What is a Ham Radio? Here’s A Plain Simple Answer

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We live in an age of amazing technology but for some people being a consumer of being gadgets isn’t enough. We all love to communicate. If you are bored with this and looking for some exciting why not taking a trip around the world with the SPEED OF LIGHT.

So now What is a HAM Radio?

There are many aspects of HAM Radio, from the electronics equipment you see to the way people talk to each other. Sometimes HAM Radios simply is a matter of connecting with each other around the world but many consider it as a hobby & passion.

What is a Ham RadioHam Radio takes you beyond being a mere gadget user. It challenges you between in charge of technology. This is a hobby with hundreds of different ways to have techie fun, using a simple Ham radio transceiver and a good antenna you can talk to other Hams around the world. And you can do it from almost anywhere. The radio signal that antenna transmits travels around the world at the speed of light. No internet connections and mobile phone signal needed.  Just your own skills as a radio HAM. It is really a great community plus really easily to get in.  In a disaster situation where other communications are out of action, you can get the message through ham radios. Many organization trained ham operators for emergency radio links when needed.

It’s great fun to talking other hands and unusual and sometimes exotic places  around the world.  And beyond, we are talking about the International space station that carries ham radio gear on broad and theirs is always license amateurs among the crew to use it. Radio amateur around the world also build and launch their own satellites and hands anywhere can use them for space communication experiments& of course to chat with each other.

When computers and radios come together there is the whole bunch of new opportunities for hands to connect by radio send in test transmitting pictures or real-time videos even displaying data from an amateur radio satellite orbit in the AIR! An interesting aspect of amateur radio is you do learn how it works and you get to communicate with lots of different people and find out about different areas of the world learn a bit more about of science how it works . You much have more profound understand of some of the technology is going all around you.

Amateur Radio is fantastic for anybody who loves technology. To start this hobby you may need a license.

1. Why to choose Ham Radio

This question is quite commonly asked by the interested individuals that why to choose ham radio.

So here is the answer to that

Let us start with the assumption that the radio communication can be considered as a key channel for communicating in the SHTF/EOTW mode. This communication involves many intermediate steps that the signals have to cover to deliver the message most accurately. This communication also involves developing a good contact list consisting of people who have similar interests. Direct contact is the most reliable way of communicating through the Ham radios.

So let us look at the things that make the Ham radios different:

  • More power

All kinds of Ham Radios are known for transmitting higher power than any other radio type. This also results in the enhancement of their range. While you will find most of the FRS radios transmitting at 1/2 Watt, Ham handhelds can carry things smoothly even at 5W-10W depending on what kind of Ham radio you have. With base stations, you can also expect transmissions at 2,000W. These visibly higher power outputs help the Ham operators connect to people across longer ranges. But this range is totally under your control and you can utilize it according to your convenience.

  • More bands.

Ham radios are capable of working equally well with multiple bands or frequencies (1.8MHz up to 2,000MHz and more) that open new arena of communication for the operators. FRS/GMRS radios, on the other hand, are usually confined to operate at frequencies between 462 MHz and 468MHz. Expert hams are capable of receiving signals on various bands and it is possible that they can hear a lot of hustle and bustle on the network

  • HF (High Frequency)

Usually, the consumer radios are designed to work at VHF/UHF where a range is limited. It is because the bouncing of signals off the ionosphere, in this case, is very low, so that makes horizon the limit. In most of the locations, when the radio is operating at ground level (e.g. 6ft above ground), the max distance specified for the signal is about 3.46 miles. If the same operations are conducted about 100 ft. above ground, this distance can be somewhere close to 14 miles. By principle, when your distance from the Earth increases, your possibility of communicating with far-flung areas also increases.

HF presents clear bouncing off of the signals from the ionosphere to a great extent. So the signal reaches a very high point and then is compelled to move back to the Earth. This kind of propagation can help you cover thousands of miles easily with your Ham radio. You can communicate with your contacts sitting abroad and even with the astronauts operating the radio in the space shuttle.

2. How to get HAM Radio License

For Getting into HAM Radio you need to have a license for this hobby. Check out our article !

How to Study for Ham Radio License Exams

3. Grab the Best Equipment


For setting up a complete ham radio system, there are many small details you need to take care about. You will need to collect the relevant equipment before you can start setting up the system as you want. Following equipment is required for this purpose:

  • A Transceiver.
  • An Antenna.
  • Power Supply.
  • An Antenna Tuner.
  • Microphone or Key.

You only need these few components for enabling yourself for the QSO-making process. You can have these items from any of the ham radio stores near you but watch out for the scammers who can force you to spend more than you should. Try to obtain good quality equipment at reasonable rates.  For more to find about best equipment read the article !!!

Talking Someone Using Ham Radio

4. Tips for becoming a HAM Radio Operator 

Before you can get on with your Ham radio hobby, you need to be aware of the 10 basic things for keeping your operations smooth and enjoyable. These tips will ensure that you make the most out of your Ham radio hobby in the long run.

  1. Follow the Experts.
  2. Find your companion Hobbyists.
  3. Familiarize with your equipment.
  4. Stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  5.  Keep experimenting.
  6.  Be courteous on air.
  7. Socialize.
  8. Never give up on your equipment
  9. Keep things on a lighter note.

Ham communications are public and you are heard all around the world quite easily. But this is not something to panic about. Just take things with you without stressing out and keep the matters on a lighter note. Don’t be afraid of being mocked by anyone on the network. Just follow your heart and be as creative as you can with your Ham radio hobby.

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21 thoughts on “What is a Ham Radio? Here’s A Plain Simple Answer

  1. johson & johnson

    Exactly! and note my earlier remarks. If anything, all indications for the last few decades are that amateur radio is on a steady course to deregulation.

  2. KB2FCV

    What got me started? My 8th grade science teacher back in the late 80’s had an after school program and taught ham radio / morse code. It sounded interesting at the time and it gave us the chance to get out of some of the regular required science projects. I got hooked and was an extra about a year later.

    What brings joy? I enjoy DXing and trying new things. I’ve dabbled in digital modes, EME, satellites, vintage radio, QRP events, building stuff and more. There is always something new to the hobby and always something to do. It’s also fun to make new friends in the hobby.

  3. Striaghtkey

    If only we had more quality hams like JOHNZ. We could make amateur radio as joyful as a colonoscopy.

  4. AD4BD

    During my tour in country, we did interceptions along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, sometimes via swift boats. Where did you do your interceptions?

    1. Ron Wright, N9EE

      I was at Phu Bai, 101st Airborne Div (I was not Airborne, cannot take credit for that) Aug 70 to Nov 71. I was 31G40, Commo Chief, with 2nd 17th Cav, C Troop, a aviation recon unit. It was either too hot or too cold (when it rained a lot) and everything was heavy. I was a licensed Ham and Ham Radio really helped me. Was E5 in 9 months mainly due to me knowing about what I had learned about Ham Radio before I went into the Army. Later got out and went to college and got BSEE. Ham Radio can aid and drive some to go on and do better things.

  5. K40000

    It is such a diverse hobby that it seems to have limitless aspects to learn and enjoy.

    At present I am enjoying the journey of learning CW and using equipment I built myself.

    I enjoyed a nice CW qso today while operating portable using a 1watt (one watt) radio I built with a little tuner that I built with into a 40m homebrew ladder line doublet that I’d previously launched up into a tree held in place with 100 lb fishing line.

    Rich, AA4OO

  6. Johnzzzz

    I just know I read about it being changed by the FCC into a harder exam as of July 1st. Think I read this on the ARRL website as one of their news articles.

    1. Ron Wright, N9EE

      The Extra Class question pool changed July 1, 2016, the other 2 classes, Tech and General, did not change. I dont think harder exam, just different question pool. The FCC changes one of the classes every year on July 1. So if studying, and one has to study, make sure you have current question pool. Tech is good until June 30, 2018 and General good until June 30, 2019.

      Place to get good info on getting Ham license and books with question pools at:

  7. Ad4BD

    Interesting comment about harder increased theory on the General exam, they should do the same on the Extra class by giving out a blank piece of paper that you have to hand draw a basic Colpitts and Hartley Oscillator circuit on just like the old Novice exams, that should cut the Extra Class passing rate down by about 95%.

    1. Ron Wright, N9EE

      AD4BD, you sound like from the 60s. I remember on the General Exam in front of FCC one of the questions was to identify an oscillator. There were 4 types, all tube of course. Colpitts and harley were two of them, cannot remember the others, but long ago. i did get the question right, hi.

  8. JOnzzzz

    Harder exams? Somehow, that has a funny sounding irony to it, at least for those of us who have been observing the winds of deregulation for the last few decades.

    Need we once again refresh the minds of those who do not study history? Your study assignment includes things like, the Bash books, elimination of the Morse proficiency requirement, the Newington Yankees’ push for quantity versus quality, the exit of the government from administering amateur radio exams, the explosive increase of exam fraud which soon followed that exit, the government’s exit from proactive monitoring for enforcement, etc

  9. AD4BD

    Many things have changed in ham radio over the many decades it has been around. You can’t argue that fact.
    What has changed is the most basic aspects of ham radio.
    Ham radio operators were, inventors, innovators, experimenters. That was true from the very beginnings until recently. Now, ham operators are more consumer of products made by others. Ham radio isn’t the leading edge of telecom technology anymore. Sure, there are still a few builders, experimenters, and inventors in ham radio, but the numbers are a tiny, tiny fraction of a percent of the general world population of hams.
    Ask a ham to describe in detail how his radio works. How RF is made, how it’s received and decoded. Most would not be able to give a coherent response, or it may be totally wrong.
    Heck, you can barely get a ham to read an operators manual for his radio. How the heck is he going to explain how it works.
    Back before WWII, most hams had to build all of their equipment. Guess what? He knew exactly how that stuff worked too!
    Now, ask that ham across the street, the guy with the fancy HT, how that thing works. Lol!
    This, is what has changed the basis of ham radio, To the great lamentation of many long time hams, including myself.

    1. Ron Wright, N9EE

      I agree. But Ham Radio is a hobby, a hobby with lots of toys and yes today most Hams when they want to try some part of Ham Radio, and there are many, they go to the web and find a Ham dealer and see what they can buy. One reason what one can buy is the gear can do so much.

      But we still get into some building like with antennas, mobile install, putting together a station, but like you said most Hams do not understand how things work. But they often learn to some degree, but again Ham Radio is a hobby, not a profession. That is the beauty of it…one can pick and chose what part(s) they want to play with.

  10. Jonzzzz

    There are a lot of aspects to the hobby I’ve never tried. Over a long stint, though, I was very happy at age 14 when I was able to build a home brew novice transmitter, several kits and a bunch of antennas. Later I moved into DXing with full power and 4 el monobander at 70 ft. Life moved on and I got away from radio for several years. Came back with a modest 100w station, dipoles and eventually a mini beam at 40 ft. Still chasing DX, by the way. Now I get the most enjoyment from QRP at the parks and beaches and I also get a kick out of working DX from my car with a three foot stick on a mag mount; sometimes it amazes me what works. I spend a lot of time in parking lots waiting for my wife to exit the store, so the HF mobile keeps me from just leaving her there with cab fare.

  11. A4A000

    Well, I have an old Knight Span Master to thank for my being a ham. In the early 1960’s, I saved enough money from my paper route to buy the Knight Kit Span Master. I still have it today and it works! (Repaired a number of times over the years!)

    I got the old Popular Electronics SWL call sign of WPE1EJL and as a result of sending an SWL card, got me to meet a local ham who helped me learn code and get my Novice License. Back then you couldn’t just memorize stuff. The exam might show a circuit, then the exam would ask you a question like what is the function of a particular component. You had to have some idea on how each circuit worked!

    As a result of that, I earned my living in the electronics field and with a 1st. Class Radiotelephone License got to work in broadcasting as an engineer besides being a design engineer and ultimately a Director of Engineering.

    I hope the FCC does make the new exams tougher so that someone must know how things work rather than just memorize answers! I’ve made some simple repairs to ham rigs that unfortunately the hams who owned the rig had no idea where to start. I still maintain my own equipment as well as home-brew my own rigs. As the saying goes, “REAL RADIOS GIVE A WARMTH TO THE SHACK AND ALSO GLOW IN THE DARK!”


  12. luchies warwick

    You talk of exam Fraud. It is out here I know of a Club here in Central Texas that will Help you to get your Ticket by setting down and helping you with the Test and making sure you pass each set all the way up to extra, IF you will join there Club are if you are buddies with a few of them. They came close to getting caught and some one even wrote a letter but the FCC did not respond. I worked hard for my privileges

  13. Ron Wright, N9EE

    I am not all that concerned about the testing. I do see Tech and General as good basic technical, FCC rules and operational procedure test…test on the practical side. One really learns what one needs to know once they get on the radio…start putting together a station and talking to other Hams.

    But I tell anyone that might be interested in Amateur Radio, Amateur Radio is about radio. You aint interested in radio you will probably not have interest in what Amateur Radio is about. We use radio to do our hobby.

    You could get into Ham Radio to provide communication in a disaster and support to your local EOC, a good reason, or to be prepared for when the world goes to pot (I am not concerned with this), but for most of us playing with radio is the primary reason for being a Ham.

  14. Ron Wright, N9EE

    AS for fraud in the testing, I think there is little of this. Most VEs take their work with a high degree of responsibility. Besides if there is fraud it will eventually surface. If a VE group gets together and gives test to their friends eventually one of these friends will get pissed over something and turn the group in. I saw this in 70s when repeaters were getting started and local CB club wanted to get into Ham RAdio and one of the members who was a Ham gave them the Tech test coaching all the way. Eventually all these people were caught.

    The testing aint perfect, but is very good.

    Besides the test is really very simple. Just takes some study, the question pool provides all one needs. So why not do it the right way.

  15. Tyler Meredith

    It’s interesting to read about why you should choose Ham Radio over other options. It makes sense that it has more power and accuracy than some other systems, as well as it’s ease of access. It’s something to remember because my grandpa was really interested in Ham Radio and I think it could be fun to give it a go.


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