How can I become an Amateur Radio Operator?
The recommended study material are the books by Gordon West, W5YI, who is a noted ham radio operator and instructor. The books are available at www.w5yI.org or at Amazon. The cost of this material varies by license type.
In addition, SARC periodically sponsors instructor-led training programs for those interested in getting their license. Details can be found on our training page, along with a great presentation you can view to get a head-start on the material you need to learn to pass the exam. And, of course, check out the How Do I Become a Ham. We have all the info needed to get you started.
I’ve heard that you need to know Morse Code to be an amateur radio operator. Is that true?
Nope. There is no longer a Morse Code requirement for ANY class of license in the Amateur Radio Service.
How much does it cost to become a ham radio operator, and how much will I have to spend to get started?
There now is a $35 application fee payable directly to the FCC once you pass your first exam. ARRL has a new program in place to reimburse the $35 application fee to applicants under the age of 18. Those same applicants can pay a discounted session fee of $5, instead of $15. Once you pass your exam(s), if you don’t have equipment already, you will need equipment to get on the air and enjoy your new privileges!
You can find decent used handie-talkie (HT) transceivers on eBay starting around $50 or less. For talking to people around town on UHF or VHF repeater systems, an HT will get the job done most of the time. For mobile operation outside the city limits, you may need the extra power that a mobile radio can deliver, and a magnet-mounted antenna on your vehicle. Of course, such an outfit will be a little more expensive. If you obtain privileges to operate on HF (frequencies below 50 MHz), you should be able to find used early model tube-based transceivers for a few hundred dollars. You can get started in amateur radio for as cheap as you want, or spend as much as you can afford – it’s your choice. A typical initial investment in the hobby is around $200 – 300.