What is Ham Radio ?
Per the Federal Communications Commission, Amateur Radio is a personal (like a hobby, not for profit) use of 27 authorized frequency bands of the radio spectrum for any age person to investigate, train, and converse. To learn about Amateur Radio and get started, it's a matter of studying and remembering just a moderate amount of information and taking a 35 question multiple choice test to get your first privilege which is a Technician License. With the Technician you can mainly operate the higher frequencies, which is usually local communications - but you could stretch it out and talk hundreds of miles. Then you may advance and take the more difficult General exam which gives many low-band privileges. The low band's longer-slower frequencies can bounce/skip between land/oceans and the sky's ionosphere and travel great distances, even to other countries. The 50 question Extra Class is the icing on the cake and you are allow all privileges that the FCC grants the Amateur Radio Service. Like CB or a personal service radio you talk on - it's still "radio", but with more possible power and modes like FM, SSB, AM, CW, digital, etc. You can communicate across town, to the other side of the earth, to satellites, and even bounce signals off the moon. Lately, some communications are even mixed in with the internet, if you desire, you can buy radios with these internet linked capabilities. Another internet example is to use a computer or cell phone app to link to a repeater somewhere on earth which will then allow for a communication via a radio signal.
more than just buying a radio and antenna, it can also be an endless
hobby that can challenge your technical and operating
skills/abilities, or you can settle into your own plateau which is
fine also. Currently with the advent of micro processors and
the internet, amateur radio now has new
transmissions modes, smaller and more capable equipment. Stuff that
can spark your interest,
where you want to learn, communicate, make long term friends and even be a
service to your community. Nets or check-in's are still very
common where hams stand-by at a certain time and give a report/comment or just say hi, some nets may have
just a few to 30 or more check-in's
in larger areas. Nets are a way to get some on-the-air practice and see
who's being active out there in radio land. Overall ham radio is like
taking an interest in technology and public service,
instead of letting the technology of others consume your time. After
you have operated and have been a ham for a while, it feels like your amateur call sign letters becomes
who you are, like a second identity. It gets in your bones and you
want to participate when you can.