Ham Radio Intro

Oh, the magic of ham radio!
What is Ham Radio? – Ham Radio is a popular hobby and public service that blends electronics and communication. Hams use various modes of transmission to talk to each other all over the world. Many have even made contact with the International Space Station as it orbits the earth.

Ham Radio has been around since the early twentieth century. Today there are over 800,000 licensed operators in the United States and about three million worldwide. Every country has its own regulatory agency which issues licenses and call signs to qualified individuals. In the United States, all radio communications, including Amateur Radio (the official name of the service), is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Young and old alike enjoy ham radio!
Classes of License – The United States has three license classes: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. An exam covering radio theory, operating practices, and FCC regulations must be passed for each license class. The Technician class is considered an entry level license. The higher the class of license, the more difficult the exam, but the operator is rewarded with more operating privileges.

Call Signs – Each country issues call signs to their licensees. Call signs consist of a prefix, a number, and a suffix. The prefix identifies the issuing country. All call signs issued by the FCC  begin with W, K, N, or AA-AL. In the U.S., the number indicates one of ten call sign areas. Prior to March 30, 1978, licensees were issued a new call sign when they moved to a different call sign area. That is no longer a requirement. The call sign suffix may have from one to three letters.

Getting Started in Ham Radio – If you have an interest in becoming a ham radio operator, I suggest you visit the website of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). You will find an abundance of information about the hobby there. To a newcomer it may be a bit overwhelming at first, so I suggest you begin by looking at the page that I believe will get you most acquainted with this great hobby: http://www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio