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.
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:
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.
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.