What is an SWL? Can I be one?
Most people start off as a short wave listener, listening to amateur radio bands, getting to know the ham lingo and much more, keeeping pace with all the latest news in the world of amateur radio. A Short Wave Listener (SWL) needs no license (ofcourse you can take an SWL License but you can even do without it), passes no test and goes about amateur radio as he pleases. A desultory begining often leads to awakening interest, some constructional work, further study and a developing awareness of the activity. The serious SWL will soon accumulate a substantial knowledge of the results to be anticipated at various frequencies, depending on time of the day, season and a knowledge of propagation as it affects short wave transmission. This greatly helps in obtaining the kind of results wanted.This is a start on the way to obtaining a full transmitting license, which is the eventual aim of many short wave listeners.
But where do I begin?
To start off with, you need a recevier (short wave radio) capable of receiving amateur radio bands. Most of us have ordinary radios. Normally most of the good radios that you find around are capable of receiving the 40m (7 MHz) amateur radio band. All you need to do is bring the dial near 40m and try tuning in a very slow manner. Be patient! When you are around 7 to 7.2 MHz you will most probably be able to hear real people talking. It depends on the time of the day, you are trying to listen to. Most hams prefer to come on air in the mornings and evenings.
If you are lucky enough you will get to hear hams talking on amplitude modulation(AM). You will be able to properly decode what they are speaking if you actually get them on AM. Most hams use the SSB mode. If you have already tried listening to ham radio conversations on your ordinary short wave radio then you should have come across the quack-quack kind of human conversations. This mode known as SSB enables hams to communicate over longer distances than when they are on AM.
If you have a really good communication receiver like the Sony ICF range of radios, you can actually decode SSB reception. But don't worry, we can actually manage with a normal short wave radio. For listening to an SSB signal you will have to make a (Beat Frequency Oscillator).
Indian Institute of Hams do conduct workshops on SDRs or Software Defined Radios, with which you can actually listen to hams on all modes with the help of your computer. You even have the choice of listening to an online SDR receiver. All you need is a web browser for you to tune into the 40M (7 Mhz) ham band by visiting the following link
You can even download the software from Ham Sphere and listen to live converations from around the world.
Getting a Ham License in India
The Ham license is the key to get you on the air. Getting a license in India is not a difficult issue. You need to know the following topics:
Basics of electronics.
Rules and regulations specified by WPC. (You can download the rules and regulations here)
Send and receive messages using morse code. [Optoinal]
Learning the morse code is not so difficult. IIH conducts classes periodically to teach you all of the above. Contact us to know when the classes for the next batch commences. For those who are not very conversant with electronics, IIH conducts extensive classes conducted by experienced instructors like Mr.Marcus. You can also have a look at the syllabus for the examinations here. The examinations are conducted very often. The usual schedule is as follows:
In Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai it is conducted every month.
In Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Nagpur it is conducted in the month of January, March, June, August, October & December.
In Ajmer, Bangalore, Darjeeling, Gorakhpur, Jullundur, Goa, Mangalore, Shillong, Ranchi, Srinagar and such other places where a monitoring station of the Monitoring Organisation of the Ministry of Communications is located it is conducted in the month of January, April, July and October.
But before appearing for the examination you need to submit an application. You can get the hard copies of the application forms at IIH. Alternatively you can download it directly from here and fill it up. Please note that you need to submit a hard copy of the application only.
Application form for an Individual
Application form for a Club, School or College
There are two categories of licenses, namely :
General Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence
Restricted Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence
The validity of the license is for a period of 2 or 5 years. After this period you can get it renewed by applying for a renewal to the license issuing authority. You can download the form here. You can use the same form for obtaining a duplicate license incase you lose the original license.
If you have any questions or need clarifications on any aspect of the Ham license do contact IIH.
All the very best!