Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator is as easy as it is rewarding. It is best to begin by contacting the Amateur Radio Club (or Ham Club as they are commonly known) in your area. Some Ham Clubs work closely with city and county offices providing communications during community events and/or natural disasters, therefore paying a visit to a local town hall or county seat is often beneficial.
These offices will most likely be able to provide names of area Amateur Radio enthusiast. If, however, there is no local information, an interested party may contact the American Radio Relay League directly by searching for them on the Net. This web site provides a listing of over 2,000 affiliated Ham Clubs. By simply typing in some general location information, a specific area or regional club should be easy to find.
After locating an area club and talking with some of its active members, it may be appropriate to attend an actual meeting. This first hand exposure to both long time and newly licensed Amateur Radio operators provides a clear picture of what Ham Radio is all about – licensed individuals of all ages and walks of life joining together in the common hobby of communications.
The next step is actually obtaining a beginner’s license. Although rules for earning an Amateur Radio license may vary some from country to country, in the United States the most popular beginner’s license is the Technician Class license. This license is obtained by correctly answering a 35 multiple-choice test written with the beginner in mind. This test does not require the knowledge of Morse code as do future licensing upgrades, but covers questions regarding basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory.
Successful completion of this test authorizes new operators to use all amateur VHF and UHF frequencies above 50 MHz. In preparing for the exam, be sure to check with area Ham Clubs for training classes and review sessions which are generally offered. Purchasing the book, “Now You’re Talking! All You Need For Your First Amateur Radio License” may also be a sound investment on the road to achieving Technician status.
After acquiring the beginner’s license, check with other Ham Radio operators for detailed information on the purchases of two-way radio equipment. Long time Hams will know the areas most reliable retail businesses as well as online outlet stores. Also, consider attending a Hamfest (which to the layman might best be described as the ultimate flea market for radio equipment.) It would be wise to have an accomplished Amateur Radio operator accompany a first-time buyer to such an event.
With the Technician Class achieved, moving up the licensing ladder to the General Class will prove to be a giant step in operating privileges. Achieving the status of General allows for both cross-country and word-wide communications.
The third class license entitled Extra Class authorizes its licensees to operate on all frequencies allocated to the Amateur Service. Both of these Class upgrades require comprehensive testing. Again, valuable instruction and review are available through area Ham Clubs.
So for the would-be Amateur Radio operator, the advice is simple. Locate an area Ham club, utilize the assistance of knowledgeable Ham operators, glean the benefits of the skills acquired, and enjoy a hobby that connects those involved with the entire world.So for the would-be