An amateur radio operating award is a type of award given to HAM radio operators in acknowledgement of their technical skills. Ham radio is of course a form of amateur radio – a hobby that involves broadcasting to a large area, or listening out for messages across distances. With a working two-way radio, there are all kinds of exciting things you can do; and that is what these hobbyists enjoy exploring.
So what do you have to do in order to be honored with an award? How can one radio operator be considered to be particularly notable or successful?
In most cases, these awards are earned by establishing a connection with another amateur radio station. These awards are usually sponsored by the national amateur societies, magazines, clubs, and regulatory bodies – and each contest has its own rules and fees.
Now, if you’re not already an aficionado who spends a lot of time on their shortwave radio, you might still find yourself wondering why this is a big deal and why it is worthy of acknowledgement!
What’s key to recognize then, is that these connections are normally achieved over long distances, often with limited information available – and this mimics the kind of skill that would have been necessary for the highly trained radio technicians used during the first and second world war.
In many case, these awards will be given to those who use pick up shortwave radio over a long distance, using a police scanner, or perhaps some kind of homebrew equipment (a homemade radio receiver).
These shortwave transmission frequencies are available to ham radio operators that hold the correct license, and allow them to communicate in relatively short areas. The nature of these shortwave signals, is that they travel in straight lines and typically fall off the curvature of the Earth as a result. Longwave on the other hand is particularly useful for communication over extreme distances, seeing as it is able to ‘rebound’ off of the Earth’s atmosphere and thereby follow it round.
Then there are issues regarding the various different objects that can block signal, not to mention the other transmissions that can scramble and jam the signal.
Smart positioning, and the use of specialist and highly tuned equipment can be used to get around this issue. Likewise, it is possible to send a signal further through these methods, or even by using strategies such as bouncing signals off of the surface of the moon!
Through smart engineering and problem solving, a skilful operator is therefore able to engage in some virtual ‘tourism’ by using their equipment in the right way. This is not only exciting and rewarding in itself, but is also an excellent way to win contests!
Then of course there are other types of award for radio operators – as in any hobby or industry. You might be awarded for the quality of your content for instance, or for engaging in another contest.
The bottom line? This is a huge and engaging community that is welcoming to newcomers. Get involved!