Since the beginning of the United States amateur radio service in 1912, amateur radio operators have made significant contributions to radio technology and the understanding of radio science. This work must be continued today, as Part 97 of the FCC rules states that a primary purpose of the amateur radio service is the “Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.” Recent advances in the fields of computing, software defined radio, and signal processing provide unprecedented opportunities to meet this mandate, specifically in the field of radio science. These opportunities are already beginning to be realized with the advent of systems such as the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), the Weak Signal Propagation Reporting Network (WSPRNet), and PSKReporter. In addition, enabling amateurs to make and contribute legitimate scientific observations will expose amateur radio to a wider community of people interested in science around the world.
What is HamSCI?
HamSCI, the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation, is a platform for the publicity and promotion of projects that are consistent with the following objectives:
- Advance scientific research and understanding through amateur radio activities.
- Encourage the development of new technologies to support this research.
- Provide educational opportunities for the amateur community and the general public.
HamSCI serves as a means for fostering collaborations between professional researchers and amateur radio operators. It assists in developing and maintaining standards and agreements between all people and organizations involved.
What is HamSCI's scientific focus?
HamSCI was started by ham-scientists who study upper atmospheric and space physics. These scientists recognized that projects such as the Reverse Beacon Network, WSPRNet, PSKReporter, DX Cluster, ClubLog, and more are generating big data sets that could provide useful observations of the Earth's ionosphere and related systems. Because of this, HamSCI's initial focus is on these fields of research. In the future, other researchers may join HamSCI and broaden its scope. For scientists, working with the amateur radio community is a way to access individeually managed stations, available by the hundreds in dozens of countries, with receive and transmit capabilities across the electromagnetic spectrum, easily identified in areas of interest and deployed to remote locations, for free. You can read more about the utility of amateur radio as a teaching tool in this Eos article.
- How does the ionosphere respond to inputs from space and from the neutral atmosphere?
- How does the ionosphere couple with the neutral atmosphere and with space?
- What are the sources of medium and large scale traveling ionospheric disturbances?
- What are the causes of Sporadic E?
Amateur Radio Questions
- How do disturbances such as solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and traveling ionospheric disturbances affect radio wave propagation?
- How does ionospheric science help amateur radio operators improve communications?
- How can I use my existing radio equipment to science initiatives?
What is a ham radio operator?
HamSCI is driven by data generated by the activities of ham radio operators (a.k.a. amateur radio operators). Ham radio operators are people who are interested in using radio as a hobby and have obtained a ham radio license from their state government. Ham radio is a very diverse hobby. Some operators enjoy talking to friends accross town, while others work to build stations that can communicate around the world. Ham radio operators can help with emergency communications and public service, or even help advance the boundaries of scientific knowledge.
Any interested person can become a ham radio operator. Amateur radio can introduce young people to an exciting career in the field of science and technology, or it can simply serve as a fun and productive hobby for anyone who would like to get involved. The American Radio Relay League is a great place to learn about how to become a ham radio operator.
One of the simplest ways to participate in HamSCI is simply to get on the radio! This is especially true if you enjoy operating HF CW or digital modes. Systems such as the Reverse Beacon Network, WSPRNet, and PSKReporter will automatically hear your transmissions and report back to their respective databases.
Participate in Receiving Networks
HamSCI scientists rely on data from systems such as the Reverse Beacon Network, WSPRNet, and PSKReporter. These systems rely on volunteers to install and operate receiving stations. Dense receiver coverage is needed globally, so installing a receiving node for one of these stations is a great way to help out!
Follow the ARRL, QST, and CQ
Learn more about ham radio operating by joining the American Radio Relay League to receive the monthly QST journal and subscribing to CQ Amateur Radio magazine.