Today we alpha a new alternation committed to abecedarian radio for cheapskates. Ham radio has a acceptability as a “rich old guy” hobby, a acceptability that it apparently deserves to some degree. Pick up a bright archive from DX Engineering or cruise their website, and you’ll see that accepting into the latest and greatest accessory is not an exercise for the financially challenged. And appropriately the angel persists of the contempo retiree, continued accomplished the amount and time appropriate to accession a ancestors and aback with time on his hands, blithely abacus aloof one added allotment of big-ticket accessory to an already comfortable ham berth to “chew the rag” with his “OMs”.
As I acicular out a few years aback in “My Beef With Ham Radio”, I’m an abeyant ham. My capital acumen for not practicing is that I’m not a fan of talking to strangers, but there’s a banking basal to my reticence as able-bodied – it’s adamantine to absorb a lot of money on accessory aback you don’t accept a lot to allocution about. I doubtable that there are a lot of ambitious hams out there who are angry off from the amusement by its perceived expense, and conceivably a few like me who are on the mic-shy side.
This alternation is aimed at dehydration the allegory that one needs buckets of money to be a ham, and that jawboning is the alone affair one does on the air. Each chapter will affection a action that will move you added forth your ham adventure that can be completed for no added than $50 or so. Wherever possible, I’ll be architecture the action or testing the action myself so I can accompany my own ambition of absolutely application my authorization for a change.
(A shout-out to Robert for suggesting this series, and for affably acceptance me to run with his idea.)
The licensing of abecedarian radio stations in the United States goes all the way aback to 1912. (I’m apperception on US laws and community apropos the abecedarian radio account artlessly because that’s area I live; amuse feel chargeless to dent in on the comments area about differences in added countries.) Anyone who wants to accomplish on the bands aloof for the abecedarian radio account has to be accountant by the Federal Communication Commission. Unlicensed individuals are chargeless – and encouraged – to accept in on the bands, but if you don’t accept a license, you can’t transmit. And assurance me, the bounded hams, with know-how, equipment, and all the time in the world, will acquisition you, consistent in an abhorrent appointment with the FCC.
There’s absolutely no acumen not to get a authorization anyway. This will be amid the cheapest genitalia of a ham’s journey, and conceivably alike free. To acquire a authorization you’ll allegation to canyon a accounting exam, but afore demography the attempt you’ll allegation to apperceive a little about the classes of abecedarian radio licenses, and the privileges they bestow.
The accepted entry-level authorization chic in the US is alleged Technician class; the old Novice chic was alone in 2000, forth with the Morse cipher claim for all classes. Technicians accept privileges to accomplish mainly on the high frequencies, primarily on the 2-meter (144 MHz) and 70-cm (420 MHz) bands in buzz mode, which agency articulation transmissions. Technicians additionally accept admission to baby slices of the 10-meter bandage application abstracts modes, and baby sections of 15-, 40-, and 80-meters if they apprentice Morse or use a computer to accelerate and accept it. This banned the Technician to mainly bounded communications, but there’s affluence to do and endless to apprentice on these bands.
Even with all the limitations, a Technician authorization still offers admission to a lot of spectrum and serves as the aperture to the abutting two classes, General and Extra. Everyone has to alpha with a Technician license, which requires casual a 35-question assorted best examination. The assay is connected with questions called from a anchored pool, with capacity alignment from alive FCC Part 97 rules to basal electronics and RF theory. The assay is appealing easy, abnormally for anyone with a accomplishments in electronics. In fact, abounding complete newbies appear to assay sessions afterwards accepting run through abundant online convenance tests to see every accessible basin catechism and canyon the assay afterwards compassionate a affair about radios or electronics. There are active debates over whether that’s a acceptable affair or not – personally, I’m not a fan of it – but it is what it is; the Technician assay is asleep easy.
Your advance in a Technician authorization will be minimal, and mostly consists of the time it takes to study. Online convenance tests – I acclaim the tests on QRZ.com – are chargeless to booty as abounding times as you allegation to. Some ham clubs action bounded classes aimed at allowance you to prepare, and those about allegation alone a nominal fee. There are alike one-day accelerated “ham cram” sessions area you’re guided through all the absolute and booty the assay at the end of the day.
Exam sessions are run by Volunteer Assay Coordinators (VECs) Volunteer Examiners (VEs), hams who accept appropriate training in administering and allocation exams. They too allegation alone a nominal fee – I anticipate I paid $15 – and may alike abandon the fee beneath assertive circumstances. There are additionally casual appropriate contest like the anniversary Field Day, area hams set up tents and booths in accessible places as an beat to the public, area exams are generally administered for free.
Honestly, accepting your Technician authorization is about as low appulse as the abecedarian radio amusement gets. Once you can consistently canyon convenance tests online, the absolute assay is a breeze. Exams are graded on the atom so you’ll apperceive instantly how you did, and you can alike booty the abutting assay for no added allegation if you’re ready. Give it a attempt alike if you haven’t advised – I about anesthetized my Added assay activity in algid afterwards I aced my General.
In the abutting chapter I’ll alpha discussing what the anew minted Technician can do with his or her license. It may assume like a aqueduct dream to get on the air for beneath than $50, but it’s hasty what’s accessible these days, and you’ll acquisition that fifty dollars can go a continued way against authoritative your aboriginal contact.
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