Amateur Radio is the big brother of CB Radio and is a hobby that involves constructing, experimenting and communicating. A licensed radio experimenter can operate two-way radio equipment from almost anywhere, and can talk across town or around the world.
The scope and possibilities are endless and would include, for example, experiments with home-built equipment or antennas, sending TV pictures, operating through satellites, or just having a quiet chat with friends at home or abroad.
No licence is needed to listen to amateur radio transmissions, however, you need a Radio Experimenter's Licence in order to transmit. Transmitting licences are issued by ComReg, The Communications Regulator. To qualify for a licence, you need to pass an exam in Radio Theory and Regulations for Experimenter Stations. This exam, which is to test your understanding of the basic principles of radio and the regulations governing radio experimenters, is simple enough for anyone with an interest in the hobby.
The IRTS (national society for radio experimenters in Ireland.) has developed a Radio Experimenter's Examination Course Guide, which is a CD-based guide with the topics covered by the licence exam (which can be purchase on their website at www.irts.ie). This course is best tackled in a club environment (many clubs will be arranging courses based on the Course Guide, generally commencing in September each year), but for those who are not in a position to attend classes in a club, the CD is available for a nominal registration fee.