Getting Started in Amateur Radio — WITHOUT a license!
One question I get asked a lot, is “how do I get started learning about amateur radio, if I don’t have a license or haven’t started studying?”
The answer is easy!
With a minimal investment in some radio receiving equipment, you can be up and running and listening to what goes on over-the-air in no time at all.
Once you start spinning that dial, and listening to other amateur radio operators, decoding digital signals, and exploring the spectrum, you’ll be hooked!
What is this Amateur Radio thing all about, anyway?
Since, well, basically radio was invented, people have been playing with radio waves and antennas and transmitters and finding new, helpful, and interesting ways to use them.
It’s about the experimentation, the science, the technology… and yep its about the toys, flashing lights, graphic displays and the satisfaction that you just contacted another person thousands of miles away with literally nothing in between you.
I know, I know, why would you bother when we have today’s smart phones. Well, for one, what happens when the cell network fails? Say, for example, in the event of a natural disaster or weather event. What then?
Quite often amateur radio operators are called on to provide emergency communications. They also volunteer to provide communications for local events, do storm-spotting and chasing, and all sorts of other public service functions.
Additionally, there are likely several radio clubs active in your area. You can usually find a “ham fest” to visit and peruse new and used radio equipment, and often sit in on seminars related to radio communications.
How do I become an Amateur Radio Operator?
The only things you need to become an amateur radio operator are: a radio, and a license from the FCC or your country’s regulatory agency. That’s it.
But how do you get that license? You need to take an exam. GASP. I know, right? Most of us haven’t had to take an exam in years, let alone study for one. Plus, if you want to get all of the on-air privileges you can (at least in the USA) you need to pass THREE of them to get your “Amateur Extra” license.
There are lots of ways to prepare for the exams. There are plenty of books and study materials out there. The web is literally plastered with information, but sifting through it to find what you actually need can be a challenge. You can pick up one of many “study guides” out there, but by and large they’re just tools to help you memorize the answers. You probably won’t actually learn much about the theory and practice behind the answers.
That’s where Ham Radio Academy comes in. Our courses will be designed to help you actually learn the material that is covered on the exam. You’ll be able to pass the tests with flying colors, and you’ll come away with a greater understanding of how and why things are the way they are, and work they way they do.
Do I need to invest thousands of dollars and learn morse code?
Nope. Not at all. The FCC did away with the Morse code requirement several years ago. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn it, though! People still use Morse code, or CW as we call it, every day around the world as an effective way to communicate long distances with low power in difficult conditions.
Today you can pick up a basic handheld radio that will get you on the air talking to other hams for as little as $30. I highly recommend picking one of these up, so that you can use it to listen in while you study, learn how to program it, and once you get that call sign from the FCC, you can start communicating right away, and do it the right way.