What is amateur radio

what is amateur radio

Amateur radio, often referred to as ham radio, is a hobby and a service that involves using designated radio frequencies for non-commercial communication, experimentation, and public service. Amateur radio operators, also known as hams, are licensed by their respective governments to operate radio equipment for personal and community use.

The hobby encompasses various activities, including:

Amateur radio is a diverse and dynamic hobby that attracts people from all walks of life who share a passion for communication, technology, and community service.

International friendships

Amateur radio, with its global reach and community-driven approach, serves as a potent catalyst for fostering international friendships. Through the airwaves, enthusiasts from diverse cultures and backgrounds engage in meaningful exchanges, transcending geographical barriers and linguistic differences.

Whether it's swapping technical expertise, sharing cultural insights, or simply conversing about shared passions, amateur radio operators cultivate bonds that transcend borders. The collaborative nature of the hobby encourages cooperation and mutual support, leading to the formation of enduring friendships that span continents.

These connections not only enrich individual experiences but also contribute to a broader sense of global camaraderie and understanding, demonstrating the power of communication to unite people across the world.

Digital communications

Amateur radio enthusiasts have embraced digital communications as a dynamic and innovative aspect of the hobby. Utilizing technologies such as digital modes, packet radio, and software-defined radios, operators engage in high-speed data transmission, text messaging, and even image transfer over radio frequencies. These digital modes offer distinct advantages, including enhanced signal clarity, improved resistance to noise and interference, and efficient use of bandwidth.

One notable example is FT8, a popular digital mode characterized by its high sensitivity and rapid transmission cycles. Developed by Nobel laureate Joe Taylor, FT8 enables operators to make contacts under challenging propagation conditions with minimal power and antenna setups.

Similarly, APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) facilitates real-time data exchange, enabling users to track vehicles, weather conditions, and even wildlife movements using GPS-equipped radios. By embracing digital communications, amateur radio operators continue to push the boundaries of technology while fostering collaboration and innovation within the global ham radio community.


Amateur radio digital television (DATV) represents an exciting frontier in the hobby, enabling operators to transmit and receive high-quality video signals over radio frequencies. Using specialized equipment such as digital video transmitters, receivers, and antennas, enthusiasts can broadcast live events, educational content, and experimental projects to viewers around the world.

DATV offers a unique platform for sharing visual information and experiences, expanding the possibilities for communication and community engagement within the amateur radio community. One of the key advantages of DATV is its ability to transmit multimedia content alongside traditional voice and data communications. This versatility allows operators to combine audio, video, and data streams into a single transmission, enriching the amateur radio experience with immersive multimedia content.

Moreover, DATV provides a valuable tool for experimentation and innovation, encouraging enthusiasts to explore new technologies and techniques for video transmission over the airwaves. As DATV continues to evolve, it promises to enhance the amateur radio landscape, offering new opportunities for creativity, collaboration, and exploration in the digital age.

QRP - Low Power Operation

Amateur radio QRP, or "low power" operation, represents a fascinating facet of the hobby where enthusiasts communicate using minimal transmitter power, often as low as 5 watts or less. Despite the modest power output, QRP operators demonstrate remarkable skill and ingenuity in making contacts over long distances, relying on efficient antennas, propagation forecasting, and keen operating techniques.

QRP operations foster a spirit of resourcefulness and experimentation, encouraging operators to maximise the efficiency of their equipment and adapt to challenging operating conditions. Beyond its technical appeal, QRP operation embodies the essence of amateur radio—exploration, communication, and camaraderie—showcasing the enduring allure of making meaningful connections with minimal resources.

QSL - I confirm receipt of your transmission

Amateur radio enthusiasts utilise QSL cards to confirm radio contacts and exchanges, serving as tangible acknowledgments of communication between operators. These cards often contain essential details such as the date, time, frequency, and signal report, while also providing a platform for operators to showcase their individuality and creativity through unique designs and personal messages. Beyond mere confirmation, QSL cards symbolize the camaraderie and connections forged through amateur radio, fostering a sense of community within the hobby.

In amateur radio culture, the QSL card remains a treasured tradition, though it has evolved with technology to digital formats. Despite this shift, the sense of connection within the community remains unchanged.

QSL cards often feature unique designs depicting local landmarks, wildlife, or cultural icons, reflecting the diverse beauty of the Australian landscape. Alongside essential contact details, these digital cards may include personal messages or anecdotes, fostering a sense of friendship among operators.

Despite the transition to digital formats, these cards retain significant value, adorning the virtual walls of radio shacks and serving as tangible reminders of shared experiences and connections made over the airwaves, perpetuating the rich tradition of amateur radio.

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