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.


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.

To be continued…



D-Star is one of the oldest digital modes available to amateurs. If you have a D-Star repeater in your area and a D-Star capable radio you can easily get access to worldwide communication through the Internet.

D-Star is a digial radio mode that allows for arguably better audio quality and slow data transfer. I do not want to go into depth here as there is better websites that go into greater detail better than I can do here.

If you have an okay connection to a repeater you will get reliable audio quality. One of the problems is that there is a sharp drop off as you go out of range of a repeater. It first sounds great and then will start to sound like a robot than disappear.


From my office in downtown San Francisco I am able to reach the WW6BAY repeater, but from home I can not. To get around this and to access many more repeaters and reflectors I purchased a SharkRF OpenSpot. This device sits at home near my desk on very low power. With it I am normally connected to the MegaRepeater (REF001C) and I can talk to people around the world easily.



HF (High Frequency)

After you get your General class license you are granted access to the HF (High Frequency) bands. With the HF bands you can get worldwide communication (without using repeaters or Internet gateways). This is the biggest reason to get your General class license, but you are going to need more than your handheld radio to transmit.

You are going to need to invest a bit of money to get started. You should get a good antenna system and a decent transceiver. If you have the extra cash I would probably allocate it to the antenna versus the transceiver. A better antenna will get you a lot more coverage than a slightly better transceiver.

I don’t have any recommendations on gear yet.

To be continued…


Working satellites is something I have yet to do, but I am extremely interested in. I mean, communicating through space with your handheld transceiver?! I am still doing research and understanding what I can do.

To be continued…