So you are likely here because you want to know, “What is this whole Amateur Radio thing?”. Let’s start with boring answer, because it can only go up from there!
The Amateur Radio Service, as it is defined by the FCC in Part 97 of Title 47 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as shown in the sidebar. (It’s only a small piece, it’ll answer your questions.)
The key points above are that it is only amateur because we don’t, or rather can’t, be paid for using our radio skills. The basis of the amateur radio service is that we are recognized as contributing to the advancement of technology, emergency communications, and international goodwill. Pretty kewl if you ask me.
A license is required, and there are three classes of licenses at the moment; Technician, General, and Extra. The first, technician, is the entry level class license and the test makes sure you know the rules and can operate without causing interference or harm to yourself or others. The tests get more difficult as you progress, but with that also comes more privileges.
My wife, KB1DEB, and I are both licensed, she is a technician class, working toward her general license, and I’m an extra.
“Is this also HAM Radio?”, someone asked? Why yes, yes it is. In the early days or radio, there was no licensing, and the folks who dabbled in this were called HAMs. There are many stories as to the origins of this term, and I’m not going to say which is right. You kind find that for yourself.
Some places for more information:
It’s a Service!
Oh yea, did you notice that? It’s defined as a service! Not a hobby. Why? Well, glad you asked!
First and foremost amateur radio operators provide a service, be that International goodwill, emergency communications support, technical expertise and experimentation, or any number of other things we do. Amateur radio operators enjoy it, and it fulfills the things typically associated with a hobby, but it is so much more than that, and that is recognized by the FCC.