Easton Amateur Radio Society


How To Become a Ham

Ham radio is a hobby practiced by people who are interested in and like to utilize radio communication between themselves. The communication may take many different forms of transmission (voice, morse code, digital, and video). The mechanism of transmission may be via amplitude modulation - AM, frequency modulation - FM, and various forms of digital modulation. The transmissions can take place at frequencies that are very low (long wavelengths) all the way up through microwave frequencies.

There are many combinations of these means and modes, the ones you are permitted to employ are determined by your knowledge of the hobby and rules and regulations directing usage, knowledge of radio technology, and, your ability to pass tests of that knowledge. As you pass more of the test, you attain a higher class of license which broadens the number of frequencies you allowed to operate on and increases the amount of power your signal is allowed to radiate into the spectrum. There are currently three classes of licenses: Technician, General, and Extra. There are currently over 765,000 hams in the US and over 3 million worldwide.

Within the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has had government oversight of the radio communication spectrum within which the ham radio bands exist since the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC decides which questions will be on your test, issues an operating license for the level of permissions you have obtained by passing the test, and issues callsigns, like W3SEH, you will use to identify youself when communicating with others.

There are many resources out on the internet that are available to you to introduce you to ham radio, assist and train you to be able to obtain your FCC license, and to learn to erect antennas and to obtain radio equipment. Additionally, you need to be aware of the single most important organization within the hame radio community: ARRL, the American Radio Relay League. You should immediately become familiar with the ARRL website at http://www.arrl.org, and spend quite a bit of time there to avail yourself of their extensive facilities. To continue this paragraph on How To Become a Ham, visit www.arrl.org/licensing-education-training to get started. There are a lot of pathways from there that you can follow to get you launched on your ham radio carreer.

Following are several links to sites that offer information and help to get you started. Additionally, there are literally thousands of web sites operated by hams that specialize in their own areas of interest. They are easy to locate.

ARRL publishes many books, especially License Manuals, that specialize in teaching you how to build antennas, operate radios, or even talk to astronauts on the International Space Station. Visit the following link: http://www.arrl.org/shop/What-s-New/ to discover the current ARRL publications. Order the first license manual here: http://www.arrl.org/shop/Ham-Radio-License-Manual/ to get started.

Once you have decided to start on your path of studying to obtain your license, here are some suggestions to help you be successful:

Dedicate at least an hour per day to studying the license manuals.

Register for and practice the questions offered on web sites such as https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/index.html

If you have trouble understanding a particular question in the License Manual or on the practice web sites, copy the question and bring it to an experienced ham (called an Elmer) to have them help you to understand how to answer it.

Once you have achieved at least 90% on the practice exams, you can arrange through ARRL to have your official FCC license exam test at a VEC (Volunteer Examiner Coordinator).


Easton Amateur Radio Society
P.O. Box 311
Easton, MD 21601