So, what is Amateur Radio?
Amateur Radio (or HAM Radio) started in the early days of experimentation with electromagnetic waves.
In the early years, the first radio amateurs build all of their equipment, as well as operate it. In 2022, most radio operators buy most of their equipment and tend to just build part of it, particularly aerials (antennas) or use kits of parts to build things like low power portable radios, audio or digital processing equipment, etc.
Radio Amateurs Now
A 1910 announcement by the then HM Postmaster General licensed “experimental wireless”, which still uniquely gives radio amateurs the ability to innovate without commercial or statutory controls even in the closely regulated environment of the 21st century.
Please see our Get your licence page for now, although more detailed information will be published in Amateur Radio: 6. How to get a licence for Amateur Radio later.
Some types of Radio Amateur
As with most hobbies, Radio Amateurs may have a wide are of interest, or they may specialize in certain aspects of radio that particularly interest them.
- Some amateurs spend most of their time operating radios, chatting with people locally or the other side of the world, using a variety of methods, both analogue and digital from their home radio station.
- Others may primarily be interested in operating portable, with low power, enjoying the extra challenges that that can present.
- Many others still enjoy the challenge of building stuff, which they spend most of their time doing, rather than operating it, once they know it works!
Short Wave Listening
A Short Wave Listener (SWL) is not generally a licensed radio amateur (although they could be). Shortwave listening, or SWLing, is generally defined as the hobby of listening to shortwave radio broadcasts located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz (which include a large number of amateur radio bands, as well as broadcast stations).
The term is often used more loosely these days, to include many other types of radio, both digital as well as analogue and other higher frequency bands. There are now many Internet-based Software Defined Radio (SDR) websites that allow shortwave transmissions to be listened to without owning a radio at all!
The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB)
The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the national membership organisation for amateur radio enthusiasts. The society was first founded in 1913 and incorporated in 1926.
Amateur radio licences were issued to the first UK radio amateurs in 1934. There are many benefits to membership, including the monthly magazine Radio Communication (RadCom) but membership of the RSGB means much more than receiving RadCom each month.
Guglielmo Marconi – the first Radio Amateur (and Professional)!
Guglielmo Marconi was was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his creation of a practical radio wave-based wireless telegraph system. This led to Marconi being credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”.
The original callsign 2YT was issued in Britain to the Marconi Company for use at the Poldhu Station in Cornwall in the early 1920’s. Poldhu and Cornwall are intimately involved in the first radio experimentation.
- The Poldhu Amateur Radio Club (GB2GM) is based at the Marconi Centre in Poldhu. The site is famous as the location of Poldhu Wireless Station, Guglielmo Marconi’s transmitter for the first transatlantic radio signal.
- The Cornish Radio Amateur Club (GX4CRC) organises an International Marconi Day every year. This annual event can be traced back to 1961 when the ‘Cornish Radio & Television Club’ (forerunner of the Cornish Radio Amateur Club), set up a commemorative station GB3MSA at Poldhu using the Poldhu hotel to house the station and operators.
Further external information
- Wikipedia Amateur Radio.
- RSGB What is Amateur Radio?
- GB2GM – History of the Poldhu Marconi site.
- GX4CRC – History of International Marconi Day