(this is a DRAFT version of the document)
The desire with this page is to provide you with information to assist you in getting your very own Amateur Radio License.
[expand title=”Introduction to Amateur (Ham) Radio” expanded=”true” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]As an introduction let’s be clear that there are a variety of radio services you can utilize. Most commonly the radios you can purchase at the big box and sporting goods stores are FRS/GMRS radios. The FRS radios are severely limited in power output and cannot reliably communicate over more than a typical city block, two at the most. The GMRS radios allow for more transmit power and can talk for longer distances but requires a license from the FCC. Other common public radio services include CB and MURS. All of these radio services can be useful when used during normal circumstances but typically bring with them restrictions which limit their usefulness during times of emergency. Typical restrictions include type-certified configurations (power output, antenna, etc) which cannot legally be changed, others offer so few useful frequencies, overcrowding and ‘trucker language’ making them undesirable options.
This is where Amateur Radio comes in. Amateur Radio also requires an FCC license, but it’s free (you have to pay to take the license exam but that’s it!) and you can renew it for the rest of your life for free! There is no other communication service available to the public that provides more functionality than Amateur Radio. Whether you want to talk to your neighbor, a remote control plane or car, Someone in another state, Across the country, the other side of the globe or even the International Space Station. With Amateur Radio, you can communicate using a personal computer, smart phone, walkie talkie, or base station radio. If you don’t like the antenna on your radio you can replace it with another or even build a new one. Amateur Radio operators employ the Internet for Echolink and IRLP. They perform tracking using APRS and digital communications with Packet Radio and a wide variety of Digital Communication Modes.
[expand title=”What is Amateur Radio?” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]The Amateur Radio service was established over 100 years ago to support wireless radio experimentation, passing of non-commercial messages, public service communications and building international good-will. Amateur Radio is regulated in the United Stated by the Federal Communications Commission. Amateur radio is recognized by countries around globe, some countries have different licensing requirements, different radio frequency allocations and controls on who can communicate with who internationally. International communications agreements are facilitated by the International Telecommunications Union.
Within the United States the FCC regulations currently specify three license classes. The initial license is the Technician class license. This is by far the most popular class among US Licensed Hams. The Technician class license allows hams to experiment with radio equipment that operates in the VHF and UHF radio bands. Due to the popularity of the VHF/UHF bands and the availability of affordable radio gear, this is typically the goal of newly licensed hams.
The General class and Extra class licenses extend the range of the HF bands available (most to Generals, all of the HF bands to Extras), higher transmit power limits and the privilege of registering to proctor Amateur Radio license exams as a Volunteer Examiner to name a few.
One of the defining differences between the Amateur Radio and Commercial Radio services is physical configuration flexibility. Amateur Radio operators can swap antennas, attach power amplifiers, connect radios to computers for digital modes, and more. Any radio operator with the ambition can engineer and build radios and any of the devices to extend the functionality of the radio. Speaking generally, commercial radios are limited to configurations and limited variations approved by the FCC. Further, most of the publicly available commercial radio services limit how they can be used by age and technology. (There is no specified minimum age for Amateur Radio licensees, the youngest ham on record is around 6 years old.)[/expand]
[expand title=”What is required to use a Ham Radio?” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]Ham radio is an amazing hobby. You don’t have to buy anything expensive, in fact, if you are reading this on a computer, tablet or smart phone you can use Echolink for PC or Mac, Android and for iOS. But if you are inclined to buy a radio there’s great news! You can buy a hand-held dual-band 2-way radio on Amazon.com for $30! And they are actually pretty OK! Of course, you get your moneys worth so if you were to spend $150 you are going to get a higher quality device.
Now, let’s talk about what you have to have Legally! You can own and listen to an Amateur Radio without a license. But beware!
without a license will get you in trouble with the FCC! Fines can be in the tens-of-thousands if the FCC decides to penalize you, so make sure you get yourself an Amateur Radio license first and then stay within the operating privileges afforded to your license class!
[expand title=”What is required to get a license?” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]
There is no minimum age to obtain your Amateur Radio license. There have been many children that have obtained their license, as young as 6 years old! If you have ever passed a multiple choice test with 35 or more questions then you’ve already had the practice you need! All you need to do now is do some studying on the specific topic!
Here are a few books that may help you in your quest:
While studying the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, you may find that you need a bit more background to fully understand a topic. Maybe you’ll just be curious and want to know more detail.
Either way, the Ham Radio License Manual Web site is intended to act as your “study buddy” – known as an “Elmer” in ham radio. We recommend that you “bookmark” this site in your Web browser to make it as easy as possible to find timely help or launch an interesting browsing session.
The new 3rd edition has been updated for the latest changes in the FCC Technician exam question pool. It will prepare you for the Technician license exam July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018.
Barnes & Noble
HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course
Authored by Stu Turner
NEW for NCVEC question pool July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018!
The HamRadioSchool.com Technician License Course book and free multimedia web site provides everything you need to become an FCC licensed amateur radio operator! This learning system not only offers the best exam preparation available today, it will help you to really understand ham radio so that you have the competence and the confidence to get on the air quickly!
Barnes & Noble
NEW 2014 Gordon West Technician Manual. Covers Question Pool Effective JULY 1, 2014 – JUNE 30, 2018 for examination.
Complete study guide with answer explanations. Re-organized into logical study topic order with highlighted key words and all NEW helpful “HAM HINTS” by ELMER with hundreds of related resource website links. BONUS CD INCLUDED – “Getting on the Air!”. Gordo introduces you to to using your Technician privileges, UHF/VHF operations and equipment and how to make DX contacts with Technician privileges. This book is an excellent companion to the GWTW-14 Audio CD Course for in depth class-room style instruction for home study.
Barnes & Noble
[expand title=”When I get a license what’s next?” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]Hidden content goes here[/expand]
[expand title=”How much will I have to spend?” rel=”license-highlander” findme=”auto” ]I will offer you the technical answer first then qualify it… 🙂
If you own a PC with a microphone and speakers (laptops are usually equipped with them), or a smart phone (Android and iOS) you can run an application for an online VoIP Amateur Radio service called Echolink.