Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Answer To: PaSsu/Sangay/Penstar

To be qualified as a Ham and in order that you can be authorized to use a wireless transceiver, you need to pass an examination conducted by a qualified Ham under the aegis of the BICMA (Bhutan InfoCom and Media Authority, Ministry of Communications, Royal Government of Bhutan). Although BICMA is the regulatory authority that will issue you the licence and the call sign, I am afraid that they do not have a trained Ham who is capable to impart training or conduct examinations. 

You need to be knowledgeable in subjects such as ITU’s (International Telecommunications Union) and our own laws governing telecommunications, amateur radio etiquette and, at the least, 5 WPM (5 words per minute) Morse code capability. Although Morse code around the world is no longer a necessity, BICMA’s rules still require you to pass the test in Morse code. 

So, if you are interested to go into Ham radio, you first need to learn all the above and then request the BICMA to conduct the exams for you. However, as I said, they don’t have that capability in-house … so they will have to call in someone from outside - closest being from India. They may be willing to do that for you - provided you pay the expenses for the examiner to come to Bhutan and conduct the exams. 

If you are really serious and if you are willing to wait until July, 2013, there is someone (of the highest class) coming to Bhutan during that time and will be in Bhutan for over a month. Let me know. I will be happy to request the person to arrange a training for you as well as anyone else interested, so that you can study for the examination which he will conduct under the authority of the BICMA. If you pass, you will get your licnece. Without a licence, it is illegal to operate a wireless set. 

Regarding the equipment … all that you need is a transceiver, mike, keyer and a simple antennae to start with. The cost really depends on the type of equipment you want. It can start anywhere from US$ 300.00 for the complete set to all the way to US$500,000.00 which would include Yagi beams and powerful Amps and top-of-the-range transceivers and a gamut of other paraphernalia. If you don’t have the money for the set, I can help by lending you mine - I have about 7 full sets. But without first making sure that you have a licence to operate the wirless sets, I will claw out your eyeballs - if you even so much as look at them :)- Wireless equipment in the hands of irresponsible people can be a very, very dangerous tool! 

Once you are on the air, if you have the time, you can have a blast. You will make friends around the world - from Kings to astronauts to doctors to inventors to lawyers to pirates in the Caribbean. There is only one danger – your wife might throw you out into the street from time to time since wireless transmission causes serious disruption in the reception of TV signals :)


  1. you should make a sign up sheet- I'd love to attend the proposed training, and I am sure there are many others who would as well. :) Thanks for the great, informative and interesting posts, I have been wiki-ing ham radio since i read the first one in your blog, and I'm getting even more hooked.
    ps. We miss your photos.

  2. hmmm...I could wait until 2013, but then it would be ironic if I didn't make it to the training. Let's what fate has in store. Anon.

  3. Thanks Aue Yeshey for actually taking time to answer our questions.

    Any test scares me, but let's wait and see. I will mark 2013 and hopefully I can attend the course and actually get licensed. And for the equipment, as soon as I get my pass certificate, I am going to storm into your house. Hahaha....but yeah thank you so much for being kind enough to lend some of equipment with us.

  4. Hi di and Penstar,

    If you guys are serious, gahter up some more and I will discuss the matter with BICMA and we should be able to conduct a training without a problem. We dont have to wait for the Ham arriving here in 2013 ... we can have someone qualified from India to come and conduct the training. I contact some Hams in India ... there are pretty famous ones there ... :)

  5. Dear di & Penstar,

    To get an idea of what is involoved, pl check out the following:

    As you will notice, it looks complex ... but I assure you it is not. One month is all it will take you to master all that that is mentioned there.

  6. Dear di and Penstar,

    I do not know the extent of your seriousness, but I have started the ball rolling. As a starter, I sent out the following mail to someone whose may be willing to fund the training course. I will keep you updated:

    Dear so and so,


    There is considerable interest among some select Bhutanese to learn the joys of Ham radio or amateur radio. Sadly however, we do not have in-country capability to train them in its use or operation.

    Therefore, I write to you in the hope that your organization may be willing to field a trainer for a period of one month - to train a number of Bhutanese youths in the basics of Ham radio - to enable them to get licenced. Please let me know of the possibility so that I may discuss the matter with the RGoB authorities on the modalities. Without doubt, the training will have to be conducted in Thimphu.

    Upon hearing from you, I will be happy to provide you with the details of the organization that has the capability and the mandate to carry out such trainings and certifications.

    With kind regrads


  7. Wow, Aue Yeshey - thank you so much for the information and all that you are willing to do for the interested. Lol...the syllabus seems going back to those terrible physics days in class XII and man a lot to study again. Anyways let's wait and see Aue how best we can make it happen. But thank you so much - I think you are getting serious.