Ham Radio is a really exciting and interesting hobby. Using radios, I can communicate all around the world with voice, teletype, television, satellites, morse code, and data transmissions. Many hams also have VHF/UHF radios in their cars that they use to communicate with other hams locally using "Repeater Stations" with a typical range of 100 miles.

I started in ham radio as a kid. I built my first radio at age 14. It put out 75 watts of power; it was really exciting to turn it on for the first time and listen to it come alive. My Heathkit HW-16 was used primarily to operate using morse code because I was licensed as a Novice class operator.

With my hobby of ham radio, I have talked to Australia, Japan, airplanes, ships at sea and other stations throughout Europe, Africa,Asia,and many other places. I talked to Kuwait while driving my car on the Washington, DC Beltway. I collect "QSL" cards to confirm my contacts with other ham radio operators. I have fun making "QSOs" using morse code, voice and data. I kept in touch with my family in Texas using ham radio aboard ship while I sailed in the merchant marine. Also, one can talk to the astronauts live on the International Space Station. Finally, I have been heard in Mongolia.

Where do I begin?

To become a ham radio operator, one must obtain a Federal Communications Commission License. A FCC license examination must be passed. There are several levels of licenses. One usually starts at the beginner's or technicain level. To obtain a Technician license, one must know basic radio theory and regulations. Morse code is no longer required.

"Technicians" are authorized to use local VHF and UHF frequencies for local communications purposes. The also are authorized to use portions of the 10 meter band. If one learns morse code, there are long distance (HF) frequencies that allow a technician to transmit and recieve via Morse Code.

Typical theory that one is required to know includes a basic understanding of electronics, antennaes, radio transmitters and receivers, and radio propagation characteristics. Also required is a basic knowledge of operating procedures and FCC regulations. Study guides are available from the American Radio Relay League. Local Ham Radio Clubs often administer license exams on behalf of the FCC.

To efficiently use the "long distance" HF bands, one needs to obtain a higher class license such as General or Extra Class licenses. Extra Class operators like me have access to all the ham radio priviledges allocated by the FCC.

To find out more, contact your local ham radio club or the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in Newington, Connecticut.225 Main Street,Newington, CT, 06111-1494 USA Tel:1-860-594-0200 Fax:1-860-594-0259 Toll-free:1-888-277-5289