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How to Get a Ham Radio License

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In any emergency situation, communication is very vital. And having a ham radio license or sometimes called an Amateur Radio license will get you a long way; both in receiving and giving up-to-date and on-site information during a crisis.

Ham radios give you access to different air frequencies. However, before you can access these frequencies, you must first pass a written Ham Radio License test and understand the rules on how to operate a ham radio legally and responsibly.

How does one obtain a ham radio license? I will be discussing that step by step in this post.

But first, here are some of the most common ham radio Q- signals that you need to know.

Ham Radio Q- Signals:

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all
QSX I am listening on ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___kHz).
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.

How To Get A Ham Radio License: 7-step Guide

  1. Decide on the type of ham radio license that you need.

Getting your ham radio license is actually easy. In fact, there are 3 types of Ham licenses that you can get:

  1. Technician – 35 easy multiple choice questions from a pool of 400 questions
  2. General – 35 moderately difficult multiple choice questions from a pool of 500 questions
  3. Extra – the most difficult license to obtain; it consists of 50 hard multiple choice questions from a pool of 700 questions.

These 3 types of Ham Radio Licenses give you different privileges on the air waves.

  • Technician license – Local airwaves only
  • General license – Local and national airwaves
  • Extra – Local, national, and international airwaves

It’s important to note that before you can get a General or Extra ham radio license, you must first pass the Technician license exam.

  1. Review for your test

If you are aiming for a General or Extra ham radio license, then, you must focus your attention first on successfully passing the Technician ham radio license exam. Since passing this exam is the first step for you to obtain any of the other two licenses. The Technician test requires you to know some frequencies, operating rules, knowledge of basic safety, electrical and electronic principles and some basic arithmetic.

  1. Join a local Ham Radio Club

Joining a local ham radio club is helpful. Local ham radio clubs offer classes to help you study and prepare for the test and members can also teach you about radio lingo and equipment. You can search for local clubs by Googling “ham radio club in (your state/county)” or “ham radio club near me”. Alternatively, you can visit the ARRL website, the national association for Amateur Radio, and search for a club near you.

  1. Take the Ham Radio Licensing Exam

It would be a good idea to find out the cost of the test and the date of the next examination beforehand. Contact your local ham radio club to get this information.

Once you have passed the test and received your license, you will be assigned a “call sign” by the Federal Communications Commission or the FCC. Your Ham Radio License will be valid for 10 years.

Passing the Technician test will give you access to frequencies above 30 megahertz. This is the frequency that allows you to communicate locally using your ham radio.

Here’s a list of review resources that you can check out to prepare for your Ham Radio License exam.

  • QRZ: Ham Radio News , look-up who is a Ham in your neighborhood, and a lot of other useful tools
  •  A complete and free video course is available online. The instructor uses the ARRL Technician study manual, but you don’t need the manual if you use the free resources listed here.
  • Kb6nu Ham Radio Blog:”No Nonsense Study Guides”
  • A free site for studying made by Richard Bateman (call sign: KD7BBC): Ham keeps track of your studying, ensures that you see all 500 questions that may possibly come up on the 35-question exam.
  • Practical Amateur Radio Podcast:  Great for listening to the course while jogging, gardening, or doing other activities.
  • American Radio Relay League: At this site, you can purchase books to study for the test.

Note: The question pool for each of the three licensing exams changes every 2 years.

  1. Get Yourself a Quality Ham Radio

Taking the ham radio licensing examination won’t cost you much. But when you have already passed and received your ham radio License, then, it is to be expected that you get a quality ham radio.

The price range of a good amateur radio depends on the type and the purpose for which you will be using it. Some may cost you just around $50 while others can cost you upwards to $700. The radio you choose will depend on your budget but you might also want to do some research and ask around and find out from other amateur radio users what they can recommend.

  1. Study, Learn & Understand the Rules of the Waves

There are procedures, rules and behavioral expectations when using a ham radio.

All of these can be learned by communicating with other amateur radio users. Swearing is a very big NO-NO when using a ham radio. CB “lingo” used on citizen band radios is also not tolerated and in fact, is a violation of the FCC rules.

Furthermore, when using a ham radio, all communications must be “clear and precise” and hiding a different meaning in your communication is not permitted.

  1. Practice makes perfect

There is only one way to perfection, and that is through practice, practice, and more practice. This also applies to using ham radios. There are different frequencies, codes, and terms that you need to know and must memorize as a ham radio operator.

Don’t expect to learn all these by just using your ham radio once. It takes time, patience and most importantly, dedication to learn the various emergency frequencies and how to connect with others.

There you have it. I hope this article will help guide you if you are planning on obtaining a Ham Radio License.


The post How To Get A Ham Radio License appeared first on Survival, Prepping, Homesteading Skills For Everyday Folk.


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