Ham Radio Secrets

There are no secrets in ham radio, of course. However, there are aspects that are not well understood or even not known at all by many.

What To Expect
From This
Ham Radio Website

The secret to amateur radio, if there is one (!), is to first get an overview of all it has to offer then pick the activities that suit you.

This website is meant to help you unlock the mystery of amateur radio, while preserving its magic!

This amateur radio Web site will help you find the basic information you need to...

  • Get started on your journey toward obtaining your amateur radio operator license.
  • Improve your knowledge of the essential aspects.
  • Discover the many new features of the "king of hobbies"!

Amateur radio offers so many captivating sectors of activity that even the most seasoned ham (no pun intended here ;-) never gets to experience all the fascinating possibilities!

Equipment such as antennas, transceivers, receivers get a lot of attention, of course.

But, in recent years, software has rapidly invaded the daily lives of the amateur radio hobbyist. Software has been and is being developed to help with antenna design, logging, digital communications.

More recently, software defined radio (SDR) is slowly making the most sophisticated radio receivers and even portions of transceivers ... increasingly obsolete!

However, software has not replaced signal amplification and antenna interface circuits ... yet! ;-)

Even "old timers" will find something useful here!
The testimonials I receive confirm it!

The Stuff
Hams Are Made Of

It takes skill and patient determination to establish contact with another ham radio operator thousands of miles away, sometimes on the other side of the earth!

Acquiring that skill of being able to overcome the often poor propagation conditions, not to mention man-made interference, with "amateur" equipment (often modified military or commercial surplus equipment), has and will continue to motivate a certain type of individual.

What sort of individual?

The curious. The patient. Someone who likes to learn. The adventurous. The person who likes to go where few people can thread!

That, dear reader, is what the ham radio enthusiast is made of.

Nuclear science is not within most people's grasp. Nor is biotechnology or astrophysics, for that matter.

Fortunately, the technology of radio communications, and digital communications over radio, are certainly well within the grasp of many.

Community Service

Some amateur radio operators volunteer their skills and equipment to help people in times of need.

These special ham radio operators are in small numbers scattered across your country. They devote a significant amount of their time to train for emergencies. You can rely on them to establish and maintain emergency communications when natural disasters occur, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and widespread floods.

What amateur radio operators contribute to the community and their country is why almost all countries grant a license to operate radio equipment to otherwise ordinary individuals like me. And you.

To help their fellow citizens and to help in the development of new technology ... while enjoying ourselves constructively!

To Technology

What does amateur radio have to offer
that "smart phones" cannot?

A highly rewarding challenge!
That's what!

More technically inclined amateur radio operators regularly contribute to the development of new technology. Software and firmware, especially the fast emerging software-defined radios (SDR) for amateur radio application, are areas where contributions are most active.

That, in a nutshell, explains why amateur radio will always keep going strong and remain the "King of Hobbies".

Why Is Ham Radio
Still Going Strong?

Why did the Internet fail to make amateur radio disappear?

Because amateur radio has always been as "high-tech" as hams wanted it to be, often way ahead of mass market technology!

How "High-Tech" Is Ham Radio?

Here are some examples.

  • 1961 - First of a series of Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR). Yes. We amateur radio operators have our very own satellites - dedicated to amateur radio communications - over which we can communicate with each other!
  • 1960s - With the arrival on the market of less expensive FAX equipment, hams were experimenting with Radio Facsimile communications. But, with the advent of PCs and sound cards in the 80's, radio facsimile over HF and VHF increased dramatically.
  • Late '60s - Hams began using SSTV (Slow Scan Television) analog technology to communicate images between themselves!

The Many Forms Of Amateur Radio
Digital Communications

Communications in CW mode (continuous wave), using Morse code is, of course, the "granddaddy" of digital communications! As far back as the 1890's, Morse code was already used extensively for radio communication, much before it was possible to transmit voice!

Ham radio has been using digital communications over the air waves since the end of WWII, more than half a century ago!

What forms of digital communications?

  • 1946 - Amateur radio digital communication came into being with radio-teletype (RTTY) communication on HF using surplus WWII military equipment.
  • 1983 - AMTOR first enabled hams to do computer-to-computer communications over the air on HF. Other more performing modes soon followed, such as Clover, PACTOR, G-TOR and, most importantly, PSK-31.
  • 1980's - Packet radio came in use when amateur radio operators adapted the X-25 protocol to amateur radio use over the air. The AX-25 protocol was born. Amateur computer to computer (PC-PC) communications on HF and VHF improved considerably with AX-25!
  • 2001-2002 Digital TV communications between amateur radio stations became possible thanks to the work of Barry Sanderson, KB9VAK, who developed the RDFT (redundant digital file transfer) protocol with a help of other DTV enthusiasts! Hams had previously been using SSTV since the late '60s.

Where The Action Is

Each amateur radio operator has preferences. Many concentrate their activities in one of the following categories.

Those that have the inclination and the available time ... end up doing a little bit of everything!

Exciting Times Ahead

I've been a ham since 1974 with VE2DPE as call sign. I have seen many turning points in this great hobby.

The coming years are going to be significant for two main reasons.

More on these and other fascinating aspects of ham radio inside!

73 de VE2DPE
Claude Jollet

P.S. Have a question, a comment or request? Please do not hesitate to write here.

73 de VE2DPE
Claude Jollet
7, Rue de la Rive, Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Québec, Canada J6E 1M9

QTH Locator: FN36gb

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