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DMR

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About

What's ham radio all about?

... its just people who like to play radio
anamationHam (amateur) radio has undergone a transformation over the past 30 years. Gone is the highly technical examination and formality that put lots of people off in the past. A simple test (with tuition available) the Foundation, gets you started in the hobby, with access to all the available frequency bands.
There are now 3 levels of operator, Foundation license, Intermediate license and the Full licence.
There are many aspects to the hobby:
HF bands (shortwave)... working worldwide (conditions permiting). Satellite working... there are several amateur satellites that can be used.
Data communication... contacts and file exchanges can take place by linking your PC.
Local chat using hand held, mobile VHF/UHF radios, activity extended by use of an extensive repeater system
Many astronauts are licensed operators and there is oftern the opportunity to listen to and sometimes talk back to them for brief periods during missions or from the ISS (International Space Station)

The fusion of radio with computing and the internet has made some revolutionary changes to ham radio operating in recent years. There are some very effective type of data communication available, such as PSK 31, a very effective means of communicating over distance using the Short waves (HF bands) which, very efficiently use only a narrow section of the spectrum. Using this mode operators type in their conversation into the keyboard, the computer sound card converts the signal into the PSK format and the result is sent to the transmitter in place of the normal microphone. Excellent results can be obtained over distances where voice communication would not be possible.
With the use of the internet as a bridge between countries, once quite spectacular contacts with distant lands can be enjoyed with relatively simple short range walkie-talkie and car based VHF/UHF radios, normally associated with line of site communication only. This is achieved using the IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project), Allstar network and the similar 'Echolink' system. Where some of the ham radio community have formed a network, similar to VOIP phones (skype, etc) where a local repeater station, or linking radio will use specialist software running on a PC and you can dial, via the DTMF keypad on your radio, any other similar setup (node) anywhere in the world (and there are thousands..) So contacting to others in the USA, Australia, Japan, etc has suddenly become easy and fun, without the need of enormous sky scraping antenna. The Echolink system even lets licence hams operate their home PC, connected to the internet, to join the system, operate radios on the network and have contacts worldwide without even owning a radio!
Digital Radios are now appearing in significant numbers. With Dstar and Fusion being the purpose built ham formats, DMR and P25 the adopted commercial formats (see links on the left). These can be connected to global networks via repeaters and simplex stations, or with inexpensive dongle devices at home.
There are many clubs and informal groups that would welcome new members, these are a good place to start if you think you may like to try ham radio. Visit the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) website from the links they have lists of local clubs, many who have their own website.
There is a very healthy supply of use ham radio equipment avaliable on ebay, or the execelent Ham Radio Deals forum, it's now so much easier to start in the hobby.
Looking forward to speaking with you on the air.

Peter (G4WLI)

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