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4 Interesting Facts About HAM Radio

It was 2010 in Chile. It would’ve been just another warm August day, only if there wasn’t one thing going on. San José copper-gold mine buried 33 men 700 meters (2,300 feet) underground. The complexity of the situation required unconventional approaches for the rescue operation. That’s where HAM Radio kicked in.

Radio Club de Chile and Radio Club Copiapo provided the equipment and established all of the radio communication inside the mine itself and decisively helped the rescue operation. The story has a happy ending, as all 33 miners were rescued.

The beginnings go way back to the 20th century. The popularity noise was starting to get so loud that it started to disrupt the communications. It showed the need for the regulation of the area. The famous Radio Act of 1912 was born. It required amateur radio operators to be licensed and it has been so ever since.

Throughout the fascinating Ham Radio history a lot of things have changed, and it has continually progressed along the way. What are some other interesting facts about Ham Radio?

Call Signs

What is the deal with that funny combination of letters and numbers? Well, every licensed Amateur Radio operator is given a unique call sign. It consists of three parts, indicating the operator’s country of origin and often even a specific region within the country. It looks something like “UA1LO”. The suffix of the call sign identifies the license holder. A license is needed due to potential interference between radio equipment and other radio transmissions, so operators must understand it and be familiar with how it works.

Can you guess whose call sign is “UA1LO”? It belonged to Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space!

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Imagine you want to learn something new. There is a high probability you wouldn’t even know where to start. And now, imagine you get a mentor who guides you through your first steps. That happens when one wants to become Ham Radio operator. Many experienced operators volunteer to offer support and guidance for newbies. Elmer is the term for a Radio Amateur mentor.


Although hams use many different modes of communication such as voice, digital and even television, the original mode was Morse code. In order to save time, many abbreviations were created by Morse users and 73 is used to sign off with a friendly good-bye. Of course, if you are talking with that special someone a different number is used, 88, which means “love and kisses”.


ARISS stands for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station. Yes, International Space Station. Amateur Radio. In space! ARISS is actually a program and it enables astronauts on the space station to communicate with groups on Mother Earth. Ham operators set up their equipment and people, for example students, can communicate with astronauts in space. Astronauts also need a valid radio amateur license to communicate, so most of the members of astronaut corps are licensed amateur radio operators.

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