If you can talk or type – you can get on the air, and you do not have to be an electronics or computer whizz-kid to do it.
Transceivers do not need to be expensive. You can buy new equipment if you wish but there is plenty of good second hand equipment available from the retailers, radio rallies or on the well know auction sites.
Addresses of the stockists can be found in the radio magazines e.g. ‘Practical Wireless’, ‘Radio User’, and in the RSGB members publication ‘RADCOM’ which can be viewed at the Radio Club.
Details of the transceivers can be found in the ‘Rig Guide’ available from Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) on-line Book Shop.
You need to be licensed before you can transmit on the amateur bands in order to show that you know how to operate the equipment without causing interference to others. The Foundation license has been designed to get you on the air as quickly as possible, and is suitable for ages 10 years and upwards.
However anyone can listen in for free to get a flavour of the hobby by using a pc, tablet or smart-phone to access Software-Defined Radio receivers connected to the internet. The SDR technology makes it possible for all listeners to tune independently, and thus listen to different signals. Clicking on WebSDR.org will bring up a list of receiving stations spread around the world.
You can listen directly to the CW, AM, FM or SSB signals, but if you want to decode digital signals such as PSK31, RTTY and even CW you will need to feed the received audio signal from the WebSDR web page to a separate program such as fldigi. This can be done as easy as putting a microphone in front of the loudspeaker and running the program on a different machine, or by using software such as ‘Virtual Audio Cable’ or equivalent if the pc has a multi-core processor. Examples are given at www.oz9aec and www.hamradioandvision