So what can you do with an Amateur Radio license?
Ok, so now you've got your license, or are thinking of getting one.
first thing you need to remember is that having a ham license is just
getting the U.S. Goverment's approval to tranmit on certain frequencies
set aside for Amateur Radio use. It's not very different than
getting a state driver's license or pilot's license. It's simply
permission to go forth and do all sorts of things, as long as they
don't break the rules, in this case the Federal Communications
Commision's Part 97 rules.
Or as my flight instructor
once told me, "Congratulations. You got your license. Now
you can start learning how to fly."
So, what can you do?
There are so many things, it's a difficult question to answer, but here's some ideas:
- First, if you don't have one already, get yourself a copy of the FCC's Part 97 rules for Amateur Radio (make sure to get the latest version, 'cause things change), and find out what you CAN and CANNOT do. Get them here (free on-line). Or purchase it here (from W5YI-VEC) or here (from ARRL).
- Then (from W5YI):
...and this is only the beginning! You are limited only by your imagination and ingenuity.
- Talk to people in foreign countries. DX'ing (Long Distance) is a favorite of many hams!
- Talk to people (both local and far away) on your drive to work
- Help in emergencies and natural disasters by providing communications.
- Provide communications in parades or walkathons and other public service events.
- Help other people become hams. (We call it "Elmering.")
- Hook your computer to your radio and communicate "computer-to-computer." Hams use radio modems.
Collect QSL cards (cards from other hams) from all over the United
States and foreign countries and receive awards.
- Participate in contests or Field Day events.
- Provide radio communication services to your local
Civil Defense organization through ARES (the Amateur Radio Emergency
Service) or RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) ...or even
FEMA, (the Federal Emergency Management Agency.)
Aid members of the U.S. military by joining the Army, Air Force or
Navy/Marine MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System). See our Links section
- Participate in transmitter hunt games and maybe build your own direction-finding equipment.
- Have someone to talk to on those sleepless nights at home.
- Receive weather pictures via satellites.
- Build radios, antennas, learn some electronics and radio theory.
- Talk to astronauts in space, or use the moon to bounce signals back to people on the Earth.
- Experiment with Amateur TV (ATV), Slow-Scan TV (SSTV), or send still-frame pictures by facsimile.
- Lash your ham radio to the public telephone system and call your friends toll free. (Auto patching)
- Communicate through orbiting satellites. (There are
many in ham satellites in orbit that are owned and operated by the
amateur community! And you can use them without any cost whatsoever!)