U.3.A. is about learning and passing on your learning. I thought as one room in our house is full of radio equipment, and there is a 20 ft. mast in the garden, I ought to find out something about amateur radio. I thought amateur radio involved retired gentlemen discussing the weather, or lorry drivers exchanging jokes. However, I was totally wrong.
The Radio Society of Great Britain celebrated its centenary in 2013. The headquarters are in Bedford. There is a 3 tier licence structure: Foundation Intermediate and Advanced. The total of licences in U.K. in 2012 was 79,414
In emergencies one of the first things to crash will be communications for example power supplies. Amateur radio emergency communications in the U.K. are usually provided by organised groups under the general term RAYNET. Raynet groups are quick to respond, flexible, technically skilled, and free. In the 60 years following Raynet, which has around 2,000 members nationwide but no paid staff, has provided emergency communications at many major incidents including PAN AM FLIGHT103 on 21 December 1988 Lockerbie. Up to 200 people a day operated for 10 days for that incident until the recovery of the 270 dead was complete.
Throughout the history of amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science engineering, industry, and social services. It is a hobby and, by law, non- commercial. Ham radio operators pursue their hobby for personal pleasure through building their own radio stations and communicating with their fellows globally, and for self improvement by way of electronics, computers, and radio and T.V. wave behaviour.
Radio amateurs can not broadcast or transmit music and other general public entertainment programming. Amateur radio operations can be detected in designated bands throughout the radio spectrum using a variety of modulation methods – Morse code, voice and digital modes and image modes such as television and facsimile.
Amateur radio came into being after radio waves – proved to exist by Hertz in 1888 – were adapted into a communication system in the 1890’s by Marconi. People began to experiment with this new form of wireless telegraphy. In the U.S, the first transmitter receiver systems became available in 1905. In 1908 students of Columbia University formed a club, now the amateur radio club.
Rapid expansion with thousands of transmitters by 1910 led to interference problems with commercial and military systems. After Titanic sank Congress passed the radio act restricting private stations to wavelengths of 200 metres. The number of hobbyists dropped by 88% The act marked the start of U.S. federal licensing of amateur radio
operators and stations.
The origin of HAM was a taunt by professional operators meaning ham – fisted, but was adopted.
In 1917 Congress ordered all amateurs to cease operations. The service restarted October 1919.
In 1921American hams challenged U.K. to receive contacts across the Atlantic. In Dec. 1922 a U.K. amateur was heard in the U.S.
Nov. 1923 was the first two way contact – between an American and a Frenchman.
In Dec. 1923 a U.K. and U.S. contact was made between London and Connecticut. Within the year contacts were made to New Zealand.
The first International Radiotelegraph Conference was held in Washington in 1928, where standard international amateur radio bands were agreed.
During world war two in the German occupation of Poland Father Maximillian Kolbe was arrested by the Germans who believed his radio activities were involved in espionage. He was sent to Auschwitz in 1941. Some prisoners escaped and 10 prisoners were to be executed in retribution. He volunteered to take a man’s place and in 1982 he was canonised by the Pope. He is now considered the patron saint of amateur radio operators.
During the Falklands war in 1982 Argentine forces seized control of the phones and radio network on the islands and cut off communications with London. A Scottish ham was able to relay information from 2 hams on the islands to British Military Intelligence in London, including details of troop deployment, bombing raids radar bases and military activities.
Radio hams usually avoid controversial subjects and political discussions as a part of their code of politeness. There is never bad language. The common language is English. The relaxing of Morse code tests has boosted the number of amateurs world – wide.
In 2010 only N. Korea had an absolute ban on ham radio licences, although many countries maintain careful records of licences and limit activities and frequency bands. Each country has a call sign – G, GM Britain, VK Australia VE Canada..
If you ever get to the space station you will even meet Radio Hams there!
Win Maxwell, U3A Member East Cumbria