Thursday, October 16, 2008

Popularising amateur radio

The Coimbatore Amateur Radio Club organised a fox hunt here recently that sought to keep alive the interest in ham operation.
Organiser of the hunt R.R. Balasundaram said the event aimed at popularising ham operation, especially as a medium of communication during emergencies.
The hunt involved the locating of a ‘fox hole’ (amateur radio station) located within a 30 km radius.
Participants had to locate the radio station using the tone that came on their very high frequency radio sets every five minutes.
As for fox hunt, it could be fun and yet very demanding in terms of efforts to locate the station.
The hunt could get tougher as participants neared the station because signals could come from 360 degrees.
A press release explained that ham radio was a ‘scientific hobby’. One could establish one’s own radio station and talk to friends across the world. At the same time, ham offered a solution when all normal forms of communication break down during calamities such as floods, landslips, cyclones or earthquakes. This form of communication also came in handy during rail, road or plane accidents. Ham ensured proper information flow to the community during such incidents, when telephone lines were down.
But, a ham operator could not broadcast news to the public. One operator could communicate only with another operator. But, when many operators were involved, information would get passed on to the general public.
Amateur radio operators should pass an examination conducted by the Union Ministry of Communications and obtain licence for operating a radio station. Persons aged above 12 were permitted to appear for the Amateur Station Operator Licence Examination. No educational qualification was prescribed.
Training for two hours a day for over two months enabled people to take the examination. Interested persons should qualify in a test on Morse code (transmission and reception), communication procedure and basic electronics. Mr. Balasundaram said ham radio was a hobby and the operators should not use it as a means of income.
Coimbatore District had about 200 hams. Apart from being a hobby, the hams in Coimbatore provided a communication back up during motor rallies conducted by the Coimbatore Motor Sports Club. (Source: The Hindu)