What is the Amateur Radio Service?

There are many stereotypes for amateur radio operators. One would be a fat old man slouched down in a chair sending Morse code with an old telegraph key. We hate to tell you this, but amateur radio operators know it is not 1925. In fact, your neighbor may be an amateur radio operator without your knowing about it. Amateur radio operators are doctors, lawyers, indian chiefs, garbage collectors, truck drivers and on and on. All of them have an interest in electronics and enjoy communicating with people around the world.

FCC regulations (47 CFR 97.1) spell out what is required of an amateur service operator:

  • a."Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications."
  • b."Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art."
  • c."Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art."
  • d."Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts."
  • e."Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill."

PEARL members and other amateur service operators meet these requirements by:

  • Joining ARES and RACES. In addition many PEARL members contribute to Public Service by providing communications for local events.
  • Experimentation. An example would be by connecting local repeaters to the telephone network amateurs proved that portable radios (Handy Talkies) could be used to make telephone calls. This encouraged companies to develop the cell phone industry. A more recent example would be amateurs in Germany developing Pactor IV. The FCC prohibits US amateur operators from using this type of digital communications in the HF bands, but the US military has adopted it for MARS communications.
  • Training. PEARL regularly runs classes that offer beginners the chance to learn what is needed to pass the starting license exam. PEARL also offers classes so that operators can learn the material needed to obtain a higher license class.
  • Talking to friends they haven't met yet. Amateur radio operators regularly get on the radio and call "CQ" looking for someone to talk with. Amateurs also learn about places they may never have heard of before.

Last but certainly not least, amateur radio is fun and enjoyable. This has led many people to say "amateur radio is just a hobby", but as described above you can see it is also much more. It is a chance to make friends around the world and locally. Amateur operators also help each other with projects. From raising an antenna to eliminating RF getting into the shack, just tell a few other operators and help is there.