Info – What is Ham Radio?

In a world full of cell phones, video games, the Internet and lots of other distractions, amateur radio remains relevant and grows in popularity!! The number of licensed amateur radio operators in the United States and worldwide has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Likewise, membership in the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club (FARC) continues to grow steadily with new club members ranging in age from six years to much older!!

With amateur radio or ham radio as it is often called, you can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home, a boat in the middle of the ocean, from your car or truck or any other location. You can take amateur radio with you wherever you go. Amateur radio is fun, exciting and educational. But during times when normal communications fail, amateur radio operators can swing into action assisting with emergency communications efforts, working with public agencies and helping families get in touch with families across the country or around the world. Amateur radio came to the rescue in the days after Hurricane Katrina produced major damage in New Orleans, crippling the communication infrastructure there. There are instances every year where amateur radio has proven its reliability and has gotten the word through.

With amateur radio, you can talk with other hams using a small handheld or much larger radio, via a telegraph key using Morse code or by interfacing a radio with your computer to send text messages, data or images! Even more exciting, you can talk with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, talk with other hams via an amateur radio satellite in space or even communicate by bouncing signals off the moon and back!!!

Amateur Radio continues to provide a fun, challenging and rewarding communications experience including:

Regional mobile two-way communications: The Forsyth Amateur Radio Club has three well situated VHF and UHF FM Repeaters that can be accessed via small hand held radios, from your car or from home.

Worldwide Shortwave Communications via the HF Bands: Talking with other hams in the United States, North American or even in other countries around the world is exciting and fun. Talking with hams in other countries is called DX communications. DX communications readily demonstrate that amateur radio operators in each country are goodwill ambassadors with each other. Being a goodwill ambassador is one of the key purposes of amateur radio in the United States. Local HF or DX contacts takes just a radio and antenna, either simple or complex!!

Digital Communications: Personal computers with sound-cards interfaced with amateur radios have revolutionized methods for sending digital data, messages or pictures over the amateur radio bands. There are many amateur radio computer applications that can be used for digital communications.

Morse Code or CW (Continuous Wave): Morse Code is no longer a requirement for getting an amateur radio license. The FCC made this change in February 2007. However, many amateur radio operators continue to use Morse code as those signals can often get thru to far away stations or under adverse atmospheric conditions when other forms of communications fail. Although no longer required to be learned, many hams feel that this has made using Morse code a special voluntary and skillful art-form.

Confidence: Being an amateur radio operator means you have a special communications option to help yourself and others in times of need. In the very rare chance that normal communications infrastructure fails, you have a very special trick up your sleeve. This gives amateur radio operators additional peace of mind.

Public Service: Often amateur radio operators get requests to help provide communications for local or special events. This is normally handled by AuxComm. Locally, there are areas where cell phone signals simply do not get through for public service events, but amateur radio communications work well. Each September, amateur radio operators in the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club help with the Tour to Tanglewood fund raiser for MS, providing quick and effective communication support for a two day biking event. Communication needs can often be met with other means, but the unique qualities of ham radio equipment and operating techniques are helpful and essential.

Contesting: Amateur radio contesting can be a lot of fun. Contesting involves participating in an organized on the air event where each amateur radio operator makes contact with as many others as possible. You can participate in a contest from the comfort of your home, the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club shack, a remote area or “roving” in your car. Contesting can combine antenna construction, science, endurance but primarily fun with everyday skills into the focused goal of making as many contacts as possible and attaining the highest possible score. As a club, FARC participates in two contests annually, sometimes more. The two contests are the North Carolina QSO Party and the ARRL Field Day. Additionally, many members participate individually in many other contests. The competitive spirit in contesting provides hours of challenging fun for many operators and FARC members are very active.

Don’t have a license yet? Many times, there are local classes to help you prepare for the written FCC exam for the Technician License which is the first level license. During normal times, FARC also has VEC sessions monthly just before each member monthly meeting.

Become a member: If you are interested in joining our merry band of amateur radio operators please join us in any of our ZOOM meetings. Zoom access info to any of our meetings is provided on the main page of this website or at the first clickable link below. We have our member Zoom meetings the second Monday evening every month.