First of all, it's fun. From a handheld radio, in Fargo
communication is possible with others located throughout Minnesota and North Dakota through a network of linked repeaters known as the Superlink!
With an HF rig (and appropriate license), you could have QSOs (contacts)
worldwide! With amateur radio, you can meet new friends all over the place.
Even if you don't speak the same language as someone you contact, you share
a common interest in radio communication. Hams are a friendly bunch, and
"Elmers" are always available to help you with your next project.
You can also get involved with public service. Hams help
out in disaster communication -- be it a flood, hurricane, tornado, monsoon,
or .. (you get the idea) ... Often the only link between disaster agencies
and the field are hams. "Professional" organizations such as
the National Weather Service regard hams as professionals. A high standard
of conduct and protocol helps make this possible. Local clubs also provide
communications for events such as bike tours or foot races.
Many hams build their own equipment, and love to learn
about radio theory. Half the fun is getting there, and lots of hams love
seeing a project of their own design get on the air. Some people make transmitters
out of scrap parts for pennies (or free), so lots of money isn't required
to be a ham. Or you could build your own antenna, and have the hottest
mobile or base station around.
How do I become a licensed Amatueur
Radio (Ham) Operator?
All licensing is assigned and maintained by the FCC (Federal
Communications Commission), and you must have a license to transmit on
Ham bands. Once you get a license, you get your own call sign and must
identify with it when you transmit. (At least every 10 minutes and at the
end of each QSO.)
You can stop by the FCC
Amateur Radio web page for a *very* comprehensive explanation. Or,
simply stop by a club meeting or ask a member. Testing is administered
periodically (approximately every other month) by the Red River Radio
Amateurs in Fargo, and costs a nomimal amount (to cover the cost of admininistration).
Getting a license is easier
than you think, especially since a Technician license (or "No
Code Tech") doesn't require Morse Code, and gives you operation privileges
above 50 MHz.
Here for frequency allocations allowed for each license class.
Activities for Busy Hams...
How many people can you reach in North Dakota? Can you get QSL
cards from every state? Contests are held all the time, each with different
requirements and frequencies. You can test your operation skills and make
contacts worldwide while taking part in a contest.
Awards chasing is one of the most exciting facets of Amateur Radio
operating. It's a major motivating force of so many QSOs that occur on
the bands day after day. Indeed, it's a vital aspect that--if you want
it--makes each and every radio contact a key element in your present or
future Amateur Radio success. So transform those QSOs into beautiful certificates
or plaques for your ham-shack wall!
Aside from the fun of operating itself, awards chasing is also a good way
to get maximum performance from your station, become familiar with propagation,
and even learn about the geography, history or culture of places near and
far. The League sponsors some of the more popular operating awards (if
you are in the US and Possessions, Canada and Puerto Rico, you must be
a full-fledged League member to participate).
Hamfests and Conventions
A great way to pick up used radio gear (or sell some stuff in your
basement or garage) and meet with other hams. Hamfests are held across
the nation. For example, the Twin Cities hams host at least three Hamfests
Public service communication has been a traditional responsibility
of the Amateur Radio Service since 1913. In today's Amateur Radio, disaster
work is a highly organized and worthwhile part of day-to-day operation,
implemented principally through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)
and the National Traffic System (NTS), both sponsored by ARRL. The Radio
Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), independent nets and other amateur
public service groups are also a part of ARRL-recognized Amateur Radio
public service efforts. Hams also take part in local community events to
provide essential communication -- bike tours, canoe races, fun runs, etc.
Weather Spotting -- Skywarn
The National SKYWARN Homepage is a repository of other sites useful
to SKYWARN members and amateur radio operators throughout the nation. SKYWARN
is an organization of amateur radio operators, citizen band operators,
and local spotters working in co-operation with the National
Weather Service, the American Radio Relay
League and local Forecast Offices throughout the United States to protect
lives and property from damage caused by severe weather.
Much of this information is from the American
Radio Relay League web pages.