Often when talking to someone new about ‘ham radio’, there is an understandable stereotype image conjured up of Morse code and a room full of big, heavy, hot equipment.
In fact, Morse code is just one mode of communication available and in the early days it was the only one. Now we have many different communication modes including voice, television and the new digital methods where computers talk to other computers.
Communication with satellites and the ISS are another aspect of the broad range of topics available to the modern amateur.
Because of the digital age, ham radio has fully embraced the technologies used in modern electronics and digital chips, so now the modern ham is quite often as much an electronics/computer person, as a radio person.
Check out this link where a Raspberry Pi is used, without no more than $70 of external hardware is used to communicate around the world by radio! Check out this map – several of the stations might be Raspberry Pi’s!
To use it, you do need to get an amateur radio license. But these days the process is layered. There are license levels for beginners, intermediate and advanced. The entry level foundation license is typically gained by following a weekend study book. In addition, courses and help sessions are often run by local radio clubs such as ours, or available online.
Once you have your license you will be given a call-sign. That’s where the fun really starts! Australian amateur call signs usually start with the letters ‘VK’