About Ham Radio!


What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur radio is a hobby with millions of participants around the world that use radio transmitters and receivers to communicate with other Amateur radio operators. A retired military officer in Vermont makes friends over the radio with a ham in London, England. A local teenager uses a computer to upload a chess move to an orbiting space satellite, where it's retrieved by a fellow chess enthusiast in Japan. In California, volunteers save lives as part of their involvement in an emergency communications net. And at the scene of a traffic accident on a Chicago freeway, a ham calls for help by using a pocket-sized hand-held radio.

Amateur Radio has been shown to be a critical piece in modern emergency management planning. Amateur Radio operators provide volunteer communications for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and thousands of state and local emergency management offices across the country. As an Amateur Radio operator, I am a member of the Vermont Emergency Management - RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) Division, ARRL ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) and the LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Commission).  Amateur Radio Operators provide backup communications for Vermont Emergency Management to help protect people who might be within an emergency zone.  Amateur Radio Operators can also become the eyes and ears for the National Weather Service by reporting real time weather statistics, and help out with special events like marathons, walk-a-thon's, search parties, special events and much more.  A current event happened in the southern USA with hurricane Katrina, Amateur Radio was the only effective communications that survived while other means of “tried and true” communications failed.  No electricity, Cell Phones or Land Lines.  Thousands of messages were relayed via Ham Radio!!

This unique mix of fun, public service and convenience is the distinguishing characteristic of Amateur Radio. Although hams get involved in the hobby for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology, regulations and operating principles, demonstrated by passing an examination for a license to operate on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." These are reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by hams at intervals from just above the AM broadcast band all the way up into extremely high microwave frequencies.

Things you can to do with amateur radio

So who is an Amateur Radio Operator? 

Anyone can be!  Some operators are Astronauts, singers, actors / actresses, communication professionals, TV and radio personalities, racers of many venues, sports figures, computer operators, kids and people just like you.  We are an excited group of folks who have fun helping out our local communities, communicating with individuals and friends near and far, and much more.  Some of us are new to Amateur Radio and just starting to study for our first license while some of us are well versed.  We all enjoy sharing our knowledge and helping others.  You do not have to have a license to join our club or have any experience at all.  You just have to have a desire to help out and be with folks like you. 

How to become an amateur radio operator

All hams in the United States are licensed by the FCC. A 35 question multiple-choice test and paying $14.00 is all it takes. The FCC doesn't even give the test ... Ham “VE’s” (Volunteer Examiners) give the test to people that want to become hams. These volunteer examiners then file the paperwork with the FCC and your ham radio license is set to you in the mail. You can check for a club near you by visiting the ARRL site

There are many ways to go about preparing for and taking your ham radio license test.

What is your next step?

Contact a local ham radio club in your area.  If you need assistance in finding a club near your home town, refer to the ARRL Web Site for a club near you. 


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