A Ham Radio License was always one of my Life Goals.
I’ve always wanted to get my Ham Radio License. For many years, you had to learn Morse Code to do it. In 2006, that requirement was dropped. In 2011, I didn’t work a full-time job because I was finishing my degree and doing all the preparation for Warrant Officer School (WOCS). During that time, I started getting pretty heavy back into Prepping. One of the key things to survival, especially in a disaster situation, is communication. Nothing beats Ham Radio for that.
I first went to Barnes and Noble to read up on the subject, as I’m wont to do on occasion, and read several books. It looked like a pretty daunting endeavor. I was thinking it was going to be too much work in addition to school and beer. Then one day at Starbucks, I perused the Internet for a while to study the subject and I came across the idea that you can practice easily online because all the test questions and answers are out there – exactly as they are written on the test. I settled on QRZ and HamTestOnline and spent about 30-60 minutes for a few days a week for a month or so and then tested. I passed easily. This, in spite of the fact that the free versions of these sites don’t give you all the questions. By going to several sites, I managed to get enough to pass. It did help, however, that I know electronics and RF theory quite well.
Here is now what I’m allowed to transmit:
Ham Radio License Frequencies for the Technician Class:
|Band||Frequencies (In MHz)||Mode||Notes|
|80 Meters||3.525 – 3.600||CW||200-watt limit|
|40 Meters||7.025 – 7.125||CW||200-watt limit|
|15 Meters||21.025 – 21.200||CW||200-watt limit|
|10 Meters||28.100 – 28.300||CW, RTTY, Data||200-watt limit|
|10 Meters||28.300 – 28.500||CW, Phone, Image||200-watt limit|
|Above 50 MHz||All amateur privileges|
Knowing what I know now from starting into my General License studying, using an app like Amateur Radio Exam Prep, I would have gone this route first. For just a few bucks, you get all the questions and answers you need to pass, right in your pocket. Why would I want to get another ham radio license? In addition to all the frequencies you get from the tech class, you get the following:
Ham Radio License Frequencies for the General Class:
|Band||Frequencies (in MHz)||Mode|
|160, 60, 30 Meters||All amateur privileges|
|80 Meters||3.525 – 3.600||CW, RTTY, Data|
|3.800 – 4.000||CW, Phone, Image|
|40 Meters||7.025 – 7.125||CW, RTTY, Data|
|7.175 – 7.300||CW, Phone, Image|
|20 Meters||14.025 – 14.150||CW, RTTY, Data|
|14.225 – 14.350||CW, Phone, Image|
|15 Meters||21.025 – 21.200||CW, RTTY, Data|
|21.275 – 21.450||CW, Phone, Image|
|17, 12, 10 Meters||All amateur privileges|
|Above 50 MHz||All amateur privileges|
I’m still interested in learning Morse Code; it’s one of the things on my Bucket List. I currently have about 11 characters down at a character speed of about 40wpm and effective speed of 5wpm. More on that to come on a later post.
One of the things I’m going to do when I get back is join ARRL. According to their site:
Founded in 1914, the ARRL is the national association for amateur radio in the USA. Today, with more than 158,000 members, ARRL is the largest organization of radio amateurs in the United States.
Having a Ham license is great for planning. My son is now studying to get his Ham license so we can both talk to each other. It makes it a lot easier when you have someone else to learn with, although the Ham Radio community is extremely helpful and friendly. One of the things we have planned to do when we back from Afghanistan is to go camping with our radios and set up comms. We’re also going to figure out a thorough contingency communications plan (more on that in a future post as well). It’s quite an addictive and fun hobby; so much so that I created a whole category here just for it.
I have both the radios showing on this page. They’re both fantastic radios. The first one I got was the Yaesu VX-6R Hand-held radio shown above. It’s waterproof, has lots of frequencies, and is about the size of a box of cigarettes. The next one I got is the portable shown on the left, the Yaesu FT-857D. Has pretty much every frequency you’d want and pushes out 100W. You can even put it in your car or do like I do and make it a backpackable setup. I think it’s probably the best ham radio for preppers. I have a few different antennas that I use but my favorite antso far is the old dipole antenna. I even have ham radio software that can run the radio for me. The ham radio software I use is called Ham Radio Deluxe.
If you’re interested in finding out where you can test for your Ham Radio license in your area, check out this form at the Amateur Radio Relay League.
To get started, try something like Ham Radio For Dummies. Makes it much easier.