Discovering Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is a popular technical hobby and covers a broad range of subjects which include contacting people all over the world by radio, competing in international competitions, communication by satellites, providing communications in times of emergency, technical experimentation and construction and, a whole host of related activities. The Radio Society of Great Britain is an organisation which represents the hobby in this county. Their web-site with introduction can be found here.

Anybody can get involved in most Amateur Radio activities. However to use transmitting equipment requires a licence. Becoming licensed requires gaining some proficiency in the use of transmitting equipment. FRARS offers training courses in Amateur Radio. Details of these training courses can be found here.

Some of the aspects of Amateur Radio that FRARS takes an active role in are highlighted below.

High Frequency Operation (HF)


High Frequency communication is where the highest volume of Amateur Radio communications take place. World-wide communication is possible at HF using fairly simple equipment and antennas. Operators at HF typically communicate using voice, computer data and Morse code is still popular.

Further details of FRARS HF activities can be found here.

Very High and Ultra High Frequency Operation (VHF and UHF)

Very High and Ultra High Frequencies don’t normally give the opportunity for such long-range communication as HF. Normally at these frequencies we tend to refer to them as being line-of-sight, though this is not strictly accurate.

VHF and UHF are regularly used when mobile, with radios fitted in vehicles, or with hand-held equipment. VHF/UHF equipment tends to be cheaper than HF equipment so it gives newcomers to the hobby a chance to get on the air and make contacts without too much financial outlay.

VHF and UHF are routinely used by groups such as RAYNET, the radio amateur’s emergency network, who exist to provide communications support in times of emergency but who also regularly provide communications for sports events.

Further details of FRARS VHF/UHF activities can be found here.

Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) or Moonbounce

Moonbounce, also known as Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) is about bouncing signals off the surface of the moon and receiving the reflected signals back here on earth. So anyone on Earth who can see the moon can receive the reflected signals. This means that we can make contacts over large distances such as across Europe and to North America and even Australia.

Apart from making contacts, a lot of the FRARS members who participate do it for the challenge of overcoming the difficulties in putting together and operating this equipment, which operates on the edge of what is feasible.

Further details of FRARS EME activities can be found here.


VHF National Field Day
VHF National Field Day

Contesting is a competitive activity pursued by Amateur Radio operators. In a contest, an Amateur Radio station, which may be operated by an individual or a team, seeks to contact as many other Amateur Radio stations as possible in a given period of time and exchange basic information such as location and signal strength. Contesting can be great fun but it can also help to develop your station and your operating skills. Various bodies around the world organise contests, oversee them and make awards.

As well as operating from home or a club, contests can also be operated “portable”. That is, equipment can be taken out in the field and set up on a temporary basis. These field stations tend be completely self contained and even operate on their power supplies, typically a generator or a bank of batteries.

Further details of FRARS contesting activities can be found in the HF, VHF/UHF and EME web pages.


image courtesy Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

Ever looked up on a clear evening and seen the International Space Station (ISS)? Did you know that it is classed as a satellite and that it has Amateur Radio equipment onboard and astronauts who are licensed radio amateurs?

This is a part of the hobby that does not cease to amaze. It is not just the ISS up there with radio equipment. There are other satellites, some as small as 10 cm cubes that you can use to speak to other radio amateurs. We even have a British one flying in space called FunCube. There is also a very popular satellite which carries Amateur Radio signals called Oscar-100.

Further details of FRARS satellite activities can be found here.

Amateur Television

Amateur Television is just like any other form of Amateur Radio communication except that it involves sending television pictures as well as sound. It can be used in VHF/UHF and microwaves. A form of amateur television can also be used at HF (known as slow-scan TV) which uses lower definition TV images and tends to be used for fixed images. Click on the image above to find more information from the organisation that represents the country for this form of communication.

Further details of FRARS amateur television activities can be found here.


Completed FRARS 20 m FT8 RX Construction Project 2022

Construction is probably the most technical part of the hobby. Building parts of your own equipment can be great fun and also is also a great way of learning what is going on “under the hood”.

There are a number of organisations that support home construction and also companies that provide simple to build kits.

From time to time FRARS sets up a construction project which many members take part in.

Further details of FRARS construction activities can be found here.

Radio rallies

Radio rallies are events where radio amateurs from across a wide area can meet up. They are usually operated by Amateur Radio societies like FRARS. These events often include lectures on many aspects of amateur radio and also small and large traders attend these events.

FRARS holds the annual Hamfest event in August. Details can be found here.

… And There’s More

There are many other aspects of Amateur Radio to discover. Many more than can be covered here. If this is all interesting then perhaps consider becoming a member of your local Amateur Radio society. To visit FRARS and talk about membership then come along and visit us. Details can be found here.