The Adventure Begins!
In a Nutshell...
For a real “nutshell view,” click here for a 4-minute Windows Media file, or
here for an MPG version of ARRL’s ham radio intro
(each opens in a new window, or
right-click and “Save as...” to download.)
Ham radio offers many exciting opportunities to make friends and contacts around the globe. Area of interest include general radio communication, digital interlinks combining radio and the Internet, radio astronomy, emergency communications, and more. You don’t need to know Morse Code anymore, but there’s a thriving community devoted to it (very useful when conditions are poor or in emergency communications). It all starts with a Technician class license from the FCC. The next levels are General, then Extra.
License—You can self-study, then take your exam locally—monthly in Burlington. Various clubs in the area will offer classes and exams periodically (check the Calendar page), and exams can usually be taken at hamfests (ham versions of flea-markets and get-togethers). The QRZ.com site (find a link in right column) has online exams (featuring the actual exam questions) which you can take to verify that you’re ready for the real exam. The license itself is free and valid for 10 years, no exam for renewal. Your costs will be limited to any exam-prep books you buy and the exam fee ($15 at 12/11) . There may be loaner copies of exam books available through the club, but be sure that any books you get (even newly purchased ones) have questions from the most current pool of questions. Exam questions change from time to time as rules & regs change. The most recent General exam pool, at this writing, took effect July, 2007. The question pool for the Extra exam is scheduled to change in June, 2012.
Equipment comes in all price ranges and types, many hams make their own antennas and other pieces, many pick up long-wanted equipment from hamfests, eBay is a popular source as well. But...until you’re well-versed in radio equipment, don't go it alone! Join ACARA, or a club local to you, and take advantage of more experienced hams’ knowledge. The club may have some equipment available, short term, to members as loaner pieces. And, when it comes to setting up antennas... experienced hams are ready to lend a hand. Use the help form in the right column to ask questions or seek help. We’ll do our best to get you what you need.
ARRL—The national association for ham radio. Membership is not a necessary thing, but it is a good thing to do. ARRL offers discounts on classes to its members and promotes legislation beneficial to ham radio. It’s emergency communcations service works with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to provide communications when normal communication channels fail. ARRL is an excellent resource, you’ll find it mentioned throughout our site and most other ham radio club sites. Dues are inexpensive, benefits huge—check it out.
Other resources—Be sure to check the resources on our Links page, as well as visiting the other pages on our site. We hope to hear from you and would love to have you join our club. Afterall, we’re a great resource, too <shameful self-promotion aside>!
ARRL's "Hello" Brochure
(PDF; a short ham radio intro)
Learn about Ham Radio [hello-radio.org]
Tutorials & resources
FCC: HAM Radio
Online Practice Exams QRZ.com
Online License Classes
(all 3 levels)
Confused yet? Just Ask Us!