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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HAM Radio - Check It Out!

We decided earlier this year that HAM Radio skills and equipment would be a great addition to our preparedness plans. We had a few other major purchases on the list ahead of this, but made our plans to get our HAM Radio licensing and as much of the equipment we felt we needed by the end of this year.

I purchased my study guides about 3 weeks ago, deciding to go the route of self-study. With little ones at home still, it is hard for me to make evening workshop classes. We have a couple of local HAM Radio clubs however, that offer free evening workshops to prepare you for all levels of the HAM Radio license exam.

Many counties in TN and throughout the U.S. have local clubs and most offer workshops for exam prep (usually for FREE) - you can check this link at ARRL to see if there is a club in your area. Clubs are usually very welcoming to visitors and guests, the members are great at helping introduce HAM Radio to newcomers and it would be well worth your time to find a local club if you want to learn more about HAM Radio activities.

I also got a chance to attend a few hours of the Field Day activities of one of our local clubs during the last weekend in June. The club had a GOTA (Get On The Air) tent, which allows visitors a chance to do just that. I was able to operate on the 20 meter band and make 20 contacts throughout the U.S. in about 2 hours. It was a ton of fun! Here are a couple of photos from our local field day:

The very nice gentleman who showed me how to make contacts in the GOTA tent:

The Field Day Welcome Tent for Visitors:

My children got to go with us and we saw 3 primary stations set up - the CW or Morse code group, the 2-meter band and some people working 2 different multi-band radios. Everyone was friendly, we had a bite of lunch and were able to watch and learn! Here's a photo of a couple of my children watching a club member make a few contacts:

After studying for the past couple of weeks, last night I took my Technician level exam, which is the first level of licensing available. I passed no problem and should have my call sign sometime toward the end of the week. This level allows me to mainly communicate within my local community on the 2 and 6 meter bands.

I'm studying now to take the next level exam, General, which will allow me to work all the bands and make contacts world-wide if I want to. The next testing date is July 18th and I plan to be ready to take the General exam on that date.

We've purchased our first VHF radio for making our local contacts and are actively saving for the multi-band radio that I have my eye on for making those long distance contacts!

If you've never given much thought to HAM Radio, you really should. You can operate HAM Radio under emergency power conditions and during most emergencies, it is the HAM Radio operators who end up helping coordinate emergency services.

If you are interested in being more involved with emergency communications during a time of emergency, there are organizations dedicated just for this:

RACES - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

ARES - Amateur Radio Disaster Service

MARS - Military Amateur Radio Service

While some of the terminology seems confusing at first, as you get started it begins to make sense. I've never had a physics or electronics class ever, but the ARRL study guides do a great job of explaining the basics for the test, then spending time with experienced operators and just getting practice now that I have my license will go a long way toward improving my skills. There are even contests just about every weekend and these are also an excellent way to improve skills.

You can find more information about HAM Radio at the following links:

QRZ.com - How To Become a Ham (they have practice exams)

W5YI Group - Resources for Amateur Radio

ARRL - the National Association for Amateur Radio

eHam.net - Amateur Radio on the Net (they have practice exams)

Ham Test Online - study for your tests all online

Contesting Info - Wiki Contesting - what is contesting all about, anyway?

Good luck if you decide to start exploring the world of Amateur Radio!

1 comment:

wvsanta said...

Way to go on passing the test Welcome to the world of HAM RADIO
God Bless

Tennessee Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Tennessee Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.