Amateur Radio Home

About Amateur Radio

APRS Prop. Map
   West TN APRS
   WX4FC Wx Stn


Beacon (NV4B/B)
Updated 10/14

Emergency Comms
   ARRL Emcomm
   Public Svc Comm Man.
   State ARES
      State Plan
   Franklin Co ARES
   Alabama Nets
   APRS for Emcomm

Field Day


Updated 6/4

Photo Gallery

   NV4B Repeater

Station Equipment

Updated 10/14

   WX4FC Wx Stn
   SPC Outlook
   NWS Huntsville
   NWS B'ham


QRZ Lookup

FindU Lookup

   Contest Corral

DX Summit


Used Gear Dealers



About Amateur Radio

What is amateur radio?

Amateur radio is an FCC-licensed radio service for individuals who enjoy radio communication as a hobby, and who wish to further their understanding of electronics and radio principles.  It is much different from Citizens Band (CB) in that amateur radio requires operators to pass electronic and radio theory examinations and Morse code examinations to use the assigned spectrum.  Amateurs also have a virtually unlimited number of channels on which to communicate legally, as opposed to the small number available to CB operators.  Amateurs may run over one hundred times as much power as CB'ers if needed, and they follow time-honored operating principles.   Amateurs communicate as professionals, but cannot receive compensation for any service rendered.  Amateurs also are prohibited from using their radios to facilitate business communications.

Amateur radio is NOT low-power AM/FM nor is it a broadcast service.  Amateurs do not "broadcast," they "transmit."  Broadcasting is the transmission of messages intended for the general public; amateurs may only communicate with each other.

Who can I talk to?

Amateur radio operators have frequency allocations in all portions of the radio spectrum--from just above the AM broadcast band to microwaves.  We can use the HF bands to talk worldwide on a regular basis, and can communicate across the county and the Northwest Alabama area on VHF, the band we use for our emergency communications.  We don't just talk--we can also communicate with CW (Morse code), and various digital modes from RTTY (Radio teletype) to high-speed Packet radio which is similar to using a computer modem.

What's the connection with amateur radio and public service?

There is a reason Amateur radio is called the Amateur Radio Service:  Amateurs are one of the most valuable resources in times of need.  Our communications networks are the most reliable in the world, and we can get through when nothing else can.  Cell phones, the Internet, and even normal telephone systems become overloaded and unusable in crises, but Amateur radio will work.

How does one enter the Amateur Radio Service?
(updated 2007 to reflect new license requirements and privileges)

Amateur operators, unlike CB ops, must be licensed with a callsign. To earn a license, you must pass at least one written theory test to gain privileges.  As of December 2006, Morse code proficiency is no longer required for any class of license.

The Technician license class gives operators privileges in portions of four HF bands and all privileges above 50 MHz (VHF and UHF).  The HF allocations are Morse-code only with the exception of the Technician 10 meter allocation between 28.300 and 28.500 MHz.  In these segments, you can communicate with amateurs across the country and around the world when conditions permit!

The General class license is the next step, requiring a slightly more difficult written test.  This gives much wider operating privileges in the HF bands, and conveys access to portions of each amateur HF band.  The General class license is your ticket to everyday country- and world-wide communications.

The Extra class license is the highest class of amateur license, and requires passing a rigorous 50-question exam on rules, privileges, and advanced electronics and RF concepts.  It conveys all privileges available to amateur radio operators.

Earning a license is not difficult, but it does require some studying.  The questions on license exams are taken from a large pool of questions which are publicly available.  The entry-level (technician class) license exam has 35 multiple-choice questions taken from a pool of 396 (as of July 1, 2006).  One can purchase a study guide from the ARRL or learn directly from the question pool.  Exams are given across the country periodically; visit the ARRL's web site and W5YI's web site for exam locations.  Some areas also offer amateur radio classes, and they may soon be available in Franklin County.  Visit this site's homepage for updates.

For more information about amateur radio, visit the ARRL's web site.  The ARRL is the national association for amateur radio and is full of information on this great hobby.

I plan on posting more information related to getting started in amateur radio soon--stay tuned!

Copyright 1999-2005 Christopher Arthur