What is Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio is the practice of two way radio communication between two or more licensed amateur radio operators. Amateur Radio is used by those who have an interest in radio communication techniques, construction and operation and for ensuing friendships with likely minded individuals throughout the world. It is not used as a means of profit or for business purposes.

The Amateur Radio Service is defined as “a radio communication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary (monetary) interest.” Amateur Radio is a worldwide service recognized in almost all countries. It helps the transmission and reception of radio signals as an amateur experimental activity. Radio Amateurs also place their services on a voluntary capacity in social service and emergency situations.

An Amateur operator is a person holding a valid license to operate an amateur radio station. In Sri Lanka, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission issues amateur radio licenses. There are over 3 Million licensed amateur radio operators throughout the world, and Sri Lanka has over 300 license holders.

Amateur  Radio operators come from various backgrounds, there are Engineers, Doctors, Accountants, Teachers, Farmers, Students and others in many professions who operate amateur radio. There are many who as youngsters started Amateur Radio as a hobby and later converted it to a career in Electronics and Communications.

Some of the  famous people who operate ham radio are King Juan Carlos of Spain,King Moulay Hassan of Morocco, King Bhumiphol Adulayadej of Thailand, Actor Marlon Brando, and Sonia Gandhi of India. Late Rajiv Gandhi, King Birendra of Nepal, King Hussein of Jordan and Astronaut Yuri Gagarin were also well known hams.

Ham radio operators use two-way radio stations from their homes, cars and outdoors to make hundreds of friends around town and around the world. They communicate with each other using voice, computers, and Morse code. Some hams bounce their signals off the upper regions of the atmosphere, so they can talk with hams on the other side of the world. Other hams use satellites. Many use hand-held radios that fit in their pockets.

Amateur radio, or “ham” radio, has been around for over ninety years, and is for people of all ages, including teens.  It’s a unique way to communicate over the airwaves to other people around the world of various age, profession and culture.

Hams exchange pictures of each other using television. Some also like to work on electronic circuits, building their own radios and antennas. A few pioneers in Amateur Radio have even contributed to advances in technology that we all enjoy today.

To get a amateur radio license,  one needs to pass multiple-choice exams in radio theory, regulations and Morse Code (for some license types).

The amateur radio service requires its users to have a valid amateur radio license in order
to operate legally.  Once licensed, hams may operate on designated bands for there license class.  License holders are also permitted to design, build, modify and repair their own equipment.

Some really dedicated hams enjoy taking the hobby to the extreme.  This includes using satellites, bouncing signals off the moon, connecting local radio systems around the world though real-time Internet streaming audio, and even amateur television where operators can see each other as they talk! There are even ham-astronauts who take radios with them on the International Space Station and thrill thousands of hams on earth with a call from space!

Public Safety

Ham radio is not only a fun pass time, but also helps out the general public in times of communication needs.  This includes public events such as scout jamborees, road races and marathons, and even extends to natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods when conventional communications methods are out of service. Today, many Radio Amateurs are active in public service and emergency communications organizations. Amateur radio operators have played a prominent role in providing communications in the event of natural disaster or in civil emergency situations where existing data and voice networks are either inoperative or insufficient.

How can one become an Amateur Radio operator ?

One has to obtain a license to become a Radio Amateur. This license is issued by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL).

What is the procedure for obtaining the Amateur Radio license ?

One has to sit the Radio Amateur Examination conducted by the TRCSL and obtain a pass in the examination. Afterwards he/she can apply for the Amateur Radio license which will be issued by the TRCSL subject to security clearance by the Ministry of Defence. Annual license fee range from Rs.50-100 for different classes of license.

How can one sit the Radio Amateur Examination ?

The Radio Amateur Examination is held by the TRCSL twice a year. The application procedure is published in the government Gazette. The Examination is held in 3 levels which will grant 3 classes of amateur radio licenses. The Examination consist of Question papers based on Electronics and Radio Communication Techniques and Amateur Radio operating regulations, practices and procedures. For some classes of licenses a practical Morse Code test has to be passed.

What are the different classes of Amateur Radio  licenses ?

Novice Class :  Examination consists of 2 papers.
Paper 1 : Basic electricity, radio and electronic theory (2 hours)
Paper 2 : licensing conditions, operating practices and procedures. (1 hour)

Amateurs who have passed Novice Class examination are eligible for 4S5xxx call sign.

Radio frequency allocations for novice class
Frequency Band Status Class of Emission
3500 - 3600 KHzPA1A, A1B, A2A, FIA
21125 - 21200 KHzPexA1A, A1B, A2A,F1B, J2A, J2B, J3E
28.0 - 28.500 MHz PexA1A, A1B, A1C, A1D
144 - 146 MHzPex F3E, FEF, F2A, A1A, A1B, A2

P – Primary Service.
S – Secondary Service
Pex – Exclusive use by Amateur Radio Service only
Source : http://spectrum.trc.gov.lk/Amateur/Amateur.html

General Class– Examination consists of 2 parts. Two compulsory written papers to be undertaken at one sitting.Paper 1 : Fundamentals of electricity and radio communications (2 hours)
Paper 2 : licensing conditions, operating practices and procedures. (1 hour)

Amateurs who have passed General Class examination are eligible for 4S6xxx call sign.

Advanced Class – Examination consists of 2 parts.

Part 1 : Two compulsory written papers to be undertaken at one sitting.

  • Paper 1 : Advance electrical technology and radio communications(2 hours)
  • Paper 2 : licensing conditions, operating practices and procedures. (1 hour)

Part 2 : Practical morse code test (5 words per minute)

Radio frequency allocations for general and advanced class

Frequency Band Status Class of Emission
1800 - 2000 KHzPA1A, J3E
3500 - 3900 KHzPA1A, A1B, A1C, A1D, A2A
7000 - 7100 KHzPexA2B, A2C, A2D, A3C, A3E
10100 - 10150 KHzSJ2A, J2B, J2C, J2D, J3C
14000 - 14350 KHzPexJ3E, J3F, R3E, F1A, F1B
18068 - 18168 KHzPexF1C, F2A, F2C, F2D, F3C
21000 - 21450 KHzPexF3E, F3F
24890 - 24990 KHzPex
28 - 29.7 MHzPex
50 - 54 MHzPexA1A, A1B, A1C, A1D, A2A
144 - 146 MHzPexA2B, A2C, A2D, A3C, A3E, J2B, J2C, J3C, J3E, J3F,R3E, F1A, F1B, F1C, F1D, F2A, A2B, F2C, F2D, F3C, F3E, F3F
430 - 440 MHzSA1A, A1B, A1C, A1D
1240 - 1300 MHzSA2A, A2B, A2D, A3C, A3E
2300 - 2450 MHzSA3F, J2A, J2B, J2C
3300 - 3400 MHzSJ2D
5650 - 5850 MHzSJ3E, J3E, J3F
10.00 - 10.50 GHzSF1A, F1B, F1C
24 - 24.05 GHzPexF1D
24.05 - 24.25 GHzSF2A, F2B, F2C,F2D
47 - 47.2 GHzPexF3C, F3E
75.5 - 76 GHzPexF3F
76 - 81 GHzS
142 - 144 GHzPex
144 - 149 GHzS
241 - 248 GHzS
248 - 250 GHzPex

P – Primary Service
S – Secondary Service
Pex – Exclusive use by Amateur Radio Service only
Source : http://spectrum.trc.gov.lk/Amateur/Amateur.html

Where can the one obtain the syllabuses of amateur radio examination ?

Syllabuses, past examination papers and any other related information can be obtained from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. TRC is located near the RMV Office.

The Address is:

Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL)
276, Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka.

Tel : 011-2689345, 011-2689351, 011-2689352
Fax : 011-2689341
Website :  http://www.trc.gov.lk/

What is the role of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL) ?

The Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL) is the national body representing licensed Amateur (Ham) Radio Operators in Sri Lanka and is a non profit organization. It was established over 50 years ago.The RSSL is incorporated in Sri Lanka under Companies Act No.17 of 1982 – Limited by guarantee.The Radio society of Sri Lanka is a member society of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU –www.iaru.org), which has the sector membership of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

What are the benefits of becoming a member of RSSL.?

Becoming a member of RSSL entitles newcomers to have the guidance, experience and backing of licenced Radio Amateurs before and after obtaining Amateur Radio licence. RSSL looks after the interests of Radio Amateurs in SL and represents them in matters affecting them to TRC , Ministry of Interior and other Authorities. RSSL also conducts monthly General Meetings, classes for members who intend to sit Radio Amateur exam, outings, contests and field trips to enhance the knowledge of Amateur Radio and to promote fellowship among members. Members also receive a free monthly newsletter.

How can one become a member of RSSL ?

Any person who is interested in Electronics and /or Amateur Radio can apply for RSSL membership. Amateur radio licence holders are enrolled as Corporate Members while others are enrolled as Associate Members. Students under 18 yrs are enrolled as Student Members. There are two other categories of Membership for Affiliated Clubs and Overseas Members. Membership application forms can be obtained from the RSSL by post sending a long stamped addressed envelope or downloaded from the RSSL Web site.

How can one get in touch with RSSL ?

The correspondence address of RSSL is P.O.Box 907,Colombo .The RSSL Web site is https://rssl.lk

Office Bearers and Members of RSSL could be met at the monthly General Meetings. Monthly General meetings of RSSL are usually held on the last Wednesday of every month at 5.30pm. (Please verify date of meeting before attending) Currently the meetings are held at Balcony Hall of the Otters Aquatic Club, 380/1, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7.