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Amateur radio operator is a licensed individual who can communicate over long distances through radio. Radio operators are required to know about the theory of electronics and communications, propagation of radio waves, codes and ethics, working knowledge of various electronic devices, and communication procedures. For the communication, radio operators uses equipments either self made or commercially made ones along with antenna to receive and transmit radio signals through the air. It is a scientific hobby which helps to send and receive radio messages over very long distance crossing geographic boundaries. Radio operators around the world log their contact information and send each other QSL cards which is a printed acknowledgment card or card of friendship. So it is an amazing hobby.
Everything lesleypaulv says about Amateur Radio is correct. We have to study radio theory and regulations, learn what bands and frequencies we are allowed to use, how to set up a station and connect the correct antennas. The list goes on and on... But amateur radio is also about making friends with other radio amateurs. It is a fellowship or a brotherhood that crosses international boundaries. And yes, there are female hams as well.
In addition to what David and lesleypaulvj have said below I want to emphasize that this hobby, perhaps more than others, is almost limitless in its scope of activities. Most people think of ham radio as just talking on a microphone to other hams at great distances, but it is much, much more than that. Here's just a small sample of what hams do:
- send images, e-mail, text via radio
- attempt to communicate with very low power (if under 5 watts we call it QRP, if under 1 watt QRPp). People can communicate thousands of miles with less power than in a flashlight.
- Experiment with new circuits, antennas, etc. in order to advance the state of the art of the hobby.
- Participate in contests, locally, regionally, or worldwide. Some are quite competitive and require top skills and equipment to get a high score
- Provide communications during disasters when nothing else is working
- Help others come into the hobby and organize to administer tests for new licenses
- Learn Morse Code, one of my favorite modes, by the way.
- Build their own equipment and antennas
- Activate far away places, such as remote islands where there are no hams, so that other hams can add to their list of countries (entities) they have communicated with. This is called DXing.
The list goes on and on. 73!
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