Welcome to the World of Amateur Radio


K4EQ Station - Click to enlarge
Thanks for stopping by my Amateur Radio (also affectionately known as ham radio) website. I hope you'll find it interesting and helpful.

What is Amateur Radio?
The best definition of Amateur Radio I've found is on the website of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. "Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It's fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need."

Amateur Radio operators are found all over the world. Every country has its own regulatory agency which issues licenses and call signs to qualified individuals. In the United States, Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

License Classes - Currently, there are three license classes in the United States: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. In years past, there were three additional license classes: Novice, Conditional, and Advanced. You must pass a multiple-choice exam for each license class. Material covered on the exams includes radio theory, regulations, and operating practices. The Technician class is considered an entry-level license and is the least technical of the three exams. It also has the fewest operating privileges. The higher the class of license, the more difficult the exam, but the operator is rewarded with more operating privileges. Licenses are issued for a ten-year, renewable term.

Call Sign Prefixes - The prefix in a call sign (letter or letters that precede the number in a call sign) identifies the country that issued the license. All call signs in the U.S. or its territories begin with W, K, N, or AA-AL. My call sign, K4EQ, clearly identifies me as being in the U.S. Plus, I am the only person in the world with that call sign. If I am on the air and HR1DH calls me, I know immediately he is in Honduras. I also know from the number 1 his approximate location in Honduras (likely in or near Tegucigalpa).

Call Sign Numbers - The number (Ø-9) in U.S. call signs indicates one of ten call sign areas in the country. Each area includes one or more states. Prior to March 30, 1978, when the FCC made major changes in the call sign structure, your call sign was changed when you moved from one area to another. The FCC changed my call sign to W9NXD when we moved to Indiana in 1976. When we moved back to Michigan in 1984, I upgraded to Amateur Extra Class and was assigned NJ8X, although I could have kept W9NXD if I had desired to do so. We were living in Virginia when the vanity call sign program was introduced in 1996. That allowed hams to select the call sign of their choice, if available, according to their license class. I selected and received my current call sign, which is K4EQ.

If you're new to the world of ham radio, take a look around my site and see if something sparks an interest in you. Be sure to check out the website of the ARRL for an abundance of information about this hobby.

Ham radio is an incredible hobby that is educational, challenging, and just plain fun. If you're not yet licensed, I hope you'll join the ranks soon. You'll be glad you did. If you already have your license, I hope to meet you on the air soon. 73.

                                                                                                                  Dale, K4EQ