As much as most of us dream of living the simple life, living off the land and being self-sufficient; communications is simply a necessity for everyday life, especially if we are ever faced with a long-term, grid-down scenario.
Ham radio communications (sometimes referred to as Amateur Radio) is a great grid-down communications alternative. Ham radio doesn’t rely on unstable mass communication grids, cell phone towers or any other modern communications structure. Instead, Ham radio simply uses radio waves to transmit communications that can be picked up and heard by other ham radio operators.
For preppers, ham radio is one of, if not the best alternative communication methods available. If the cell phone or internet structure becomes unreliable (a very likely possibility during a disaster scenario) Ham radio operators will still be able to communicate as long as they can power their equipment.
Unfortunately, our “friends” in government have decided that in order to legally use a Ham radio, you must be certified and licensed. Obtaining this license can be expensive and frustrating for beginners.
In today’s post we’re going to go over the best way to prepare and pass your Ham Radio licensing exam and give you several tips that can help you save time and money setting up this alternative communications system.
Before we begin, we should probably go over a couple of disclosures here.
In order to use a Ham Radio legally, you have to be licensed. The penalties for unlicensed broadcasting are severe. While most people probably aren’t going to care a whole lot about licenses or fines during a SHTF scenario, you still have to train with this equipment before you really need it in order to use it correctly, which means you’re going to need a license.
Secondly, if you’re the type that is seriously concerned about “government lists”, Ham probably isn’t for you. You will have to be registered as a legal ham radio operator with the FCC and yes, that means your name will be on a government list.
Personally, I could care less about government lists. I think they’re very hyped up in the fear mongering section of the prepper community. If .gov really is looking in on preppers, then most of us are probably on some sort of list already, regardless if we have a Ham license or not.
If you’re really THAT concerned about this, get a PO Box in another town and use this as your address for the license application.
Now that we’ve covered the tin-foil hat disclosures, let’s get into the heart of today’s post.
How to get started with Ham Radio
The first step in Ham radio is getting your Amateur Radio license, which is also called a Technician Class License. This is the most basic Ham license that you can get. If you are using Ham as simply an alternative communications tool, this will probably be the only license you’ll need. It will allow you to communicate (in optimal conditions) over hundreds of miles, as opposed to conventional radio signals that only cover about 50 miles under the same conditions.
What does the test cover?
The Ham Radio Technician license test covers a wide range of materials related to basic radio communications including:
- Basic FCC regulations (yep… more .gov rules)
- Basic electronics theory (for safety)
- Operator etiquette
- VHF and UHF applications (sounds complicated…it’s not)
Where can I find study materials?
There are only 35 questions on the Ham Technician exam; however these questions are pooled randomly from a list of nearly 400 questions. There is quite a bit of material you’ll need to go over to make sure you pass the exam…far too much for us to include in a single post.
After a lot of digging, I have compiled a one-stop-shop of guides and links that you can use to study for the technician’s exam.
Tech in a Weekend Class Study Guide
By Buddy Sohl KC4WQ
The No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide
By Dan Romanchik KB6NU
Technician Class License Study Guide
Compliments of Earl Paazig N8KBR
I’m ready to take the test!
Before taking the actual exam, do yourself a favor and take the practice quiz we’ve linked below. These are actual questions that have been used in the Ham Radio Technicians exam. If you can pass this practice exam, you’ll likely pass the real one.
Until next time, stay safe out there!
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