Getting Started in Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio also known as HAM radio is a collection of enthusiastic individuals who have an interest in communications. We are an important part of the emergency communications network, as well as have fun talking to others around the world using technology such as bouncing signals off the atmosphere, bouncing signals off the moon, sending signals via repeaters and satellites, and radio signals via the internet.

What is a HAM? (From

Ham: a poor operator; a ‘plug’ (G. M. Dodge; The Telegraph Instructor)

The first wireless operators were landline telegraphers who left their offices to go to sea or to man the coastal stations. They brought with them their language and much of the tradition of their older profession. In those early days, every station occupied the whole spectrum with its broad spark signal. Government stations, ships, coastal stations and the increasingly numerous amateur operators all competed for time and signal supremacy in each other’s receivers. Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working each other across town, could effectively jam all the other operations in the area. Frustrated commercial operators would refer to the ham radio interference by calling them “hams.” Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely disappeared.

The HAM community is typically a friendly community that is willing to help and guide each other as well as help new members of the community through the use of a Mentor or as they are often called an “Elmer”. HAM radio continues to be a community of inventors, experimenters, and just plain dumb-luckers that use trial and errors to communicate with each other.

First and foremost, one must start with an understanding of the rules, regulations and basic radio theory. Education can come from classes, books, and internet exam study sites. Check out the Exam License Process page.