How To Be A Ham

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(External Link: Wikipedia)

(External Link: Department of Telecommunications – Govt. of India)

Here are the steps on how to become a ham radio operator in India:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible to take the Amateur Station Operator’s Certificate (ASOC) examination, you must be:
    • A citizen of India
    • At least 12 years old
    • Able to read and write English
  2. Apply for the examination. The ASOC examination is conducted by the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). You can apply for the examination online or at the WPC office in your city.
  3. Prepare for the examination. The ASOC examination covers the following topics:
    • Basic electronics
    • Radio theory
    • Morse code
    • Amateur radio regulations

The Indian Wireless Telegraph (Amateur Service) Amendment Rules, 2009 lists two license categories:

  1. Amateur Station Operators’ Licence (General)
  2. Amateur Station Operators’ Licence (Restricted)

After passing the examination, the candidate can proceed to apply for an amateur radio licence certificate. After clearance, the WPC grants the licence along with the user-chosen call sign. This procedure can take up to 12 months.

Licence category Age Power Examination Privileges
Amateur Station Operators’ Licence (Restricted) (Formerly Grade II) 12 10 W on VHF and UHF50 W on HF Minimum score of 40% in each section of the written examination, and 50% overall. Terrestrial radiotelephony transmission in VHF and UHF frequency bands and 12 HF Bands.
Amateur Station Operators’ Licence (General) (Formerly Grade I and Advanced) 12 25 W on VHF and UHF400 W on HF Minimum score of 50% in each section of the written examination, and 55% overall. In addition, a demonstration of proficiency in sending and receiving Morse code at eight words a minute. Radiotelegraphy and radiotelephony transmission VHF and UHF frequency bands and 12 HF Bands.


Examination centres

Amateur Station Operator’s Certificate or ASOC is the examination that needs to be passed to receive an amateur radio licence in India. The exam is conducted by the Wireless and Planning and Coordination Wing (WPC), which comes under the Department of Telecommunications of the Ministry of Communications. The examination is held monthly in DelhiMumbaiKolkata and Chennai, every two months in AhmedabadNagpur and Hyderabad, and every four months in some smaller cities. The licence may be awarded to an individual or a club station operated by a group of licensed amateur radio operators.

Antennas at the location of ham operator VU2GMN in Chennai. Knowledge of propagation and antennas is needed to get the licence.

The exam consists of two parts:

  1. Part I – Written Test
    1. Section 1: Radio Theory and Practice
    2. Section 2: Radio Regulations
  2. Part II – Morse Test (Not required for Restricted Grade)
    1. Section 1: Morse Receiving and Sending (Speed: 8 words per minute)
    2. Section 2: Morse Receiving and Sending (Speed: 8 words per minute)

The written test for the Restricted Grade consists of 50 questions related to radio theory and practice and radio regulations (25 questions in each section), that one must attempt in one hour. The written test for the General Grade consists of 100 questions, with 50 questions in each section, that have to be attempted in two hours. A candidate must score a minimum of 40% (50% for General grade) in each written section, and 50% (60% for the General grade) in aggregate for passing the test.

The application and licensing procedures are done online through the SaralSanchar portal, short for Simplified Application For Registration And Licenses, which is a web portal for license management under the Department of Telecommunications.

Radio Theory and Practice

The Radio theory and practice syllabus includes eight subtopics:

The first subtopic is the elementary theory of electricity that covers topics on conductors, resistors, Ohm’s Law, power, energy, electromagnets, inductance, capacitance, types of capacitors and inductors, series and parallel connections for radio circuits. The second topic is the elementary theory of alternating currents. Portions include sinusoidal alternating quantities such as peak values, instantaneous values, RMS average values, phase; electrical resonance, and quality factor for radio circuits. The syllabus then moves on to semiconductors, specifically the construction and operation of valves, also known as vacuum tubes. Included in this portion of the syllabus are thermionic emissions with their characteristic curves, diodestriodes and multi-electrode valves; and the use of valves as rectifiers, oscillators, amplifiers, detectors and frequency changers, stabilisation and smoothing.

Radio receivers is the fourth topic that covers the principles and operation of TRF receivers and Superheterodyne receiversCW reception; with receiver characteristics such as sensitivityselectivity and fidelityAdjacent-channel interference and image interference; AGC and squelch; and signal-to-noise ratio (S/R). Similarly, the next topic on transmitters covers the principles and operation of low power transmitters; oscillators such as the Colpitts oscillatorHartley oscillatorcrystal oscillators, and stability of oscillators.

The last three topics deal with radio propagation, aerials, and frequency measurement. Covered are topic such as wavelength, frequency, nature and propagation of radio waves; ground and sky waves; skip distance; and fading. Common types of transmitting and receiving aerials such as Yagi antennas, and radiation patterns, measurement of frequency and use of simple frequency meters conclude the topic.

Radio Regulations

Knowledge of the Indian Wireless Telegraph Rules and the Indian Wireless Telegraphs (Amateur Service) Rules are essential and always tested.[20] The syllabus also includes international radio regulations related to the operation of amateur stations with emphasis on provisions of radio regulation nomenclature of the frequency and wavelength, frequency allocation to amateur radio service, measures to prevent harmful interference, standard frequency and time signals services across the world, identification of stations, distress and urgency transmissions, amateur stations, phonetic alphabets, and figure code are the other topics included in the portion.

Also included in the syllabus are Q codes such as QRA, QRG, QRH, QRI, QRK, QRL, QRM, QRN, QRQ, QRS, QRT, QRU, QRV, QRW, QRX, QRZ, QSA, QSB, QSL, QSO, QSU, QSV, QSW, QSX, QSY, QSZ, QTC, QTH, QTR, and QUM; and abbreviations such as AA, AB, AR, AS, C, CFM, CL, CQ, DE, K, NIL, OK, R, TU, VA, WA, and WB.

Morse Code Test

Chart of the Morse code letters and numerals

Candidates who appear for the General grade licence examination must also take and pass the Morse receiving and sending test simultaneously. There is no Morse test for the Restricted grade. The test piece consists of a plain language passage of 200 letters which may consist of letters, figures and punctuation marks such as the full stop, comma, semicolon, break sign, hyphen and question mark.

Candidates have to receive for five consecutive minutes at a speed of 8 words per minute, the test piece from an audio oscillator keyed either manually or automatically. Accurately receiving a part of the test piece for one consecutive minute is required to pass the receiving test. A short practice piece is sent at the prescribed speed before the start of the test. Making more than five errors disqualifies a candidate. The average words consist of five characters and each figure and punctuation is counted as two characters.
The test piece is similar to the one provided in the receiving section. Candidates are required to transmit by using a straight Morse key for five consecutive minutes at the minimum speed of 8 words per minute. A short practice piece is allowed before the test. Candidates are not allowed more than one attempt in the test. Making more than five errors disqualifies a candidate.
Scheduling of the examination
Place Month
DelhiMumbaiKolkataChennai Every month
AhmedabadHyderabad and Nagpur January, March, June, August, October and December
AhmedabadNagpurHyderabadAjmerBangaloreDarjeelingGorakhpurJalandharGoa (Betim), MangaloreShillongRanchi (Dumka)SrinagarDibrugarhVisakhapatnam, and Thiruvananthapuram. January, April, July and October


License fees for different grades in Indian Rupees[22]
Grade 20 Years Lifetime
General Grade 1000 2000
Restricted Grade 1000 2000