Anyone you know could be an Amateur Radio operator or “ham” –no matter what age, gender or physical ability. From ages 8 to 80, people in many countries of the world can have fun as radio amateurs. If you’ve had fun with CB radio or trying new things with your computer, wait till you see what you can do with ham radio!

You can do lots of things with an amateur radio. You can communicate from the top of a mountain, your home or behind the wheel of your car. You can take radio wherever you go! In times of disaster, when regular communications channels fail, hams can swing into action assisting emergency communications efforts and working with public service agencies. At other times, you can talk to Shuttle astronauts or bounce signals off the moon.

You can use telegraphy, voice, digital, even images in communication with other hams. Know any other hobby with so much to offer?

While anyone can purchase HAM Radio equipment and use the equipment to listen, there is a requirement to have a FCC License to transmit. Although the main purpose of the hobby is fun, it is called the “Amateur Radio Service” because it also has a serious face. The FCC created the “Service” to fill the need for a pool of experts who could provide backup emergency communications in times of need. In addition, the FCC acknowledged the ability of the hobby to advance communication and technical knowledge, and enhance international goodwill.

One of the major changes in recent years is there is no longer a requirement to learn and pass a test on CW (Morse Code).

In the USA, there is currently three tiers of FCC Amateur Radio licenses:

  • Technician – Begining level with a large range of frequencies that can be transmitted on.
  • General – Intermediate level giving access to more frequencies that can be transmitted on.
  • Amateur Extra – Advanced level giving access to all amateur radio frequencies.

Local volunteers, including the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club, offer classes as well as test sessions so that you can become licensed.  Attending classes is not a requirement, but sometimes can help learn concepts and rules from experienced ham operators.

Find classes at:

Western Washington Amateur Radio Licensing Classes, Training Classes and Examination Sessions

Online video course is available at http://dcasler.com/ham-radio/training/  Dave Casler’s YouTube video’s are numbered the same way the sections are numbered in the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 4th Edition as it follows this manual.  It’s in convenient chunks of short videos followed by short sections of self study.  You can watch the the first video at:  Chapter 1, Welcome to Amateur Radio. (Updated for Fourth Edition.)

Self-study Resources:

http://www.ad7fo.com/training.html

http://www.ad7fo.com/media/TechLic2018.pdf     The license syllabi found here have everything you need to study for the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra licenses. All possible questions and their answers are covered with additional explanations, if needed, to enhance your understanding. These syllabi can be used for self study or in an instructor-led class.

https://www.kb6nu.com/study-guides/     The No-Nonsense Technician-Class License Study Guide (for tests given between July 2018 and June 2022)   FREE PDF version of commericially available book.

http://www.arrl.org/ham-radio-license-manual     While studying the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, you may find that you need a bit more background to fully understand a topic. Maybe you’ll just be curious and want more detail. Either way, the Ham Radio License Manual Web site is intended to act as your “study buddy” – known as an “Elmer” in ham radio. We recommend that you “bookmark” this site in your Web browser to make it as easy as possible to find timely help or launch an interesting browsing session.   For video study with the ARRL manual, visit the guides by Dave Casler.

Study tips for taking FCC ham license exams

Passing the “Technician” license exam is easier than ever. Thanks to the removal of the Morse Code requirement, full access to the test material, study sites like HamStudy.org, and help from your local amateur club you’ll be a licensed amateur operator in no time.

These study tips will help you focus and ensure success on your testing day. Use them as guidelines — you know best how you learn, so adapt these tips to suit your learning style:

  1. Set a deadline for taking the test.

  2. Use multiple modes of learning (e.g., text books, flash cards, practice exams, etc.).  

  3. Study the correct answers (i.e., the ARRL License manuals display a set of multiple choice answers in its Question Pool section, while HamStudy.org in its “Read the Questions” section has the question and the correct answer in dark print and the wrong answers in a very faint print).  So, use HamStudy.org to study the correct answers.

  4. Spend 1 hour per day for 2-3 weeks prior to the test. 

  5. Use HamStudy.org; a number of our members have used it and highly recommend it.  HamStudy.org has the updated questions, flash cards (with explanatory information available by clicking on the upper right hand corner), practice tests, and progress tracking.

  6. If you only use practice tests, you are not guaranteed to see every question, as each test is randomly generated.  The HamStudy.org flash card module monitors which questions you have seen and which you’ve answered correctly and also allows you to narrow the flashcard pool to particular parts of the Technician exam that you may find problematic.

  7. Although FCC exam questions are updated every four years, older study guides are still useful because most of the basic material is recycled. Be sure to use up-to-date practice tests and flash cards.  

  8. The Technician license exam is a 35-question test drawn from a question pool containing 423 questions.  The question pool is divided into 10 sub-elements (T0–T9).  Sub-elements are subdivided into question groups (topics).  There are 35 topics represented in the question pool.  One question will be randomly selected from each topic to make up a Technician exam.  You must correctly answer a minimum of 26 questions on the exam to obtain a Technician license. 

  9. Take the exam after you consistently score better than the minimum passing score of 74% on practice exams.

Learn more at HamStudy.org