Amateur “Ham” Radio

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is a hobby enjoyed by several hundred thousand people in the United States and by over a million people worldwide. Amateur radio operators call themselves “radio hams” or simply “hams.”  Amateurs need to demonstrate skills in the radio art and have been licensed by the federal government since 1912.  Amateur radio operation is fun, and that is one of the main reasons’ hams participate in it. But ham radio can provide communication during states of emergency. Ham radio works when many other services fail.  After Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, the utility grid was destroyed over hundreds of square miles.  All cell phone towers and antennas were blown down. Only amateur radio and a few isolated pay phones with underground lines provided communication between the outside world and the public in the affected area.  Amateur radio operators are known as technical innovators, and have been responsible for important discoveries. For example, in the early part of the 20th century, government officials believed that all the frequencies having wavelengths shorter than 200 meters (1.5 MHz) were useless for radio communications, so they restricted radio amateurs to these frequencies. It was not long before ham radio operators discovered how to communicate on a worldwide scale using simple Amateur Transmitters. Thus, the short-wave radio era began.

In this display you will see the very earliest of spark type transmitters from 1914, (ask for a demo) and then the transition into vacuum tube equipment in 1923, when most equipment was home made.  Commercial equipment became more readily available in the 1930’s and post-war, and equipment by famous manufacturers such as Collins, Hallicrafters, National, Hammarlund and the like are shown.  The modern era brings SSB transceivers from Japan; ICOM, Yaesu and Kenwood and Drake from the USA.  Also displayed are numerous accessory items such as Morse code keyers, measuring equipment and operating aids.  The AWA Museum has a ham call, too; W2AN.  Enjoy.