Ham Radio lets you send text messages to anyone around the world by using radio waves. This might sound like science fiction, but it’s absolutely real. You can even communicate with astronauts in space! To start using Ham Radio, you’ll need a few things…
First, a radio transceiver. You can get the Yaesu FT-817 for $300, or an older but better one called Kenwood TS-520 for around $200.To use the Ham Radio transceiver, you’ll need an antenna. The simplest is called a dipole antenna, and it looks like this: You can make one from wire coat hangers (bend them into a rectangle with the ends connected). You’ll also need an up-converter that goes into your transceiver: Now that you have your equipment set up, you’ll want to learn how to use it.
First, take a deep breath. To be an effective radio operator, you’ll need to learn the rules. This includes things like safety, courtesy, and laws. Don’t worry; this is normal and expected. Everyone who picks up the hobby does this. You will too.
Safety: Safety must always be the first thing you consider when operating any piece of equipment. Safety is also the most overlooked aspect of learning how to operate ham radio equipment. Remember that you are using equipment that generates a signal that can produce harmful interference if not correctly used. Care is taken to ensure your signal will not affect someone else’s equipment.
When you first pick up a radio, most of which can be found today at online stores such as Walcott Radio, you are likely to get nervous. This is expected, normal and natural. This is why you should use a code of conduct when speaking with other hams on the air. If you learn and follow the rules of conduct, things will be more peaceful, easier to follow and make friends quicker.
The human voice is tough to listen to at radios distances. The use of codes for radio transmissions helps to make the signal more clear. Codes for transmitting and receiving radio signals are called “Speech Procedures” or “Morse Code”. There are specific rules that have been established about using these codes.
The first one is the “10-Code “. Railroad operators originally developed this code in the early days of radio. It was designed to use numbers instead of words to still talk and understand each other even if they were working with different languages.
Experiment. There are many things to explore in ham radio. It’s a great hobby that can be incredibly rewarding. If you ever decide to upgrade to a General Class license, you’ll have the authority to operate on many different frequencies. Some of these frequencies are cool and have unique uses. Plus, there’s a good chance your local area will have a General Class operator (or two) who can help you get on the air for the first time!
Bust myths. Every day, ham radio is confused with other communications services. For example, people who use the telephone are sometimes confused with ham operators. And although ham radio and CB share some similarities, there are huge differences too.
Learn and demonstrate proper radio station operation:
You will need to apply for your license using the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS). Your call sign is the “handle” that other hams will use to identify you on the air. You can get more information from ARRL’s page on getting your license.Next review the FCC Laws & Regulations, they are very strict about operating rules, and the penalties for breaking them can be severe.
When operating on a licensed ham band, you need to follow the FCC rules. Listen to other hams on the band and make sure that your operation is clean. Avoid splatter and unnecessary loud talking. It’s tempting to “show off” on an open frequency, but this is not helpful to the ham community. A little courtesy now will save you much trouble in the future.
Ham radio is a hobby that is still alive and well today. From learning how to use Ham Radio to the types of frequencies used and licensing, this short guide is a starting foundation to get you on your way to communicating worldwide through radio.