The Amateur's Code was originally written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA in 1928. Since then it has become, for many amateur radio operators, their goal for conduct both on and off the air
The Radio Amateur is:
CONSIDERATE... never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.
LOYAL... offering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
PROGRESSIVE... with knowledge abreast of science, well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.
FRIENDLY... with slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
BALANCED... Radio is a hobby never interfering with duties owed to his family, job, school or community.
PATRIOTIC... station and skill always ready for the service to country and community.
Interpretation of the Amateur's codeFollowing each point of the Amateur's Code is an interpretations of the Amateur Code taken from various sources which I feel is relevant and will continue to improve upon.
"The Amateur is Considerate...He never knowingly uses the air in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others."
The first Code talks about Radio Amateurs being considerate or unselfish in their everyday actions. Things like tuning up on nets for long periods, excessive mic gain or running power continuously and unnecessarily, all tend to aggravate our neighbours on the air. The same goes when one breaks into a net to "check in for the count" without following the required procedures or protocols and would leave an unfavourable impression of your radio operating abilities among your fellow Ham members.
Obscenity or vulgar language, are also inappropriate on the air. Think before you speak and you will save yourself from embarrassment - 'make sure the brain is engaged before the mouth is set in gear'. The best practice is to take a few moments to listen and note your surroundings before pressing the switch.
"The Amateur is Loyal...He offers his loyalty, encouragement and support to his fellow radio amateurs, his local club and National Society through which amateur radio is represented to the Government, The International Amateur Radio Union and international telecommunication union"
Getting on the local repeater and complaining about its performance or running-down those who volunteer to work on the equipment is certainly not within the spirit of loyalty mentioned above. Grumbling that the repeater was in used in a parade, sports events or other public service event for a few hours on a Saturday morning doesn't cut it either regardless of how much contribution you had made towards the equipment fund.
Join the local radio club. Find the most active club in your area. Promote amateur radio on a local basis and allow your voice to be heard, even your dissenting voice. Volunteer where you can contribute your time, energy and expertise. To get a bigger picture and participate in a bigger group, join the ARRL or you national amatuer organization. Meet the members at section and division events and conventions and perhaps even your local eyeball if it gets enough support to warrant their attention. In short, an events / local eyeball meeting points gives you the opportunity to bend the ear of these members in person. They will listen to your concerns and passions regarding amateur radio. More important, you have a vote to make a difference in the future of Amateur Radio in your community.
"The Amateur is Progressive...He keeps his station abreast of science. It is well built and efficient. His operating practice is above reproach."
Being progressive does not mean that you have to own all of the latest gadgets to the exclusion of basic living necessities. Instead you should strive for technical competencies, expertise and innovation. For example, is your equipment in good condition? Is your transmitted audio clear and comfortable to listen to? Also, is your power supply clean so that your transmitted signal is free of AC hum? If you have one or more radios in a vehicle, your connections are made to the battery to minimize the chance of alternator whine, right?
On the receiving side, for better reception, you should be familiar with your receiver's features such as variable bandwidth tuning, after- market filters, the noise blanker, RF attenuator, AGC, and RF gain controls to maximize signal to noise ratio.
Not only should the equipment be kept abreast of science, but the radio amateur needs to remain on the cutting edge of operating techniques, rule and protocol changes. Amateur Radio hobby continues to evolve with changes in the technology used by amateurs and with changes in society at large.
The HAM member conduct on the air should also be above reproach. That means that we should conduct ourselves with courtesy and respect. In other words conduct yourself as a lady or a gentleman on the air and you'll have plenty of enjoyable contacts. Don't be a grouch or else you will end up on a narrow frequency band talking to the same group of grouches.
"The Amateur is Friendly...Slow and patient sending when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others; these are the marks of the amateur spirit."
Be a HAM mentor! It certainly is difficult to seemingly answer the same questions over and over again through the years, but it is something we must do to maintain a healthy and vibrant Amateur Radio Service. All of us were beginners at some point in ham radio. Sometimes we just need to step back and reflect on the patience of those that helped us. Remember, we only pay back our mentor by being a good mentor to others. Personal behaviour on the air is half of the lesson of the Amateur's Code.
"The Amateur is Balanced...Radio is his hobby. He never allows it to interfere with any of the duties he owes to his home, his job, his school, or his community."
People have been known to go into ham radio, wrapped themselves up completely in it and within a few years sold all their equipment and went into something else. Like everything else amateur radio should be enjoyed in moderation. Enjoy it in moderation and attend to your other responsibilities as well. Ham radio will be waiting when you return. Don't turn your wife into a "ham radio widow" or your kids into "ham radio orphans." It's great to have passion for the hobby, but know your limits.
"The Amateur is Patriotic...His knowledge and his station are always ready for the service of his country and his community."
The history of Amateur Radio is rich with account of amateurs performing admirably in times of disaster for their communities or when their country called in time of crisis. Even today amateur radio members train themselves and are ready to track weather changes, assist in damage assessment, assist public safety personnel when their communications are disrupted, and provide a vital link for families trying to reach loved ones in the first crucial hours after disaster has struck. Hams have risked their lives to get word out to the world events as they happen.
This patriotic code extends beyond crisis and disaster situations into everyday life by engaging in community or public services. Community service may include acting as the local watch group, with communication link to police, fire brigade, welfare department, hospital, to report medical emergency or criminal activities such as robberies, theft and vandalism. Show your patriotism by doing community service(charitable activities) - a small, sincere contribution or effort goes a long way. They say charity begins at home so how can we help in national disaster when we neglect our local community.
Of all the points in the Amateur's Code, Number Six is perhaps the most important. In fact it is for this reason alone that the Amateur Radio Service remains chartered and has access to spectrum that is likely worth well into the trillions of dollars. Enjoy it, have fun, but above all, remember that we are a service and if we should ever prove to no longer perform our function as a service to the public, amateur radio will cease to exist.