HOW TO BECOME A HAM
If you’d like to become an amateur radio operator, the first step is to study for the FCC licensing test. There are three levels of licensing: Technician, General, and Extra. Technicians operate on a more limited range of frequencies than those with the General or Extra license, but it’s the most common type and sufficient for most people’s needs.
Some people can pass the test just by studying online materials or books, but the rest of us need to take a class.
- Online Programs: AA9PW Exam Practice, HAM Test Online, QRZ.com, eHAM.net
- Literature: ARRL Store, No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide
CLASSES IN PORTLAND
- The Portland NET program often offers Ham classes. Once you’ve completed the NET Basic Training, you’ll have access to an array of advanced trainings, including amateur radio.
- The Piedmont Neighborhood Emergency Team is offering free Technician classes on April 30 and June 4, 2016. Register at pdxpiedmont.net.
WHERE TO TAKE THE TEST
- If you take the amateur radio class through the NET program, testing will be done at the end of the class
- The National Association for Amateur Radio (ARRL) publishes a list of testing options by location
There are tons of great resources in Portland for new Hams who want to get practice using their radios.
BABY STEPS… LEARN TO PROGRAM AND TALK:
When the Big One hits, you don’t want to be fumbling with your radio and trying to read a list of frequencies. You’ll want to turn your radio on and have immediate access to the frequencies that will be used by other AROs in your area. And you don’t want to be terrified of talking if you have important messages to convey. But the two biggest hurdles for new Amateur Radio Operators (AROs) are:
- Understanding how to program their handhelds, either manually or with CHIRP software
- Having the confidence to get on the air and know when to talk and when not to talk
But we’re lucky to have some great training and practice opportunities in Portland. It can seem intimidating at first, but once you get past these first two hurdles, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you will become comfortable operating your radio.
PROGRAMMING & OPERATIONS CLASSES:
The Piedmont Neighborhood Emergency Team occasionally hosts a free three-hour class for newly-licensed amateur radio operators and other “hams” who have been out of action for a while or who never quite got activated. For information and to register, visit pdxpiedmont.net.
JOIN A HAM NET:
An amateur radio net, or simply ham net, is an “on-the-air” gathering of amateur radio operators. Most nets convene on a regular schedule and specific frequency and are organized for a particular purpose, such as relaying messages, discussing a common topic of interest, communicating in severe weather, coping with emergencies, or simply gathering for conversation. (Wikipedia) — This type of net is not to be confused with Portland NET, the Neighborhood Emergency Team program!
Several Portland area groups do regular ARO Nets each week. Even if you don’t feel ready to talk yet, at least listen in so that you can get comfortable with the way AROs communicate. Participating in on a Net can be intimidating, but AROs are a welcoming and forgiving group. This is the best way to learn to use your radio so that you’ll be effective in an emergency situation.
The following are some Ham Nets you should consider participating in.
The Neighborhood Emergency Communications Training net (NETnet) is a ham radio on-air gathering that discusses issues of interest to Portland NET members. Their primary audience is those with little or no experience on the air, but they often get check-ins from experienced hams and folks not associated with emergency communication. Anyone can listen, but you do need at least an amateur radio Technician License to transmit.
If you are a NET ARO, prospective NET ARO, or a Ham interested in emergency communication, the NETnet is a wonderful resource. Roughly 40 Hams are checking in to this net each week.
- WHEN: Sundays at 8pm on the 443.300 MHz K7NE repeater. That repeater has a positive 5MHz offset and a tone of 100.0 Hz
NETnet organizers are looking for feedback and suggestions on how to make the NETnet an even more effective training venue than it already is.
The Portland Amateur Radio Club (PARC) is a great resource for AROs in the Portland area. They have monthly in-person meetings, as well as a weekly on-air net.
- WHEN: Mondays at 7pm PT on 146.84 MHz W7LT repeater, positive 600 kHz, no tone.
The Multnomah County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (MC-ARES) is a field organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Members are active in community service. They also have monthly in-person meetings, as well as a weekly on-air net.
- WHEN: Wednesdays at 7pm PT on 146.84 MHz W7LT repeater, positive 600 kHz, no tone.
The Northwest Oregon Traffic and Training NET (NTTN) is handles formal written traffic into and out of the state of Oregon.
- WHEN: Daily at 18:05 (6:05 pm) PT on 146.80 Repeater with 07.2 Hz PL tone