Anyone you know could be an Amateur Radio operator or “ham” –no matter what age, gender or physical ability. From ages 8 to 80, people in many countries of the world can have fun as radio amateurs. If you’ve had fun with CB radio or trying new things with your computer, wait till you see what you can do with ham radio!
You can do lots of things with an amateur radio. You can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car. You can take radio wherever you go! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies. At other times, you can talk to Shuttle astronauts or bounce signals off the moon.
While anyone can purchase HAM Radio equipment and use the equipment to listen, there is a requirement to have a FCC License to transmit. Although the main purpose of the hobby is fun, it is called the “Amateur Radio Service” because it also has a serious face. The FCC created the “Service” to fill the need for a pool of experts who could provide backup emergency communications in times of need. In addition, the FCC acknowledged the ability of the hobby to advance communication and technical knowledge, and enhance international goodwill.[/one-half-first] [one-half]
One of the major changes in recent years is there is no longer a requirement to learn and pass a test on CW (Morse Code).
In the USA, there is currently three tiers of FCC Amateur Radio licenses:
- Technician – Begining level with a large range of frequencies that can be transmitted on.
- General – Intermediate level giving access to more frequencies that can be transmitted on.
- Amateur Extra – Advanced level giving access to all amateur radio frequencies.
Local volunteers, including the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club, offer classes as well as test sessions so that you can become licensed. Attending classes is not a requirement, but sometimes can help learn concepts and rules from experienced ham operators.
There are several resources to study for your amateur radio license exam and we’ve listed some below. Some of the books and audio materials may be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fry’s, Radio Shack or other local retailers as well as your local library.[/one-half]
2010-2014 Technician Class by Gordon West
2010-2014 Technician Audio CD Theory Course by Gordon West
www.qrz.com – Free study guides and practice tests
www.hamradiolicenseexam.com – Commercial online course and practice exams.