What is amateur radio?
Amateur Radio, also called ham radio, is a FCC licensed radio service. There are three basic license classes you can hold, Technician, General, and Extra. A technician license allows you to transmit on all the VHF/UHF bands alloted to amateur radio. General allows communication on a large part of HF, in addition to the Tech's existing pivlages. Extra class allows communication on every ham radio band. ag-guys.com
What good is it? Amateur Radio will always be there. If the phone lines go out, the cell phone towers shut down, or the electricty goes out worldwide, you can still use radio communication. With todays batterys, you can run for a week or two on just one gell-cell battery! This makes Amateur Radio great for emergancy communications during natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. And, its also a lot of fun. There are many yearly contests, where you compete with other hams across the country and the world to make as many contacts as you can in a set time and on set bands and frequencys. Or, you can just use it for local communications with your friends and family.
Modes, modes, and more modes!
One thing that is really cool about ham radio, is that there are many many modes. Voice, CW (morse code), and many digital modes. The digital modes are where you connect your computer or GPS to your radio, and include SSTV (transmitting pictures), RTTY, and PSK31 (transmitting text), and other packet modes, some you can even transfer data files and other computer info back and forth. A little something for everyone! :)