Many people use ham radio to form friendships around the world, as a public service, for convenience or just to have some fun. The true origin of the term ham is not clear although one school of thought believes it was a contraction of amateur radio, which is another term used to refer to the radio. Some people even say it could have started as a derogatory term referring to the operators.
Any person with some interest in wireless communication can get involved with ham radio. Although the radios are quite portable, they can be used to communicate with people around the world and even out in space! Ham radio is basically a two way radio where people communicate with one another over a range of frequencies.
In this way, hams (operators) of varying ages and from different regions get the chance to interact with one another. They can interact in both personal and professional levels, which make it different from ordinary FM or AM radio stations that broadcast to passive listeners. There are over 2.5 million hams around the world who can interact via special satellites.
A ham radio has 2 main parts – the transmitter and receiver. Some are small enough to fit into ordinary pockets while others can take half a room.
Although non-hams cannot communicate with the hams, they can still listen in using radio scanners. A radio scanner is a special radio receiver that can receive different signals, often in the VHF and UHF range. Someone using a CB radio may also listen in to ham communications.
Any person who wants to own or operate a ham radio needs an amateur radio license. To qualify for a license, applicants need to pass tests on the theories of electronics and rules regulating amateur radio. Different countries have different requirements and people of all ages can apply.