Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay organizes a free Virtual Ground Station Workshop 2021
Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay is conducting a Virtual Ground Station Workshop. Learn the basics of Amateur Radio, Satellite Tracking, and many more...
Radio is a technology that changed the world for good. The radio waves discovered in 1888 were utilized for communicating "wirelessly." Over the years, hundreds of communications systems came into existence, but to date, all of them are based on Radio waves only. Only recently, the idea of LiFi or using visible spectrum/ LASERs for communication has come to the forefront. What makes Radio technology special to survive and be so relevant even after 130 years? It would be best if you experienced Amateur Ratio, also called Ham Radio, to understand the same. Today, we have the Ham Radio Club, IIT Bombay (HRC-IITB), a subsidiary of the IIT Bombay Student Satellite Program, to share some insights.
Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay Team
While there are four primary members, the whole satellite team of 40+ students help in the various activities of the club.
What is Ham Radio? How did the Satellite Team start Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay?
Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics, and communication together. It is mostly used for non-commercial uses like networking with like-minded strangers, experimentation, communication during natural disasters, and receiving signals from space. Ham Radio operators are also called hams or amateur radio operators.
The IIT Bombay Student Satellite Program is dedicated to the vision of making IITB a center of excellence in space technology. With the launch of their first satellite Pratham in 2016, a ground station was set up to communicate with the satellite. The services of ham communication were required for the same. Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay, a part of the Institute Technical Council, was brought under the Satellite team’s purview due to a better understanding of satellites and communication.
Satellite Tracking (Albeit Rains)
Antenna Making Sessions
What are the intricacies involved in being a Ham Radio Operator?
To perform most of the ham radio activities, one needs to be a licensed ham radio operator. The domain of activities that do not need an individual to be licensed mostly contain receiving and processing signals. A ham radio license enables an enthusiast to transmit signals of a fixed power range for a multitude of purposes. Different types of ham radio licenses exist in different regions with different allowances, but associated with every license is a unique callsign, a unique identification number assigned to a ham radio operator.
An individual needs to pass one or more exams of different formats to acquire their license. The number of exams and their structure is slightly different for different countries. Although all the exams, irrespective of the region, test the individual’s knowledge in radio communication theory and ham radio rules & regulations.
In India, the ham radio license exam is organized regularly by the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Department of Telecommunication, GoI. The ham radio license has 2 ‘grades,’ namely the restricted grade and the general grade. To get a restricted grade, one needs to pass a theory exam based on radio communication theory and ham radio rules & regulation. To get a general grade license, one needs to pass a practical morse code receiving + transmitting exam along with the theory exam mentioned before. Anyone above the age of 12 is eligible to apply for any of the licenses mentioned. The two grades differ in allowances transmissions of signals in terms of frequency bands and power transmitted.
A restricted grade ham license holder is allowed to transmit signal of power up to 10W in the UHF & VHF band and 25W in the HF band, whereas a general grade license holder, is permitted to transmit signal of power up to 25W in the UHF & VHF band and 400W in the HF band.
You recently received images from the International Space Station. I believe you received pictures earlier as well. How was it different this time?
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station(ARISS) transmits SSTV images for a few days to Earth twice or thrice every year to promote ham radio. Receiving & decoding these SSTV images has been a regular activity in our club. In normal times, we used our own portable ground station and equipment to receive the signals transmitted from ISS whenever it passed from over our sky.
Due to the pandemic and lack of access to our ground station and equipment, we decided to widen our scope and explore webSDRs. WebSDR is an online network of numerous ground stations set-up around the world. Any of these ground stations can be accessed and used by anyone with an internet connection through this network. It can be called Virtual tracking, much like the virtual world we are going through at present.
During the Christmas of 2020, ARISS celebrated its 20th anniversary by holding one more SSTV transmission event. This time, instead of using our own ground station, we accessed some freely available webSDRs located in the Netherlands and South Africa to receive signals. Our team was awarded the ‘ARISS SSTV Award’ for successfully receiving and decoding these images with the webSDRs.
What is the vision for HRC-IITB, and what are the upcoming plans?
Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay has the vision to foster and grow the Amateur Radio community in IIT Bombay and beyond. We aim to set up a full-fledged autonomous ground station with advanced and updated technology while attaining numerous ham radio licenses.
HRC-IITB has been organizing multiple theory and hands-on sessions in the lockdown and made them available on our YouTube channel. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to spread our online presence as much as possible and reach people whom we could have never met. Having started our own Instagram page last year, we have been conducting interactive activities like quizzes, learning the Morse Code. Our blog Stories of a Naive Radio (SNR) consists of a plethora of information on ham radio and wireless communication.
Upcoming is our flagship event, ‘Ground Station Workshop 2021’, a one-day long free of cost workshop. We are also planning multiple new Instagram series and blogs.
Can you detail a little bit on the upcoming Ground Station Workshop?
We are conducting our flagship event, The Ground Station Workshop, on 24th January 2021 in the virtual mode. It will be a full-day event held on an interactive online platform. The event will be held on a combination of YouTube Live and Discord. More details will be shared with the registered individuals soon.
It is majorly aimed at educating engineering college students from across India (and maybe this time the world) about ground stations so they could set-up ground stations or initiate space and ham-related projects in their campuses. It can also be a beneficial event for all the ham enthusiasts out there. Even after being technically oriented, the workshop will cover some talks on managerial aspects of team building and cost analysis of a ground station.
All the details regarding the event, from registration to timings, can be found on our social media handles.
Facebook: Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay
YouTube: Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay
Registration link: https://forms.gle/iB16d7qyQKT9cVVb9
Go follow Ham Radio Club IIT Bombay everywhere guys! The series I love the most is Morse Mania on Instagram. Learning Morse code was never this easy before!