You may seen some peoples car have a long long antenna fixed on the car bonnet and written words like "9W2ART". These peoples are actually not those who operate tow truck. These are amateur radio operator, or known as hams.
Ham radio is a hobby which using radio to communicate and carry out experiment. Unlike handphone, the output pwoer of ham radio is much more higher. The radio may pump out 5W, which enough to transmitt from Air Itam to Georgetown.
You may ask, my handphone also no problem at doing that. Yes. But your handphone need a lot of repeater as the output power of the handphone is quite low, approximately 0.01W. Nowadays you may often read news about people object setting up telecomm. tower near the residental area. The handphone service provider, e.g. : DiGi, Maxis & Celcom has to build or set up more repeater. The best way is to build 1 giant tower and put their repeater on the tower. This extend the coverage.
During disaster like earthquake or tsunami, when all the normal communication is off, ham radio is the only communication system available. Unlike handphone, it doesn't need repeater. For e.g., many hams in Chinahas taken part in the Search and Rescue operation after the Sichuan earthquake.
Hams are the nameless heros. They help when people needed the most. They have to get their own radio equipment. These radios neither free nor provided by the govt.
Hams may carry out experiments. Hams may constuct their own antenna, do some mega project like communicate with the International Space Station (ISS). Last year during our 1st Angkasawan, Dr Sheikh Muzsaphar Shukor went to the ISS, some hams in Penang has communicate with him on the radio. This ain't an easy job. You have to aim your antenna to the ISS and the frequency changes all the time. The distance between earth and ISS is about 400km.
There are many event for you if you are a ham. You may join the scout annual Jamboree-On-The-Air (JOTA) or fox hunt. If some of you went to last year Jamboree, you may heard the conversation of Dr. Sheikh Muzsaphar Shukor with the National Planetarium. It is a very rare chances to heard the conversation.
Fox hunt ?? We are not hunter which pick a riffle or a shortgun, go into the woods and hunt down the foxes. Fox hunt is a challenges or competition where hams need to find out the hidden transmitter. Hams are mostly using their own 6-element Yagi directional antenna which make of measuring tape. You will be surprise with the result of that homebrew measuring tape antenna. It has high gain, easy to be made and easy to be stored.
You may use the ham radio to chatting with the local hams. It is a nice communication tools. You may communicate with hams at bukit Metajam while you are at Penang Island with the help of the repeater. There is no hidden charges. You can talk till you drop for the whole day. Average you just need to pay RM3 per month and you can "ragchew". But there is some topics that you cant talk on the radio. For e.g. : politics, business, sex, anti govt topic, quarrel and etc.
Interested to become a hams ?
To become a ham, you need to sit for the Radio Amateur Examination (RAE) held by Malaysia Communication and Multimedia System(MCMC). The exam held twice per year, usually around June and November. It consists of 100 objective question, which the passing marks is 50. It is very very easy compared to the school standard. You have to know about basic electronic knowledge, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), radio wave and etc. The exam is RM50 and it is a National Level competition. You may surf the MCMC webpage - http://www.skmm.gov.my/ or Malaysia Amateur Radio Transmitters' Soceity (MARTS) webpage - http://www.marts.org.my/ .
After you pass the RAE, you may apply for the Class B license. You will be using a 9W call sign. This allows you to pump out 50W from your rig. Quite enough to communicate to Taiping from Penang.
How much the radio cost ?? A normal portable set or known as handy may cost around RM300 to RM400. High end model may cost from RM600 to Rm1300. A single band mobile set will cost you about RM700 if included the antenna. It is less than your handphone. Isn't that brilliant ??
So if anyone interested or curious about ham radio , can contact me via e-mail, msn or phone.
Thanks for reading !!
73 (best regards)