Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator – “Ham”


What was the first “Social Network”? Facebook? Twitter? AOL chat rooms? If you answered with any of those you are incorrect. The answer is amateur radio (ham radio). Hams have been socializing globally for the better part of a century, yes, almost 100 years.

While cell phones, texting, IM and email may be the new standards of communications, they have one tremendous Achilles heel. Infrastructure!

Unplug your phone line, take the battery out of your cell phone and disconnect your internet. Now get a message to a friend or relative thousands of miles away. Short of using the pony express you would be hard pressed to get that message thru, at least in any reasonable time frame. Solution? Amateur Radio.

Amateur Radio operators have been doing just that for many years. On 9/11 ham radio was there in support of the communications breakdown and overloaded systems in New York. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the recent tornadoes across the U.S., hams where there.

Whether a simple message to a parent that their child is safe and sound or a critical message that urgent care is needed, radio will work.

Hams rely on their electronic and technical skills to communicate with other hams anywhere on the planet and beyond. No, not aliens but with the International Space station (ISS). Regular contacts are made between schools and the ISS for educational purposes.

With a simple exam and a little desire you too can become a “Ham”. If simple local communications are your interest or the prospect of making new friends in distant exotic places like the shores of the Black Sea in Ukraine or a fellow on top of the world in the Himalayas to a scientist at the South Pole, Hams do it.

They are there. They are listening. They are using Amateur Radio and you can too.

For more info drop by one of our meetings listed on the “Contact Us” page or continue on below for study material.

If you are interested in taking the exam, click on the License Exams tab on the top and follow the instructions.  There is a pull down menu there for submitting the necessary data.


I would recommend after using any of the study materials on this page to then start the practice exams.

Also, there are some on line video classes that you can view.  They are in three parts and are rather lengthy.  They are available only for Technician and General.

For Technician:

For General:


1. Our Monthly meetings are open to both Ham’s and the general public. Please feel free to stop by and visit.

2. Find a Local Radio Club in your Area- Click links below to search for a club near you:

ARRL Affliated Club Search
QRZ Club Search

3. Meet Local Hams (see #1 above or look for houses with towers & non-TV antennas, hams are usually very welcoming to interested potential hams!)

4. Get a Book- There are many good introductory books available, visit your local library or favorite bookstore. I would recommend:

  • Ham Radio for Dummies   (ISBN: 0-76455-987-7)
  • The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual  (ISBN:0-87259-963-9)
  • The ARRL Operating Manual   (ISBN:0-87259-109-3)

5.  Go to a Hamfest.  They are a combination of flea market, social gathering, presentations and Ham Dealers.  To search for hamfest go to:

ARRL West Central Florida Section Special Events Calendar

ARRL Affliated Hamfest Calendar

Thinking about Amateur (Ham) Radio? Browse these links, there is a wealth of info,  for complete rookies and seasoned radio operators.

What is Ham Radio – Ham Universe

New Ham Info –

Kids Net

Young Ham News