A lot of people will cite that they decided to get their Amateur radio license to prepare for a disaster or an emergency. I agree that this is still a big part of the hobby, but Amateur radio (HAM Radio) is a hobby and not a job.
Personally I have always been drawn to decentralized communication. It is part of the reason I am a software engineer today. I have always wanted to get my HAM Radio license (something that my dad has had since before I was born). It took me years to finally find the time to study and take the test.
I took my technician exam in October 2017 and finally joined the HAM hobby.
Before you are allowed to use and operate a HAM radio you must first take a test and get a license from the FCC (if you are in the United States).
I have tried to get licensed many times before, but was never able to follow through and go take the test. The breakthrough for me was listening to the audiobooks during my commute and finding a test session I was going to attend no matter what. I also took many, many practice tests when I got close to completing the audiobook until I could pass every time. I was always afraid of going to a test and not passing, but taking so many practice tests helped build my confidence that I knew the material.
Below are a list of things that I have found useful while studying to become a HAM Radio operator and in the day-to-day usage of my license.
- AE7Q Advanced Call Sign Search & Availability
- DX Maps
- FCC License Manager
- FCC Advanced License Search
- HF Propagation Predictions
- VHF Propagation Map
- Kenwood TH-D74a
- Diamond SRH320A 144/220/440 MHz Tri-Band Handheld Antenna
- Samsung 32GB 95MB/s MicroSD Memory Card
- Skinomi TechSkin Screen protector Any large size that can be cut to fit
Fun things to do
After you get licensed there is a whole world of things to explore. Below I have started to make a list of things I have experimented with and.
APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) is a digital communication system that from as far as I can tell right now is mainly used for sharing your position, basic statuses and simple messages.
One of the fun things that I have found is that there is a way to send SMS messages to friends and family through a SMS gateway. This could be something fun to try out and can be useful if you do not have cell service, but can get your message into the APRS network. Check out the SMS gateway for more instructions.