Great! Ham radio is a wonderful communications hobby and service. It's been around pretty much as long as there's been radio, around the turn of the (last) century. Today, it's state-of-the-art. And it's a terrific compliment to the communications you've started taking for granted on the internet.
To get started, you might want some more basic information on Amateur Radio itself. For that, let me point you to a page from our national organization, the American Radio Relay League : http://www.arrl.org/hamradio.html . Don't get lost in browsing and forget to come back!
To operate an Amateur Radio station, you need an FCC license. To get that license, you need to learn some rules and regs, some operating procedure, some safety information and some elementary electronics. Then, to show you've learned that stuff, you must pass an exam, administered locally several times a year. That's what our class is all about.
There are three levels of ham licenses: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. As you go up the license ladder, you take progressively more difficult tests, and you earn greater privileges. You can get a simplified overview of the ham license structure here .
The first night of our class is an introduction, and there's no cost or obligation. If you like what you see, sign up for the course. The class is inexpensive, taught by unpaid volunteers, all for the love of our hobby. This is not a money-making commercial enterprise.
The RARS Class
The RARS Class is designed to help you pass the FCC exam for the Technician Class license. This is the "No-Code" license, and no Morse Code is required. We do offer an optional code class for those interested gaining the extra privileges that come with passing the 5 word-per-minute code test. The next code class will probably be in the fall, 2002. If you're interested in that, contact Neal Fisher N4HAF .
Important note: the class lecture and demos only supplement the text. We answer your questions, and amplify some of the more difficult concepts. We don't teach everything you need to know in class - there's not enough time. You can get your ham license with the book alone, and many people do. You can't pass the test with the class alone, but the class will make it easier! (Click here for more pictures from a recent class.)
Class Size Limited - Download the Registration Form:
How Hard Is It?
You don't have to be an electrical engineer to get a ham license. Many hams have no technical knowledge beyond what they learned to get their licenses.
The exam questions cover four areas:
The exams are drawn from a pool of multiple-choice questions. The questions, and answers, are public,. They're included in Now You're Talking, or you can download them from this ARRL web site , among others.
We think you're better off actually learning the basics, not just memorizing them. We won't pretend there's no work involved, but it's less than a high school semester's worth. And most of what you learn will be useful to you as you enjoy the hobby in the future.
Test Yourself Online: There are several web sites out there that package the question pool into sample exams. One of our favorites is http://www.aa9pw.com/radio/exam.html . We recommend that you begin taking on-line sample tests starting the first night of class. You probably won't "pass" the first night, but with each class you'll see your score jump up, and by the end of the class you'll pass the test with confidence.
The Technician license is code-free, and with full privileges on all the VHF, UHF and above ham bands, that may be as far as you want to go in ham radio for now.
But, Morse Code is a strong tradition in Ham Radio, and you'll need to learn it to progress to higher class licenses . Add code to the Tech license and you'll gain voice privileges on the worldwide Ten Meter band, as well as code privileges on several other worldwide bands. The recent restructuring lowered the code requirements for all ham licenes to one 5 word-per-minute exam, so you'll also be a step closer to the General Class license.
RARS will offers a separate Morse Code class occasionally during the year, separate from the license classes. Keep an eye on this web page for updates.