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Since 22.05.2006
Depuis le 22.05.2006
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Amateur Radio, a hobby without frontiers

By Giovanni Converso, HB9HFL, Switzerland

What is amateur radio?
Who are the radio hams?
How can they communicate on the air waves in this” internet” era??
The following article attempts to answer these questions. Ham radio is also a token of friendship and of real-life experience.  Technique alone would not suffice if not directed by inner feelings…

Nowadays radio communication has become so common that no one is surprised to hear, by simply pressing  a button, a radio broadcast...  But only few know that it was discovered by the first radio amateurs.  In fact, it was in 1896 that the most famous radio amateur of all, Guglielmo Marconi, acquired his first patent for a wireless communication system.  Radio was born

For more than a century people have been communicating on the radio waves with home-made transmitters and receivers:  they are the radio hams.  They are men and women of all professions, all social status and all age groups, interested in radio and telecommunication techniques.

Radio amateurs can establish contact with other amateurs’ world wide, they can discuss, communicate by telegraphy or teleprinter, exchange e-mails, pictures, files, etc., in the bands of radio frequencies specially assigned to them.

Radio amateurs are authorized to build their own equipments and to experiment with all types of antennas.  They transmit either from home, in the car, boat or plane, or during a mountain race.  In mountains they install relays to transmit their messages. Satellites built by radio hams encircle the earth...

The radio amateur hobby is a powerful means of bringing people together, without race, colour, nationality or religious discrimination.  I would like to relate a personal experience lived thanks to the radio.  

This story began on the 13th March, 1997 at 6 o'clock in the morning, when I was exploring the amateur bands of my receiver.  Suddenly a very weak signal caught my attention.  I put on the headphones and concentrated intently on this small voice that repeated some words,  then disappeared in the background,  then reappeared  seconds later. After some very careful tuning of the receiver, I recognised it was a radio amateur.  

Quickly I turned on my transmitter and  tried to call him in English.  The contact was difficult as propagation conditions were very bad.  I understood with difficulty the name “Ivo” and the country: Croatia. It was difficult to continue the contact so we decided to try again the following day, early in the morning, on the same frequency (3.753 MHz).

After a few radio contacts with Ivo, always very well appreciated despite reception difficulties, I learnt that he lived in the centre of the city of Dubrovnik and that he had only a very modest antenna, just a few meters of simple wire.

I also learnt that Ivo was blind and had suffered a lot during the war that had destroyed  ex-Yugoslavia some years ago. I had a much sympathy when he spoke of his family and friends that  he could not meet anymore, as all these people were located in another part of ex-Yugoslavia, to which access was forbidden to the Croatians.  For Ivo, the only means of communication with them was his radio, as the telephone was very difficult and costly, and the letter post did not work at all…

So  it was necessary to improve Ivo’s radio station, starting with installation of a good antenna.  Friends of mine and I decided to send him a dipole antenna.   When the package arrived at Dubrovnik Ivo was immediately summoned to the customs office for explanations and justifications... He was very scared by the idea that they would confiscate this precious object.   He went to the office accompanied by his daughter Katarina and friend Miro, also a radio ham.  All feared the worse!  Thank goodness, the radio amateur license was valid and Ivo, after signing lots of forms and going through more formalities, went home, his heart jumping for joy!  

The next day he had to resolve the practical problem of installing the antenna.  In fact, how to fix this relatively long wire (20 m) in this conglomeration of old houses with telephone lines, electric wires, water pipes, clothes lines, and all whilst being without his sight?  Fortunately Miro and Katarina were there.

On 27th March 1997 at 6 o'clock in the morning, I tuned my receiver to the frequency of 3.753 MHz...  A few seconds later Ivo’s voice appeared loud and clear. The contact was excellent!

The following days, Ivo made contact with the stations on the other side of ex-Yugoslavia, mainly with family and friends.  With the new antenna, communication worked wonderfully!  Much better than the telephone!

Ivo and I contacted each other regularly on the frequency of 3.753 MHz.  We are not alone anymore.  Several other radio amateurs come regularly to this meeting place of friendship and solidarity.  (It is now known as The Euro-net.)


If you wish to know more about the different activities of the radio amateurs, visit the following Web Sites:

1) The radio club of Fribourg : < >

2) The radio station of HB9HFL: < >

Good surfing and see you soon on 3.753 MHz...  

Giovanni,HB9HFL "Avry-sur-Matran, 1997"













Antenne verticale 5 bandes (28, 21, 14, 7 et 3.5 MHz) modèle 5BTV de HUSTLER,équipée de 8 radiants d'un quart d'onde par bande. Longueur totale des radiants: environ 330 m de fil. (Radiants enterrés dans le sol et fixés sur la barrière en bois). Longueur de l'antenne: 8.5m. Cette antenne présente un rendement excellent sur toutes les bandes! (Avry-sur-Matran, 1994).







La station radio HB9HFL et son opérateur. (Avry-sur-Matran, 1994)

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