West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group, Inc.
a Florida Non-Profit Corporation

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Getting Started in Amateur Radio !!!

Getting started in amateur radio has never been easier or less expensive than it is today. Prior to 2007 you were required to know morse code and pass a morse code test (sending and receiving) before you could obtain any class of license. Knowledge of morse code is no longer a requirement.

There are three classes of license:

The Technician Class license is the entry level. The test is mostly on FCC rules and most people can pass with a one day course such as the one's the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group offer on a regular basis. With this license you can operate on part of the 10 meter band and on all VHF and higher frequencies (generally limited to line of sight). This means with hand held, mobile and base station radios you can use all of the local repeater systems. These systems provide good local coverage - better than your radio could get on its own - and can link with repeaters all over the planet to give you world wide radio contacts.

With the General Class license you may operate on the high frequency (HF) bands. These are the frequencies that bounce of the ionosphere and give you direct contact with people all over the world without any underlying infrastructure like repeaters and internet links. This is where much of the fun is. The test for this class of license gets into more technical aspects of radio and electronics but don't be intimidated. You can study to learn and understand the material or you can study to pass the test and wait to gain a true understanding while you enjoy the hobby.

With the Extra Class license you get access to all the rest of the amateur frequencies. This test is really hard.

Once you have a license:

Many start out in the hobby purchasing an inexpensive hand held VHF radio and talking on local repeaters. This type of radio is available for less than $40.00.

The hobby is wide ranging and it may take some experimentation to determine which aspects of it you enjoy the most. You may want to do this before making any larger equipment purchases. The West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group operates a radio room inside the South Florida Science Center. Join us and you will be able to use our equipment while you determine which equipment you eventually want to buy for yourself.

Amateur radio operators have many choices for Things To Do. Want to know more? Come to one of our events listed on meetup.com. We can't wait to meet you.