The History of Amateur Radio

Over the last hundred years, radio has change substantially. With the ever changing technology, there are constantly new ways to use Amateur Radio. From a Radio amateur communicating across the world to emergency response communications, there are millions of ways that Amateur radio breaks down barriers and opens communications around the world. Since we live in a day and age where communications are constantly changing, there are many ways to integrate your ham radio with your computer interface. This is a somewhat new way of using ham radio, but the industry is constantly changing and evolving with technological advances.



Discover Ham Radio

Why Use Ham Radio?

Amateur Radio is also known as Ham Radio and is a way to get involved in Radio technology, keep in touch with family and friends and communicate around the world.

Youth and Ham Radio

Amateur Radio is a way for young people to get involved in science and communication. It also gives them a way to experiment with electronics, work towards a goal and get involved in the community. Amateur Radio gives youth the ability to explore the following fields:

  • Physics
  • Math
  • Technology
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Computer Programming
  • Languages
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Communications
  • Radio (of course)


What Is Amateur Radio?

Amateur radio is communicating, experimenting with and designing radios. It has been around for almost as long as there have been radios. Amateur radio operators are often referred to as “Ham Radio” operators. Although no one seems to know where the term “Ham” came from, there are lots of theories as to where it originated and what it means.

Ham Radio operators use their radios to communicate with friends, relatives and strangers all over the world. Amateur Radio involves setting up communications for natural disasters, civil emergencies and community events. Ham radio covers a very broad spectrum and has enough special interest areas to satisfy even the most inquisitive minds.


Do I Need A Certification?

All amateur radio operators are required to have a certificate. This certificate is issued by Industry Canada, and can be obtained by any resident of Canada, after successfully passing the basic examination. After passing you are issued a call sign with a prefix, VE (Canada) 6 (Alberta) and a suffix. An example is the P.C.A.R.C. call sign which is VE6ARC.

You will be able to communicate with other amateur radio operators whether they are next door, across town, in the same province, in another country or even half way across the world via different modes of operation. There are approximately 1.2 million hams in the world with about 49,000 in Canada.


Equipment and Modes for Amateur Radio

There are many different modes that amateurs use to communicate with each other. Voice mode which seems to be the most popular. Another mode is digital communications which include morse code (CW), radio teletype (RTTY), packet, PSK31, AMTOR, PACTOR, and much more. Some of these modes require special antennas and communication software for computers. Other modes are visual such as slow scan television, fast scan television, and facsimile or FAX transmissions. Your local library will have books covering amateur radio and these different modes are covered in greater depth in these books. The Internet is also an excellent resource.

Ham radio operators can operate their equipment at home, in cars, private planes, ships, buses, trains and on their bicycles. Contacts are made directly, through radio repeaters, amateur satellites and even off of the moon (EME), where the moon is used as a reflector to reflect the signal from the earth to the moon and back to the earth.

The equipment required for communicating via amateur radio consist of a receiver and a transmitter (or transceiver), an antenna (which can be as simple as a long wire or as complex as a satellite array), a microphone and/or a Morse code key. Other more complex means of communications can require specialized equipment (such as a computer and satellite tracking software). The cost to set up a station can be low or very high depending on the type of mode you use and whether the equipment is new or used. There is no hard set rule as to cost, that will vary from individual station to station. However, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to have some enjoyment.

Getting Started in Ham Radio

Amateur radio is a fascinating hobby and service. Anyone can get involved. If you are interested the Peace Country Amateur Radio Club does conduct classes periodically and would welcome anyone to join in the classes.

To get started the RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) has compiled a list of study guides, courses and requirements. If you are interested in Ham Radio, you can contact us today to find out more, and we encourage you to read the resources available from RAC.