This information relates to the Netherlands.
Everybody can become a radio amateur. If you want to use a transmitter, you will need a valid registration at the “Agentschap Telecom”, the Dutch Telecom Agency. To obtain this registration, you must take an exam. This exam includes many questions about the technical side of the hobby. A how to solve problems with antennas. With good result, you can get this registration at Telecom Agency, which is a part of the Ministry of Economics.
Why should I register?
Everyone wants to have a frequency to transmit on. But that’s not possible. It’s very busy in the air around us. In this air, there are radio signals from radio stations, TV signals (DVB-T, DVB-C), GSM/mobile internet, emergency services, and so on. There are thousands of signals present at any given time. If everyone just sending in the air what- and where ever they want, this can lead to malfunctions. Therefore, the radio signals (services) are strictly regulated and there are rules and restrictions where everyone must comply with.
Can you play me song over the air?
No, that’s isn’t allowed. Most people think that a radio amateur is the same as a radio pirate. A radio amateur is not allowed to broadcast music!
A radio amateur has given a few so-called frequency bands, on which he/she can experiment with radio, antennas, etc. This experiment that can be just a conversation with a fellow-amateur, or use various digital broadcasting techniques such as PSK, RTTY or SSTV.
Where radio amateurs must follow the rules. For example, they can’t broadcast music, and have to make sure they will not exceed a maximum permitted transmission power and much more. Radiopirates are always illegal and do not have a license or registration.
But if you don’t play songs, what are you doing then?
That’s a question that I get asked regularly. The main goal of the hobby is to communicate with other radio amateurs and doing radio experiment. The most easy way is just to have a chat via the transceiver. For example, you discuss how you can best place an antenna or if you have problems with a radio and what to do. Furthermore, a lot of technical knowledge is exchanged about everything that has to do with the hobby. There are a number of nets in the Netherlands where a group of radio amateurs meet each other on a fixed day and at a fixed time and thus share their findings. Of course, not only technical matters are discussed, it is also nice to speak to eachother, for example, to briefly report on the work done in recent times. It is NOT allowed to speak about matters such as religion, politics and messages that are intended for third parties may NOT be distributed.
How can I receive you?
With you normal radio, you can’t receive me. Because the frequency on your average radio isn’t matching. A average radio has a frequency from 87 to 109MHz, a local chat for me is on 145MHz, so you need to have a radio which can reach these frequencies. If you have a RTL dongles (a small USB stick with a receiver build in. You can hear me with that. Also a radioscanner will do the job. So it is possible, but not with normal radios.
The hobby’s goal
You can do experiments with a registration, as it is officially described. It is an experimental hobby that can go many ways. You can and may build or adjust transmitter equipment yourself. There are various associations that organize everything. For example, there is a special “antenna measuring day” to test self-built antennas for their transmitpatterns. There are also several trade fairs in the country, where everything is for sale, such as new equipment, parts, antennas and so on. Training courses are also given through these associations. To participate in this, membership is often required at the association. But, becoming a member is not mandatory and there is enough information on the internet if you are searching for something, and also you can participate in various forums where other amateurs meet. In the Netherlands there are two associations (VERON and VRZA) and one foundation (DKARS)
But you can also just have a chat via the assigned frequencies or send and receive data wirelessly with the computer. Everything you do is done within the framework of “experimental research”.
What may you do as a radioamateur?
That depends on your registration. For radio amateurs in the Netherlands there are two different registrations availeble.
– The N registration, this registration, also known as the Novice, is a nice stepping stone for a radio amateur. This makes it possible to make nice contacts with other amateurs nation and worldwide. Since June 2003 the whole 2 meter and the entire 70cm band can be used and since the end of 2006 also on a few HF band like whole 10m, part of 20m and a small part of the 40m band. Many modes can be used like SSTV, packet radio, RTTY, morse/CW, phone, and many more. The maximum transmitted power is 25 Watt.
– The F registration – This registration has more options than the N registration. The F stands for Full. This registration can be used on all frequencies that are assigned to radio amateurs. The maximum transmitted power is 400w.
All radio amateurs have a callsigns. These callsigns are made of two letters, first letter is a P which stands for the Netherlands the second letter is indicating your license. The letter D is for the Novice radio amateurs, followed by a number, and followed by one, two or three letters. For example, My own callsign is PH7GIS.
P – The Netherlands
H – F license (personal choice)
7 – personal choice
G -personal choice
S- personal choice
You may choose your own calls, or you will receive them from Agentschap Telecom, which manages the registrations. The callsign letters consist of a prefix and a suffix. The prefix are the first three characters, the suffix the last three. Below an overview of the prefixs of call signs that are allowed in the Netherlands, the number is also free to choose.
– N registration: PD2 up to PD5, PD7 up to PD9.
– F-registration: PE0 to PE5, PE7 to PE9, PH0 to PH5, PH7 to PH9, PA1 to PA5, PA7 to PA9, PB0 to PB5, PB7 t / m PB9, PC0 to PC5, PC7 to PC9, PF0 to PF5, PF7 to PF9, PG0 to PG5, PG7 to PG9.
If no choice is made, the call letters are assigned by the Radiocommunications Agency.