Getting Your License
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
NEXT STEP – 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.