Skip to comments.Radio Days Are Back: Ham Radio Licenses at an All-Time High
Posted on 11/24/2011 8:07:46 PM PST by SpaceBar
The newest trend in American communication isn't another smartphone from Apple or Google but one of the elder statesmen of communication: Ham radio licenses are at an all time high, with over 700,000 licenses in the United States, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Ham radio first took the nation by storm nearly a hundred years ago. Last month the FCC logged 700,314 licenses, with nearly 40,000 new ones in the last five years. Compare that with 2005 when only 662,600 people hammed it up and you'll see why the American Radio Relay League -- the authority on all things ham -- is calling it a "golden age." "Over the last five years we've had 20-25,000 new hams a year," Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the group, told FoxNews.com.
The unusual slang term -- a "ham" is more properly known as an amateur radio operator -- described a poor operator when the first wireless operators started out in the early 1900s. At that time, government and coastal ships would have to compete with amateurs for signal time, because stations all battled for the same radio wavelength. Frustrated commercial operators called the amateurs hams and complained that they jammed up the signal...
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
No morse code required?
In the event of an economic or national collapse, it may well be the only way to communicate.
Not for several years. Licenses are administered by volunteer examiners near you. www.arrl.org for info.
Over 40 years and still havin’ fun with radio every day
Nope. That requirement was dropped. The entry level license (Technician) requires you to answer 35 questions with a 70 percent passing grade.
Been in this hobby for almost 55 years and enjoy it everyday.
A Morse code test is no longer a required part of the Ham radio tests. It still is one helluva lot of fun, though: My buddy just chatted from Denver to Paris on a 2 watt Morse rig.
Tried to study the book, you guys are a bunch of science geek geniuses!
I admire you all:) It’s really great fun to listen though:)
Well it is time for me to get active again.
Thanks for the post.
I’m a ham, been licensed since 1990.
I’ve been thinking of buying a ham radio myself. Now I know what to ask for this coming Christmas!
When the untelevized revolution arrives, as it is scheduled to come, they’ll become indispensable!
Any recommendations on what equipment to start out with?
“In the event of an economic or national collapse, it may well be the only way to communicate.”
John has a long mustache. John has a long mustache. The chair is against the wall. The chair is against the wall.
No morse code required?
Nope. That requirement was dropped
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Guess I won’t have to find that Vibroflex after all.
Of course us old ‘sparkies’ will rule the world when the current fad of phones and internet runs its course.
Kind of like keeping a supply of buggy whips on hand.
But, keep screwing with the fuel supply and buggy whips will be back in demand.....
Still long for the ‘cans’ and ‘bug’ days...
... _ _ _ ...
“No morse code required?
Nope. That requirement was dropped.”
Sorry to hear that. It will open the gates to the CB types.
DE W4EX...first license in 1958.
DXCC top of the honor roll.
Now inactive from the Philippines
My license has the certification for that. Advanced since 1976, Extra since 1985. Commercial later.
Proudest moment of my life ... getting my general class license in the mail. Worked hard for about a year learning the electronics necessary (back in the 60s) and passing the 13 wpm exam. Built my own rig and worked the world.
Along came the military and I dropped out as a HAM, never got back into it, to my regret. Glad to see there is a comeback to this marvelous hobby. Just wish they hand kept the original requirements ... forced everyone to discipline themselves into learning electronics and code.
And now something completely different.....
My first exam was before an FCC examiner on Commerce Street in Dallas in 1976. 2nd exam was at same place in 3 months. Left that one with my Advanced.
Extra was by a volunteer examiner in 1985.
GROL in 2000.
Yes, it has changed.
Yeah I’d be interested in hearing how to start out and the pros/cons of this given the internet/technology age. I remember a friend’s dad really into hamming it up but haven’t thought of that in years until today’s thread.
Morse was what always kept me out - had a commercial third class ticket at one point many years ago. Sounds like the Ham test might now be along those lines.
There’s little that ham radio can do that the internet, cell phones, droids, etc. can’t do a thousand times better. But when a tornado or a quake or a hurricane drops ALL the cell towers and takes out the local power grid, all the high-tech stuff in the world won’t work without the backbone. But the ham radio and car battery will. That’s a big reason to have one, even though they’re so pathetic compared to modern technology.
We have walkie-talkies with a five mile range for that too.
Dad works within the five miles.
Takes a pretty good OP to copy a bug. Electronic keyers sound much better, but so does a hand key used by an operator with a good fist.
I have a beautiful homebrew CMOS twin paddle keyer I use on QRP rigs. It has no on-off switch. The quiescent current is so low that shelf life of the battery is about how long it lasts. Silky smooth twin paddle key I fashioned for it is a joy to operate. The only cable is to the rig, battery and logic is in the brass base of the keyer.
Not really, because it hasn't happened.
"CB types" - even if we may use such a wide brush - are all sitting on 2m FM repeaters, enjoying their signals at +40 dB above the noise floor. Yes, there are people there. Not all of them are "CB types." Some have a long ham career and obviously they had to know the code at some point in time. I don't even have an HF rig in the car; the FT-8800 that I have there is tuned to repeaters, and I don't expect anything out of it than a nice chat on my way somewhere. No DXCC points, at least :-)
HF requires effort that is much higher than V/UHF. You have to have an antenna that is larger than your house. You have to have an expensive rig (if you want contacts, that is.) Or you can build one, if you are a professional (I am, and I do that on occasion.) HF is harder.
And on top of that, even if we somehow imagine an inundation by the "no-code" unwashed masses ... they don't have access to CW subbands anyway. Why to bother what's happening above 14.100? All the DX stuff is in the lower 5 kHz :-)
So far I don't see any problem with new hams - and I don't expect any. I will be working CQ WW CW tomorrow for a few hours, and I expect all bands to be full. Plenty of people know code. With modern equipment it is easier than ever to copy and to transmit. In fact, contesting pushes you toward automated keying because so much is tied into your logging software - generation of exchanges, rig lockout (in multi-TX setups,) tracking of worked stations and multipliers, perfect quality, and so on. Your old straight key still works, but you'd be doing double, if not triple work.
I hear the ‘ham’ radio commercials on the radio all the time lately “Become a ‘ham’ radio operator...” and it sounds to me that someone/some agency is pushing it for the pending problems of the future...when the SHTF what will be left? Ham and CB’s.....
One of my good friends was a ham actor, does that qualify?
They publish the exam question pool. ( http://www.arrl.org/question-pools ) If you can read the question and answers and remember the correct answer you can pass the exam.
Find you a local club and I will be someone can help and make the process half way interesting.
20 WPM was required when I got my Extra.
“Any recommendations on what equipment to start out with?”
Study a current Technician book. And pass the test. It is easy.
Then get a 2 Meter transceiver and “work” the local repeaters. Then possibly a TNC and discover digital capabilities. (radio email)
Antennas you can make.
Best bang tor those entry dollars.
Check out a local radio club.
Was that really the Technician book, or the one for General or Extra class? The Technician test has about two formulas, one equation, and it’s all multiple choice. There are practice tests online at: http://www.eham.net/exams/
I’ll bet you can top 50% taking it cold.
Thanks! Obviously there is a LOT to learn. Are there any small off the shelf portable units that would work better than say a CB for a SHTF scenario?
OTOH, I realized soon after getting my license and listening to all the jabbering, that I was just not the talking sort, and never got into much beyond packet radio for a short bit.
Would not mind whipping up an EME array for the challenge, but anal HOA rules make that a problem.
So, anybody can CW, code speed requirements no longer a requirement? Learn as you go I guess. Just curious.
That was the family assignment given to our daughter - become a ham. She got her licence last month and researching equipment, now.
I got my GROL in 1996, haven’t used it since. It was part of a required class for college and I did well at it, but I was always more into computers and microelectronics. What you don’t use, you lose. I know the GROL was relatively tough, but I got 99% or some such correct.
GOOD—we may need them if things go really bad in the near future. Magnetic Pulse Attack, Massive Terrorism to the Electrical grid, War with all of its horrors. Hams a=may well be our best communications.
Bump for later. (I’ve claimed this was going to happen)
If you could shield your transmitter-receiver against EMP a HAM outfit would be a big asset when the SHTF.
A true SHTF setup would have photo-voltaic charged battery banks. Major $$$ to set up, but once done, can power the house as well to some extent.
Of course, solar is not much of an option for Oregon and the like...........
Have neen licensed since 1976. Tech in 1976. Advanced in 1978. Extra in 2000. Have had First Class Radiotelephone + Ship’s RADAR endorsement since 1976. Grandfathered into GROL. Lots of fun. It morphed into a career.
There’s two main manufacturers, Yaesu and Icom. There are multiple retailers online, among them www.aesham.com. I don’t think there is any standard route, but a lot of us started out with a handheld radio that operates on the two basic bands where most Technician traffic is located, 2 meters and 440 MHZ.
I’m kind of fond of Yaesu’s FT-60R. It’s straightforward, lets you get on the air, and allows you to access local repeaters, many of which offer internet based connection with other repeaters all over the world. All in all, it’s a good introduction to the hobby for under two hundred bucks. There’s similar radios offered by the other manufacturers.
Lots of folks are perfectly happy sticking with the UHF/VHF bands that include most of the frequencies Technicians are licensed for. The real shortwave part of the hobby occurs on the lower frequencies, where a General class license is required. That test does take a bit more studying, but it’s not overwhelmingly difficult. Most of the folks with antenna farms in their backyards are General or Extra class hams.
The licensing process has become amazingly easy now. Most every medium sized city has a club with volunteer examiners who give the test, usually on Saturdays. In my county, there’s a test every weekend in one city or another. The testing resembles the DMV exams, and offers instant results. It also offers near-instant gratification, in that your results usually get sent to the FCC early the next week by internet feed, and their computer gets updated each night. As soon as your name appears in the record, you can get on the air, even before the license arrives in the mail. I passed my Technician on a Saturday, and got my call sign after midnight on Monday.
Not unlike golf, you can put a lot of money into the hobby if you want to, but the basics are pretty accessable.