Amateur Radio Communications|
Can be Fun !!
Making Equipment and Learning about Wave Propagation
Amateur radio communications is by nature a scientific hobby. In the past, telecommunication equipment was fabricated by using electronic parts. Hams would often communicate with each other by using radio equipment, experimenting to learn how best to propagate radio waves.
Today there are thousands of hams who are enthusiastic about amateur radio and use various methods to communicate with their counterparts around the world.
Groups, individuals, and schools are all striving to acquire radio technology. as they are eager to improve their skill over a wide spectrum of fields: amateur satellite communications, TV broadcasting, Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) communications, and so on.
With the current boom in computers, digital communications (images, data, etc.) is becoming increasingly popular and to copy with these on-going challenges, training courses and seminars in many parts of the country are diligently attended by numerous eager youths.
Thriving Amateur Satellite Communications
Todate, over 40 satellites for amateur radio communications have been launched. Right now, about 20 of these satellites are orbiting the earth.
Japanese hams constantly communicate with their domestic and overseas counterparts by way of these satellites.
Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) Communications
With EME communications, radio waves are bounced off the moon. Hams can use these reflected waves to communicate between continent but his type of communication demands a large parabolic antenna, and needless to say quite a high-level of technological know-how for the hobbyist.
DX Communications with Overseas Stations
DX communications refer to telecommunications between countries and hams thus contribute to the promotion of international goodwill.
There are quite a few hams who not only make contact with their counterparts in remote regions, but also compete with each other to communicate with the number of country stations (over 300 exist).
Inter-ham TV communications is becoming quite popular. Some hams use slow-scan television (SSTV), which can transmit stationary images directly to overseas stations and send animation by way of ordinary TV sets. Others strive to achieve color TV communications on micro waves.
Reflecting Japan's recent boom in motoring, mobile hams are becoming very common. They install wireless equipment in their vehicles to communicate with stationary or mobile radio stations while driving. Some hams even communicate with their counterparts from/to private boats or planes.
In contests sponsored by JARL, hams vie with one another to communicate with as many stations as possible within a given period of time. Contests of varying scopes ---- some domestic, some international ---- are happening somewhere in the world every weekend.
A top prize requires not only skillful technique in operating a radio station (including maintenance and repair), but also atmospheric conditions favorable to radio waves (which is really a type of good luck).
After a ham's communication which must conform to specified requirements and QSL cards have been collected, he/she is eligible to apply for various certificates. These certificates are issued by JARL, the Japanese press, organizations, clubs, and certain individuals. Counting international certificates, over 1,000 types are available.
After two ham stations have established contact, they exchange QSL cards as proof of their communication. Normally, QSL cards are postcard-sized, with columns for essential entries on one side, and a picture card, cartoon, photograph, woodblock print, etc, on the other side. Because each QSL card incorporates a unique idea, design, etc., it becomes a pleasure to collect them. Exchanging cards internationally is both interesting and fun.
Over 1700 repeaters for amateur radio communications have been installed, on mountaintops and roofs all across Japan. By means of these repeaters, it is possible for hams to communicate with counterparts many kilometers away, done simply by using a portable transceiver.
Amateur Radio Direction Finding
ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding) where hams carry portable receivers and search for hidden transmitters, is the popular sports of amateur radio. Every year, JARL holds branch competitions throughout Japan and opens national competition.
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