IARC

Ham Radio

Amateur radio is a social hobby in which people around the world set up private ground stations and get an operations license and then, using international and standardized communication protocols, communicate with other ham radio operators from all around the globe. Ham radio started in the beginning of the age of radio communication and in 1921 there were already several stations active and hundreds of operators. Today there are millions of ham-radio operators, most of them in the US and Japan, and many satellites are developed to allow transmissions to long distances and higher quality of reception.

Generally, when an operator transmits an HF wave, the wave gets reflected off the atmosphere, bounces back to the ground and then reflects from the ground up and so on in a zigzag fashion. This method is problematic since over large distances the wave's strength diminishes and the wave itself diverges. The wave also has many disruptions added to it because of different electromagnetic and weather phenomena.

More sophisticated methods of operation exist for communication over long distances. For example, using a satellite as a relay station can greatly increase your range. For this purpose, many amateur radio satellites are launched. This method is more complex and as such many operators choose not to go into this area of expertise which requires learning a large amount of information regarding satellites, satellite communication and also specialized software and utilities.

QSL

Ham radio operators keep a close record of every communication they make including the country and callsign of the station on the other side of the line. A callsign is an operator's ID when he uses the radio. One of the traditions that originate from this habit is that operators make QSL's, a postcard with some details about the operator and his stations that also usually contains something unique to the station. After the contact is finished, the ham operator usually sends his own QSL to the operator he talked to. This allows ham radio to be a social hobby and not only technological.