Ham It Up! How to Get Started with a Ham Radio or Amateur Radio


The advent of the Internet and digital communications might make radio seem quaint, but this technology is far from outdated. The FCC has issued more than 750,000 amateur radio licenses to radio enthusiasts all across the country.

Also known as ham radio, amateur stations go back at least to the early 20th century. The Radio Act of 1912 effectively created ham radio, and it’s been going strong ever since. So how do you get started?

Getting an Amateur Radio License

In the wake of the Titanic, the US government created an act to standardize radio operations. The lack of standards had played a key role in miscommunication, which made the Titanic disaster worse than it may have been.

To operate, all radio operators need a license. These licenses are governed by the FCC. The FCC offers three amateur licenses and sets aside radio bands for amateurs.

What defines “amateur” radio? Amateurs operate the same way commercial stations do, but they can’t take payment. They also have to have a license and they have to operate on one of the amateur bands.

To get a ham radio license, you’ll need to complete a 35-question test. This test will give you a Technician license. It’s good for 10 years.

To pass the test, you’ll need to score 75 percent or higher. The questions focus on the basics of radio theory, operating practices, and rules.

Upgrading from the Technician License

The Technician license is considered the entry-level license for ham radio operators. This allows you to broadcast through most of North America. You’ll also have limited international access on shortwave radio.

Once you’ve passed the Technician license, you can upgrade to the General license. This second radio operator certificate requires completion of another 35-question test. These questions will focus more on the technical aspects of radio.

The final amateur radio exam is for the Amateur Extra license. This 50-question test is more demanding, and you must have passed the other two tests first. The Amateur Extra license grants access to all amateur bands.

Setting up Your Amateur Radio Station

Once you’re licensed, you’ll be ready to begin operating. That means you’ll need to invest in some equipment.

A ham radio station can be operated from almost anywhere. You could broadcast from your home, an office, or even in a field.

There are a few things to consider as you select a ham radio base station. For example, you’ll want a more powerful unit so you can connect with people farther away from you.

Get Involved Today

Radio amateurs have a long list of reasons for getting involved. Ham radio often plays a key role in delivering key information when disaster strikes. Others like the sense of community around ham radio.

Whatever your reasons for getting involved, amateur radio offers great opportunities.

Communication has come a long way since radio hit the airwaves. Whether you’re interested in podcasts or building an Instagram following, our articles have more great how-to tips just for you.

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Professional Blogger. Android dev. Audiophile.

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By Sidharth

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