Overview Of Amateur Radio


Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) is a hobby enjoyed by almost a million US citizens and hundreds of thousands operators all over the world.  It history traces back to the origin of radio at the turn of the 20th century and the beginning of radio. In fact a lot of the communications methods via radio and TV today were first experimented and explored by radio amateurs.

Here is a great video introduction by the Radio Society of Great Britain:

As defined by the Federal Communications Commission:
“A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
Note the phrase without pecuniary interest interest. The service is amateur because it is strictly non-commercial; you may not earn money or receive any other material compensation for providing amateur communications.”

That is the legalize of amateur radio. Amateur radio is also whole lot of fun! People from all walks of life enjoy the hobby. There is zero discrimination in the hobby. Only an interest in the hobby is the common bond of amateur radio. As you learn more about radio, the more your imagination can run wild.

You can do so many things in amateur radio. You can communicate with other amateur radio operators locally, across state lines, across the country and around the world. You can use something as small as a little walkie-talkie or as big as a home station. You can even take amateur radio backpacking. Even with an entry level license class you can communicate via satellites.

If you are reading this, then you have come to one of hundreds of amateur radio club websites. Amateur radio by it’s very nature is social and clubs are organized not only to provide a place to exchange, common interests and fellowship. Clubs also are a focal point for community service and disaster aid. Amateur radio operators assist with everything from Christmas parades to major disasters. Most local governments and volunteer organizations (i.e. the Red Cross) have a letters of understanding with amateur radio organizations in time of need and disasters. You hear a lot of the times when an event like an earthquake or hurricanes that the first contacts from the affected area are with amateur radio operators. Certain amateurs are specially trained to worked hand in hand with local relief agencies.

About licenses, you need to have a license to be able to be an amateur radio operator. There are three classes of licenses, Technician, General and Amateur Extra. Each progressive upgrade in license class brings with it greater privileges. There is a test for each class of licenses and are progressive in nature, meaning you cannot take the test for the Extra class until you have passed both the Technician and General class exams first. The entry point for licensing is the technician class and the exam is relatively simple to encourage people to join the hobby. Test are given by volunteer Amateur radio operators who are authorized by the FCC to give the exams. There is more on training and testing on this website.

Please explore the website to get an idea what “The Ole Virginia Hams” activities we have been doing.

Please feel free to contact any of the members if you need more information. One thing you will find is that amateur radio operators are friendly and always willing to encourage new members. Even if you don’t have a license, club meetings are normally open to the public, so feel free to to drop in at one of our meetings and see what we are all about. We are always looking for new members to share new ideas and grow our hobby.

Please look at our FAQS page for answers to common questions.