Fun Fact Friday: Ham Radio

(©  Emil Neuerer / Wikimedia Commons)

(© Emil Neuerer / Wikimedia Commons)

Nowadays, because of the internet, it’s easy to talk to people all around the globe…but did you know that there’s another way that people communicated, even before the internet, that didn’t involve the telephone or even writing a letter? It’s true! It’s called ham radio.

Ham radio, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the use of designated radio frequency spectra for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without direct monetary or other similar reward, and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).”

So basically, it’s a radio frequency that regular people are legally allowed to use (with their own high-powered 2-way radios), as long as they follow “the rules of the road”, so to speak.

In most countries, ham radio operators have to take a test to be licensed, but then they’re free to use their complex (and often expensive) equipment to communicate with other enthusiasts across the world. Often operators learn of ham radio through word of mouth, or inherit older equipment from friends or family members. Like many hobbies, building up a collection of working equipment is often considered an important part of the journey. As the saying goes, “Getting there is half the fun”, and that’s the attitude held by many ham radio operators.

Once the operator is licensed and has the proper equipment, the only limit is the language barrier! Operators can chat with anyone they encounter; about any hobby or interest they might share….such as ham radio!

Even though this method of communication may seem antiquated to some, the ham radio hobby seems to enjoy continued popularity in the age of Twitter and Facebook, so the hobby is still going strong today.

Want to learn more about methods of communication? Check out  Greatest Inventions with Bill Nye: Communication on Discovery Education Streaming!

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