EMAIL BILL WILSON, KJ4EX   or   Mike Wolcott, W4WYI



You can get an entry level Amateur Radio Technician license by passing a 35-question 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 50 MHz). Technicians also may operate on part of the 80, 40, and 15 meter HF bands using Morse code, and on part of the 10 meter band using Morse code, voice, and digital modes.


The General Class license offers a giant step up in operating privileges. The high-power HF privileges granted to General licensees allow for cross-country and worldwide communication.

Technicians may upgrade to General by passing a 35-question multiple-choice examination. The written exam covers intermediate regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory, with a focus on HF applications. You must successfully pass the Technician exam to be eligible to sit for the General class exam.

In addition 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.


The HF bands can be awfully crowded, particularly at the top of the solar cycle. Once you earn HF privileges, you may quickly yearn for more room. The Extra Class license is the answer. Extra Class licensees are authorized to operate on all frequencies allocated to the Amateur Service.

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.



Taken From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amateur radio, often called ham radio, is both a hobby and a service that uses various types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for public service, recreation and self-training. A participant is called an amateur radio operator, or a ham.

Amateur radio operators enjoy personal wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. An estimated six million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio.

The term "amateur" is not a reflection on the skills of the participants, which are often quite advanced; rather, "amateur" indicates that amateur radio communications are not allowed to be made for commercial or money-making purposes.Contents


Though its origins can be traced to at least the late 1800s, amateur radio, as practiced today, began in the 1920s. As with radio in general, the birth of amateur radio was strongly associated with various amateur experimenters and hobbyists. Throughout its history, amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science, engineering, industry, and social services. Research by amateur radio operators has founded new industries, built economies, empowered nations, and saved lives in times of emergency.

The international symbol for amateur radio, included in the logos of many IARU member societies. The diamond holds a circuit diagram featuring components common to every radio: an antenna, inductor and ground.

Activities and practices

Radio amateurs use various modes of transmission to communicate. Voice transmissions are most common, with some such as frequency modulation (FM) offering high quality audio, and others such as single sideband (SSB) offering more reliable communications when signals are marginal and bandwidth is restricted.

Radiotelegraphy using Morse code remains popular, particularly on the shortwave bands and for experimental work such as Moonbounce, with its inherent signal-to-noise ratio advantages. Morse, using internationally agreed code groups, also allows communications between amateurs who speak different languages. It is also popular with homebrewers as CW-only transmitters are simpler to construct. For many years, demonstrating a proficiency in Morse code was a requirement to obtain amateur licenses for the high frequency bands, but following changes in international regulations in 2003, many countries have now dropped this requirement (the United States Federal Communications Commission did so in February 2007)

Modern personal computers have led to a boom in digital modes such as radioteletype, which previously required cumbersome mechanical equipment.[4] Hams led the development of packet radio, which has even used protocols such as TCP/IP since the 1970s. This has since been augmented by more specialized modes such as PSK31 to allow real-time, low-power communications on the shortwave bands. Echolink using Voice over IP technology has enabled amateurs to communicate through local internet-connected repeaters and radio nodes, while IRLP has allowed easy linking together of repeaters. Other modes, such as FSK441 using software such as WSJT, are used for weak signal modes including meteor scatter and moonbounce communications.

Similarly, fast scan amateur television, once considered esoteric, has exploded in popularity thanks to cheap camcorders and video cards in home computers. Because of the wide bandwidth and stable signals required, amateur television is typically found in the 70 cm (420—450 MHz) frequency range, though there is also limited use on 33 cm (902—928 MHz), 23 cm (1240—1300 MHz) and higher. These requirements also effectively limit the signal range to between 20 and 60 miles (30—100 km), however, the use of linked repeater systems can allow transmissions across hundreds of miles.

These repeaters, or automated relay stations, are used on VHF and higher frequencies to increase signal range. Repeaters are usually located on top of a mountain, hill or tall building, and allow operators to communicate over hundreds of square miles using a low power hand-held transceiver. Repeaters can also be linked together by use of other amateur radio bands, landline or the Internet.

Communication satellites called OSCARs (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) can be accessed, some using a handheld transceiver (HT) with a stock "rubber duck" antenna. Hams also use the moon and the ionized trails of meteors as reflectors of radio waves.[6] Hams are also often able to make contact with the International Space Station (ISS),[7] as many astronauts and cosmonauts are licensed as Amateur Radio Operators.

Amateur radio operators use their amateur radio station to make contacts with individual hams as well as participating in round table discussion groups or "rag chew sessions" on the air. Some join in regularly scheduled on-air meetings with other amateur radio operators, called "Nets" (as in "networks") which are moderated by a station referred to as "Net Control".[9] Nets can allow operators to learn procedures for emergencies, be an informal round table or be topical, covering specific interests shared by a group.


In all countries, amateur radio operators are required to pass a licensing exam displaying knowledge and understanding of key concepts. In response, hams are granted operating privileges in larger segments of the radio frequency spectrum using a wide variety of communication techniques with higher power levels permitted. This practice is in contrast to other unlicensed personal radio services such as CB radio, Multi-Use Radio Service, or Family Radio Service / PMR446 that require type-approved equipment restricted in frequency range and power.

In many countries, amateur licensing is a routine civil administrative matter. Amateurs are required to pass an examination to demonstrate technical knowledge, operating competence and awareness of legal and regulatory requirements in order to avoid interference with other amateurs and other radio services. There are often a series of exams available, each progressively more challenging and granting more privileges in terms of frequency availability, power output, permitted experimentation, and in some countries, distinctive callsigns. Some countries such as Great Britain and Australia have begun requiring a practical training course in addition to the written exams in order to obtain a beginner's license, called a Foundation License.

Amateur radio licensing in the United States serves as an example of the way some countries award different levels of amateur radio licenses based on technical knowledge. Licensees previously needed to demonstrate proficiency in Morse Code to obtain or upgrade a license. These requirements were phased out by the Federal Communications Commission, first from the entry-level Technician license in 1991, and eventually from all license classes on February 23, 2007.[10] This conforms with international law, which no longer mandates Morse code testing, as well as views by the FCC that Morse code should be treated like other communications techniques, and that written testing is sufficient to prove that an applicant is qualified to obtain an amateur radio license.[11] Some portions of the ham bands remain reserved for Morse code use only and the mode remains popular.

Specialized Interests and modes

While many hams simply enjoy talking to friends, others pursue a wide variety of specialized interests. Emergency communications Hand building homebrew amateur radio gear Designing new antennas Communicating via amateur satellites Severe weather spotting DX communication to far away countries DX-peditions Using the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) to connect radio repeaters via the Internet Tracking vehicles using the Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS), which integrates with the GPS Engaging in the sport of contesting, earning awards, and collecting QSL cards Amateur Radio Direction Finding, also known as "Fox hunting" High Speed Telegraphy Low-power operation (QRP). Vintage amateur radios, such as those using vacuum tube technology Hamfests, club meetings and swap meets Portable, fixed, mobile and handheld operation VHF, UHF and microwave operation on amateur radio high bands Many people start their involvement in amateur radio by finding a local club. Clubs often provide information about licensing, local operating practices and technical advice. Newcomers also often study independently by purchasing books or other materials, sometimes with the help of a mentor, teacher or friend. In addition, many countries have national amateur radio societies which encourage newcomers and work with government communications regulation authorities for the benefit of all radio amateurs. The oldest of these societies is the Wireless Institute of Australia, formed in 1910; other notable societies are the Radio Society of Great Britain, the American Radio Relay League, Radio Amateurs of Canada, the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters and South African Radio League. (See Category:Amateur radio organizations)

Callsigns Upon licensing, a radio amateur's national government issues a unique callsign to the radio amateur. The holder of a callsign uses it on the air to legally identify the operator or station during any and all radio communication.[12] In certain jurisdictions, an operator may also select a "vanity" callsign.[13] Some jurisdictions, such as the U.S., require that a fee be paid to obtain such a vanity callsign; in others, such as the UK, a fee is not required and the vanity callsign may be selected when the license is applied for.


Unlike all other spectrum users, radio amateurs are allowed to build or modify transmitting equipment, and do not need to obtain type-approval for it. Licensed amateurs can also use any frequency in their bands (rather than being allocated fixed frequencies or channels) and can operate medium to high-powered equipment on a wide range of frequencies[14] so long as they meet spurious emission standards.

As noted, radio amateurs have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum, enabling choice of frequency to enable effective communication whether across a city, a region, a country, a continent or the whole world regardless of season or time day or night. The shortwave bands, or HF, can allow worldwide communication, the VHF and UHF bands offer excellent regional communication, and the broad microwave bands have enough space, or bandwidth, for television (known as SSTV and FSTV) transmissions and high-speed data networks.

Although allowable power levels are moderate by commercial standards, they are sufficient to enable global communication. Power limits vary from country to country and between license classes within a country. For example, the power limits for the highest available license classes in a few selected countries are: 2.25 kilowatts in Canada, 2 kilowatts in most countries of the former Yugoslavia, 1.5 kilowatts in the United States, 1 kilowatt in Belgium and Switzerland, 750 watts in Germany, 500 watts in Italy, 400 watts in Australia, India and the United Kingdom, and 150 watts in Oman. Lower license classes usually have lower power limits; for example, the lowest license class in the UK has a limit of just 10 watts.

When traveling abroad, visiting amateur operators must follow the rules of the country in which they wish to operate. Some countries have reciprocal international operating agreements allowing hams from other countries to operate within their borders with just their home country license. Other host countries require that the visiting ham apply for a formal permit, or even a new host country-issued license, in advance.