 5-10 miles.
If you wish to talk further afield, to Europe and worldwide, then you are going to need a HF transmitter. Although not cheap, a reasonable transmitter can be picked up for £300-400 (although you can spend well into 4 figures).
HF bands are those between 3 and 30 Mhz. They use the earth’s ionosphere to bounce, or skip signals long distances.
The Radio Society of Great Britain has an excellent page detailing the various HF bands, when they are used and other characteristics including the affect of the sun and atmospheric conditions on propogation.