Interested in Amateur Radio?

Amateur radio (ham radio) has been around since the late 1800's, almost as long as radios have existed. It's a very broad hobby, bringing together people, electronics and communications and it changes all the time as technology advances. In addition to being fun, social and educational, it can also be a lifeline if other communication systems experience issues.

2403-n6ha-satopsThere are licensed amateur radio operators all over the world, and with the right equipment and skills you can make contact around the globe and even into space. In addition to talking to each other, we can also use computers to exchange messages or even pictures - completely independent of the Internet or other systems.

While there are no special rules for someone to receive radio transmissions, you will need a license to transmit and you need to learn the rules. Every operator is assigned a globally unique call sign which you use every time you transmit so other operators know who you are.

In the US, there are three levels of license; Technician, General and Amateur Extra. It used to be a requirement that you learn Morse code to get a license, but this is no longer the case for any of the three levels.

The Technician license is the entry level license. It will give you privileges to use the higher (>30MHz) frequencies, which are commonly used for local communications, up to a few hundred miles. Most people can pass this test after a few days of studying. The General license opens up access to the lower (HF) bands, where global communication is possible, and the Amateur Extra license adds more frequencies and goes deeper into the technical details.

To get a license you need to register with the FCC (see link in sidebar) and pass a test. The test has 35 multiple-choice questions for Technician and General, and 50 questions for Amateur Extra, and you need to have at least 74% correct answers to pass. Tests are administered by local groups all over the country, and you can even take the test remotely via a Zoom-session. The cost for taking a test is about $15. The actual license costs another $35 and is valid for 10 years.
Click here to find a test session.

The best way to get going in the amateur radio hobby is to connect with a ham operator you know, or get to know some via local club (like this one ;). Please use our contact form - we love to help!