Ham radio desk photoHam radio is for anyone who likes to communicate with others via wireless technology. It is also for anyone who enjoys experimentation. Licensed amateur radio operators communicate with each other in nearby places, across the country, around the world or even with astronauts in outer space!

Amateur radio is a worldwide group of people who communicate with each other over a wide frequency spectrum using many different types of wireless transmitting modes.

Why should you get a license?

  1. Being aware of emergencies
  2. Staying connected in emergencies
  3. Helping out neighbors and your communities
  4. It’s a fun and enjoyable hobby
  5. There is a community of people, clubs and organizaitons
  6. Amateur radio is very flexible (different modes and frequencies)
  7. The operators are trained.  For the most part, these operators are self trained and active hams are very knowledgeable.
  8. A lot of operators have their own power supply and can operator at anytime in case of lose of local grid power
  9. It is  cheaper than you think
  10. You don’t need to know Morse Code anymore

There is an old saying, when all else fails ham radio gets through.  Ham radio is unique in the radio communications field.  All other communications are confined to specific channels in one specific frequency band, low power limits,  and are confined to one mode (except for CB and its confined to two modes.)

Before you can get on the air, you need to be licensed and know the rules to operate legally. US licenses are good for 10 years before renewal and anyone may hold one except a representative of a foreign government. In the US there are three license classes—Technician, General and Extra.

Lets talk about the technician licenses. The technician license is good for local communication and with linked repeaters systems you can talk to tother states and countries now. Morse code is not required for this license. With a Technician Class license, you will have all ham radio privileges above 30 MHz. These privileges include the very popular 2-meter band. Many Technician licensees enjoy using small (2 meter) hand-held radios to stay in touch with other hams in their area.

The Technician class license is the entry-level license of choice for most new ham radio operators. To earn the Technician license requires passing one examination totaling 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices. The license gives access to all Amateur Radio frequencies above 30 megahertz, allowing these licensees the ability to communicate locally and most often within North America. It also allows for some limited privileges on the HF (also called “short wave”) bands used for international communications. Learn more about the technician by clicking here.

The IPhone has some good apps to help you practice the exam and some are free to download and use.  The FCC publishes all the test questions and when you go to take the exam you will get 35 questions from the question pool. If you practice enough you will have seen all the questions before and should pass the exam.  So technically the technician exam is not difficult.

A popular website for free practice is AA9PW. http://aa9pw.com/radio/. There are several out there and most are free to use. You can also use the ARRL page to practice and do not have to be a member of the organizaiton. http://www.arrl.org/exam-practice

For information on testing in Hawaii you can go to the Emergency Amateur Radio Club – EARC Education website at http://www.earchi.org/education/

At the top of the EARC Education page you can click on Classes and it will show a list of upcoming classes offered on Oahu. Classes are free but they recommend you buy a book. (Try the local library to see if they have a book you can check out).  On the top of the same page you can click on Exams and it will list locations, dates, and times of any upcoming license exams. As part of the class they give the exam at the end. Exams costs $15 (Check only) and is paid to the ARRL VEC.