In order to get on the air with HAM Radio you need to be licensed and know the rules to operate legally. USA licenses are good for 10 years before renewal and you no longer need to know morse code (CW). There are three license classes in the USA: Technician, General and Extra. Each license has different privileges with access to more frequencies and modes. The licenses are sequential ie. in order to have the top level of “Extra” you need to test and pass for the General and Technician. Also keep in mind you can take all three tests in one sitting and for one fee (usually $15.00). Some additional details are on the ARRL web site at: http://www.arrl.org/getting-licensed to help you get licensed. You are also encouraged to come to a DARC meeting to meet club members, HAM radio operators and to ask any questions. You will find there are many helpful HAMs that have suggestions, tips and knowledge at the meetings.
Here are some steps you can do to get licensed, remember you don’t need a HAM Radio license to purchase any HAM radio equipment and it is encouraged to get setup and start to listen and learn while you study for the exams. Here is a summary of the big steps that are suggested to obtain a HAM Radio license:
Register at the FCC ULS (Universal Licensing System) and get an FRN# on their web site: https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/systems-utilities/universal-licensing-system
Study for the exam: The inter web is filled with all kinds of free resources to get licensed and there are many different “apps” available for smart phones and tablets etc. Some free on-line web-baed study guides and practice exams :
Go Take The Test: What is nice about the free hamstudy.org site is if you create a free account it will keep track of your strengths and weakness on topics and drill/flash card you based on that. Suggest the first thing to do is take a practice exam – even if you think you know nothing – this will establish a base-line of your knowledge and you will learn what you need to study and review based on the metrics from the site. Remember there are no extra points, badges or stars for getting a 100% or high score (other than of course bragging rights) – you only need to pass. After you are scoring in the high 80s or low 90s – go find an exam location to take the test. The DARC hosts a testing session the 2nd Sat of every month at the Business Jet Center 8611 Lemmon Ave on the 2nd Floor Cafeteria here in Dallas Texas that starts at 9am, walk-ins are allowed. Other testing locations can be found on the ARRL web site at: http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session