Amateur Radio? SWL?

Radio Malaysia QSL Card Kuala Lumpur 1971 SWL

Malaysia was first exposed to ham radio in 1924. Back then Malaysia was known as Malaya, parts of which were under the British colonial rules. The British expatriates who worked in Malaya then brought ham radio, also known as Amateur Radio, to this side of the world.

Since then we have more than 7,000 licensed hams (or Radio Amateurs) in Malaysia. Back then, one first became a Short Wave Listener (SWL) before becoming a real ham. In those days ham radio activities in Malaysia were very rare. I still remember in 1978 when I was a SWL, there were less than 250 ham radio operators in Malaysia. At that time there were only Class A licence holders. The regulations then were very strict. You were not allowed to operate a transceiver at your home or car even though you already passed your Radio Amateur Examination (RAE). You must pass your CW (Morse Code) test before you could apply for ham radio license from Jabatan Telekom. At that time you could hardly see 2 meter Yagi or HF Yagi on roof tops …… For info also in the early days … to mid 80s no one are allow to work on mobile. For the first years of transmission you cannot go on voice or phone after one year of operational than only you are allow to work on voice otherwise you have to go on Morse code.

British expatriates who worked in Malaya

Things changed in 1997 when the first Class B licence was issued… At that time we still had less than 1,000 licensed hams in Malaysia. In 1997 MCMC took over Jabatan Telekom. Between 1998 – 2000 there was no RAE; SWLs were at lost. For two years, there was no new licensed hams.

A group of radio hams in MARTS took the initiative to get things moving and forwarded a proposal to MCMC regarding this issue. As a result, the first RAE, organized by the MCMC with the help of some veteran hams, was conducted at PWTC in 2001. Today there are about 7,000 licensed hams in Malaysia…..

Society and Clubs

In the early days we had only MARTS. BARTS, SARTS, In 1997 ASTRA was formed, and in 2002 MARES was born. Today there are more than 10 amateur radio clubs in Malaysia. Among the active one are MARTS, ASTRA and MARES, Recently many radio clubs have mushroomed. Almost every state has radio clubs. This is good as it caters the needs of hams who live far away from KL. Some of the clubs organize activities, participate in exhibition organized by local authorities, and some even have links with the bigger amateur radio organizations based in KL.

Very recently a lot of recreational organizations have also mushroomed throughout our country, and some of their members are radio amateurs. These radio amateurs try to integrate amateur radio into activities organized by these recreational organizations. Their intention is good, unfortunately what actually transpired is something else.

Since getting an Apparatus Assignment for Amateur Radio Service (amateur radio license) is quite difficult or troublesome for many members of these organizations, they decided to take the shortcut. form a club and apply for Apparatus Assignment for Mobile Radio Service, usually for private use. With the AA and the allocated frequency, their members can now transmit even though they do not have Amateur Radio license. The idea is to give these members experience and training to talk like radio amateurs. On the one hand, the intention to get more people to become a radio amateur is very good. On the other hand, they are misleading their members that Amateur Radio is only about chatting using two way radios. So even before passing their RAE many thought they have become real hams. As a result of this most of radio hams now days are not knowledgeable.. Only some really work hard for the RAE and learn more after they have passed the RAE. … The rest couldn’t careless as they are now licensed to use amateur radio equipment. I consider these people not true radio amateurs.. I wish to say this… during our good old days as SWL we really enjoyed it and until today if they have time, they still listen to “short wave “

Why did GOD give us 2 ears and one mouth? need to use our ears to listen more than to use our mouth to talk. Why? Someone once told me that the more we talk the more mistake we make… Let me share some knowledge with all of you. During SWL days way back in 1979 I built my own half size G5RV antenna by just listening to 2 radio amateurs discussion on how to build the G5RV antenna on 7.040Mhz LSB. Today I still can remember by heart the length of the antenna. We also learned during SWL days how to operate HF rig and how to tune them using manual ATU. During field day, and exhibition we always gave a helping hand where possible. Most of the SWLs always looked forward to participate in events such as field day, JOTA and etc. time most of the QSO was on HF….. so our exposure was more towards HF.  We were not interested to go on 2 meter. Most of us liked to work DX….. because its more fun and thrill up there. Also, during SWL days we learned all the tricks…… once we got our ticket most of active hams already knew us…because we participated in a lot of event organized by the senior hams. Thanks to those hams who were happy to share their experience and knowledge with us.. also learned to be patient. Some of the knowledge we learned was not found in any textbook. I remember when I first went on “mobile HF” way back in 1991… At that time we didn’t have repeater linking every state in the country. When I first installed HF set in my car, I had some problems. When the engine was on the reception was good. But every time I switched ON my air conditioner, hash and RF noise would over ride all the signals….. I checked and found that the condenser fan which was located near the radiator was not equipped with a filter…. then I bought a 0.001 uF capacitor. This type of capacitor was widely used. At one time it was installed at the distributor. After installing the capacitor at the condenser fan the problem went away. . I enjoyed working HF while travelling long distances. I remember at one time while driving from KL to Penang I used to have QSO with our late Dato Tan 9M2DW in Muar Johor all the way from KL to Penang. I really enjoyed working HF, mobile, at that time….It so happened that in 1992 the propagation was good. Would you believe that when the condition was good I used to work Europe on 40 meter while mobile? I sold my car I bought a new car… this new car really gave me headache you know why.. believe me …. I had an HF set in this car. The moment you start the engine the HF set would pickup a lot of noise… I did not know what to do. I called a few senior hams to ask for advice, they told me to do this and that … I told them everything I had done and that they did not solve the problem. I spend few weeks trying to locate the culprit. After trying so many things… I found out the culprit was the ECU (Engine Control Unit). The ECU was not shielded properly as the casing was made of plastic. You need to put this stuff into a metal casing and ground the casing. So gentleman, we learn so many things during our SWL years. I helped some radio amateurs to put up 3 element Yagi for HF. Its so huge. One element was about 36ft in length. We couldn’t imagine how to put up this kind of antenna but we managed to put it up without using a crane. Again we learned so many things during the good old days from constructing & installation antennae, towers, mast and so on.

A few months ago we put up one tower and HF Yagi antenna at the club house. I wished that time many SWL, 9Ws and new 9Ms would come and see how to put up the tower and the HF Yagi. Unfortunately, only a few turned up. So many missed the boat… It’s not easy to see how hams put up this kind of towers and HF antenna. So next time if you hear someone wanting to put up this kind of thing, don’t miss it … If you become a ham you need to learn some basic things….

1. You must have basic tools
2. Learn to use multimeter to check continuity, voltage..AC and DC
These are basic thing a ham should know
3. Learn how to solder
4. SWR meter– Learn how to use and read SWR
And many more. used to tell youngsters if you become a ham you learn so many things…
1. Civil Engineering
2. Mechanical Engineering
3. Electrical Engineering
4. Electronic Engineering

Some of the things which we learn you cannot find in any books..or at any college or university…..and most important of all, most you cannot buy it……!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_1024/image.jpgAlmost all old time radio amateurs value our licence. We keep it with pride. Many newly licensed radio amateurs today are different. Their call signs are nothing of value to them. So, many lend their call signs to unlicensed friends. Moreover, why do many newly licensed radio amateurs today use non amateur lingo which is made up of words and expression such as Loceng Terbang, Oscar Tango Mike and Kotak Hitam which are not found in the vocabulary list of most radio amateurs ? WHY???

Very very recently there was an interesting article that came out in one of the local newspapers. The article was about a “commercial” radio club that train people to become radio amateurs. The big shots in clubs like this call their club by various names including “Kelab Radio Komersial [Comercial Radio Club]”, “Pre-amateur Club” and so on. I prefer to call clubs like these “Non-Amateur Radio Club.” Because most of these club are only allowed to operate on frequencies outside the ham band, usually in the range of 140 – 143Mhz. think the intention of the people behind the publication of the article is good but unfortunately they didn’t think of the impact of the article on amateur radio and radio amateurs. First, the presentation of the article in the newspaper seems to suggest that this club is an Amateur Radio Club. That is misleading because no legally licensed amateur radio operator is allowed to transmit in the 140-143Mhz range. This makes the newspaper a laughing stock to the whole world of amateur radio. Readers who do not know anything about ham radio would get the wrong picture. I don’t think the article did a good job in educating the public about ham radio.

The big shots of the non amateur radio clubs often claim to train people interested in ham radio by allowing them to have their own two way radio equipment and allowing them to operate their radio while driving their cars or while they are at their home. It is illegal for unlicensed amateur radio operators to operate two way radios. But club like these make it legal. Clubs like these give the impression that ham radio is about buying a two way radio and transmitting on air. The proponents of these clubs are actually making a big mistake. The rules and regulations are there to make radio amateurs a disciplined lot, but most non-amateur radio clubs seem to tell people to break rules.

I have received reports from some hams friends that these so-called “pre-radio amateurs” in their terms saying some of them use linear amps. Some using 100watts and 200watts jamming stations they don’t like. This is unhealthy, and contrary to the amateur radio spirit. This never happened before. Yet it is now happening in Malaysia, and spreading like a wild fire. 1997, the Malaysian government legalised CB radios. Why can’t these group of people move themselves to CB, and learn the technique there..and later upgrade themselves to amateur radio. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen. Instead, they insist on using VHF two way radios including amateur radio equipment. Their membership drive blur the distinction between real ham and non ham. As a results, many newly licensed hams join these non-amateur radio clubs. This is like going back to kindergarten once you have finished primary school., some of the graduates of the non amateur radio clubs try to be gurus once they have become licensed ham. They try to lead a new school of thought in ham radio. Unfortunately they don’t have enough experience and knowledge. So what they are doing causes irreparable damage to the image of legally licensed radio amateurs, and tarnish the image of the country, without them being aware of it. In the early days and in the 90s radio amateurs were well respected by many people because of their skills, knowledge and contribution to the society. Today radio amateurs are perceived by many as “TONTO” as a result. Nowadays in order for any people to come on air they don’t need to sit for the Radio Amateur Examination. They go short cut. They can arrange to meet a representative of the non-amateur radio clubs at a coffee shop, or a stall under a tree, pay RM50, and get their call-sign. With that call-sign they can carry amateur radio equipment and talk like they are legally licensed ham. This is wrong. The Apparatus Assignment (AA) given to their clubs does not allow them to use amateur radio equipment. The Apparatus Assignment given to their club/s only allows them to operate in the Land/Mobile Radio Service along with radio taxi operators. That AA does not allow them to operate in Amateur Radio Service. There is no rules/regulations that require them to use amateur radio lingo/slang and Q-codes in the Land/Mobile Radio Service. Otherwise those radio-taxi drivers would have long been using Q-Codes.

Furthermore, they are supposed to use Land Mobile Radios and be bound by Land Mobile Radio Specification as set out in the Technical Specification of the CMA 1998. By using Amateur Radio Equipment they are actually using radios that are not type-approved for Land/Mobile Radio Service, and they may. have violated CMA 1998 which could cause them a hefty fine. Unfortunately many of these “pemegang AA Kelab Komersial” believe they are legal radio operators and need not worry about being checked by authorities. Perhaps MCMC is not yet aware of this, or just waiting to press the button. big shots of these non-amateur radio clubs claim they train and watch their members. I wonder what kind of training they give their members. I have received reports that many members of these clubs have to fight for air time because they have too few frequencies to use. In the fights, some use linear amps to jam the transmission of their adversaries. Consequently, many resort to being pirates, using frequencies not allocated to them or their club. Even while being ‘pirates’ they call themselves “ham,” their activities as “ham radio” and they use ham lingo Again this tarnishes the good names of legally licensed ham. This is not what amateur radio is all about. Legally licensed radio amateurs do not use frequencies outside the bands allocated for Amateur Radio Service. Legally licensed ham do not cause disruption to other radio services. Illegal and unauthorised hams do.

Ham friends in neighbouring countries have often told me they are shocked when they hear these “pre-amateur hams” talking outside the ham band. Most think that our hams here are allowed to work outside the ham bands. Some have even accused our government to have contravened the band plan allocated for Region 3 by the International Telecommunication Union.

Oh my god this is a real disaster, and it is happening in this century. We have good and talented people who mess the whole thing up and make people confuse. I feel very frustrated that this thing is happening in Malaysia and nothing is being done about it.

I wonder how many SWLs today have short wave receivers, and monitor short wave broadcasts. Back then, this is what most SWL do, and that’s why they are called Short Wave Listener.

To all legally licensed radio amateurs, please wake up and do something.

Amateur radio clubs/organizations have to come forward to discuss this issue. This is not the job of MCMC alone. All representatives of amateur radio clubs/societies have to sit down together and draw some guidelines and do something to protect the interest of all legally licensed hams. We can no longer talk about this problem at coffee shops or discuss it in small groups. We need to get together as one head. We need people to give ideas to improve things.

The future of Amateur Radio in this country is in your hands. My advice is get very close with the old timers which you can trust. Go and see them, visit them, learn from them and gain some knowledge from them…..  Don’t listen to amateur who talks about negative things about amateurs. You have to see them to discover the true story behind , only then, you can judge them.


Source: by 9M2AU dated 29 April 2009