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Amateur Radio is a true and pure hi tech scientific hobby. I feel very proud to be a member of this exciting world and want to promote Amateur Radio in every school, college and university of Bangladesh. Please visit Bangladesh Amateur Radio League www.barl.org for details.
What Is Amateur Radio
Amateur Radio or HAM Radio is a community of people that use Radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with other Amateur Radio Operators. It is a non-commercial, non-profit Radio service, friendly, hi-tech hobby enjoyed by about 3 million people all over the world.
Hams can communicate from the top of a mountain, from home or behind the wheel of their car. They can take their radio wherever they go! In times of disaster, when regular communications Channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency efforts and working with public service agencies. At other times, they can talk to a shuttle astronauts or bounce signals off the Moon. They can use Telegraphy, Voice, Digital Data, even images in communication with other hams.
Amateur Radio is the gateway to the global friendship. Amateur Radio, also known as “Ham Radio” is a talented hobby or a personal means of enjoyment with the radio communication technology. People make friends over radios from one corner of the globe to other. For becoming an amateur radio operator, one does not need to be a technical person. Anyone can have this hobby and affiliation. One just needs to get a license and a call sign to operate a wireless radio. Every Amateur Radio station around the world has its own call sign, which is a set of alphabets and numbers and is unique worldwide. The person who operates the station is called a HAM.
VHF and UHF Hand Held Radio (Walkie Talkie)
Beginning Of Amateur Radio
It will not be exaggerated if it is said that, Main research on today’s modern radio communication has been started by Amateur Radio. Though Bengali scientist Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose had started research on radio technology but in the year of 1901 Guglielmo Marconi has proved that it is possible to send message or data from one place to another on Spark Gaps within the air. At that time some other people started to research on the radio technology and they had started to make this kind of radios to communicate among themselves. Finally, they declared themselves as Amateur Radio Operators. These stations operated at Low Frequency at that time.
Gradually, after understanding the importance of Radio Communication different broadcasting stations started operating. They started broadcasting on Lower Frequencies. For that reason Amateur Radio Operators leave that frequency and begin to research with HF (High Frequency) for sending the radio signals to more distances.
Presently the speedy telecommunication is running around the world is totally dependent on the Satellites. Before the satellite age, HF SSB (High Frequency Single Side Band) was the only telecommunication media that was being used world wide for voice communication. They use HF SSB for voice communication to cover a distance of thousands miles. This HF SSB modulation technique is the great success of Amateur Radio Operators. Till now and forever this is the only modulation technique that does not need any third party object except ionosphere.
With the development of radio communication, some Govt. Radio broadcasting company has started broadcast by the year 1912. During that time it needed to establish some rules and regulation with license. At the beginning of 1914, Mr. Hiram M Maxim gathered all Amateur Radio Operators together and established American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for running the Amateur Radio Activities smoothly. That is the world’s largest Amateur Radio association.
Presently International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) have assigned some frequencies exclusively for Amateur Radio between 1800 KHz to 23 GHz.
Why Amateur Radio Operators known as HAM
Have you ever wondered why radio amateurs are called "HAMS"? Well, it goes like this: The word "HAM" as applied to 1908 was the station CALL of the first amateur wireless station operated by some amateurs of the Harvard Radio Club. They were ALBERT S. HYMAN, BOB ALMY and POOGIE MURRAY. At first they called their station "HYMAN-ALMY-MURRAY". Tapping out such a long name in code soon became tiresome and called for a revision. They changed it to "HY-AL-MY", using the first two letters of each of their names. Early in 1901 some confusion resulted between signal from amateur wireless station "HY-ALMU" and a Mexican ship named "HYALMO". They then decided to use only the first letter of each name and the station CALL became "HAM". In the early pioneer days of unregulated radio amateur operators picked their own frequency and call letters. Then as now, some amateurs had better signals as commercial stations. The resulting interference came to the attention of congressional committees in Washington and Congress gave much time to proposed legislation designed to critically limit amateur radio activity. In 1911, ALBERT HYMAN chose the controversial WIRELESS REGULATION BILL as the topic for the Thesis at Harvard. His instructor insisted that a copy be sent to Senator DAVID L. WALSH, a member of one of the committees hearing the Bill. The Senator was so impressed with the Thesis that he asked HYMAN to appear before the committee. ALBERT HYMAN took the stand and described how the little station was built and almost cried when he told the crowded committee room that if the BILL went through they would have to close down the station because they could not afford the license fee and all the other requirements which the BILL imposed on amateur stations. Congressional debate began on the WIRELESS REGULATION BILL and little station "HAM" became the symbol for all the little amateur stations in the country crying to be saved from the menace and greed of the big commercial stations who didn't want them around. The BILL finally got to the floor of Congress and every speaker talked about the "....poor little station HAM." That's how it all started. You can find the whole story in the Congressional Record. Nation-wide publicity associated station "HAM" with amateur radio operators. From that day to this, and probably until the end of time in radio; and amateur is a "HAM."
A HAM needs to be Considerate, Loyal, Friendly, Balanced and Patriotic. Because Radio signals do not know territorial boundaries; Every HAM has a unique opportunity and scope to enhance international goodwill.
Although the main purpose of Amateur Radio is research and recreation, it is called the "Amateur Radio Service" because it also has a serious representation. The Government introduced this "Service" to fill up the need for a pool of experts who could provide backup emergency communication service. Additionally, the Government acknowledged the ability of Amateur Radio operators to advance communication and technical skills, and to enhance international goodwill. This philosophy has paid off. Countless lives have been saved where skilled hobbyists acted as emergency communicators to render aid, whether it is during or following a hurricane, tornado, ice storm, earthquake or some other disasters. Proper identification and recognition of operating capabilities and technical proficiency of amateur radio operators have been required in Bangladesh since 1991.
Each Amateur Radio Station has its own unique Callsign (Name) Allocated by the authorities. The unique Callsign allows you to identify the Person (Station), for example the callsign of Late Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajib Gandhi is 'VU2RG' where "VU" stands for India, "2" Stands for Grade I and "RG" for Rajib Gandhi. The callsign is Universal Identifier and is Unique.
Hams have their own lingo, like a male ham is known as OM (Old Man), and a female ham is known as YL (Young Lady) married ladies are known as XYL (Ex-YL), children's of the hams are known as Harmonics.
VHF and UHF Base Radio
What They Actually Do
Amateur Radio is not only a grand and glorious hobby, Radio Amateurs serve people through providing emergency communication systems; especially in natural disasters or in other emergencies as a voluntary, noncommercial communication service. Amateur Radio experimentation is yet another reason many people become part of this self-disciplined group of trained operators, technicians and electronics experts are the assets to a country. Hams pursue their hobby purely for personal enrichment in technical and operating proficiency, without any consideration for payments. Below are some examples.
1. During any natural disaster, Amateur Radio operators set up and operate organized local and long-distance communication, as backup of the Government and emergency official communication system, as well as non-commercial communication for private citizens affected from the disasters. Amateur Radio operators are most likely to be active after disasters that damage regular lines of communication due to power outages and/or destruction of the telephone infrastructure.
2. Talk around the world - With HF radios hams can talk to other hams in literally any part of the globe. They can talk from the top of the mountain to deep sea.
3. Talk around town - With small portable VHF and UHF transceivers hams enjoy extremely reliable communications within their local community. They can talk with a minimum range of 20 Kilo Meters up to 500 Kilo Meters by using multiple repeaters.
4. QRP - Communicating with "very low power" is a challenge that many hams enjoy. QRP is usually practiced on the HF bands.
6. Amateur Television - It's just like real television because it is real television. Slow Scan TV Send pictures around the world for little or no cost.
7. Contests - They can put their radio operating skills up against other hams and teams of hams.
8. Hopefully they will use their radio less for calling the fireman, the police, and emergency road side assistance, 911 and other telephone-linked services.
9. Emergency and other volunteer services - Floods, hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, ice storms ... when ever normal communications go out, hams are ready to use their radios to provide emergency communication services to their communities.
10. Satellite Communications - Hams have their own satellites. Amateur's satellites are easy to use. Even Hams can talk with the astronauts of ISS (International Space Station or Alpha Station) and they used to talk with MIR station on the space.
11. Emergency Traffic Handling - "Ham Telegrams" are used to send messages to people around the world at no cost to the sender or the recipient; all done by ham radio operators Volunteering their time and resources.
12. Emergency Medical Support - Ham Medical Team formed with some Doctors who are HAM. This kind of team work on any natural disaster and urban incident.
This unique mixture of fun, convenience and public service is the distinguishing characteristics of Amateur Radio. Although people get involved in amateur radio for many reasons, they all in common have the basic knowledge of radio technologies, regulations and operating principles, which is demonstrated through passing an examination leading to a certificate of proficiency. And through getting an authorization to operate on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." Radio amateur reserve these bands for use at intervals from just above the AM broadcast band all the way up into high microwave frequencies.
Hams exchange pictures of each other using television. Some also like to work on electronic circuits, build their own radios and Antennas. Anyone above the age of 12, no matter gender or Physical ability and educational qualification can become a Ham. There are Actors, Politicians, Astronauts, Engineers, Doctors, Bankers, Pilots, Sailors, Kings and Queens are Hams.
Hams also swing into action during the emergencies and natural calamities such as cyclone, storm, earthquake, floods and other disasters. Amateur Radio Stations act as the 'SECOND LINE' of communication when existing public or government communication links fail to act.
Hams also assist in sport events like the ASIAD, CAR RALLY and many other CAR AND MOTORCYCLE rallies taking place throughout the year. They provide vital communication links from the remote rally routes assisting the sports officials and they really enjoying doing it.
VHF and UHF Base radio with AM/FM/NFM/SSB modulation
What are the communication modes they use
CW - (Continues Wave) also known as Morse Code
CW is a primitive but perhaps the most reliable and effective way of Communication. Here the messages are sent and received by way of sound tones in combination of Dah and Dit such as dah-dah-dah dah-dit-dah means 'OK' initially it may sound like noise to you but later is music to your ears.
HF Communication (High Frequency - Voice)
In this mode of communication, one can communicate with any ham around the world by using their HF Sets. You can talk to a station in U.S.A or a station in Alaska or a station in Japan, anywhere in the world without any problem without any Cost (No Airtime expect for the initial cost of the equipment).You may talk for hours make new friends exchange information etc.. This mode of communication is by far the most popular and most wide used.
VHF Mobile Communication (Very High Frequency)
This mode of communication is very similar to the Mobile Telephones but with a difference, here there is no air time, you can carry your VHF Handy (Mobile Set) with you and can communicate with any ham in a radius of about 50 Kilo Meters. You can also communicate with far of stations with your handy with the help of the Ham Repeaters. You may be driving down to a nearby hill station and still keep in touch with other hams from your vehicle.
Ham Radio around the world is so popular that Hams have their own satellite network, they are known as 'OSCAR' (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) Hams have as many as 44 Oscars at their disposal. Hams communicate globally with the help of this satellite, for example you can communicate with a station in Japan with your hand Set even if you are Mobile in your Vehicle. Hams have also been communicating with the MIR Space Station on regular basis. The International Space Station (ISS) is having an Amateur Radio and it is already functional. Hams around the world are known for experimenting with their radio Set. A step up on the evolutionary ladder of Hamming is the Moon Bounce, or Earth Moon Earth (EME)
In this mode of communication, Hams interface their computer with their radio by using Radio Modems(Hardware or Software Modems) Once you are set you can do almost anything which you may do on the Internet, Such as Send Mails, Pictures, Data files, you can also have a video conferences. The application can be endless because tons of software is available (Mostly developed by Hams) for Digital Communication using Ham radio. Incidentally Linux has a complete module for Ham radio.
Internet & Intranet
Some people believe that ham radio is dying because of the arrival of the Internet. Actually it is quite the opposite, Ham radio and Internet compliment each other very well, When one merges both the worlds, the out come is beyond imagination. Just try to visualize if you were to replace your telephone lines with Ham Radio by using radio Modems. Incidentally the TCP/IP software was developed by a ham. Using Ham Radio you can connect to Internet and surf using any browsers like IE, Netscape etc.. You may be in a remote location like Saint Martin Island or Chittagong Hill Tracks, but if you have your laptop & a VHF set, you remain connected with Internet. Hams also have there own Intranet for local Digital communications.
Ham Radio is one of the few hobbies in the world which requires a government license. To obtain the license one has to go through a course as per the syllabus devised by the communication authorities, which help in acquiring the knowledge and proficiency necessary to communicate using a wireless transceiver without causing interference to the other radio communication services.
The course covers basic electronic radio theories as well as existing National and International rules related to amateur radio communication. The Amateur Radio Operator's certificate (License) is awarded by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The examination is conducted at the BTRC premises.
There are nearly 3 million ham radio operators around the world.
HF Transceiver including SSB/CW/AM/FM/PSK modulation
How can Amateur Radio help the people at the time of disaster
It seems that Amateur Radio is a Hi tech hobby and is used for the research of Radio and Electronics. Apart from these HAM radio can be used in different public services. Say different kind of sports, marathon competition and in serious natural disaster Amateur Radio Operators can help as volunteers. Amateur Radio operators help the police also in many countries. We see in America they have Military Affiliated Radio Service (MARS). At the time of First World War approx 4 thousand HAM worked as radio experts to exchange information through Radio. At the time of natural calamities in any country, amateur radio operators play important role. Amateur Radio Operators can help the Govt. and Citizens of our country as volunteers at the time of natural calamity. Almost every year we face cyclones, floods and different kinds of natural disasters near the coastal areas, which damage human lives and properties. After these kinds of cyclones or floods different Govt. and non Govt. organizations start their work. Many medical teams go there with them at that time. Though this team has sufficient medical aid but only for the lack of communication they can not distribute aids properly even they cannot send information to head office or capital city. At that time sufferers can only understand the importance of communication. At this situation only Amateur Radio Operators can help them with their complete radio communication system as volunteers and they can setup Emergency Amateur Radio Communication Networks within a very short time. This way it is very convenient to send information from coastal area between different working medical teams and capital or control rooms. As a result a combined rescue work becomes reality. At the time of earth quack and tsunami the importance of Amateur Radio is unbelievable. Amateur Radio Operators can work with Red Cross, Rover Scout, Girls Guide or BNCC as volunteer only for establishing radio communication.
How can Amateur Radio help with news gathering during a disaster
It seems that Amateur Radio is a Hi tech hobby and is used for the research of Radio and Electronics. Apart from these HAM radio can be used in different public services. Say different kind of sports, marathon competition and in serious natural disaster Amateur Radio Operators can help as volunteers. Amateur Radio operators help the police also in many countries. We see in America they have Military Affiliated Radio Service (MARS). At the time of First World War approx 4 thousand HAM worked as radio experts to exchange information through Radio. At the time of natural calamities in any country, amateur radio operators play important role. Amateur Radio Operators can help the Govt. and Citizens of our country as volunteers at the time of natural calamity. Almost every year we face cyclones, floods and different kinds of natural disasters near the coastal areas, which damage human lives and properties. After these kinds of cyclones or floods different Govt. and non Govt. organizations start their work. Many medical teams go there with them at that time. Though this team has sufficient medical aid but only for the lack of communication they can not distribute aids properly even they cannot send information to head office or capital city. At that time sufferers can only understand the importance of communication. At this situation Only Amateur Radio Operators can help them with their complete radio communication system as volunteers and they can setup Emergency Amateur Radio Communication Networks within a very short time. This way it is very convenient to send information from coastal area between different working medical teams and capital or control rooms. As a result a combined rescue work becomes reality. At the time of earth quack and tsunami the importance of Amateur Radio is unbelievable. Amateur Radio Operators can work with Red Cross, Rover Scout, Girls Guide or BNCC as volunteer only for establishing radio communication.
Who can be a HAM
During a disaster, media representatives sometimes use Amateur Radio as a source of information and news stories about conditions in the affected region. Many Amateur Radio operators are willing to provide interviews with reporters concerning information from the disaster site. In addition, reporters may wish to develop stories on Amateur Radio's role in disaster relief e.g. handling health and welfare traffic out of the site. Under Canadian regulations, Amateur Radio may not be used for active news gathering or program production purposes. For example, it would not be legal for a reporter to use Amateur Radio in a professional capacity to interview someone in another location. Amateur Radio operators are permitted to assist news media representatives in gathering information to be relayed to the public from areas where normal communication has been disrupted. This is so, particularly when the information involves the safety or life of individuals and no other channels of communication are available. The operator may ask questions of, or relay media questions to, Amateur Radio operators in the area. The questions and responses may be recorded by media representatives for a news broadcast. Amateur Radio must not be used to assist the news media in gathering information when telephones or other commercial means of communication are available. The news media may monitor Amateur Radio transmissions, but recording and rebroadcast under certain conditions (in or from war zones, for example) may not be legal or prudent, and may endanger the operator. Amateur Radio operators may not retransmit radio and television broadcasts.
How will you become a HAM in Bangladesh
In our country the licensing authority for Radio Communication is Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). They conduct the test for HAM licensing. To become a HAM in Bangladesh you have to pass the exam named “Amateur Radio Service” conducted by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. They conduct this exam in every January and June; i.e. twice a year. After passing the exam you will get the call sign with license which means you get the permission to use a radio transceiver. You will need to pay TK 100 each year to BTRC for the license renewal.
What is Call Sign
Call signs are the shorter forms of unique names to use in corresponding among the radio operators. Many years ago, through an international agreement, the nations of the world decided to allocate certain Call Sign prefixes to each country. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations outlined the basic principles used in forming Amateur Call Signs. According to their regulations, an Amateur call sign must consists of more than one characters and at first there can be a numeric character as a prefix and then there be a letter and again there can be a numeric one. The call sing must not be more than three characters long. The range S2A-S3Z has been allocated for BANGLADESH. After passing the exam you can get a Call Sign from this range.
What Are the Amateur Radio Bands and Frequency
Look at the dial of an old AM radio and you'll see frequencies marked from 540 KHz to 1600 KHz. Imagine that band extended out many thousand kilohertz, and you'll have some idea of how huge additional radio spectrum is available for the Amateurs, Government and Commercial radio bands. Here you'll find all the aircrafts, shipping lines, fire service and police communications, you will also find the so-called "shortwave" stations, which are worldwide commercial and Government broadcast stations. Amateurs are allocated nine basic "bands" (i.e. groups of frequencies) in the High Frequency (HF) range between 1800Hz to 29700 KHz, and other seven bands in the Very High Frequency (VHF) bands and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) ranges, Super High Frequency (SHF) or microwave bands. Even though many Amateur Radio conversations may be heard around the world by anyone with a suitable radio receiver, given the right frequency and propagation conditions, Amateur Radio is basically a two-way communication system among radio amateurs.
Frequency Allocation from ITU (International Telecommunication Union) for Amateur Radio
VHF / UHF
SHF / EHF
Amateur Radio Satellite
What are the Radio Equipment
Around the world there are millions of HAMs using different types of radio. They always use the frequencies allocated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Generally to communicate in short distance say within 10 to 50 kilometer you need to use VHF frequency. For that you need a VHF Walkie-Talkie. You can easily take it in your hand. You can get a VHF Walkie-Talkie for around 7,000 to 10,000 Taka. To communicate around the world you need to use HF band, for this you need a HF Radio. HF Radios are quite expensive starting from 25,000 to 80,000 Taka. There are several companies make these radios, like ALINCO, YAESU, KENWOOD, MOTOROLLA, and ICOM etc.
An Amateur Radio Station Setup
To setup a basing Amateur Radio Station, all you need an Amateur band Transceiver (transmitter & receiver), a power supply unit, an antenna system and a Logbook. Optional stations accessories e.g. SWR meter, Antenna tuner, Rotator, Clocks, Temperature monitors etc. can be used to enhance your operational environment. The simplest type of antenna used is a wire dipole antenna. One can use Beam antenna (Yagi & Log periodic arrays), Quad antenna, Loop antenna, and Vertical antenna to boost up the signal quality.
A Brief History of Amateur Radio in Bangladesh
BARL (Bangladesh Amateur Radio League)
To promote amateur radio in Bangladesh BARL was formed as a society on May 20, 1979. From the very beginning, the founders of the society maintained close liaison with various Government and International bodies to fulfill their goal.
Though amateur radio was not unknown here, the activities were banned during the war between India and Pakistan in 1965. At that time Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan, known as East Pakistan. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the ban was still in effect and no amateur radio activity was permitted.
BARL initiated a steady and persistent approach to enlighten and inform all the concerned the usefulness of amateur radio, particularly in the Government. In 1982 BARL was elected as the 115th member society of the International Amateur Radio Union - IARU. In April 1983, BARL was also elected as the 18th member of the Region 3 Association.
In spite of all sincere efforts, there was no further development on amateur radio operation in Bangladesh. However, things began to change when a new democratically elected Government came to power in early 1991. At almost the same time the country suffered another natural calamity when over 125,000 people were washed away in a devastating cyclone and tidal wave. The normal telecommunication links were cut off for several days. BARL immediately approached the authorities for withdrawing the ban and let BARL members to set up emergency communication infrastructures. This time, under practical conditions, the proposal got due consideration and was accepted by the Ministry of Telecommunications. It was sent to other relevant ministries.
Nevertheless, this incident created a positive outlook towards the amateur radio in bureaucratic circles. This eventually resulted in the formal approval of the amateur radio service in Bangladesh. At last the Government approved Amateur Radio Service in our country on 29th August, 1991.Thus, a patient 12 year effort by the founders of BARL succeeded in establishing amateur radio in Bangladesh. To promote this hobby. You can find amateurs from Bangladesh DX-Ing almost everyday on Amateur bands, most frequently on 14320 MHz (20 m) and 7060 MHz (40 m) in SSB mode. They participate a Banglanet in the morning. They use a repeater for local communication on 2M band. Website is www.barl.org you are always welcome to visit.
Prohibited Transmissions in Amateur Radio
There are some specific things one can not do on the Amateur Band. These are...
1. Accepting direct & indirect payments for operating an Amateur Station.
3. Political discussions.
4. Transmitting Music.
5. Aiding Criminal Activities.
6. Transmitting Code and Cipher.
7. Engaging in Obscenity, Profanity and Indecency.
What are the benefits of being a HAM
1. When a Radio Amateur talks to other HAM of different countries by his radio then naturally he is making many friends around the globe. And we can say that you can get help in different ways from good friends.
2. Generally English is the medium of speaking with a HAM Radio, so for the people of Bangladesh this is a great opportunity to increase the fluency in English.
3. The friends who want to be an electronics expert and want to take it as a profession, they can get direct help from Amateur Radio.
4. Not only with the friends, but also you can talk with your family members. Say you live in Australia and your father live in Bangladesh. If you and your father both are HAM and both have the HF Radio then you can talk to your father for an unlimited time.
5. If you and your friends are students and all are HAM then it is a grate chance for you to do a group discussion about any subject of your study.
6. As a HAM you can participate in any natural disaster of your country to save the people and help the people with the Radio. Even you can help other Emergency Service related organization like “Red Cross”, “Fire Service” etc.
7. You can use the radio as data transmission device from one PC to another PC. You can do experiments with different protocols and modulations.
8. Also there are many HAM Radio related Satellite in the sky. If you want you can do experiments even through these satellites.
9. We find many HAM who are quite old, they are mostly alone, so they use the radio to talk with their friends and they pass their time in this way. So in that case a HAM is never alone.
10. After passing the exam and getting the license and call sign you can talk using the “Club Station” Radio without purchasing a new Radio.
I think HAM Members are special people who are contributing in developing the new technologies in Radio communication. We are from Bangladesh using the satellites to communicate with other countries. We have setup an Echolink Repeater station, by the use of Echolink Repeater you can talk around the world by a cheap 2M or 70CM Radio. So in that sense, the HAM members are always the pioneers.