Tuesday, February 26, 2013

what is a ham radio

What is a ham radio

As I stand up another antenna in the yard I get a lot of strange looks from people passing by wondering just what the heck I am up to and why I need so many antennas and wire strung from tree to tree. Whenever I put up a new antenna, I always wait at least a week before I hook a radio to it so that I can see what sort of complaints I get for RFI or interference. You would be surprised how many times I put a new antenna only to have some neighbor knock on my door blaming me for interference to their broadcast radio or television set.

Over the years the popularity of ham radio has grown even with CB dropping in numbers.

 With the CB craze of the 70's and 80's Ham radio was given a black eye. As more and more antennas went up the interference went up as well giving radio operators a bad name. Now when I stand up a antenna my neighbors cringe at the site of it wondering if they will be able to hear my voice coming across their toaster.

Baofeng UV-5R radios
 Ham radio is a service designated by a group of frequencies called bands that are available to an operator. In order to use these frequencies a person or group must be licensed. In gaining a ham radio license you are permitted to modify any radio to use on these frequencies. You are not permitted to take a ham radio and use it on any other bands though, without proper licensing for that band. For instance you couldn't take a UHF ham radio and use it on FRS/GMRS or Marine radio. You can however take a FRS/GMRS radio and use it on the Ham bands.

Hello kitty FRS radios
 One example commercial radios that are taking the US by storm is the Baofeng UV-5R and Wouxun KG-UVD1P from China. These types of radios are actually made for the commercial and business bands but are being used by ham radio operators as well since they cover 2M and 440. They are also being used in the FRS and GMRS bands as well as marine and what are called "freebanders" that want a way to communicate. Although they technically cover from 130-179 MHZ and 400-520 MHZ it is still illegal to use them since they do not have type acceptance through the F.C.C. here in the United Sates. The really cool part is that they are perfectly legal to be used in the ham bands from 144-148 MHZ and 420-440 MHZ.