Posted By: Watchman
Date: Monday, 19-Jun-2017 11:37:37
The ham radio license seems one of the bigger preparedness mysteries. Communications will be very important in any event, whether a local event, a regional event (usually weather), or an all out, nationwide event. The previous requirement of knowing Morse Code was enough to scare many away. Fortunately things have changed for the better, at least for Private Defense Network (PDN) purposes.
An amateur radio license is really a license to experiment. This does not concern us, initially. Many of you will get hooked and go on to experiment, and we encourage that. There is much to know about ham radio and best learned on the job.
This article is designed to get you on the air in a week or less, with a radio, for around $100. Usually less.
Since we are taking a different approach attaining your ham radio license, we suggest you first get a radio. You’ve seen this if you’ve been looking: The Baofeng ( http://ift.tt/2rPpGRP ) is probably the best beginner’s radio. Well, it’s cheap and it works well enough for a first time user. After you get your license you may find yourself in a spiral of more capable and expensive radios, but the Baofeng will work. Breaking a thirty some dollar radio is much better than breaking one that costs several hundred dollars. (Trust us: We’ve done it.) Buying the Baofeng will give you something tangible to play with while studying for the test. You can program it and listen to radio traffic. Instructions and videos are available on the net. It’s cheap, you’ll outgrow it quickly, but it will make an acceptable start and an adequate backup when you upgrade to an ICOM, http://ift.tt/2tardmt Yaesu, http://ift.tt/2rPfJUv Motorola, http://ift.tt/2skeOPx etc.
How and where to begin
Earning your license requires you to pass a test. There are three different licenses available. This study method works well for the first two, the technician and General license. The third, the Extra Class license, is its own animal. The technician license will get you talking regionally and will be most useful for local communications in a disaster: Getting news in and out of the area or communicating with family members in a bad situation. The General class license opens up regional and worldwide communications, independent of infrastructure.
The tests are structured to help you earn your license without spending months or years understanding the subject. The technician test consists of 35 questions from a pool of 426. Each question has four multiple choice answers. Passing the test requires you to answer 26 of these questions correctly. These tests are administered monthly by Volunteer Examiners from the American Radio and Relay League (ARRL). There is no charge for the license, but the ARRL charges $15 to cover the costs of administering the test. That $15 and the $50 or so dollars you spent on the Baofeng and accessories gets you to the “100 dollars or less”.