What is it?
Amateur Radio (ham) is an excellent
vehicle for a variety of people and interests. It is a different
activity for everyone involved. Amateur radio is simply
non-commercial wireless communications with frequency space across
For those of the technical
persuasion it includes everything from digital to power and controls
to rf signals and signal processing. It is the consummate wireless
For those that are more interested
in people interaction, it is an excellent forum to interface with
new people around the world.
For those that like to tinker,
research, or find out how things work, it is the consummate forum
with others that are most willing to share ideas.
Amateur wireless has traditionally
been the vehicle where many of the innovators and gurus of the
wireless industry have done experimenting and proved their concepts.
Many local and regional clubs are
available. Each may focus on some of the various variety of interests including computers,
television, satellites, weather & storm chasing, disaster support, just talking, and activities for the family.
Find a group that fits your interest.
The blending of the radio
communications world and the internet is in full bloom. Echolink,
www.echolink.org, provides a
tremendous interface. You can literally access from your computer or
from a handheld radio, via the web, to other radio repeaters around
the world. What a deal.
The leading organization that
promotes the interest is the ARRL at
have an excellent chart in pdf format that shows the
amateur bands. The available amateur bands cover the spectrum
from 1800 kHz
to 300 gHz.
One of the excellent coordinators
for developing training and helping individuals get started is W5YI
at www.w5yi.org .
Anyone can get started easily.
Perhaps more people get help with the simple, straight-forward
instruction books by Gordon West. The one that applies to the first
license is Technician Class, Amateur Radio Element 2. Get it,
read it, and you will pass the first license.
The first part of the process is
registration with the FCC.
The test question pool is available
at the ARRL site.
Getting the license is
straightforward. Find a regional club that provides the exam. Have
two forms of ID and the very small monetary fee to pay for the
materials. There is no fee for the service. Because of international
agreements, non-US citizens can also participate. Check information
on foreign applicants.
A number of on-line companies
provide material and support for the ham radio interests. This is
not an endorsement or recommendation. It is simply a beginning list
so you can do your investigations.
Ham Radio Outlet:
" Now that I am a newly minted ham,
what can I do, first?" Excellent question. There are myriad options.
For my students, I suggest selecting one of these activities.
1. For those of the wireless
persuasion, obtain a small hand-held transceiver and talk to someone
on a local repeater. Record their call-sign and time.
2. For those of the computer
persuasion, use Echolink to talk to someone in another country.
Record their call-sign and time.
3. For those of the tinkering
persuasion, build a first receiver. This can be as simple as the
classic diode and coil tuned to an AM band.
4. For a more complex project,
use a wireless link to send/receive a remote control or data.
5. For a community service,
monitor weather storm chasers or disaster relief. You can assist
local groups. Record their call-sign and time.
projects and activities have been provided complements of other
interest goes back to Mr. Verb Hicks who first showed a
teenager his old MARS
station many years ago. I did not follow through with
getting the ham licenses until much older, nevertheless the
curiosity persisted. My station license is the
Amateur Extra Class, with callsign NM0D.