Vol 1: Spellbound‎ > ‎Read‎ > ‎Ch 11: the Call‎ > ‎

How to Operate a HAM Radio?

To transmit on a ham or amateur radio, you need a license.  License tests cover electronics theory and amateur radio rules and regulations. There is no age restriction on who can earn a license and each country has its own licensing process.

Ham operators use a variety of frequencies for communications.  Frequency bands range across the radio spectrum just above the AM broadcast band, and microwave bands in the gigahertz range.  Frequencies are allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Ham operators participate in networks, called nets or webs, at predetermined times and frequencies to exchange third-party messages.  The range of a transmission is limited by the size and power of the antenna, but messages can be sent great sent great distance by operators repeating the message to other operators until the message reaches its destination.  You can listen in on conversations at any given frequency, as long as the transmission is within range.

Ham operators can also connect their stations and repeaters with the public telephone system. This is known as a “phone patch.” Using designated high frequencies, the radio link acts as the long-distance carrier. The ham radio operator must flip a switch to change between participants in a conversation. That is why the person talking must say “over” when finished speaking, indicating that the ham operator should switch to the other person.

The term “mayday” maybe used by a HAM operator only when there is an immediate threat to human life or property.   Emergency traffic has the highest priority.  Other amateur radio operators may not interrupt an emergency call.  The name of the person originating the message must be included in their call sign.