January Skill of the Month: Get your amateur radio license
This month’s Skill may take a bit longer to learn, so I’m posting it early in the year to give you (and me!) plenty of time. Every mom I know is nearly surgically attached to her cell phone, and usually for good reason. She wants to know where every member of her family is at any given moment, and if you’ve ever experienced not being able to get in touch with a child or spouse, you know how scary it can be.
Well, imagine a time when virtually all communication is shut down and you’ll know why huge numbers of Americans are getting their amateur (ham) radio licenses. Not knowing where a family member is is bad enough, but not knowing what is going on outside your own neighborhood would be terrifying.
As Master Po describes in this article, becoming a licensed operator isn’t particularly difficult. Even 11 and 12 year-old kids have passed the exam, so if they can do it, so can you!
Where to begin?
- Read Po’s article to get a good overview of amateur radio and the steps involved in getting your license.
- If you’re a self-starter and learn best on your own, begin studying online, check out a study book from the library, or buy one.
- Check ARRL’s schedule of classes here to find one in your area if you learn best in a classroom setting.
- Set a deadline for finishing your study and taking the test.
- Become familiar with how amateur radio operates by listening in via a shortwave radio, also here.
- Find a club in your area. You’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about amateur radio. Trust me!
Once you get your license, there’s no need to break the bank with your radio purchase. One long-time operator suggested buying online from Ham Radio Outlet. A ‘Made in China’ model, costing around $100 or so, is a great place to start.
If you have questions about this skill, post them here, and Master Po or another ham operator will answer them. Good luck, and when you pass the test, post your call sign here!
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