Amateur radio is a unique hobby that it allows you to develop and experiment with radio equipment; so for some amateurs, building equipment is the most satisfying part of the hobby. It also enables you to communicate with other radio amateurs throughout the world. Most countries allow amateur radio operation, so regardless of your language, circumstances, age or cultural background, there will always be the excitement of a possible chance contact (which may lead to a life-long friendship) with someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
The hobby also enables you to help others. Many amateurs offer their services to the first aid organisations, and even the police, at public events and during disaster relief operations at home and abroad.
For more than a hundred years radio amateurs have been at the forefront of developments in telecommunications. Today you can use your PC as an additional component of your amateur radio equipment, combining IT and radio technology, or you can use a computer to do most of the work.
This is called Software Defined Radio (SDR) and you can buy equipment ranging from the complex to the simple, or build your own. You can even use your smartphone or tablet! The picture to the right shows a Funcube Pro+ SDR dongle that plugs into a computer USB port, which when combined with some free software works from 150kHz (long wave) right up to 1.9GHz (in the microwave region).
You can experiment with antennas, television, RTTY (radio teletype), data (including computer based communications such as packet radio and the internet), satellite communications and, of course, short range voice or Morse code transmissions (although Morse is no longer a requirement for a licence).
You can use (or make) systems using a handful of components through to expensive and complex gear, or perhaps you are more interested in software with the Raspberry Pi, or the PC. The picture shows a simple SDR receiver kit built during one of our Construction Contests on a Tuesday evening and worked first time!
Amateurs design and build their own space satellites so you can set up your own ground station to use them. The selection is diverse and the choice yours!
All Copyrights acknowledged, especially those of OFCOM and the RSGB.