Consider this, your state has been hit by a cyclone with wind speeds measuring 300 kilometres per hour. All modern means of communication – telephone, cellphone, wireless sets – lie dead as the cyclone has destroyed all connecting stations and links.

This is what happened during the Orissa cyclone. All communication links broke down as dish antennas, radio stations, telephone lines, satellite links were destroyed.

There was no way people could contact the outside world. This was when a bunch of amateurs, students and radio enthusiasts got together to set up something called an amateur radio or ham radio station.

What is Ham Radio?
What is Ham Radio?

What is a Ham

Ham is another name for an amateur radio set. It is actually a simple radio transmitter and receiver which can be built and setup using simple and low cost equipment. The ham radio receives radio signals just like your home radio set.

The only difference is that your home radio set receives signals only from a radio station. A ham radio receives signals from another ham radio. So, each ham radio is like a radio-station-cum-radio-receiver built into one. It is actually like operating a radio station from your home.

What you can do with a ham radio

Once you have your ham radio set operational, you can simply tune into a channel (like the radio stations you tune into) and send and receive radio messages to all those who are currently on that channel. It is like an online chat except that it is on a radio set.

What is Ham Radio?
What is Ham Radio? [Illustration by Shinod AP]
With a ham radio, you can connect to other people using ham radios across the globe. Several astronauts carry ham radio sets on their space voyages. If you are lucky, you can actually contact them. You can also contact trekkers or even explorers.

However, you have to write exams to get a ham radio license. This license enables you to setup and operate a ham radio station. Anyone can take these exams and they are very simple to clear. Try your hand at it this summer.

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