User interface is via a simulated HF transceiver presented on the computer screen. Of course, being an internet based virtual amateur radio system, no amateur radio equipment is needed and no RF is radiated, yet the experience is very close to that of operating a real HF radio on the HF bands. For those unable to operate real radios because of planning restrictions or other problems, this system offers some of the fun of amateur radio again.
HamSphere is a community for amateur radio operators and other radio enthusiasts. Amateur radio equipment is not needed. The transceiver uses java technology and simulates all amateur radio bands from 160 to 6 meters. The software, plus a lot more information about this service, is available from http://www.hamsphere.com/ . The software works in Windows, Mac and Linux.
Before you download the HamSphere software be sure to download Java. I hadn't done that and so got an error message. Java is free to download from www.java.com/getjava/ and takes only a few minutes to install. Installing HamSphere is even quicker. Once both are installed the system appears to work flawlessly.
This is not ultimately ham radio in the traditional sense. No skills are needed to build and set up a station, erect antennas, or battle the sunspots. If all you do normally is chat to other stations around the world this may not matter much. It is a great way of enjoying contacts with stations around the world and, in my opinion, is a perfectly valid way of enjoying a form of ham radio. I like the fact that CBers are welcomed onto the system, thereby being able to learn amateur QSO techniques before perhaps going on to get a full amateur licence.
As far as "simulated ionosphere", internet based ham radio systems go, this is the best one I have used. I can recommend it. All I'd like now is for Kelly to design a version of this that runs on the iPod Touch 4g, so I can access the system over a 2.4GHz WiFi link from a mini handheld "transceiver" in my pocket.