There have been a little interest lately about ham radios with all the questions surrounding race radio's, frequencies, etc. I am copying most of this post from a friends website about how to become a "ham". I am a ham and know that several people on here are too.
Moderators, if you could please, make this a Sticky I would appreciate it.
Here's some info I usually give folks who are interested in becoming ham radio operators, it answers most questions and generates more! Give me a call with any questions you have.
The HAM license is good for 10 years, and is renewable for free every 10 years for the rest of your life. You can renew it online or by snail mail.
There are three classes of license, the Technician (entry level) General (intermediate level) and Extra (highest level).
There is no age limit to get a HAM license. If you can pass the exam(s) you can get the license.
There is no Morse Code test for any class of license, that went away back in 2007. If you want to learn the code and use it (I recommend that folks do so, it's handy to know) you can study it at your leisure, it will not be on any of the tests.
You have to start with the Technician Class License, it’s the entry level required by the FCC .
It is often called the "Housewife's License" because it requires no real knowledge of electronics or radio theory, just some knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations and basic operating practices. It's very easy to pass the test for this license. You can do it with simple memorization without understanding any radio theory at all.
We have had kids as young as 5, and folks as old as 92 take it and pass on the first try.
The cost of the license exam is $15, if you pass, you can continue to take the next higher level exam(s) until you have passed all three, or until you fail.
Failing any exam means you have to pay another $15 to take it again. It is possible to take all three exams and pass them at one time, for only $15, and go from no license to Extra class in one jump.
Exams are offered the first Saturday of every month in Las Vegas please check with the ARRL for tests in your area....
Be prepared to bring the following to the test session:
• $15- Exam fee
• Proper identification, preferably a picture ID with your signature. Normally applicants provide a driver's license or student ID.
• FRN, Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer ID number (TIN) if you are not eligible for a SSN.
• If you presently have an Amateur Radio license, we will need the original plus a photocopy.
• If you have a CSCE (Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination, what you get when you pass any of the three exams), we must see the original plus a photocopy.
• Pen and pencil.
• You may bring a calculator as long as the memory can be "flushed" before you take the exam. Calculators in PDA's, cell phones, and computers are not allowed.
There are roughly 400 possible questions on the Tech Exam, of which you will be asked 35. They are all multiple choice. You only have to answer 26 correctly to pass the exam.
You can download the ARRL Technician Class Question pool (all 400 +/- questions) for free from this URL:
NCVEC - Technician Class Element 2 Valid 7/01/10-6/30/14
The question pools for the General Class and Extra Class licenses can be found on the ARRL site as well.
The questions shown are all multiple choice, answers being A, B, C, or D.
The correct answer is shown for each question , being shown parenthesis right after the FCC Question Pool number, like this:
T1A02 (C) [97.1]
What agency regulates and enforces the rules for the Amateur Radio Service in the United States?
B. The ITU
C. The FCC
D. Homeland Security
The "C" in parenthesis above which I have highlighted in yellow, indicates that answer C is the correct answer.
Each question in the pool shows the correct answer in this manner.
However, do NOT memorize just the letter that proceeds the answer, as it may (probably will be!) a different letter on the actual exam. We scramble the answer position in order to come up with enough variations of the exam to ensure each person gets a unique test.
What we suggest is that you memorize key words in the question and associate them with key words in the answer in order to remember the correct answer.
I suggest you download and print either the MS word version, or the PDF version. The correct answers are shown in Parenthesis for each question. Highlight only the correct answers and study those plus the question itself, ignore the other three incorrect answers.
Better still, erase all the incorrect answers, and leave only the question and correct answer showing. Print this out and study it.
An half hour to an hour a day of study for 2-4 weeks before the exam should do it for the Technician Class License. An hour a day for 4-8 weeks will suffice for the General Class License for most folks.
For the Extra Class, an hour a day for 3-6 months is the average for most non-electronic engineering types.
You can take practice exams online for free at: QRZ.com
and it will offer you a tutorial if you miss a question.
When you are passing the Tech Exam at QRZ.com with a score of 80% or better you are ready to take the real exam! Because we only require a 74% passing grade.
The same applies to the General Class License. Both the Tech and General Class question pools contain roughly 400 questions, and both exams have 35 questions on them, and both require a passing score of at least 26 correct answers.
The Extra Class question pool contains over 800 questions, and the exam for it has 50 questions from the pool on it, and requires a passing score of at least 37 correct.
The QRZ.com exams are formulated just like the real exam we give, so you will feel comfortable when you take the real one.
You can take practice exams for the Technician Class on this site as well as the General and Extra Classes practice exams.
Here's a URL where you can check for test dates and locations in your area:
Las Vegas area Amateur Radio Exams
It has a lot of other helpful information on it as well.
That's about it for the basics
It is recommended that you study the materials for the Technician Class license for at least an hour a day for 2 to 4 weeks prior to coming to the class or testing facility.
We are currently running a 97.5% success rate using the above formula for teaching the Technician information, and we have had folks from as young as 5 to as old as 92 take the class (after doing the home study of course) and pass on the first try.
Having a HAM license, particularly the upper levels of General and Extra, looks good on college applications and resumes, so we encourage parents to get their school age children to participate.
The hobby is extremely useful in everyday life and invaluable in an emergency.
The cost can vary from next to nothing to the sky is the limit for equipment, it depends on what you want to do, and how creative you are, as many HAMS build their own equipment, particularly antennas, and save a great deal of money while doing so.
Here are some links to get you started meeting new friends in the LV area, HAM types that is! You can check your state at this website also.
ARRL Nevada Section Website
The above site shows you where/when you can take tests, group meetings, etc.
The next one gives you info on the hobby, tests, etc.
Ham University -- What is it?
By the way, you no longer need to know Morse code for any of the three classes of license , Technician, General, or Extra.
Some more practice tests:
QRZ.COM Practice Amateur Radio Exams
If you have any questions, drop me a PM, I Hold a General Class license.