Guest Post:HAM RADIO

            I was rereading through suggestions from your readers as to what articles they would like to see on your website. One person mentioned learning more about Ham Radios. I have been a ham radio operator for about 2 years and would be glad to share what I know a about them.

Ham Radio, also called Amateur radio, is licensed by the FCC, who reserves certain radio frequency bands for use by Ham Radio operators exclusively. BTW, Ham Radio is completely different from CB radio and operates on different frequencies, and it is illegal to transmit over a ham radio without a license. Ham radio operators come from all walks of life and ages. There are over 500,000 licensed ham operators in the US alone, and thousands of repeaters. One person in my group obtained his Technician license at age 10, while 2 others in the group are in their 80’S. I received my Technician license at age 63. So it’s never too early or late to become involved in Ham Radio.

            I have always been interested in alternative methods of communications in case electricity, phone service, etc. are lost, and after I retired, I asked a local person who was involved in Ham Radios about them. He invited me to the next meeting of his ham radio group. Everyone at the meeting was friendly and helpful. One member loaned me a copy of the manual I needed to read and study for the Technician license, the entry level for ham radio operators.  A CD with practice tests is also included with the manual.  I studied, then took the test when I thought I was ready. I passed on my 1st attempt, which means at least 26 out of 35 correct answers (multiple choice). I would like to add that I knew very little about electricity, frequencies, etc. So, passing is doable by most people. I went ahead and obtained my General license, the 2nd of three license’s classes, but the Technician license is sufficient for most ham radio privileges.

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            I decided to buy a Yaesu- FT-270  2 meter handheld ham radio ($125-$150).  With this I can talk to other radio operators in the area through a repeater (a large antenna located in my town).  I can even talk with people from nearby towns this way. I have a very small antenna with which I can locate repeaters in other towns, sometimes up to 75-100 miles away. Eventually I may get a lower frequency radio and larger antenna that would allow for communication all over the world by bouncing radio signals off sections of the atmosphere. Communicating with satellites is also possible, and some people even bounce signals off of the moon.

            Some Ham Radio operators use their radios just as a hobby and see how many people they can contact, just to exchange information; and to buy, sell, or swap ham radio equipment. But some get involved with local EMA’s (Emergency Management Agency) to help when a disaster occurs in their areas. I have become involved with my local EMA and enjoy it very much. Plus I have learned many survival tips and best practices in handling emergency situations through free FEMA and other agencies’ seminars. As a bonus I will have immediate first hand knowledge of FEMA’s intended response during a crisis. Because of my involvement with the our local EMA, I already receive up to the minute emails detailing coming storms, traffic conditions, and other helpful advisories. I would like to add that I do feel a more prepared now that I have my ham radio.

            For more info:

            http://www.arrl.org/

            http://www.advancedspecialties.net/ham-radio-faq.htm

            http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/

            http://hamuniverse.com/

            http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters/
And 100’s if not 1000’s of other useful websites.

You never know who you may run into when communicating with Amateur Radio: Young people, retirees, lawyers, website designers, students and teachers, scientists and engineers and, doctors, mechanics and technicians, homemakers, boaters, etc.

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I can also monitor the local sheriff, city police, and fire department frequencies that I programmed into my ham radio.  With a push of one button, I have access to the NOAA weather service.  Some operators use a software program to broadcast using their computers.

I will audit any responses to this article and answer any questions that I can.

                                                                        Thanks, vandal67


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13 Comments

  1. A coworker shared the AARL handbook with me…I got lost in the chapter about wavelengths…I still bought a radio, and i have no idea what to do with it…I figure in a SHTF situation, it will at least bring me info…

  2. Most Amateur {HAM) radio operators will gladly help others with getting a license. If you enjoy talking to others, you will enjoy HAM radio, if you enjoy tinkering with things like antenna’s, or radio’s etc., you will be able to enjoy that too. There are too many avenue’s of Amateur radio to list in a short note though. One item not published very well, is the fact that in a life or death situation any one can call for help using the ham radio, even if they do not have a license (just be sure it is or you think it is a life or death situation). OK, here is hoping that the author has stirred up some interest in you, and he and I will be hearing you on the air-waves soon.

  3. Graammyprepper, aswk that co-worker for help. That friend or another friend will surely help you get an understanding enough to pass the test and get started on HAM radio.

  4. Very nice inspiring article. Amateur radio, as an exciting and evolving hobby, is now attracting a younger demographic segment with the amateur radio satellites, school balloon projects carrying ham radio (APRS). The public service aspect is also very active providing logistical support for community events such as a recent ski competition near Ottawa. And of course the Amateur Radio Emergency Service continues to be a recognized essential service provided in need of crisis and disaster. In this day and age we are still seeing failures within the cellular phone networks, power failures etc. Ham radio always works.

    Ham radio alive and strong in Canada!

    Vincent Charron, VA3GX/VE2HHH
    Director of Communications
    RADIO AMATEURS OF CANADA
    http://WWW.RAC.CA

  5. Thanks John, Ben and Vincent.
    Two FS club Elmer’s did night time classes so I too was able to pass on first try. I was looking for a backup to phones but untill I purchase a radio at Ham Fest in April, I am using the Echo Link site on my computer.
    Check out the ARRL Operating Manual http://www.arrl.org and find the QST magazine for more information.

  6. grammy,

    Click on the hamradiolicenseexam link above,hit try for free, choose technician exam, and hit ok. You will be given some brief info then a question about that info. It’s a good way to see how the exam is set up, and you’ll be learning as you go. You can also do a search for ham radio exams and find other sites with practice exams. vandal67

  7. Below find some additional info that I later sent to Rourke as a response to a couple questions he had.

    I actually bought my ham radio without doing a lot of research. I was told by people in my local group that my Yaesu FT-270R was an excellent choice for dependability, but was a little difficult to program. I called Yaesu, and they were very helpful and walked me thru the process of programming a frequency and a tone for each repeater that I wanted to add. Also, people in my local group were helpful. But, there is a software program that can be purchased and used to do the programming. I am told it’s a lot easier to program a ham radio using the software. I included the below link to the software for my particular radio.

    http://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-010324

    U can check out other brands online to find a 2 meter radio that’s easier to program. I will also ask some folks in my group about this and get back to u. My 2 meter radio operates using VHS (very high frequency) and needs to connect thru a repeater. Many people in my group use a 10 meter radio that uses high frequency waves, and depending on weather conditions, sunspots, etc., can communicate all over the world. And since these radios don’t need a repeater, I am told they don’t need to be programmed. I hope to have one of these some day. BTW u can start with a 10 meter radio if u choose.

    In my 2 meter radio I have 13 of the closest repeaters programmed and 2 simplex channels (these can be used to communicate like a walkie-talkie if u are in line of sight with someone else on same frequency, without a repeater). I also have city police, county sheriff’s dept., and fire dept. programmed in to listen to their radio calls, sort of like a scanner. It’s legal here, but u can only listen, not talk to these agencies.

    I don’t use my computer to broadcast and receive, but might in the future.

    If u know anyone in your area that does ham radio, u might ask them if there is a local group that u could hooked up with. If so, these people are an invaluable resource to help get u started and guide u along the way.

    I will close for now, but will pass along info as it comes to mind. Feel free to ask any questions, if I can’t answer them, I know folks who can. When my article is published, hopefully others with ham radio will respond with more helpful tips.

    From: John Rourke
    Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2014 7:50 AM
    To: reginahamilton
    Subject: Re: Guest Post

    Thanks – I have your article scheduled for the 24th.

    Appreciate your willingness to share. Would love to hear more….communications or other.

    Questions – How difficult is it to program your radio? Do you use a computer or program on the radio?

    Thanks – Rourke

  8. I am glad to see other amateur radio operators like Paul, Ben, Vincent, and Catherine monitor and contribute to Modern Survival Online. I’m sure they will also answer questions and help in any way to guide anyone interested in getting involved in Ham Radio.

  9. Great round up of what ham radio has to offer and its good to see someone mention how radio amateurs are an asset in emergencies.

    As our communication infrastructure becomes more complicated it has (surprisingly) become more fragile and easily disrupted by crisis situations. The radio equipment hams use along with the level of organization these groups provide has proved itself before as it will long into the future.

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