Good news! Amateur Radio is alive and well in Australia.
The introduction of the new entry level licence in 2006 called the Foundation Licence has re ignited a high level of interest in the hobby. The foundation licence is simple to obtain, just attend a one day training course run by a local radio club, you then complete the 25 question multiple choice exam paper and a straight forward practical assessment.
There is no morse code to learn, you don't need a technical background and the are no age limits. The foundation course is run by hundreds of radio clubs around Australia, the course has been designed to be as helpful as possible for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in the hobby.
We mentioned on the show how the hobby has been growing in numbers, here are the statistics that back our claim, it's the number of amateur radio licences issued by the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority). You can see from the stats below a decline in number of licences issued until 2006 with the launch of the Foundation Licence.
30 June 2001 15,017
30 June 2002 14,536
30 June 2003 14,363
30 June 2004 14,047
30 June 2005 14,041
30 June 2006 14,475
30 June 2007 15,009
30 June 2008 15,278
30 June 2009 15,432
30 June 2010 15,626
There are many aspects to the hobby of amateur radio, satellite communications, shortwave radio communications, amateur television, ARDF (that's amateur radio direction finding, or sometimes called fox hunting). Radio amateurs also can make contact with the ISS (international space station) and help facilitate contacts between with schools and the astronauts on the ISS, some enjoy experimenting with different construction techniques, building software defined radios, contesting and much more.
For more information on the hobby and for a complete list of all radio clubs with a google map to help you find one in your local area check out the website of the Wireless Institute Of Australia. http://www.wia.org.au
We also mentioned on the show that Melbourne's Eastern and Mountain District Radio Club will be running a foundation licence course during the Christmas New Years holiday period, the course will be run on Tuesday the 27th of December at the EMDRC clubrooms in Burwood. For full details check out the clubs website http://www.emdrc.com.au
Lastly we talked about Amateur Television and that by using a digital television set top box with manual tuning you can tune into the VK3RTV amateur television transmitter (repeat) you may see some really interesting technical content. For details of how to tune in to Amateur Television in Melbourne checkout the website http://www.vk3rtv.com/
Amateur Radio is the fascinating way to communicate! The Wireless Institute Of Australia has produced a colorful fold out brochure that outlines and illustrates the many interesting aspects of the hobby.
This new Foundation Licence has provided the opportunity for people from all walks of life technical and non-technical to join in the hobby.
There are now three grades of Amateur Radio licences, the easiest and most popular for people getting into to the hobby is the foundation licence. The second level is the standard licence and the third is the advanced licence. All Amateur Licences are issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and you must have a current amateur license in order to be able to transmit and talk to others on the air on the Amateur Radio bands.
The Foundation Licence is very easy to obtain, yet it is a real Amateur Radio License which will allow you to do some serious worldwide communicating on most of the amateur high frequency (HF) bands, the 2 meter very high frequency (VHF) band and the 70 centimeter ultra high frequency (UHF) band.
The Wireless Institute of Australia has produced an easy to read training manual titled "Your Entry Into Amateur Radio", ideal for the people wishing to obtain their foundation radio licence. Everything you need to know to obtain your first license is contained within this one easy to read book. Your Entry Into Amateur Radio is available for just $18.00 or $19.50 including postage from the Wireless Institute Of Australia and is also available from most leading radio clubs.
All required information is provided in the training manual including a basic knowledge of electrical safety, a basic knowledge or radio communications and importantly the operating procedures of an amateur radio station.
For those starting with little or no prior knowledge of radio communications, the study required to obtain the foundation license will likely take you between eight and twelve hours. Once you feel you are ready, you can sit an assessment with a Wireless Institute of Australia registered assessor. The assessment has two parts, firstly a 25 question multiple choice exam paper and secondly a practical assessment. Your results will be given to you personally by your assessor at the end of the assessment. With a positive result your license application can be mailed to the ACMA and within weeks you will be up on the air with your own call sign.
There are large number of radio clubs across Australia running weekend training courses specifically designed to guide and assist people through the training manual, these club courses also provide valuable practical demonstrations and hands on training. Attending a training course and assessment provided by a radio club is highly recommended.
Listeners in the 3WBC coverage area may like to consider one of the following radio clubs who provide weekend training courses and assessments for people wishing to obtain their foundation licence:
Eastern & Mountain District Amateur Radio Club website
Milpara Scout Hall,
13a McCubbin St, Burwood - Melways 61-E7
Telephone Bryan VK3HXR on 0403 604 242
Frankston & Mornington Peninsula Amateur Radio Club website
St Leonards College, Riverend Rd. Bangholme
Telephone 03 9781 2886
Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club Inc. website
PO Box 1098 Cranburne VIC 3977
Telephone Bruno 03 9700 4526
Healesville Amateur Radio Group
Box 346 Healesville Vic 3777
Meetings at the Rear of the Healesville Telephone Exchange
Moorabbin & District Radio Club Incorporated website
Combined Club Rooms
Turner Rd Reserve, Turner Rd, Highett
Telephone: (03) 9702 1199
North East Radio Group, Incorporated website
Community Hall 126 Mountain View Road BRIAR HILL
Telephone: 03 94320563
Western and Northern Suburbs Amateur Radio Club website
Northern Metropolitan Institute of Techology (NMIT) PRESTON CAMPUS BUILDING K St.
Georges Road, PRESTON
Telephone: 0400 44 32 18
Amateur Radio Victoria website
40G Victory Boulevard ASHBURTON VIC 3147
Telephone 03 9885 9261, Tuesdays, 10 - 2:30 pm
A complete list of all Radio Clubs Australia-Wide is also available.