In the presence of advanced and highly connected text messengers, tweets and Facebook posts, the century-old social media HAM (amateur) radio is still alive and kicking in the IT capital of India.
Drawing a world of their own, the Indian Institute of HAMs has brought together thousands of amateur radio operators in the City, to build friendships, to explore the platform and to participate in disaster management.
Bengaluru, the HAM Capital of India, has about 5,000 amateur radio operators, with 1,200 enthusiasts taking to the platform in the last five years. There are about 400 active users in the City and about 300 people apply for licences each year, says S Sathyapal, director of Indian Institute of HAMs.
“We have a good response despite the huge penetration of social media. The amateur radio, a scientific hobby, is an adventure sport. And when all communication tools including cellular network fail, HAM radio works. It has become a unique tool in promoting global friendship,” he said, adding that the HAM family consists of students, educationists, scientists, engineers, doctors and people from various walks of life.
What they do
Sathyapal further said that the members of amateur radio clubs conduct experiments in the field of wireless communication, develop friendship with persons of different social backgrounds, provide communication during motor sports and natural disasters.
He added that he has plans to take the HAM radio to the student community.
However, the process to obtain licence to operate HAM radio, which includes writing exam and getting no objection certificate from Intelligence Bureau (IB), takes at least a year.
After obtaining the licence, the operator has to assemble transmitter receivers from electronic kits available at a low cost for a minimum price of Rs 3,000.
HAM clubs There are many HAM radio clubs in the country where ‘hams’ can become the members and operate.
Besides, many institutions have also established HAM radio clubs under their banners, he added.
It’s a passion driven out of love for making new friends. Among many, 22-year-old Dharitri Datar, who studies law in the City, is one of the youngest HAM operators.
“I developed passion for it in my schooling. HAM radio comes in handy during disaster management. We were able to communicate with people who were stranded during the Chennai floods,” she says.