HAM radio

Thread Starter


Joined Jan 19, 2004
whats the link between ham radio and electrical.electronics engg?apart from the apparent one tht ham radio techonlogy is based on electronics and communication engg.is it jus a hobby (and sounds like a tonne of fun) or does it hav professional benefits too?


Joined Jan 10, 2006
In the past, the HAMs have made major contributions to the electronics knowledge base in their attempts to make better equipment, and to get the most out of some of the Rubbish bands they were allocated. Most advances in Radio can be attributed to a HAM somewhere trying to outdo his mates by trying to get the best DX.


Joined Nov 17, 2003
Not being an amateur radio buff I may be wrong in this, but didn't amateur radio operators develop something along the lines of a primative version of the packet switching widely used in internetwork communications?

I am also amused by the name "Ham" to reference amateur radio, and was interested to find this artcle at Havard which provides an explaination to the etymology of this term:

the word ham was applied in 1908 and was the call letters of one of the first amateur wireless stations operated by some members of the Harvard Radio Club (sic). They were Albert Hyman, Bob Almy and Peggie Murray. At first they called their station Hyman-Almy-Murray. Tapping out such a long name in code soon called for a revision, and they changed it to Hy-A1-Mu, using the first two letters of each name. Early in 1909 some confusion resulted between signals from HYALMU and a Mexican ship named Myalmo, so they decided to use only the first letter of each name and identified their station as HAM.
Good stuff!



Joined Apr 20, 2004

Back in the '60s, there were some dedicated hams who managed to transmit slow Morse by way of the moon - the signal actually bounced back off the moon. The transmitter power was 1 watt. This was before LNA's.

I'd always heard it was ham radio because the word amature was pronounced "hamature" in England - doubtless in the east End of London. Whichever story is correct, ham radio sounds better than anything you could bring out of "amature".


Joined Aug 9, 2006
I have no idea of the origin of the term 'HAM', nor does anyone else really.

According to wikipedia,

"The acronym:
A false theory is that HAM stands for the first letter of the names of three of the pioneers in the field of Radio communication: Heinrich Rudolf Hertz; Edwin Armstrong; and Guglielmo Marconi. This may originally have developed as a verbal mnemonic to help students, but it cannot possibly be the source of the term itself as it actually predates Armstrong's contributions to the radio art."


"Possibly the most popular theory, and one endorsed by the American Radio Relay League, is that "ham" began as a pejorative term meaning a poor telegraphic operator. A 'ham' was slang for a 'show-off', a person who talks too much, and entertains badly, being starved for attention, such as in the phrase "What a ham.""


"[edit] A little station called HAM
The theory goes on to reference a speech that was made to the US Congress in support of amateur radio operators. The station, which operated with the self-assigned call sign "HAM", came to represent all of amateur radio. The speech was said to have turned the tide and helped defeat a bill that would end amateur radio activity entirely, and turn the use of the radio spectrum completely over to the military. There are no Congressional records to back this theory and by the time this could have happened (around 1909-1912), the term HAM for an amateur radio operator was already well established"


Joined Nov 17, 2003
I have no idea of the origin of the term 'HAM', nor does anyone else really.
That is fair comment, since at the bottom of the Harvard article I posted above, there is the following disclaimer:

This legend has been published and told by word-of-mouth countless times over the past 90 years. Unfortunately, "it isn't so." HWC members researched this story, even obtaining the copy of the Congressional Record for the date in question. We could find no record of Mr. Hyman appearing before congress. We have to admit, though, it's a very entertaining story!
Like most great legends, it most probably started in a bar!! :D


Tube Tech

Joined Jan 11, 2007
Back to the original question, momentarily: Engineering is theory. Amateur radio is practice.

Engineering is math I can't begin to comprehend, used to produce items on paper that may or may not work. Amateur radio is assembling a station to do what you want to accomplish, and getting all the whizzybits and doeswhats to work with each other. Engineering is specifying the height and materials of a tower, amateur radio is sticking one up.

If you have other interests - robotics, converting buses to motorhomes, SCUBA and flying come to mind - check out how many people on message boards aimed at those activities are hams. See how often the hams provide cogent, lucid answers to questions.

Radio amateurs are hands-on, solve-the-problem people. Don't ask one of us whats on the tube tonight, we haven't a clue.

The origins of ham - one possibility: "Pro" radio operators claimed amateurs sounded ham-fisted when they operated a straight key. Hams took the title without taking the intended insult to heart.

"does it hav professional benefits too?" If you get an amateur radio license, you demonstrate that you are capable of learning a complex subject, to a standard set by others. If you build and operate a station, you demonstrate that you can perform the many tasks required to select the equipment, interface everything, get the power up the tower and get on the air. Not every potential employer can see this, but another ham can.


Joined Nov 17, 2003
Back to the original question, momentarily: Engineering is theory. Amateur radio is practice.
Some may disagree. Engineering is specifically the practical application of theory. The theory and mathematics is often the realm of the scientists and mathematicians that produce the "tools" that engineers work with.

That said I don't want to derail this topic from the intended subject of Ham radio. I think one thing is clear - amateur radio enthusiasts make competent and able engineers, due to the broad based skills set they possess.



Joined Nov 21, 2006
I can speak only for myself, but the link is one of practicality. Ham radio is many things to many people these days and it runs the range from Morse code sent with an antique straight key, to complex digital communication using a computer to track satellite passes and aim high gain narrow beamwidth antenna arrays. There are many, many other facets to ham radio which are too numerous to list here.
Just keeping up with some of the new things that come along in ham radio keeps me "in the loop" with many parts of my work also.
It's supposed to be a hobby, but the benefits of staying even semi-active are amazing.
Recently, I was approached about a communications job with a state law enforcement agency. When I asked how they came by my name and had knowledge of my abilities, they were quick to reply that there were many "hams" currently employed by their department and most were quite proficient at maintaining and operating their communications equipment. They were in need of more help, so looking for other "hams" seemed like a logical choice.
Being a ham opens many doors. It has helped me many times in the past and I'm sure it will continue to do so.


Joined Dec 13, 2005
if you want to learn more about amateur radio do a search for the ARRL website and im sure you will found out what you want to know there.

Randy KB9KXH