There is one very interesting project I came across when I was pursuing my B.Tech in ECE and that was building a HAM radio. For those of you, who don’t know a squat about HAM, it is a social hobby first started by Hyman-Almy-Murray back in 1908. It brings people together through communication bound by electronic equipment.
Popularly known as the “Internet before the Internet”, a HAM Radio enables the users to communicate with anyone around the world who is in possession of one. Its users are also known to have established communication with scientists in the International Space Station.
A HAM Radio consists of a basic transmitter and receiver that allow you to send information, audio and even images over an allocated frequency. You could transmit in Morse code or any encrypted language to your radio pals world over.
Now you might wonder, when there exist social networking sites like Facebook and Whatsapp where you can send information instantly, why would you take the time to build an equipment as outdated as the radio. Well, apart from the vintage social networking use, HAM radios are known to be extremely useful in times of emergency either due to natural or man-made causes when telecommunication networks are rendered damaged, destroyed or unable to transmit.
In 2013, when the legendary floods hit the state of Uttarakhand, HAM Radio volunteers were part of the rescue team. Help came from licensed HAM operators from all over the country, assisting in locating, identifying and reassuring stranded citizens. It became the lifeline for communication.
Of course, HAM operators need to be licensed. I have provided a brief guideline to accruing the license.
- You need to be over the age of 18 for acquiring a General License or over the age of 12 for a Restricted License. (This document from the Ministry of Communication gives details on all aspects)
- You need to appear for an exam the details of which and the syllabus are covered in the document.
- Visit www.wpc.dot.gov.in/Static/amateur.asp for downloading the application. Follow the guidelines enlisted to register for the exam.
- If you pass the exam, a background check will be conducted by the Intelligence Bureau and upon clearance, you will receive the license.
There are only 16,000 Licensed HAM operators in India. Too few a figure to help a 1.35 billion people country. Although it’s a long procedure, I’d encourage fellow engineers to get the License. Apart from the privilege of ownership of the license, something as unique as HAM would add a lot of value to your resume. Now, the radio equipment can be either bought online or built from scratch. Since you are pursuing a degree in ECE, I suggest interested students form a club with the help of a faculty and work together to establish a HAM center at Lovely Professional University.