If you’re looking for the best way to start with ham radio then you’ve come to the right place! It is a fascinating hobby but getting started with it may feel daunting at first, so let’s try and find a smoother way in.
Before you get started it’s important to realize that ham radio is not easy. It requires commitment and dedication. It’s called the amateur radio hobby for a reason, people do not get paid for doing this. You will need to study hard and practice often if you want any hope of getting good at this. So if you’re not ready for this step back now, because otherwise, I’m going to give you some advice that could save your life.
So let’s get into the meat of the post.
Join a local club or search online for ham radio groups in your area.
These clubs provide both moral and practical support for beginners and share their knowledge and experience with others.
There is always something new and exciting happening; these groups are a great place to learn about it first hand. Ham radios can be expensive and they can use a lot of power, so before you buy anything you should join a group like the one mentioned earlier and learn from people who have been in the business for a long time. They will have the knowledge to guide you through which equipment you will need, as well as where to purchase it from, as some places may overcharge you due to the popularity of the hobby.
Start by listening to the HF bands.
You can listen for free with simple equipment like a shortwave radio and an outdoor antenna. The best times to listen are at night, particularly after local sunrise or after local sunset. During the day, solar noise will be present on the HF bands, which makes listening difficult. It’s easier to listen for stations before sunrise and after sunset because sunlight interferes with HF signals. Stations will be transmitted during the day, but you’ll need to use narrow filters to cut the solar noise. If you live in an area where cell phone towers are nearby, you may also hear chatter from unlicensed transistor radios operating on the 2-meter band, which overlaps nearby with some HF frequencies.
Look For Equipment At Thrift Shops
Many times you will find old HAM radios in thrift shops and flea markets. They may be in a bit of disrepair but they can still be fixed and used for fun and to stay in touch with others.
Buy a license.
It may sound silly, but ham radio isn’t free. There are some very inexpensive options out there, but if you want to get access to the HF bands that will get you the most bang for your buck you’ll want to get an FCC Technicians license. These can be purchased at the ARRL Ham Radio Store for $15. One important thing to remember is that there are no test centers near you. You have to order it online and take it wherever you have internet access. If you don’t have internet access where you live, or if you aren’t confident in your typing skills, this is an important thing to keep in mind. Another important thing to remember is that this license does require amateur radio operators to take some tests and pass some classes. To find out if it’s right for you, use the ARRL’s Elmer database, alternatively if you want to get started right now, CrunchReviews has a complete ham radio license guide.
Know The Decode Range For Your Radio.
You may have a very expensive antenna, but if it’s only 35 feet off the ground, you’re not going to be able to pick up anything far away. That antenna needs to be high enough that it can “see” the right part of the sky to pick up signals from distant places.
Be Prepared for Disaster
In the event of a catastrophic emergency, one of the highest priorities will be to get aid to those affected. In situations where roads and other transit routes are impassable, ham operators on their own initiative will provide emergency communications on a local and perhaps statewide basis. So, to make sure you are ready for the unexpected:
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency plan for your area.
- Be familiar with the emergency frequencies and how to access them.
- Establish a regular practice schedule to maintain proficiency in amateur radio operations.