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What is Ham Radio?

Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) is a popular hobby and service in which licensed Amateur Radio operators (hams) operate communications equipment.

Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the Wireless planning commission (WPC) for use by ham radio operators.

Why are Amateur Radio Operators also called “Hams”?

Ham: a poor operator; a ‘plug’ (G. M. Dodge; The Telegraph Instructor)The first wireless operators were landline telegraphers who left their offices to go to sea or to man the coastal stations. They brought with them their language and much of the tradition of their older profession. In those early days, every station occupied the whole spectrum with its broad spark signal. Government stations, ships, coastal stations and the increasingly numerous amateur operators all competed for time and signal supremacy in each other’s receivers. Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working each other across town, could effectively jam all the other operations in the area. Frustrated commercial operators would refer to the ham radio interference by calling them “hams.” Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely disappeared.

Who is the Typical Ham?

Amateur Radio operators come from all walks of life — doctors, students, kids, politicians, truck drivers, movie stars, missionaries and even your average neighbor next door. They are of all ages, sexes, income levels and nationalities. Whether through Morse Code on an old brass telegraph key, voice communication on a hand-held radio or computerized messages transmitted via satellite, all hams use radio to reach out to the world.

Find out what you can do with ham radio!

What’s the Appeal of Ham Radio?

You can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car. You can take radio wherever you go! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies. For instance, the Amateur Radio Service kept New York City agencies in touch with each other after their command center was destroyed during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham Radio also came to the rescue during Hurricane Katrina, where all other communications failed.

You can use telegraphy, voice, digital and images in communication with other hams. You can even talk to Shuttle astronauts or bounce signals off the moon!

Some hams like to build and experiment with electronics. Computer hobbyists enjoy using Amateur Radio’s digital communications opportunities. Others compete in “DX contests,” where the object is to see how many hams in distant locations they can contact. Mostly we use ham radio to form friendships over the air or through participation in one of more than 2000 Amateur Radio clubs throughout the country.There are over 600,000 radio amateurs in the United States and over 2,000,000 worldwide.

South India Amateur Radio Society

South India Amateur Radio Society is a non-profit organisation at Chennai, they can help you in becoming a Ham or an amateur radio operator in India.

They can be reached at www.siars.org.in

Ham radio Tamilnadu

Would you like to be a ham?  SIARS will help you

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On the eve of January 14th 2008, I got a chance to witness the Makaravilakku, the man made “divine” fire with the  tight security of police), The mean time the myth is revealed by the Sabarimala thanthri himself, I think this scribblings won’t be unbelievable.

Map showing Sabarimala(big circle) and ponnambalamedu (smaller one)

Ponnambalamedu, where the camphor blocks are lighted is just 4Km away from the Sabarimala temple,(see the map above). it is a really beautiful place with grass-caped hills and shola forests. For the makaravilakku ,at ponnambalamedu there is a permanent concrete platform and a big watch tower .This place is very near to Kochupamba ,where the Power substation is situated, Amidst the dense forest, The  settlements are the Substation,Dam ,KSEB inspection bungalows and tribal colony.Sabarimala is powered from this substation situated in kochupamba. Kochupamba is serene beautiful place which is about 35km away from main highway to Sabarimala. Traversing the entire path across thick forest to Kochupamba is unforgettable. you can see the roads(colored red) to both Sabarimala (also see the secret road way directly reaches to Sannidanam -VIP’s come through this way).The most notable thing is the jeep track ends near to Ponnambalamedu. Every year before the makaravilakku, this road is cleaned and cleared for  the Travancore Devasom Board and police to reach there. Ponnambalamedu is at an elevation of 1170m above MSL, where as Sabarimala is just 544m. The view of Sannidhanam from Ponnambalamedu is disrupting,just like a city inside the thick,calm forest.

A shot from inside the jeep,on the way to kochu pamba

The way to Ponnambalamedu Hill from Kochupampa

The concrete platform for Makaravilakku at Ponnambalamedu.

Day before the Makaravilikku, I reached the KSEB IB in kochupamba and stayed  there, sharing the same lobby with the high police officials and the TDB officials. Amazingly,even the modern technologies for communication are there,They were still using the AIR transmission for the timing of the “vilakku” . They have been busy with fine tuning the transistor radio for the next day, proceedings. The TATA SUMO of TDB( Click to see the registration details of the vehicle-Some dummies needs proof at every point!!!!) contained a pile of camphor,sacks,kerosene etc was  parking in front of the IB.

TDB vehicle Loaded with kerosene,Camphor,sacks etc |January 14th at the front of KSEB IB,kochupampa


On the morning January 14, the team consisting of three jeeps of armed police started roaming.But they didn’t enter to the Ponnambalamedu. After lunch,from the KSEB canteen at Kochupamba, the team started at 3:00’clock to Ponnambalamedu.

The forest check post to ponnambalamedu, near the kochupamba dam

The adventure….

 Usually the locals trek to the hills near to Ponnambalamedu. I also got involved in this team.Half an hour trekking through the forest gave the scene of the mighty hill.( see the picture below).We  seated there with a radio. Thanks to AIR for the perfect timings.

One the eve of Jan 14, we started to ponnamabalamedu through the grass caped hills

Waiting for the "vilakku"..

Waiting for the “vilakku”


This video is shot by me with a digital camera, just a 500m away from the Ponnamabalamedu hill, when the first glow is on.If you watch the video carefully you can see persons moving and smoke is coming up ,when  the fire is kept off with wet sacks. keep in mind that Sabarimala is at the valley of this hill.  A forest fire is also seen in the frame,but it wasn’t been seen at Sabarimala

It became darker when the second glow is on.

I suppose the next Makaravilakku will be telecasted as  live by our television channels directly from Ponnambalamedu,apart from the conventional telecast from Sabarimala and Pamba…:)…Swamyiye Saranamayyappa……

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