Space Station Reference
You Want to be a Ham?
it -- the ham
radio bug. It's hitting a lot of people these days! We'll show
you how easy it is to earn a Federal
Communications Commission Amateur Radio License.
The rules for
earning an Amateur Radio license vary depending on which country
you live in. The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, issues
amateur radio licenses in the United States. In the U.S., there
are three license levels, or "license classes."
are hams and what do they do?
fascination with communicating. They're from all walks of life,
and nearly all nations. They communicate by voice, data (computers),
Morse code and other exciting ways hams have found to make contact
with other hams. You never know who you'll run into -- maybe a nurse
in France, a neighbor across town, an orbiting space shuttle astronaut
or a factory worker in China.
Do I Get Started?
started in Amateur Radio has never been easier. First, locate
a radio club in your area. Some radio clubs offer ham radio
licensing classes, or they can find a club volunteer to answer
your questions. You may even be invited to attend a local radio
Radio Relay League, or ARRL, publishes popular ham radio
license study guides to help you learn the things you'll need
to pass your exam and have fun with Amateur Radio.
Radio license examinations are administered by ham radio volunteers.
When you're ready to take your exam, you'll need to locate
an exam session near you.
can I do with a Technicians Class license?
Hams enter the hobby as Technicians by passing a multiple-choice examination. The exam covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory, with a focus on VHF and UHF applications.
Technician Class operators are authorized to use all amateur VHF and UHF frequencies (all frequencies above 30 MHz). No Morse code exam is required at any level.
can I do with a General Class license?
Class is a giant step up in operating privileges. The high-power
HF privileges granted to General licensees allow for cross-country
and worldwide communication. Some people prefer to earn the General
Class license as their first ticket, so they may operate on HF
Technicians may upgrade to General Class by passing a multiple-choice examination. The written exam covers intermediate regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory, with a focus on HF applications.
to the Technician privileges, General Class operators are authorized
to operate on any frequency in the 160, 30, 17, 12, and 10 meter
bands. They may also use significant segments of the 80, 40, 20,
and 15 meter bands.
can I do with an Extra Class license?
The HF bands
can be awfully crowded, particularly at the top of the solar cycle.
Once one earns HF privileges, one may quickly yearn for more room.
The Extra Class license is the answer.
General licensees may upgrade to Extra Class by passing a 50-question multiple-choice examination. In addition to some of the more obscure regulations, the test covers specialized operating practices, advanced electronics theory, and radio equipment design. Frankly, the test is very difficult, but others have passed it, and you can too.
licensees are authorized to operate on all frequencies allocated
to the Amateur Service.
heard ham radio's expensive...
some hams spend a lot of their budget on their radios. But others
"work the world" with a homemade wire antenna and an inexpensive
transceiver. Many people start out with simple gear, and move
on to more sophisticated equipment later.
you've got me — what do I do next?
the ARRL in Newington, Conn. ARRL is the nationwide membership
association of ham radio operators in the United States. They'll
be glad to tell you about licensing classes in your area.