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Old 1st September 2015, 20:35   #1
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I was wondering why there was no dedicated thread for Amateur Radio on T-Bhp. I am sure most of us know something about it but did not pursue the hobby due to various reasons. Radio Amateurs (a.k.a Hams) are traditionally pioneers in many technological experiments. Be it any DIY stuff, Hams would have been there done that. The "first true" social networking, it brought like minded people across the world together. The invasion of computers and internet affected the hobby and there were a dearth of youngsters taking up hobby.

I myself believed that the hobby was dead, during the late 90's, with the advent of mobile phones an cheap internet. But the Hams kept innovating and evolved making better use of the latest technologies and kept pondering over the never ending challenges in radio communications.

Amateur radio for the uninitiated, is "establishing a radio station at home and communicating using his radio equipment wirelessly to another radio station". The communication could be in voice or digital mode - from the vintage Morse code, to the more advanced digital modes using computers. The kick for many Hams is the fact that they are "off grid", not dependent on any public or private infrastructure for communication. You have your own radio frequency spectrum. (BTW, the RF spectrum is the most expensive "natural" resource in the world raking in huge revenue for the governments.)The government grants the license to operate the station after successfully passing the written test and other formalities.

The Indian scene is not for the light hearted, especially the licensing part. The antiqued procedures will set back the aspirant by 1-2 (or even more) years, waiting for his license after writing the exam. Compare this to a 10 minute procedure in many other countries. Also the rule does not permit one to operate the radio at other locations than the home station, where the license was granted. This means one cannot operate "mobile" e.g. on his vehicle. These are the some deterrents for many aspirants to take up this hobby, in the modern world.

While the procedures may be age old, we are definitely not lagging behind, in terms of technical achievements or dedicated Hams. We had our own satellite - Hamsat - launched by ISRO in 2005 which served the hams worldwide for almost a decade.

Within the Ham community, there are varied interests, while some chase "DX" contacts, some like to "home-brew" their equipment, while others chase the "birds" (satellites). Popular activities include Hamfests, DX-peditions, Fox hunting, providing communications to motor sports. Hams provide voluntary emergency communication support during natural disasters, when all the other means of communications fail.

I am sure there are many Hams on the forum, and I hope they will contribute to this thread.

BTW, I got licensed last year and got my call sign Victor Uniform 3 Bravo Oscar Juliet
(pretty late in the game actually, I am the 3rd gen ham in my family and I hope my next gen too take up this wonderful hobby, someday!)


Some links in the Indian context.
http://vigyanprasar.gov.in/ham/ham.asp
http://wpc.dot.gov.in/exam_amatr.asp
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_in_India

Licensing
There are two categories of license:
1. General Grade
2. Restricted Grade

The restrictions in the second category are:
1. Transmitted power (only upto 50W in HF and 10W in VHF/UHF, compared to 400W and 25W respectively for General Grade).
2. Terrestrial only (operating through Satellite repeaters is forbidden, receiving is OK).
3. Voice only communication (with some exception in the VHF/UHF bands)
4. 5GHz band not allowed (wonder who uses it anyway)

The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread-indian_amateur_radio_license_grade_ammended_2010.png

The written exam consists of two parts:
1. Radio Theory and Practice (Exempted for those holding degree in Engineering/Science or Diploma in Engineering and have subjects electronics/telecommunications)
2. Radio Regulations

Morse Test - transmit and receive at 8 words per minute (only for General grade)

Reference:
http://www.wpc.dot.gov.in/DocFiles/a...guidelines.pdf

Tests are conducted monthly at metro cities and once in 4 months at other monitoring stations (mostly state capitals)

For starters the Restricted Grade is the way to go. It hardly makes a difference, unless you really want to get into serious contests, DXing, etc.
I would suggest the best option for aspirants is to join a local Ham club, preferably one which conducts exams regularly. There are many in South India, PM me if you need any contacts. There are many active FB groups also. The Vigyan Prasar website has a search facility to find out the nearby Hams.

Sequence of events are like this:
1. Apply for exam (filled up forms, gazetted officer attested copies of supporting documents, exam fee DD(₹100))
2. Wait for hall ticket.
3. Write the exam.
4. Wait for result (2-3 months)
5. Result will be forwarded from local WPC office to Delhi.
6. WPC will share the details with IB dept.
7. WPC will wait for clearance from IB.
8. IB will forward the papers to the local police station.
9. Local police station will verify the applicant address. (mostly they will give a call and ask to visit the PS)
10. Verified papers sent back to IB, then to WPC
11. WPC gets the IB clearance and initiates the license issuance.
12. WPC sends a letter requesting to send license fee(₹1000/2000) and another set of attested documents.
13. Once WPC gets all the required papers, it will issue the license and send to the applicant.

In my case, the entire process was done in 11 months, and I consider myself very lucky. But this seems to be the order now, atleast in major cities. Usually the delay is caused by the local PS. I joined a club and it also helped in getting the papers in order.

But I urge anyone not to get let down by this process. It is a govt process and it will eventually happen. Things have very much improved in the last few years and many steps are streamlined.

Getting Started
Once you get your license, you can immediately be on air. One catch, you need to have the equipment, and to import one you need to have license. But you can always make one your own which is fun.

Regarding the cost, it depends on your budget and sky is the limit. A descent low power HF radio can be built for as low as 2k. A lot of Chinese manufactures have sprung up making cheap VHF/UHF radios, costing as low as 3k, which are not cheap at all in performance.

EDIT on a later date:
A good news for the HAM aspirants in India
In a remarkable memo, the WPC after review by the MHA department, has done away with the IB/Police verification for grant of Amateur Radio license. This is in effect from 10/3/2016 and applies to the new applications as well as the existing licenses under process.

This is a significant step, as it will reduce the delay in grant of license considerably. To begin with there will be a lot of backlog to clear, but the wait time should stabilize hopefully around 4-6 months.

Last edited by .anshuman : 23rd April 2017 at 12:30. Reason: Posts merged as per request
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Old 2nd September 2015, 12:24   #2
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Default Re: The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bejoy View Post
......
my call sign Victor Uniform 3 Bravo Oscar Juliet
(pretty late in the game actually, I am the 3rd gen ham in my family and I hope my next gen too take up this wonderful hobby, someday!)


Some links in the Indian context.
http://vigyanprasar.gov.in/ham/ham.asp
http://wpc.dot.gov.in/exam_amatr.asp
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_in_India
I had been interested in HAM during my school days 3 decades back. This was before the mobile, internet and social media. The information was scarce as you rightly said, and in India, anything which requires a license is best left alone. Then there was the morse code test which frightened me as it required a specific speed for send/recv.

Then looking at the equipment, there were no easy options in India. The circuits were no problem, and was something that really interested me. The components was not within reach for a school student.

Today the facebook and twitter have better reach across the globe, though in a totally different way.

Could you put a summary of the diff licensing available, the procedure, approx cost to start, equipment required and finally the best way to start ? I know its there in the links, but reading a gov doc is the best way to put you to sleep, leave alone understanding anything (atleast in my case!!).

Last edited by raghu.t.k : 2nd September 2015 at 12:26.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 14:09   #3
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Default Re: The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread

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Could you put a summary of the diff licensing available, the procedure, approx cost to start, equipment required and finally the best way to start ?
Cross posting what I had written in another thread http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-te...ml#post3409023 (Off-Road Communication)

For getting a HAM license, you first need to take a test which is conducted some 3 times a year (in Bangalore). You need to register for the test a couple of months in advance. The test has 2 parts, one on the HAM rules and regulations and another on basic electronics. If you have an engineering degree or have studied electronics for BSc, you are excepted from taking the electronics part of the test. Apparently, even after clearing the test it takes about an year to get the license due to paper work and police verification and stuff.

I was planning to take the test last year but couldn't since I had to travel for work. Have to apply for the next exam.

Bangalore guys can attend classes and take the exam at the Indian institute of HAMs http://www.indianhams.com/home.asp


PS: A couple of other threads with similar discussion.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...radio-car.html (HAM Radio in a car)
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-te...unication.html (Off-Road Communication)

Last edited by Jaguar : 2nd September 2015 at 14:12.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 14:39   #4
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This is an awesome topic. Many a times when the convoy driving happens, these radios would be of great help. A lead car and a sweeper would have constant communication throughout the route and ensure that the convoy stays like it is even in the areas where there is no cell phone coverage. It is very very helpful.

Its another story that having those kind of permissions and being "Mobile Ham" would be totally challenging in India. But now since this topic has come and you have kind of lit up that old flame, hoping to see more insights and know-hows of getting "mobile ham"s on our roads!

Thanks for sparking off this discussion!
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Old 2nd September 2015, 18:26   #5
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Default Re: The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread

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Originally Posted by raghu.t.k View Post
Could you put a summary of the diff licensing available, the procedure, approx cost to start, equipment required and finally the best way to start ?
Its never too late. I will try put together some info.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I was planning to take the test last year but couldn't since I had to travel for work. Have to apply for the next exam.
All the best for your exam and hope to see you on air soon. Yeah, I too found many discussions on other threads, but I thought it deserves a separate thread.

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Originally Posted by abirnale View Post
Its another story that having those kind of permissions and being "Mobile Ham" would be totally challenging in India. But now since this topic has come and you have kind of lit up that old flame, hoping to see more insights and know-hows of getting "mobile ham"s on our roads!
I too wish that the archaic laws are changed. Hopefully it will happen.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 20:18   #6
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One catch, you need to have the equipment, and to import one you need to have license.
Not necessarily. You can order cheap HAM radios like BAOFENG UV-3R from ebay
But it is of no use since it is illegal to transmit without a license. Unless you wish to listen to others talking, which IMO is perfectly legal.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 20:54   #7
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Not necessarily. You can order cheap HAM radios like from ebay
But it is of no use since it is illegal to transmit without a license. Unless you wish to listen to others talking, which IMO is perfectly legal.
I agree. But I would not recommend, because I know instances where the radio was held up in customs, and there is no way to approach them without the copy of license. One may be lucky to get it through without any issues also.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 21:11   #8
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The easiest way to become a ham, is to get in touch with a local club. NIAR/ARSI and some local clubs in the South, where the activity is much more than that in the North, are very helpful.

I have been in this hobby for the last 25 years or so, run both home made and commercial radios, and there is still a LOT of activity on the frequencies. My call is VU2ORO, and I am fairly active on the radio till date. For guys in Bangalore: there are lots of active hams there, and you might want to get in touch with one, for the latest information.

"One world, one language, amateur radio"
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Old 3rd September 2015, 05:42   #9
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Default Re: The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bejoy View Post
4. 5GHz band not allowed (wonder who uses it anyway)
Military and Weather Radars


Quote:
The written exam consists of two parts:
1. Radio Theory and Practice (Exempted for those holding degree in Engineering/Science or Diploma in Engineering and have subjects electronics/telecommunications)
2. Radio Regulations
I have a GMDSS GOC licence (to operate the ship's radio equipment). Do I get any exemptions?

Quote:
Morse Test - transmit and receive at 8 words per minute (only for General grade)
This requires real practice. I have done this as a part of my 2nd Mates and Chief Mates Licence.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 10:08   #10
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I have a GMDSS GOC licence (to operate the ship's radio equipment). Do I get any exemptions?
What I had mentioned is from the rules verbatim. So I believe, no exemption.

Its worth to note that amateur radio license allows one to design, build and operate the radio in the allocated bands.(not outside the bands, for e.g. the Hams cannot build a Citizens' band (27MHz) radio which is open to all.) This calls for the knowledge of radio theory. Whereas the other licenses(like GMDSS (Maritime), RTR(Aeronautical)) allows to operate type certified(commercial) radios only, meant for the designated use.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 12:15   #11
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Default Re: The Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) thread

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....
Morse Test - transmit and receive at 8 words per minute (only for General grade)
...
Thanks Bejoy and Jaguar.

Do we still use morse code in any area? Even the govt of India has closed the telegrams which earlier used the morse code and subsequently moved digital.

I understand the advantages over voice when transmitting long distances, but are there no substitutes?
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Old 3rd September 2015, 13:52   #12
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Do we still use morse code in any area?
Morse code as in manual send/receive is only used in the amateur radio world. And in movies too

Quote:
Originally Posted by raghu.t.k View Post
I understand the advantages over voice when transmitting long distances, but are there no substitutes?
Morse code, in the automated form, is still used in navigational aids for aviation. And probably many other areas too.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 15:08   #13
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Bejoy, this thread could not have come at a better time. The next exam in bangalore would be conducted in October and now is the last chance to apply for the same. If not for this thread, I would have forgotten that and would have ended up waiting till next Jan.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 16:17   #14
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Nice thread.

70% of B.O.D.A (Bangalore offroaders) are into HAM, have passed the exams, have licenses and each one also has their own radio sets. Some are very serious hobbyist now in this field.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 16:53   #15
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Bejoy, this thread could not have come at a better time. The next exam in bangalore would be conducted in October and now is the last chance to apply for the same. If not for this thread, I would have forgotten that and would have ended up waiting till next Jan.
All the best for your exams, once again.

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Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
70% of B.O.D.A (Bangalore offroaders) are into HAM, have passed the exams, have licenses and each one also has their own radio sets. Some are very serious hobbyist now in this field.
This is a very good thing. The more folks take up licence, hopefully we could put more pressure on the govt to amend the laws and make it less tedious and sensible with the current times.
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