Ham Radio

Why

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.

Getting Licensed

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.

Resources

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.

Android

iOS

Websites

Equipment

Handhelds

Baofeng BF-F8HP

Kenwood TH-D74a

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

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.