By: Jeremy Neisser
Around 750,000 Americans hold an amateur radio license, commonly referred to as a "ham" radio license. Ham radio has been a popular hobby since the early days of communications and is still relevant today, with a significant increase in new licenses in recent months. In this guide, I will explore the primary reasons and benefits of obtaining an amateur radio license, also known as a "ticket."
One of the most significant advantages of having a ham radio license is the ability to communicate over long distances without relying on the internet or cell towers. This can be especially useful in emergency situations where traditional communication methods may not be available. Additionally, amateur radio is a lifelong hobby that can be enjoyed by a diverse group of people, including technologists, emergency responders, engineers, off-roaders, boaters, and survivalists.
Ham Radio License - Key Takeaways
Amateur radio allows for communication over long distances without relying on the internet or cell towers.
Obtaining a ham radio license is a great way to learn a new skill and add it to your resume.
With a ham radio license, you can volunteer and assist during emergencies.
What A Ham Radio Allows You To Transmit
Cell phones and the internet rely on a massive network of cables and giant data centers
In today's world, cell phones and the internet are an integral part of our lives. However, these technologies rely on a massive network of cables and giant data centers to function. While the internet may feel like magic, it is actually made up of hundreds of thousands of miles of underground cables that carry signals across the country. WiFi or cell phone towers only carry data for the very last part of the transmission. Additionally, up to 97% of all intercontinental internet traffic passes through underwater cables. This means that a natural disaster or attack to any of these cables can cause communication outages on a massive scale.
For example, during Hurricane Katrina, a massive communications blackout left citizens stranded in disaster zones. At times like this, ham radio operators mobilized around the country and executed dozens of search and rescue missions, assisting the Coast Guard and other organizations like the Red Cross in saving lives in Louisiana and Mississippi. Similar outages have been caused by wildfires in California, earthquakes around the world, and a litany of other natural disasters.
Software Infrastructure: How communication can fail due to hacking, bugs, and other software failures
The internet also relies on software infrastructure to relay information, which is an additional point where communications can fail. With how many hands touch the data in transit, it’s completely reasonable to question how these companies deliver your information from point A to point B and how that information is protected in transit. Communications systems are also vulnerable to hacking. When hackers are able to gain access and run malicious code, it can cause a ripple effect of transportation and communication failures.
And sometimes it’s just good old fashioned incompetence and human error that causes massive communications outages. An innocent employee could make a mistake that could cause a blackout. More recently in November of 2020, Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage that affected 23 geographic regions for hours due to unintentional software issues.
All of this is not to say that the Internet is terrible and you should never use it. What it does mean is that every American citizen should be informed about the risks and not be dependent on the government and private interests to deliver messages to your friends and family.
A direct line of communication in case of emergency
With a ham radio, you own the hardware and the software, which gives you a direct line of communication when needed in case of an emergency. Ham radio operators can easily send an email via Winlink, across the entire country or world, just with some simple equipment from their home. Amateur radio operators are leading the charge in independent, decentralized communications across the country, and with your amateur radio license, you can join in on the fun.
In case of an emergency, ham radio operators can communicate independently without relying on the internet or cell towers. The only hardware required to transmit and receive on amateur radio are a power source, which can easily be disconnected from the grid via battery or generator power, and a radio. Amateur radio operators also have access to frequencies that are reserved for emergency communications.
In summary, a ham radio allows for independent communication and self-reliance, which can be crucial in case of an emergency. It provides a direct line of communication without relying on the internet or cell towers. While cell phones and the internet are important technologies, they are not infallible and can be vulnerable to natural disasters, hacking, bugs, and other software failures.
Amateur radio is one of the best lifelong hobbies you can have
If you're looking for a hobby that can last a lifetime, amateur radio is the perfect choice. With its reliable communication capabilities, it's no wonder that amateur radio is popular among a variety of enthusiasts.
One of the great things about amateur radio is the community of like-minded individuals that you'll become a part of. Whether you're into off-roading, aviation, hiking, hunting, or just building custom radio hardware and software, there's a place for you in the world of amateur radio.
For off-roaders, amateur radio is the go-to choice because it provides communication when cell phone service may not be available. Aviation enthusiasts receive their amateur radio licenses to extend their radio skills to ground communications. Hikers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts rely on amateur radio because of its reliability and long range.
Amateur radio is a hobby that can be tailored to your interests. Whether you're into DXing (talking to distant stations), amateur radio competitions, or just building and tinkering with radio equipment, amateur radio offers something for everyone.
Overall, amateur radio is a versatile and rewarding hobby that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and learning.
You Can Use Your Amateur Radio License to Volunteer and Assist During an Emergency
As an amateur radio operator, I have the opportunity to assist during an emergency. Communication is a critical skill during an emergency response, and amateur radio operators can play a valuable role in providing communication services.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) created by FEMA encourages its members to get certified in amateur radio. As a licensed amateur radio operator, I can become a value-add to my local CERT team.
In addition, I can join amateur radio emergency groups like RACES and ARES to contribute back to my community. Amateur radio operators are invaluable for local emergency response teams, and I can use my skills and equipment to provide communication services during an emergency.
Learn a New Skill to Add to Your Resume
Learning a new skill is always a valuable pursuit, but did you know that learning amateur radio can actually benefit your brain? According to a study conducted by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), learning Morse code, one aspect of amateur radio, can increase learning abilities in the same ways as mastering a language or a new instrument. This means that studying for your amateur radio license can unlock unused areas of the brain, help with longevity, and improve alertness.
For younger generations, amateur radio can be a great learning tool for STEM education and can even lead to careers in electrical engineering, communications, or computer science. For those who have already started their careers, many of the skills learned while studying for an amateur radio license are transferable to career skills. The knowledge of electronics, antennas, and radio propagation could be valuable launching points to a career in electrical engineering/circuit design, consumer electronics, computer science, broadcast radio or television, medical technology such as X-Rays or MRI technicians, space exploration and technology, or cell phone tower network design, assembly, and repair.
In addition to the cognitive and career benefits, amateur radio education is also extremely affordable on a budget. While comparable education programs can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, you can study for and get certified with your amateur radio license all for less than $50. With the low cost involved, the return on investment you will get when investing in your own amateur radio education makes it a no-brainer.
Overall, learning amateur radio is a valuable skill to add to your resume, not only for the cognitive benefits but also for the potential career opportunities and affordability.
Remember! A license is required to transmit
It's important to remember that transmitting on amateur radio frequencies without a license is illegal and can result in massive fines. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates amateur radio in the United States through the Part 97 rules. These rules ensure that the amateur radio bands are usable by thousands of amateurs and prevent interference with military communication networks, cellular networks, WiFi networks, and more.
Some groups online argue against licensing or any regulation of amateur radio, especially "prepper" groups. They claim that in a true emergency situation, having a license doesn't matter. However, this argument falls apart for a few main reasons.
Firstly, it's necessary to regulate amateur radio to prevent unregulated, high-powered transmissions by individuals with bad intentions. This can easily render the amateur radio bands unusable and destroy amateur radio as we know it.
Secondly, in a life or death situation, it's important to know how to use an amateur radio effectively. The only way to learn this is by getting your license and practicing. In an emergency, you won't be able to watch a YouTube video to learn how to operate a radio. By studying for your amateur radio license, you will learn the concepts you need to know to effectively use amateur radio. Once you have your license, you can begin to practice transmitting and take advantage of all the benefits of amateur radio.
It's important to note that walkie-talkies operate on Citizens Band (CB) frequencies, which are allocated for use by American citizens without the need for a license. However, CB radio is short range and extremely limited, and is best suited for truckers or for kids playing in the woods.
In summary, if you want to enjoy the benefits of amateur radio, you need to pass the exam and get your license. Don't risk massive fines or interfering with important communication networks by transmitting without a license. Practice your skills and be prepared for any emergency situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of obtaining a ham radio license?
Obtaining a ham radio license has several benefits. It allows you to legally operate your own radio equipment, communicate with other amateur radio enthusiasts, and participate in emergency communication efforts. Additionally, having a ham radio license can provide you with a sense of community and a hobby that can be both fun and rewarding.
What are the legal consequences of operating a ham radio without a license?
Operating a ham radio without a license is illegal and can result in hefty fines and legal action. It's important to obtain a ham radio license before operating any radio equipment to ensure that you are following all regulations and laws.
How do I obtain a ham radio license?
To obtain a ham radio license, you must pass an exam that covers regulations, operating procedures, and basic electronics. The exam is administered by volunteer examiners and can be taken at various locations throughout the country. There are three levels of ham radio licenses, with each level allowing for more privileges and frequencies.
What is the difference between a ham radio license and a CB radio license?
A ham radio license and a CB radio license are different. A ham radio license allows for more frequencies and privileges than a CB radio license. Additionally, a ham radio license requires passing an exam and obtaining a license, while a CB radio license does not.
Why is a ham radio license required?
A ham radio license is required to ensure that operators understand the regulations and laws surrounding radio communications. Additionally, it ensures that operators have a basic understanding of electronics and can operate radio equipment safely and effectively.
What are the advantages of having a ham radio license?
Having a ham radio license allows you to communicate with other amateur radio enthusiasts, participate in emergency communication efforts, and be a part of a community with a shared interest. Additionally, it can provide you with a hobby that can be both fun and rewarding.
Hi & Welcome!
My name is Jeremy and I have been an avid car nut for many year. My first car was an 1987 Honda CRX. I put in my first Kenwood stereo, amp, 2 10" JLs and a CB Radio in it and have been an avid user of CBs and car radios for years. I'll do my best to share my tips, information and thoughts to help you with whatever question you might have, ABOUT ME