Ham radio licenses at all-time high

Published 3:44 pm Monday, February 8, 2016

Amateur Radio (ham radio) has been around for more than 100 years. The United States government began licensing Amateur Radio operators in 1912.

For many years the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) required anyone wanting a ham radio license to take the test before an FCC examiner.

Ham radio licenses are at an all time high, with over 700,000 licenses in the United States, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Amateur Radio is a great hobby, you can communicate with fellow hams all over the world. There are many contests that you can participate in one of many is Worked All States.

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If you can communicate with a ham in each state and get a QSL (confirmed contact) from the station then you can send this to The American Radio Relay League and receive a certificate showing you have had contact with all 50 states. There are many more contest and activities that hams can participate in.
Some hams join a group (there are many) on the air, they have a time, date, and frequency to meet for an hour or so and chat. (called rag chew on ham). Sometimes the group will have an eyeball gathering with activities

Many hams have a ham radio license so they can help their communities during emergencies. Weather related emergencies such as tornados, hurricanes, flooding, lighting, can cause power failures and loss of communication. Hams have AC and DC operated gear, some have generators. The repeaters hams use have backup generators. When all other communications including phones and cell phones fail, ham radio can communicate.

During an emergency hams are needed at the scene, shelters, fire stations, local red cross stations, law enforcement, 911/EMA, and many others. Several of the local National Weather forecasters are hams.
Each year SOARA – ARES has 20 or more hams helping provide communications for the Memorial Day Parade. Also communications in the Christmas Parade. We can provide communications for runs like 5K run and other activities in our communities needing communications. Ham radio is very much needed for many things in our communities, we need more hams to help.

Many astronauts are ham radio operators. Amateur Radio is used as a back up for the Space Station communicating with Houston, Cape Canaveral, and other needed locations. Their normal communications have failed more than once and they used ham radio. Part of their training is an optional Amateur Radio licensing class. Once licensed and in space, these astronauts can use Amateur Radio to communicate with people here on Earth. Hams with the proper equipment may be able to schedule a contact with the space station when it is passing over your location.

When a person is considering getting a ham license they usually ask how much is it going to cost. How much money do you have in your rat hole?  You can spend on ham radio gear what you can afford.
To help with the above mentioned emergencies a two meter hand-held transceiver can be very useful. This along with a Technician license will let you communicate locally, upgrading later to a higher license will allow you to communicate world wide. You can purchase a new one for anywhere from $40 to $400. The higher the price the more bells included.

Used ham radio gear is available at ham fest, just be sure it is in working condition. A ham fest is a flea market for electronic gear. With a 5 watt hand-held the range of coverage depending on the terrain could be up to 15 – 20 air miles. By using one of SOARA – ARES repeaters your coverage could be up to 40 – 50 air miles. After you receive your license we would appreciate you joining SOARA – ARES. We have no dues and the use of our repeaters is free. We only ask that you help with our activities and help during emergencies.

There are now three classes of Amateur Radio License. The Technician license with all privileges above 50 MHz, limited CW, Phone, and Data privileges below 30 MHz. This is the starting license, after you get this you can up grade to the General or Extra class license which will give you more operating privileges. The Technician license is on the Very High Frequency (VHF) bands.
General class license has all the Technician privileges plus most amateur High Frequency (HF) bands.
Amateur Extra class license has all amateur privileges. Small exclusive sub-bands are added on 80, 40, 20, and 15 meter bands.

Over the last several years many changes have been made by the FCC on acquiring a ham radio license. Sending and receiving Morse code at the testing session is no longer a requirement. You are no longer required to go before the FCC ham radio testers  to take the test. Now three extra class licensed hams must be present for the testing. Test can now be administered by authorized local Volunteer ham radio Examiners. Jerry Lockhart, W8HIC and Eddie Jenkins, N8URU are our Volunteer Examiner leaders. If you are interested in getting a ham radio license with your own call letters please call Eddie Jenkins at 740 534 2390 or 740 643 0903 for information. You can see him and pick up your test papers to study at the EMA office, 515 Park Ave., Ironton. The package will include the possible questions along with the answers. If you are licensed and want to upgrade, he has test papers with questions and answers for all three classes of Amateur Radio. When you are ready to take the test, call Eddie and schedule an appointment. The test will be given by local volunteer examiners on the third Monday of every month at 5:00 P M. This is two hours before the scheduled monthly meeting of the Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association’s meeting.

The Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association (SOARA) — Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) meets on the third Monday of every month at 7p.m. Location is the rear room of EMA, 515 Park Ave., Ironton. You can ask one of the members or email Ken Massie, WN8F at wn8f@arrl.net