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I've recently came across the terms "Pirate Radio" and in the URL of this page, "Ham Radio". What is the difference between these terms? And what is the difference between the transmission of a Pirate Radio and a Ham Radio.

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    $\begingroup$ Did you at least google for both terms? $\endgroup$ – Juancho May 7 '17 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it says that ham radio is a hobby and that pirate radios are an illegal hobby. And that's it... $\endgroup$ – anonymous May 7 '17 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ @KeeganKuhn Sounds like you answered your own question. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters May 7 '17 at 1:51
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    $\begingroup$ Back in my high-school days we used to listen to Wolfman Jack on the radio. I think he had a million watt radio station beaming over the US from Mexico and people referred to his program as a Pirate Radio program. I think he was legal in Mexico and I am not sure of the laws on that sort of thing but he ruled the airwaves for teens during that time. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH May 7 '17 at 18:47
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There is a very clear difference.

I am a Ham Radio operator. It is vernacular to mean an Amateur Radio licensee. I have had to pass tests to earn the privileges to operate within parameters such as power levels in specific frequency bands. It is a great hobby and I highly recommend it for anyone. Entry is not too difficult. It is designed to be that way. And people that do not play by the rules do not last in this hobby. Prime directive is to never cause interference to any other licensed service.

Pirate radio is a whole different animal. They are people who think the airwaves belong to everybody so they just set up things like broadcast stations. Sometimes they cause interference to other stations. Sometimes they pick a clear frequency so they dont. But either way, they are illegal. The Federal Communications Commission can levy fines on them and warn them to stop. If they do not, then their equipment is subject to seizure and forfeiture. Not a good way to get on radio.

The biggest difference in the transmission of Ham Radio vs Pirate Radio comes down to two things: Operation within power limits that are licensed to Hams vs Pirates who exceed the Part 15 limits that govern things like garage door openers. And the second thing is the transmission of music. Hams are not allowed to do that. Pirate Radio stations usually do.

Hope that clears it up for you.

My advice: Look into joining the thousands of us Hams who enjoy having legal communications any time we choose. It works when the phones are out, cellphone towers are not working, etc. I, personally, have a solar power plant so I can operate for days on batteries. There are a lot of aspects to the hobby.

Check it out. You may like what you see. Better yet, find a local amateur radio club in your area and attend a meeting to see what the fuss is all about. Guaranteed you will meet some interesting people.

Have a great day.

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  • $\begingroup$ So, if it is unlicensed, but has less that 200ft range, would it be Ham Radio? $\endgroup$ – anonymous May 7 '17 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ Ham radio means LICENSED. It is a license to operate just as @SDSolar says. If you want to play using a legal transmitter (e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi, others) then that is not called Ham Radio, it is called something else like just "playing around with electronics" or maybe experimenting to learn the technology and anything else. But, this is not Ham Radio. Ham Radio is very specific, it is not just any sort of playing around with radio technology. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH May 7 '17 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ However, general questions on radio technology and closely related topics are fair game on this forum and you do not need to be a licensed ham radio operator to ask such questions. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH May 7 '17 at 2:46

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