Amateur Radio is an exciting hobby. It is a fascinating mix of science, communications and fun:- a method of gaining skill and expertise in electronics, and a means of making friends all around the world.
It is a means of wireless communication invented by Marconi in 1895 and is responsible for putting hundreds of thousands of people all over the world into direct contact with each other every day.
World-wide, there are two million licensed radio enthusiasts spread across virtually every country, who are free to operate from the comfort of their own homes. There are approximately 1,700 licensed radio amateurs in Ireland. Age, profession, nationality, political and ethnic barriers are nonexistent, thus promoting international friendship and understanding.
Amateur radio is enjoyed by all, – young and old, male and female and even the most severely disabled can make friends around the world from their own home. Contacts may be made using speech data modes, Morse code, between computers and even by television. Radio amateurs have built satellites for their own use. Because radio amateurs are permitted to use a wide range of frequencies and types of transmission, they must be qualified operators. Training is usually available from radio clubs and it is not as difficult as it sounds, -most students easily pass their examinations on the first attempt.
Something For Everyone
Amateur radio really is one of the few hobbies that offer something for everyone. Licensed amateurs can chat with locally based friends, on the air. Or they can chat with friends in all parts of the world. They can construct their own equipment, – transmitter, antennas etc. They can participate in any of the many contests that take place every weekend. They can communicate from their homes, cars, portable, or on holiday. They can use many different modes of communication from speech to digital modes. Communication can be via repeaters or satellites, via atmospheric skip, or moon-bounce, where signals are literally bounced off the moon to aid coverage. Computers can be linked using a special modem, and Television pictures can be sent and received. There are so many different aspect to the hobby, and different ways in which it can be enjoyed, that there really is something for everyone.
The skills of radio amateurs are frequently used to provide communications support for emergency services. This might involve radio communication on mountain walks, searches, or at charity events. In 1998 one Irish amateur made worldwide headlines, by providing communications coverage for the MIR Satellite when there was a breakdown in the Satellite’s regular communications system. Amateur radio has many benefits to share with the community.
Amateur radio is an all-inclusive hobby. Blind, visually impaired, and disabled people can enjoy the hobby and indeed participate fully. One Dublin club is involved exclusively in providing training and support for blind and disabled people.
An amateur station can cost as much or as little as the operator wishes to invest. Home constructed, or pre-owned equipment can get you on the air for well under €100. Or you can invest substantially more.
How Do I Get On The Air ?
To operate amateur radio equipment it is necessary to obtain a license. Licenses in Ireland are issued by the Commission for Communications Regulation (COMREG) Instruction is usually given by clubs and Mayo is no exception, with classes held regularly by The Mayo Radio Experimenters Network as and when required. Further details are available from the club. It is now possible to obtain a full licence without any Morse requirements. However if you want to be proficient in Morse then we have no shortage of members who would willingly help you including a member who was a radio officer with the Marconi company.
More information on the hobby is available from the club, who meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 9.00pm (21.00hrs) in The Breaffy House Hotel, Breaffy, near Castlebar. All are welcome.
The Irish Radio Transmitters Society www.irts.ie or by post PO Box 462 Dublin 9 will also provide details on request.